The bad and the ugly

Unfortunately, my good biking tale was not the only noteworthy bike-related happening last week.

The Bad
Two Sundays ago, Matthew discovered that his rear shifting cable was shot, despite the cable and the shifter itself being replaced quite recently.  He finished his ride using the three front gears (incidentally, this was also his inaugural ride with Gabriel in the IBert on his bike).

He’d been wanting to take it to the bike shop for a tune-up anyway, so he arranged a bike swap with his dad (he doesn’t have his own back up bike, which is something that we plan to remedy) and sent his trusty steed in for repair.

Matt’s two cents: “Winona has been very reliable.  It’s not her fault.”*

He was back on his own bike by Wednesday, setting off in the same cloudy, damp weather I experienced.  On his way into work, he noticed that his handlebars were loose.  Assuming the shop had forgotten to tighten something, he pulled out his tool set (we both usually bike with a few small tools for minor repairs) and tightened the handle bar stem.

The Ugly
All seemed well until after work, when he was over halfway home.  As he made a turn through an intersection, the handlebars came off and he crashed.  And I received the, “I’m mostly okay, but can you come and pick me up,” call.

His main injury was a badly sprained big toe — I’ve never had a serious toe injury, but it turns out that they can be pretty crippling.  He could walk, but not well, so he was pretty out of commission for a couple of days, doing the ice, elevate, and pain reliever drill.

The story on the bike was that the part of the stem that goes into the head tube  and secures with a long bolt cracked, so even though the bolt felt tight, it was slipping, more or less like it was stripped.  The bike shop’s best explanation was age/normal wear and tear, though it is not an especially old bike.

All in all, things could have been a lot worse, but this part failure definitely surprised us.  For summer biking, we had both eased away from what, at least for me, had been a hard and fast “no open-toed shoes while biking” rule into wearing Teva sandals.  I enjoyed being able to wear the kind of footwear that I wanted at my destination, no carting around an extra pair of shoes required.

Since sturdy, closed-toe shoes probably would have prevented the sprain, we’re obviously rethinking our footwear choices.  Due to the injury Matt’s trying to find something that’s foot shaped and waterproof, but with a thick sole — anyone have any suggestions?  He normally wears Birkenstocks or Five Fingers, as he can’t find any other footwear that is shaped like his feet.

We both feel that biking is generally safe enough, but it certainly has its dangers, just like ANY form of transit/most of life in general.  This was a scary, startling, and painful experience, but Matt can’t wait to ditch the bus and get back to his faster, more energetic commute.
*Bonus points if you can guess the name of the TV series from which that quote originated.  Hint: Matthew likes sci-fi. 


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