Friday, 6 January 2012

a momentary lapse of concentration

Whenever I make a mistake, I always try to work out why I made the mistake and how I can avoid making the same mistake in future. This is especially important with those activities that require a measure of physical and mental skill, such as driving. It’s the only road to improvement, because constant practice is pointless if you’re not aware of any errors being made (and most errors are trivial, most of the time).

With this in mind, and with nothing else to do for five days but lie on my back in the local hospital following the unfortunately premature end to our last Saturday morning adventure of 2011, I spent quite some time trying to work out why I fell off my bike while negotiating a bend that I’ve negotiated hundreds of times in the past without mishap.

Admittedly, the bend in question is quite sharp, but I certainly wasn’t going too fast, even though the bend is at the bottom of a long downslope on the cycle track from road level. One likely clue is that the crash was precipitated by scraping my right-hand pedal on the ground. I was sprawled in a heap on the ground within a small fraction of a second of this happening, with no chance of regaining control.

But why would I allow my pedal to scrape the ground? I learned long ago that it is prudent to freewheel around tight bends to avoid precisely this fate, although on the odd occasion when it had happened in the past there had been no dangerous repercussions. Still, freewheeling is the safe option.

However, the bend leads into a short subway, beyond which the track continues back up to road level. And the upslope begins at the bend. It was at this point that I remembered I’d found myself in too high a gear and foolishly decided to change down as I rounded the bend. But in order to change gear, it is necessary to pedal. Ooops! You can be sure I’ll be checking which gear I’m in the next time I have to tackle this bend.

Unfortunately, that next time will not be before March. Although I was banged a bit about the head, that’s what helmets are for, and mine performed according to its job specification. However, my left knee took the full force of my downward momentum, and I ended up with a fractured patella and a plaster cast from ankle to groin, which I shall have to put up with for the next six weeks.

This also means that I probably won’t be posting much for a few weeks, because sitting at a computer for any length of time is rather uncomfortable. On the other hand, I do have at least a dozen posts at various stages of completion, so once the discomfort has eased, you can expect quite a lot from me within a short period, including the real reason for the 2008 financial crisis, a complete overview of black music in the 1960s, the psychology of law-breaking, and why the Saturday morning adventure is so much fun, as long as concentration is never allowed to become anything less than total. The consequences of any lapse can be painful.


  1. No it doesn’t Bruce. But I’m sure it will once the weather warms up. For now, hobbling around with the aid of a stick is a bigger problem.

  2. Happy New Year Dennis!
    I am so sorry you are in such situation. I don't quick get what you were trying to figure out, but, I believe you will figure it out sooner or later. I totally agree that we need to learn from our mistakes, in order not to make the same again. Your upcoming posts sound interesting. However I hope you take good care and take as much time as you needed.

  3. Don’t worry Yun Yi. I will take my rehab one step at a time.

  4. Keep on Truckin' there Dennis. Looking forward to the upcoming posts.

  5. JBangin, it could be earlier than you think. I need to rethink this period of enforced immobility. I could be bored stupid if I don't write. Give me a few days.

  6. Dennis, I read you post again and this time I have better understanding about you "lesson". It seems to me that you certainly found the cause and learned the lesson.
    You know what? I hate the bicycles with gear setting. I used to live in Chengedu - a city with perfect flat ground and people go everywhere with bicycles. I enjoyed biking so much when I lived there, and bicycles only have one gear back then. I almost believe that bicycle should only have one gear instead of multi leveled gears. For mountain biking they should really shove the mountain flat instead of inventing this gear change stuff. lol...
    Anyway, hope you get better soon:-)

  7. Yun Yi, I had a bike with only one gear when I was growing up. I hated it. And there are two hills on our usual Saturday morning route that would be impossible without an extra gear. You could say “well make that the one gear”, but then you would pedal furiously and get nowhere on flat or downhill sections. Gears allow the rider to travel as fast as possible whatever the slope, but of course you must remember when not to change gear, which I failed to do on this occasion.

    I’m sure you already know why I would disapprove of levelling all the mountains.

  8. Ouch, hope you are all batter now. I had a very bad accident in my teens taking a corner way too fast with the peddle down. I hate those lapse in reasoning, I seem to have them every few years, and it leads to some kind of accident.

    1. Unfortunately, I had a relapse over the summer because the weather was so bad and I couldn’t do any cycling, but now that I’m back in Hong Kong I’m doing a modest 25km every day (except Sunday, when there are too many idiots abroad) and I’m feeling much better. Thanks for asking.


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