Archive for the ‘Unfortunate Events’ Category

Was it the warm sunshine on my face or the drowsiness of sleep not yet shaken that caused me to doubt the ferocity of the trolley tracks?  Am I getting overly confident?  Should I start having an extra cup of coffee before I leave the house to help widen my eyes a bit?  I have come to the conclusion that the answer to all these questions is: NO.  No, I am not a distracted cyclist, unsafe or half-asleep behind the handlebars (well, most mornings anyway). 

NOT a bike-friendly zone

It’s just that dang, those trolley tracks are wily!  Yesterday morning I was riding down the center of the tracks because my street STILL has not been plowed from the snowstorm.  I heard a car coming from behind and decided to bail across the trolley tracks– taking it at a 45 degree angle, of course.  My front wheel cleared but those slippery rails were not ready to let go of me yet.  The rest is all a blur– it ends with me on the ground wondering what just happened.  A quick inventory to make sure all my bones were still in one piece, that my super-awesome gloves held up to the impact and that my bike was okay and then back on the old steed.  I’m sure the guy chillin’ in his pickup truck across the street enjoyed the drama.

The weird part about all the unfortunate incidents I’ve had on my bike is that I can recall the moments leading up to the crash and the aftermath but never the crash itself.  It’s those few seconds where I’m airborne, my bike going one way as my body catapults the other that my brain simply does not record.  I wonder if the memory part of my brain shuts down so the “oh, sh*t!” cortex can have full usage of my neurons.

So I live to ride another day.  My once healthy fear of trolley tracks is now bordering on nervous mania, I actually got off my bike to walk across a tricky intersection on the way home.   Today I am sore, a little bruised but otherwise in one piece.  As always, I am glad I was wearing my helmet and that my guardian angel was somewhere in the vicinity at the time.

Get a bicycle.  You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

-Mark Twain

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Well it’s finally happened: the Red Ring of Death has cast its crimson shadow upon Pat’s entertainment center.  The XBox had been acting up for a few days and something about the number of steps Pat had to go through on the “diagnostics” page of Microsoft’s support site told me things weren’t looking up.  It bounced back after a lengthy cool-down session (i.e. no Red Dead for a whole day) but late Thursday night the XBox’s demise was undeniable:

Evil red glow

All is not lost though.  It’s still under warrantee so Pat can send it back for a replacement.  Of course while that happens he will already have the shiny new Halo Reach console, even I have to admit it looks pretty sleek. 

As usual I am annoyed that I have to work on a holiday everyone else gets off.  I shouldn’t be since I am in a business that thrives on vacationers.  But it still seems a little stinky.  However I can console myself with the fact that I will be laying on a Hawaiian beach in a mere 23 days.  Aloha!

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Some days require a hearty breakfast—you know, “bacon with a side of bacon” kind of days.  Yesterday fits into that category nicely.  Luckily we eat hearty breakfasts quite frequently just in case so we were sufficiently fueled for what was about to unfold.

We planned to ride to Valley Forge where we’d have a picnic and sketch en plein air, as the French would say.  The only thing we had to take care of before we hopped on Kelly Drive was Pat’s recent rear flat.  We walked across Penn’s campus to have it fixed at Trophy.  Off we go!

It's just a big rock off the path

The wind was sweet and tickled our noses as we flew out of the city.  As we entered the Manayunk Tow Path we were delighted to find it transformed into a vine-covered wooded wonderland.  We were trucking along and I was feeling a little peaked from the toasty 75 degree day so we stopped for a banana at the Wayside Bike Stop.

I’m sorry to report that the trip goes no further.  As we turned to get back on the path my rear tire pooped out.  All I can say is I’m glad we didn’t make it further down the path.  We turned around and hiked the 2.5 miles back on the towpath to Cadence Cycling* in Manayunk.  Our good moods were not to be deterred though (we did have that hearty breakfast, after all!) walking our bikes meant we had plenty of time to slow down and explore the wonderland I mentioned earlier.

So fluffy!

Look at that little family.  That goose on the left was hissing the whole time.  Pat was ready to bolt if necessary.  Guess I will have to be the adventure photographer…


All of this walking/biking/walking/biking had us pretty parched.  We decided to quench our thirst the best way we knew how—a little taste of home in the form of Bell’s Two-Hearted ale.  A brief costume change and zippy ride through rush hour traffic later we found ourselves settled in the artsy beer garden at Silk City (new favorite restaurant!).  We soaked in the late afternoon sunshine and had a leisurely ride home.  Not the day we planned AT ALL but equally lovely.

*I highly recommend this bike shop.  I was nervous when I walked in because it was all racing bikes, customers in slick looking bike uniforms and crazy rave music.  Not really my scene.  But the mechanic who fixed my flat was incredibly nice and even told me he loves all bikes equally, not just the speedy ones.

Manayunk Canal

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Today we woke up with intention of trucking out to Valley Forge and back.  The Schuylkill River trail runs all the way out of the city, through Manayunk on to Valley Forge National Park.  It looks like a nice little ride– about 22 miles each way.  After last weekend’s successful trip to Camden we were pumped and ready for a challenge.  After checking the weather to make sure it wasn’t going to snow we bundled up, packed a lunch and headed out.

I was enjoying the *crisp* breeze on my face as we headed out along Chestnut Street to the start of the trail.  We were both excited to see that the trail was completely empty so we could ride side by side.  As we cruised down the hill leading to the Art Museum it suddenly struck me– it is 15 degrees outside.  I was freezing.  Feeling like a big wuss I told Pat we had to go back home, I simply could not ride 42 more miles without my fingers falling off.  I like my fingers.

We’ve spent the rest of the day sipping hot tea, working on various projects and playing Mass Effect 2 (okay, that one is all Patrick).  So we’ll file today’s attempt at cycling to Valley Forge under “Misadventure” and carry on.  Here’s to a hopefully toasty February!

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We’re still  early in the planning process so I don’t have a lot to update.  I figured I’d take this opportunity to share some harrowing tales of my bicycling adventures to date.  Let’s focus on several of my less than successful attempts to outmaneuver the world on my bike, shall we?

Round 1: Liz vs. The Hidden Driveway

Tweedly-dee I am minding my business, cruisin’ down the streets of Ann Arbor when all of a sudden- BAM! Car in my face!  Over the handlebars I go, thank god for that helmet! 

Score: Liz- 0; Hidden Driveway- 1; Cheap Wal-Mart Bike- also 0

Round 2: Liz vs. The Curb

Wowie, I am awesome riding this super fast road bike around the streets of Philly!  Oh no, now it is raining, I am going to hop up on this sidewalk to get out of the scary street.  BAM! Face plant into the sidewalk! Thank god for that helmet!  An observing motorist locks his doors as I scape myself off the pavement– Brotherly Love!

Score: Liz- 0; The Curb- 1

Round 3: Liz vs. The Trolley Tracks

Tra-lala it is a beautiful day and I’m going on a bike ride with Pat!  What’s that, a funny joke?  I am laughing and having fun!  Whoa, now I’m swerving all over the road… BAM! Wheel caught in the trolley tracks and me flat on the pavement.  Commence loud wailing and little-girlish crying.  Thank god for that helmet though!

Score: Liz- 0; Trolley Tracks-1

Round 4: Liz vs. The Cab Door

Uh-oh, I am running late for work, I better sneak past all these cars waiting for the light so I am first in line when it changes to green… BAM! Door in my leg!  Swear words!!

Score: Liz-0; Cab Door-1

Let’s total it up, shall we?  Looks like Liz has scored a whopping ZERO points against the world and, well, we just won’t mention the other team’s score…

So what have we learned?  You will very rarely win on a bike.  Most of my accidents happened because I was inexperienced and in a hurry.  It is important to remember that you will never, ever EVER win in an accident against a car.  Always wear your helmet, turn on your lights at night, and ride with the flow of traffic.  These are the things I’ve learned so far, hopefully I won’t have to learn the “hard way” anymore!



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