Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas almost here, but....

I'm nights now up to and including Christmas eve, so not really getting into the Christmas spirit. The good news is, however, is that, for the last 3 days, I've commuted to and from work on the Subway 1, my shoulder has been a bit stiff, but otherwise the trips have gone well and were very enjoyable. No chance of any pictures though, it's pitch black when I leave in the mornings, and the same when I get home.

Last week, sorry 3 weeks ago, on the 1st December, I had to go to Bristol for a medical, part of the rules if you're a signaller, like me. I was given a clean bill of health thankfully, then the very next day, I had my fall on the way to work, and was off for a full week. Strange how things work out.

But now the cycling seems to be going very well again, as I've felt very strong on my commutes, though today I'll be taking the car, as I'm feeling rather stiff, all over in fact, everywhere else is coming out in sympathy with the old shoulder and knee. Anyway I need to be home early tomorrow, as Elizabeth needs me to take her shopping, for all the last odds and ends, needed for Christmas, in the Curtis household. I'm hoping a day's shopping with Elizabeth will get me in the mood for Christmas, because it doesn't feel at all Christmasy to me yet.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

From bad to worse,.....nurse!

I had alot of sympathy for Doug, mnbicyclecommuter, in Minnesota, when I read about his unfortunate accident on some ice in Duluth, I have even more now. I don't know if reading that post has had some sort of effect, but I've now fallen because of ice, twice since. The first one I reported in this blog, in my last post, sadly I have to report another.

Yesterday, Monday my pre-commute to work began with an inspection of the outside street and path, a little frosty, but nothing to be concerned about. Then I packed all my gear, and went to the shed to get my Subway 1, by this time I could feel it had started to rain a little, so I went back inside and changed my long trousers for waterproof ones. By 05.30, I didn't need to be in work till 07.30, I was riding through the village on my way down the Neath valley, within 10 minutes the rain had stopped.

The ride was great, didn't see any cars on the old road at all, and I was enjoying myself, even got up that stretch of hill I hate, without too much bother. My ride continued as normal into Neath itself. I decided to cut through Morrison's car park, that's a large supermarket in this part of the world, I've done it loads of times before. I crossed the entire car park with no problem, and as I thought no hint of slipperyness or ice, then as I left the car park to go into the pedestrianised area of the town, the next thing I knew I was smacking into the ground.

I think it was shock that made me lie still for a few seconds, my leg was hurting, and my first thought was, ' have I broken my leg?' , then ' had anyone seen me fall?' Though my leg was hurting I decided it wasn't broken, and gingerly got to my feet to discover my left shoulder was really painful. I got my bike up, and despite the pain, again probably because of shock, I started to um and ah about continuing on to work. Like this I dithered for, I guess 5 minutes or so.

Finally, I rang my work, told them what had happened, and that I wouldn't be coming in. Then I rang home, because I knew Tierloch would be up, getting ready for work, it was now 06.20. Well then I spent 20 minutes shivering, and getting more and more uncomfortable with both a stiff and sore left knee, and a really painful left shoulder. It was a great relief to see Tierloch drive round the corner into the car park.

We loaded the Subway 1 onto the bikerack, while Tierloch told me of the numerous car accidents he'd seen on route, and also how he'd almost lost control driving because of ice, on the roads and especially when he came into Morrison's car park. I just couldn't understand it, I hadn't seen a sign or felt any kind of slipping or sliding.

I soon saw for myself that there was a problem with ice, in the form of another very forlorn and sorry looking cyclist, pushing his bicycle along the pavement. Let's hope he didn't have far to go, anyway Tierloch safely transported my bike and I home, where I've stayed since, save for a trip up to the surgery yesterday afternoon. The doctor said nothing was broken, but both my left knee and shoulder had been badly bruised and traumatised, they would get more painful for a few days, and that I'd need a week's rest, stay off work, for them to get back to normal, and to go back if things didn't improve. She gave me some painkillers, which have helped immensely.

Today my knee has swollen even more, and is difficult to bend, but, my shoulder has eased a little, I have more movement in it, but if I try to do anything it really hurts, and makes me shout " ow".

Since Tierloch put it in the shed, I haven't looked at the Subway, when he took it off the bikerack I noticed that the chain was off the cog and derailleur, I just hope no real damage has been done. Having said that, I am very reticent about cycling in this weather again, and concerned about having to leave off commuting to work through the winter.

Which leads me to the big question, I need to put to all you winter commuters out there,

" How do you all stay upright, most of the time, because I assume the occasional fall is inevitable, during icy conditions?"

I'd be grateful for all your advice.

Where's my nurse, "Nurse!"

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Saw it coming, but couldn't take evasive action.

The weather's turned much colder, these last couple of days -3, and -6 degrees yesterday and today respectively. I've been off work, this weekend, no commutes, and so decided to cycle my usual loop down and up the valley. Getting up at about 06.30, late for me, I was out and riding down the valley by 07.00, it was still dark but the sky was lightening from black to light blue, and the stars disappearing, as the sun rose behind me.

Normally I wear baggy shorts, with my knees bare, but discretion being the better part of valour, and to combat the cold, which has been getting into the old knees of late, I wore some work trousers over them. On top of that, my left knee has been giving me some irritation, this past week or so, a strain I suppose. I've always had trouble with my left knee, since my soccer and rugby playing days, I badly strained the capsular ligament when I was sweet 16, which left a permanent weakness. Whenever I've had an accident since, it always seems to be my left knee that takes a direct hit, ouch, in fact double ouch!

The ride was going great, and I was enjoying the icy air, and the solitude. I'd brought my camera along to get a few shots, the strange names of local farms, the remains of old building long disinhabited, and any wildlife I might happen upon. It was too dark on the way down, but light enough on the trip back up the valley. Making my first stop just outside Ynysarwed, I was going to take a photo of a farm gate, with its unusual name, Bwlchfaron. I clicked, but nothing, no flash, no red or green light, the camera seemed dead? I had no idea what was wrong, so gave up and resigned myself, both to putting in new batteries later on, and not being able to take any of the pictures, the occasional reader of this blog, might like to peruse. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, I suppose.

So I continued my ride back up the valley to Glynneath, stopped at McDonalds, had a cappocino with plenty of sugar, my feet were freezing at this stage, foolishly I hadn't bothered to put on my new overshoes. Fortunately the coffee, and the warmth of the restaurant brought them back to life, ready for the last mile and a half home.

As normal I set off heading toward and then through the village, taking a side road that runs parallel with the main road, to avoid traffic, not that there's much early on a Saturday morning. Whilst turning into this side road, I could see ice, not just frost on the road a couple of yards ahead, not that I was travelling fast, but it was too late to take evasive action. First the front wheel went, then the back wheel, both in different directions, or so it felt.

Fortunately, because I had recognised it was ice ahead, I was prepared a little, and so with wheels striving in different directions, I was able to throw myself one way, while at the same time heaving the bike in the other. I still managed to hit the ground with a veritable thump, but because I was wearing long trousers, my Network Rail vi-vis coat and my gloves, I was able to get away with just a sore elbow. Plus the Subway 1 came off unscathed, so all in an experience with no cost, other than my damaged ego.

It might have been a different story had it still been dark, and I had no inkling that ice was in front of me.