A Little Rain Must Fall
I had a great view of Kent’s fall; it happened right in front of me.
It rained on this Day 6 of our Erie Canal ride; we were mentally prepared and we have all the gear, but the experience is the novelty. Visibility was greatly impacted; we forget the virtues of our windshield wipers. Our glasses were instantly fogged and water beaded to really make seeing where you’re going difficult.
We were a good 12 miles along this short day ride from Rome to Herkimer when we’re navigating past a freeway on/off ramp; you know the type. Kent’s in front and he gets faked by what he thinks is fresh pavement; it’s not pavement. It’s a 6″ wide ditch filled with black water that runs for 20 yards; once he gets in it there’s no getting out of it. As he loses control the bike goes down and he rolls to his right, quite gracefully. “Good fall,” I shout encouragingly as I pedal past; I was just 3 feet behind him at this point; we’re trying to be obvious and highly visible as we move across this highway offramp. Kent’s sprawled right in the middle of the lane.
Now it happened that a few miles prior as my mind was wandering, I was imagining what I would do if an accident should happen — my immediate thought was to position myself so that I’m not the second victim; to get out of harm’s way then offer assistance. How prescient. But in this case I have to pedal past Kent who’s down on his back in the middle of the road as I travel past this bike-eating ditch. Finally it ends and I hop off the bike to assist him; he’s up and assuring me he’s ok. I take his bike and we move out of the intersection to inspect the damage.
He is ok, a little road grime on his brand new yellow rain gear, but not a scratch on him. His heart rate is racing; I know because I had a big fall just a few weeks ago. I’ve got to get him somewhere safe. We examine the bike — both wheels spin fine, one of the panniers came loose, but that’s it. His seat isn’t even crooked. It’s a miracle spill in the rain in one of the worst places you could imagine and he pedals off in just a few minutes. We find an abandoned gas station a hundred yards ahead and pull in out of the rain to give him some time to calm down.
We still have a dozen miles to go for lunch and the rain is light, but we can’t tell if it will get heavier, so we’re motivated to get moving. From here the road is smooth, the grade mostly downhill and best of all, the rain starts to let up. We take another stop because Ken wants to record a video of his pratfall; we find another abandoned gas station. After Take #3 we’re chased out by a swarm of starving, end of season mosquitos who think we may be their last meal. When I finally pull into Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner in Herkimer for lunch I have a squished mosquito on my forehead.