Monday, 4 June 2001
A steep footbridge seperates me from the cycle path. Fortunately it is covered with chicken wire, increasing the grip. It works fine. I have no trouble at all pushing my bike to the top.

Here I have to face temptation:

  • Shall I utilise gravity to my full advantage?
  • Should I let my steel stallion carry me to the bottom?
The bridge meets the path in a sharp and sudden turn. My bike was not made for this kind of tricks (.../errors/these.html), but to paraphrase sir Bommel (Marten Toonder, Mijn eigen eenzame weg, pag 145, Bommellegende (nrc.nl/...) sorry all Dutch) : Given the combination of a determined driver, a cool eye and a quick mind it should be possible to achieve the utmost from the underlying mechanism.

The descent starts well. The chicken wire works fine. The tyre maintains its grip. I enter the turn with perfect timing, expertly leaning into it. A most successful manoeuvre it would be, if achieving the utmost from my underlying mechanism was enough...

  1. Gravity exceeds the utmost achievement of the front wheel. The wheel piteously folds in two. My handlebars disappear. It is impossible to steer.
  2. The speed so skilfully gained is now a source of acute concern. Stinging nettles, although metres high, do not break my fall.
  3. I dive into the ditch, a most unpleasant experience. The water in the ditch is not flowing. At all...
  4. From shoulder to toe I slide into the pitchblack, stinking water. How low can a gentleman go?
  5. With great difficulty I avoid sliding down even further. Gravity prevents me from getting up on my own. Help!

Meanwhile steerswoman Antoinette is on the bridge. This must be a source of immense pleasure to her! She hurries across to lend me a hand. Like a worthy South African sailor she quickly hoists me back ashore. Thanks ever so much!

The damage is substantial:

  • My left knee is bleeding.
  • Arms, legs and face are covered in nettle blisters.
  • My clothes reek to high heaven.
  • The front wheel refuses to be straightened out. It won't even spin around.
So, a brisk walk home is what it will have to be, complete with self-constructed tandem as crowd-pleaser. Grr. What a sad and sorry end to such a nicely crafted plan!

A bit further down the road the sun on a bench beckons. A perfectly pleasant location where, with the help of some wine and good company, the day's events can be put into perspective. Life is beautiful if only you open yourself to it. Falling down is nothing to be ashamed of. What counts is getting up with dignity, if you know what I mean...

Till next week,