Mishap

by JulieAnne White 2/27/01 (www.slowtwitch.com)

PUBLISHER'S PREFACE: I asked my wife to write a companion piece to Amy White's discourse on Fear. Fear is a defense mechanism, and it therefore follows that consequences arise when fear is not respected. In the case of us, and the sport in which we engage, we have to ask ourselves the question: Is the consequence of giving in to fear––timidity––worth the consequence ignoring it––mishap? It seemed to me that an examination of the nature and degree of mishap might apply some perspective.

S
everal years ago I was returning from a "Double De Luz ride," which is my "indicator" ride that takes me deep into San Diego’s inland mountainous terrain and tells me whether I’m ready to race an Ironman.

It was one of those spring seasons in Southern California like we’re going to have this year, in which late-season rains fill the rivers and saturate the ground. Million-dollar homes perched atop jagged beach cliffs were falling into the ocean. In a weird happenstance certain beaches were crawling with rattlesnakes because the rivers and creeks had washed them down to the ocean. By San Diego standards, it was very wet.

Several of the small bridges on De Luz Road were washed out, so this meant hoisting my bike on my shoulders for the crossing. The main bridge, over the San Luis Rey River––twenty miles from home--––was completely destroyed and the water was rushing through this usually dry riverbed. But this was my route home. It was the last crossing I’d need to make.

Once again I hoisted my bike, with my Carnac shoes clipped securely––I thought––into the Speedplay pedals. I was half way across when a heavy tree limb smacked into me and my bike knocking one of my Carnacs free from the pedals. I helplessly watched as my shoe started down the river.

I rushed to the other shore, set my bike down on the edge, and returned to search for my missing shoe. I had an audience to watch my folly, as the bridge was only newly washed out, and those motorists who didn’t know were stopped en route to their destinations. I explained my dilemma to the onlookers and in no time several strangers were hunting with me for my Carnac shoe. After about twenty minutes of scouring the river and its banks I told my good Samaritans that I would be abandoning my search, and I thanked them for their kindness.

"What now?" I wondered. I had twenty-five cents left in my jersey pocket and there was a retirement living community just ahead. I got on my bike and started to pedal with one Carnac bike shoe locked in and one wet stockinged foot balanced on that little lollipop of a pedal. I reached the retirement community and asked the guard at the front gate if I might pass to use the pay phone. After a quizzical moment of pondering he nodded in the direction of the phone. I was told on the other line that my rescue unit would be out to retrieve me... just let them know which route I would be taking toward home.

I’d decided to ride until meeting my "sag wagon," which would be coming toward me in the opposite direction. The first thing I had to do was climb a thousand feet out of the San Luis Rey River Valley. Before I started I made some adjustments to my saddle height and tilt to compensate for my shoeless leg. Once I started the climb, I thought this was actually a pretty good workout. After I reached the top I still had some hills to go up and down before arriving.

I was less then 10 miles from home when I my sag flagged me down. By this time, though, I’d gotten into the groove. I apologized for wasting someone else’s time with a false alarm, but explained that I’d continue to ride.

Finally I was home after 125 miles in the saddle, baked from the inland temperatures and missing one of my shoes which, by this time, was probably accompanying a rattlesnake on its way to Pacific. Other than having to fork over my credit card for another pair of my favorite cycling shoes, no harm done.

Further information about JulieAnne's coaching services, contact julieanne@semicolon.org. or visit, Semicolon.org.