I hobbled into work today, limping every step of the way. Do you know how painful it is to go up and down stairs when your ankle is bruised and your shin is cut and your knee is bandaged? London is full of stairs. Tube stations, bridges, buildings.

And then there’s the doors. My upper body — particularly my right side — is so stiff and sore I struggled to push open heavy glass doors without wincing. Unfortunately, my office is full of the bloody things: if I so much as want to get a coffee from the staff restaurant I have to push through about six doors. If I want to go to the wash room I’ve got to force my way through about ten! No wonder I decided it might just be less painful to sit at my desk and not move at all. Except not moving means that when I do decide to move my arms and legs feel stiffer than ever.

I hope things are easier tomorrow.

Spectacular crash-tacular!

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. I’ve been commuting by bike for almost two years and I’ve never had an accident… until today.

Yep. You guessed it. I survived a rather spectacular “crash” this morning and fell off my bike while taking off from the traffic lights at Parliament Square. There were no other vehicles or bikes involved. It was simply my own stupid fault. I was going at speed, crossing lanes, when my foot slipped on the pedal. The bike then went into a “wobble” and before I knew it I came crashing down onto the bitumen with the bike falling on top of me.

As I lay there on the ground the only thought rushing through my head was “please don’t let me get run over”. Fortunately, because it happened while taking off from the lights, the two lanes of traffic behind me were travelling in a low gear and there was no real danger of me being caught under the wheels of any cars or taxis. Just as well really, because I didn’t just fall across one lane but did a spectacular diagonal fall across two lanes. Trust me to make a show of myself. Why do things by halves, right?

Anyway, once I managed to haul myself up and drag my bike to the side of the road, the traffic didn’t waste any time to whizz on by. The only person who stopped to see if I was okay was a kind pedestrian who witnessed the whole scene. She described it as “spectacular”. I am very grateful for her concern. She dusted me off, told me my helmet was “askew” and checked I was okay to continue on my way. I was.

Slightly shocked, a little bit bruised and a lot embarrassed I walked my bike through the square and then got back on to continue the remaining two miles of my journey. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed that my seat had managed to turn itself  through 90 degrees and my front mudguard was rubbing against my tyre. I sorted them out and continued onto work, counting my blessings that I was relatively unscathed.

It wasn’t until I was in the office that I was able to check my war wounds properly. I took the brunt of the fall on my right side, so I had a bruise running from my elbow to wrist, my knee was bloodied and already swelling up, and my ankle had been gouged by my pedals. There was also a long scratch on my left calf. Surprisingly, my right hand, which took the weight of the fall, appeared unscathed, which says a lot for wearing gloves. I’m sure if I had been cycling with bare hands — which I see so many other commuters do — I would have really damaged myself. I am also grateful that today I chose not to wear the sterling silver bangle that usually adorns my right wrist. If I had have fallen on that, my wrist would now be broken. Of that, I am sure.

I managed to clean myself up in the washroom when one of the cleaners came in and began fussing over me. “Go and get that seen to by First Aid,” she instructed. “You don’t want to get no infection in that wound.”

So I took her advice and visited our Occupational Health centre and got prompt, friendly attention from the nurse, who is a Kiwi and always makes me laugh. “Someone left me a postcard of koalas on my desk this morning,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You think they’d know by now I’m from New Zealand and not Australia!”

Then she added: “And what is it with the cricket? Did you guys win
something recently?
Everyone keeps congratulating me and I have no idea what they’re talking about!”

In  between the jokes, she swabbed me with iodine, bandaged my knee to prevent it swelling, told me to take Nurofen every couple of hours, and then got me to fill in an accident report (to cover me for insurance purposes).

For the rest of the day, I limped my way around the office, dreading the thought of having to cycle home. But they say that when you fall off a horse you should get right back on, so I guess the same theory applies to bicycles. So as much as I didn’t want to get back on that bike, I did, cycling home in the wind and rain with a stiff knee, a throbbing ankle — every bump in the road was incredibly painful — and the ever-present fear that my feet might slip on the pedals again.

I think I’ll be catching the tube tomorrow…

… and throwing away those friggin’ shoes.

When helmets make no sense

And you thought your commute was rough!

My sister sent me these pictures today as part of a "round robin" email. I’ve got a feeling I’ve seen them before somewhere…


… but I still think they’re wonderful.

PS> Does anyone know the story behind these photographs? I’d love to know who these chaps are — and the name of the location.

London’s trees: the good and the bad

When you’re a cyclist you begin to appreciate the passing of the seasons much more than your normal commuter.

Last time I was on my bike — which was (shamefully) on April 17 — the trees were bare skeletons holding their arms up to the sky; today they were adorned in green, creating wonderful leafy tunnels under which to ride. London truly comes into its own when its trees are wearing their full attire.

Although there is one drawback at this time of year: the London plane trees — of which there must be thousands across this city — decide to dump their pollen all at once. The air is currently thick with the stuff. It catches in the back of your throat. It makes your eyes red and itchy. And it makes you sneeze.

I’ll be glad when those pesky flowers and the young leaves (which shed short, stiff hairs) are gone. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying being back on the bike. I could do with the exercise!

Today’s roundtrip total distance: 12.28 miles | Ride time: 71min and 53sec | Average speed: 11.04 mph | Top speed: 20.4 mph