The goal yesterday was a chunk of the bike trail from Easthampton to Northampton, about eight miles round trip. Biking still doesn’t come naturally to me - I only finally learned how to ride about five years after my kids did. But the sun was shining, a breeze was blowing, and more importantly, there was the prospect of a nice lunch afterwards. What could go wrong?
The ride was like many before. Trees swept by on either side, we caught glimpses of backyards, and even went by a riding academy with the students in a row on their horses. We passed bicyclists going the other way, some riding two abreast, blissfully ignorant of my tendency to wobble unexpectedly into the other lane. I was still drawn like a lemming is to the sea to the four foot posts in the middle of the path marking intersections, and I almost ran into the sides of a bridge over the highway twice.
At one point I had the bad judgment to release the handlebar long enough to adjust my tee shirt, nearly capsizing into the poison ivy creeping onto the asphalt. By mile five, certain parts of my body gave new meaning to the term “pants of fire”, and I marveled at how my husband, the man who causes me to hold my breath every time he descends our basement stairs, could swing so effortlessly backwards to check on me.
So lunch was well-earned and quite good – I had a grilled cheese sandwich mounded with fresh spinach and fat slices of tomato – but on the way back to the car we realized that our favorite water bottle was missing. I had a sinking recollection of parking it on the bumper ‘momentarily’ while we strapped the bikes to the rack. Instead of heading to the highway, back we went to the car park we had started from.
We were halfway there when bone chilling noises filled the air. “This is it!” I thought. “Our 19 year old SUV has finally dropped an axle.” Fortunately, we were on a quiet road and we able to pull over immediately.
The long arm of the Thule bike rack had dropped 90 degrees, dragging the bikes behind us on the road for at least fifty feet. After much untangling and assessing of damage, we managed to anchor the rack back up, tie the bikes on with some rope we had with us, and limp by way of back roads to our bike shop 45 minutes away.
They assured us the patients might survive and it might
be no worse that a few bent wheels.
|Note the unnatural bend at bottom|
Somehow the clip that holds the whole shebang must not have been securely in place. Hmmm. Makes my forgotten water bottle seem like not such a big deal after all, particularly since we could have been sailing down the highway at 60 miles an hour when disaster struck.