Falling off my bike

When I first started cycling in Toronto, people always asked me if I’d fallen off yet, if I’d encountered the street car tracks. There was always a glint of adventure in their eyes, which gradually gave me to understand that falling off your bike was like an intiation into downtown cycling. The first time I fell off, I was jumping the tracks on Queen Street on my Cannondale M-700 mountain bike, mountain-bike style. I turned the front wheel the wrong way when I came down, it crumpled under me, and I went over the handlebars. People stepped out into the street, helped my get my bike to the curb, dusted me off, asked if I was OK. I wasn’t hurt at all, just a little shaken, and I thought, this is remarkable, people actually care. Next time I was coming down Dundas in the rain, had the green light in front of me, saw a car signalling a turn and made a big deal of waving my arms to signal I was coming. He turned anyway, I tried to dodge him, slipped on the tracks and went down, hitting my knee on the steel. But it wasn’t bad enough to keep me off my bike. The driver stopped, looked back sheepishly while I shook my fist at him, and he drove off again. Then I fell, again on Dundas West where the bridge crosses the train lines. This was my finest fall and I wish the cameras had been rolling. My bike somersaulted, me too, I rolled onto my feet, grabbed my bike and rode on. Then, against the judicious admonitions of A, I rode out in January on a new snowfall, slipped taking a left on Queen, and went straight down onto my shoulder. I couldn’t lift my left arm, was sure I’d dislocated the shoulder. It wasn’t, but it took about a year to recover fully. Now, I’m intiated, and I do my best not to fall at all, not in any circumstances, not at all.


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