Tuesday, December 11, 2018

All Words, No Pictures

I've gotten some criticism here for my flagrant disregard of safety.  For one thing, I have on many occasions failed to be sufficiently reverent of the sanctity of the bicycle helmet.  For another, this past weekend I dared ride a singlespeed bicycle equipped with a quick-release skewer.

Pffft.

The truth is I've been engaged in an activity far riskier and far more ill-advised for a person of my demographic than either of the above, and it is this:

Riding a skateboard.

You may recall that in the summer of 2017 I got my son a skateboard.  I hadn't skated in years, and bikes took up enough of my time that I wasn't too tempted, but now that there was one in the house it was like I was an alcoholic and the skateboard was a bottle of Scotch.  (Stevil Kinevil has written eloquently about how this works.)  So it wasn't long before I got one for myself, and you may even recall I said the following at the time:

So what I'm saying is basically it's only a matter of time before the board flies out from under me when I fail to land one of my pathetic ollies and I wind up in the ER.

Well, it took awhile, and it wasn't the ER; rather, I made an appointment with an orthopedist.  And while nothing's broken but my dignity, I do have to rest my swollen foot for awhile, which means that in addition to not skating I'll have to spend some time off the bike for a bit.  So my prediction was indeed more or less correct, though I don't think it's fair to call such an obvious statement a "prediction."  As soon as a board with wheels enters the life of a person over 40, shit's about to get ugly.

Furthermore, in addition to the obvious humor in a middle-aged doofus being undone by an attempt to relive his youth, the Great Lobster On High had even given me fair warning.  See, a couple weeks ago I took my kids to a local skatepark.  While I'd never visited it with a skateboard, I'd passed by it many times on my bicycle, and it always seemed to be empty.  Therefore, I figured it would be a good place for us to roll around in a laid-back fashion.

However, upon arriving at the small skatepark we found it crowded with young skaters.  Some of them were shredding the ramps, while others were in the process of ripping the decals off a Citi Bike and spraypainting it.  The air was heavy with marijuana smoke.

"Hey kids, it's kinda crowded," I remarked jovially.  "Maybe we should try someplace else."

They weren't having it.  Crowded playgrounds are nothing unusual in New York City, so from their perspective why should a skatepark be any different?  I, on the other hand--basically an old dude clutching a skateboard I suck at riding--felt deeply and profoundly self-conscious.  Nevertheless, in we went.

My kids immediately started riding, my older son on his skateboard and my younger one on his little three-wheeled scooter every child has nowadays.  All around us the skaters grinded (ground?) and kick-flipped and charged full-bore onto the quarterpipe, and I kept imagining my kids taking one of them out.  Amazingly however they managed to go with the flow, my 8 year-old actually rolling up and down the ramp and my three year-old cruising around in an elegant series of near-misses that was like watching Mr. Magoo traverse a construction site, or one of those mesmerizing executive desk toys.  I hung back by the gate, trying to pretend I was cool with what was happening to the poor Citi Bike.

After a little while my younger son ditched his scooter and started body-surfing down the ramp, and my older son would keep rolling by and implore me to skate.  "Why aren't you skating?!?  You have to skate!!!"  While I knew intellectually that nobody here gave a shit about me or how I looked on a skateboard, my self-consciousness simply wouldn't allow me to do it.  "Maybe in a little bit," I'd say.  By now the sun was starting to set, and one of the kids was riding the Citi Bike on the quarterpipe, which I have to say was pretty awesome.

The truth was however that I really did want to skate.  So eventually, I obligingly got on my board and approached one of the ramps, and in my extreme state of stiff self-consciousness I immediately lost my footing and the board went out from under me.  I broke my fall with my hand, which transmitted the shock straight up my arm, and as I got up and attempted to look nonchalant I kept thinking to myself "That may not have been good."

The next day my elbow was still a swollen mess so I figured it was prudent to seek medical attention.  I made an appointment with the doctor who treated me for my broken thumb--an injury that can also be attributed to my own imprudence with regard to equipment selection.  He examined me and took X-rays of my elbow, and the upshot was that I hadn't done anything too serious to it.

I had dodged a bullet.

As someone who depends on bicycles and the inspiration they provide for both my livelihood and my emotional well-being, I can assure you I don't take my physical well-being for granted.  Indeed, I cherish every injury-free day, and when I encounter a dicey situation the first thing I think about is that, if something goes wrong, I could be looking at some serious time off the bike.  Oh sure, I did go for a bike ride the day after my fall, but other than that I'm super cautious.

Yet for some reason my brush with skateboarding disaster only made me more eager to skate.  While I'd been messing around with the board off and on since getting it, I suddenly felt this powerful urge to not only redeem myself but actually progress.  I hit a skatepark a day or two after I saw the doctor.  I was disciplined; I was focussed.  "Take it very easy," I told myself.  "Be methodical.  You're going to get better at this."  Practicing on the skateboard on a cold weekday morning with nobody around was sublimely pleasant, and I did it again, and again.  It was like I had this private little project to nurture.  I got new wheels, I got a new deck, I reveled in the simple mechanical process of installing them, so blissfully free from all the complications that come with bike maintenance.

And so it was that yesterday I once again hit the skatepark, this time with a fresh new deck.  It was cold, nobody was around, and I had the place to myself.  Fantastic.  Skating around, I felt good--confident even.  The new deck shape and the new bushings were a huge improvement.  Sure, what I was doing on the skateboard was rudimentary at best, but for an old guy like me who was coming back after a long absence it was positively exhilarating.  Starting the day with a spirit-lifting skate session seemed like the best decision I'd made in a long time.

Then, when it was almost time to leave, I messed up, twisted my foot, and once again had the "That may not have been good" moment.  I wasn't going to be able to walk this one off.  This was going to keep me off the board, and possibly off the bike.  Here was this thing I was falling in love with all over again, and now, too soon, it was gone.

I was embarrassed to go back to the doctor so soon, but on the way I comforted myself with assurances that it could be worse: I mean hey, at least I wasn't going to have to explain why the TV remote was up my ass.  And while I'll be taking a little break while the swelling goes down and the pain subsides, I continue to comfort myself with the knowledge that it could be a hell of a lot worse, and that this is probably the universe's way (and certainly my body's way) of telling me to chill out with the physical stuff, sit on my ass for a little while, and do other stuff--like type shitloads of words into my magical computing box.  In a way my swollen ankle is a necessary semicolon after a long run-on sentence of Strava-ing and coming back to bike racing and running again and fucking around on the skateboard all the other stuff I've been preoccupied lately as I wrestle with being a glorified stay-at-home dad.

And hey, at least I have an excuse not to run for awhile.


32 comments:

Unknown said...

Yeah, fell over sideways leaving the coffee shop the other day, missed clipping in. Got up fast before anyone saw me and rode around the corner to assess damage. Sore elbow.Feel your pain.

Skidmark said...

Easy does it.

Office Space said...

No pictures is great, easier to read at work. Anyone walking by thinks it could be a TPS report on my screen.

Mr. Pedantic said...

"...shit's about to get ugly...

You mean it does not start out that way?

Jimmy the Greek said...

Over under on the number of crash stories in today's comments is 37.

Anonymous said...

"... I wrestle with being a glorified stay-at-home dad.

Don't wrestle with that man, just go with it as long as you can.

Anonymous said...

I turned 50 earlier this year, and used a gift card to buy a skateboard (at Patagonia, no less), not to recapture my youth (I never had a skateboard), but to try something to keep me young. My many near-falls (and aching shins) on the way home convinced me that I'd better stick with the bike. And along those lines, I have in the last ten years gone from a Klein Stage road bike to a Rivendell Joe Appaloosa, with a recent addition of a WorkCycles GR8 that is so enjoyable I sometimes think, why don't I just skip the Rivendell (that is 94% upright) and ride this (100% upright) for 30 miles? I am trying to go gracefully. Without injury.

MyTube said...

The Wild Kittens need to step up their game. Their old man busts up his elbow and his ankle in two separate incidents, and they don't get any of it on video?

Unknown said...


even though you are hurt, there is no such thing as 'too excuses not to run'.

HDEB said...

Rest and listen to your body as it heals at its own pace. When you fall, get up. -- upon healing, get back on the skateboard/bike and hit it hard : )

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...I squinted at your words... then I saw a picture.

Al said...

Sorry you got damaged, Mr Bikesnob. As they say, it coulda been worse. 20 years ago I use to skydive but then when I was 48 years old I banged myself up on one to many hard landings so I decided that I wanted to walk away from skydiving as opposed to being carried away. Then I took up mountain biking but did one to many endo's over the handlebars. So exit mountain biking. So now I'm pushing 69 years old. I have a sore neck, sore knees from hard landings and sore thumbs from index shifting but I can still throw a leg over the top tube of my Surly, and ride to the corner store for a six pack. If I can make it to my late sixties, then suspect anybody who rides a bike can also make it.

bad boy of the south said...

Three weeks max.it ain't but a thing.

Unknown said...

even though you are hurt, there is no such thing as 'too many excuses not to run'.

huskerdont said...

I copied your column into Word, which says it's 1,468 words, which is like 1.5 pictures, rounding up.

Enjoy the break getting well. Somewhere around 50 I discovered that falling hurts. I don't know why I hadn't realized this before.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too old to ride a skateboard. I'm just too old to fall down

ps. Mr McGoo ... HA! perfect visual only people too old to fall down can get.

Anonymous said...

I'll going to claim that feet are more important to me than my brain because my feet get far more use. Making up for lost running mileage early in the year is going to be difficult.

Pist Off said...

Thank Lob I never tried skating seriously. It seemed more dangerous than QR skewers even. Too old to fall down, that’s me too.

pbateman is one goofyfooted bastard said...


BikeSnob? More like Woodsnob.


First, a Renovo made of some super endangered species of tree.

Then a skateboard, which given your retro-grouchy ways, I assume is made of wood*

Now, you're riding the pine on the DL.

What's next? Gonna start building dams in the local rivers?

You should start a custom line of Snob branded oils and varnishes.


Also, all those words and not a peep about what setup your running on the skateboard? What deck? Who made the trucks? Type of bearings you got bro? Shoes? Visionstreetwear I hope.

damn it. now i'm on ebay ordering tony hawk pro skate for my N64 i keep in the office.

*maybe if you had carbon fiber you wouldn't have crashed: https://www.hi5ber.com/awol



Swiss cheesechoco said...

"when it was almost time to leave"

When I go skiing in the mighty Alps, I always go to bed thinking "doing that last run would have been great".
Then I remind myself: when you think it would be gogd to do one more run, one more jump, one more downhill chill-out descent, it means you are already done, it is too late, go have that beer/coffee/flu-shot.

It was pretty fun to see my brother flying off-piste like a sausage (wrong)doing "the last piste of the day", however he was 32 and I was 29, so the divide is clearly 30.
Luckily we are all 27 yrs old, here.

Not a doctor said...

Doctors know. No need to explain why the remote is up your ass.

dop said...

Feel better. And remember, if I can read this blog while wearing a cast, surely you can write it while limping.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Swiss cheesechoco,

So true.

--Tan Tenovo

Drock said...

I’m three years from “shit getting ugly” and I think it’s ugly now. Not much hope in today’s wordy message. However I’ve never had single speed problems so I guess there’s a glimmer of hope once I hit 40, one is all you really need.

Anonymous said...

What pressure are you riding on that skateboard?

Anonymous said...

?TOO OLD?

Anonymous said...

Do what all the other old skaters do; Get a long board! I got a bunch of'em - masmojo

Dan said...

Doored on 25th and 5th the night before Thanksgiving; two broken ribs, within months of the big 5-0.
My wife blanches when I tell her I'd be fine dying in the saddle as long as I'm hit from behind, and a few years down the road.
We get to feel like Kings Of The Road in this great city most days, and then once in a while, there's a palace coup.
Poo-tee-weet.
Oh, and 13 days after my ribs got busted some cranky anti-bike-lane cock-neck left me a string of thumbtacks leading up to my doorstep, as well as liberally salting the bike lane on 13th with thumbtacks. It's a dangerous world out here, no matter how you slice it! Be safe, friends!

Anonymous said...

I'd LOL you, but I'm recovering from my own stupid bike injury, I locked up my front brake, went over the handlebars at 15 - 20 MPH like Superman, except I landed on my chin instead of my feet, and broke my jaw in three places and did a significant amount of dental damage. It's now 3+ months later; I've been through an expensive jaw-repair surgery, which has healed as well as I could have expected, I'm still on a liquid diet, and I'm finally able to start dealing with the dental damage, which is not insignificant. Silver lining (sort of) - I was wearing a helmet and it never touched the ground and so was basically irrelevant, touche to all the helmet fascists! My friend blames it all on the linear pull ('V') brakes I was using...not sure I can argue with that; and I built up the front end of the bike myself so I can't blame Specialized or Trek or anyone else.

Anonymous said...

A skateboard? Fk, a resolution loophole...

courierpop said...

I took up skating in my late 50s after seeing Dogtown and Z-boys. It was fun, but I wore knee pads and elbow pads and of course, my bike helmet. I slipped.and fell backwards onto my head.I was okay but I got my bell rung pretty good. (Coincidentally wearing a bell helmet.)

Anonymous said...

I'm almost willing to bet that the second incident, that happened when it was almost time to go, happened because you were thinking about the fact that it was almost time to go. Likewise the first one obviously happened because you were thinking about people's reactions and, presumably about the kids. That's too much to think about. Skating plus any one thing is too much to think about. Zen master that shit. Heed the words of Yoda. It's not the "physical stuff" that needs to have a chillax, it's the "mental stuff" - your overactive-ass brain.