September 16, 2007

I almost died last night and all I got was this tiny bruise.

Portland is crisscrossed with the paraphernalia of public transit. It's impossible to walk around downtown if you're more than fifteen feet tall without running into the overhead lines that power the Max trains. In the outlying areas the tracks for the trains and streetcars get their own, BART-like, barricaded trackways, but in the city center they run down the middle of major streets just as bold as you please. Thoughtful city planners placed the tracks in the middle of the vehicle lanes, flush with the street with only narrow grooves in them so that people can drive over them without trouble. Thoughtful city planners failed to reckon with road bikers.

Last night I was riding to the Tea Zone, the strange little Pearl District teashop and lounge where my roommate plays about every two weeks. It's not an easy place to find; it's tucked away in the middle of its block, in a vortex of one-way streets. My usual method of finding it is to ride in a kind of interrupted circle in the general five-block radius of where I vaguely recall it to be located. On this particular occasion it took me nearly as long to find it from two blocks away as it did to get to the Pearl from my house. When I finally spotted it, then, I was not about to wait for another circle and more wrong-way streets to help me lose it again. I was on the right one-way street, going the right way, but on the wrong side to pull over and park. So I swerved neatly across to the left lane and prepared to stop.

This is where I rode over the streetcar tracks at an unwisely oblique angle, the skinny front tire of my bike slipped down into the track, I tried and failed to steer back out of it, and the whole bike went crashing to the ground completely out of my control. I couldn't get to my feet while it was falling over, and wound up down on one hand and knee in the middle of the lane watching the lights of a car coming up behind me.

Obviously, if I am blogging about this, I am still alive. Actually, I was fine -- the car stopped and the driver asked if I was okay, which, judging by the fact that I was able to scramble back to my feet and pick up my bike, I was. He drove on, I picked up the little tinkling piece of metal that I'd seen bouncing away and which turned out to be just the endcap of one of my handlebars, and I limped over to the sidewalk to inspect the situation. I scraped a tiny bit of skin off of one of my knuckles, so lightly there wasn't even a token speck of blood. I bruised my right knee through my pants. My bike saddle, one of those awful and indestructible old-school hardened leather jobs, now has a single scrape on one side. That's it.

I'm honestly kind of disappointed. I wiped out spectacularly in the middle of traffic and I don't have anything to show for it. After I locked up my bike and made my shaky way into the Tea Zone, I explained the situation to one of my roommate's friends. She was appropriately sympathetic, but the fact was that she had more to show for breaking her toenail in dance class than I did for crashing to the ground around an out-of-control bike. Over the course of the evening I made a few efforts to conspicuously inspect the tiny bruise forming on my aching knee, but its faint purply tinge totally failed to cause my companions to gasp and fuss over me and demand to hear the whole story. I had absolutely no opportunities to be dashing and cavalier and insist that it was nothing, because, in fact, it was nothing.

What was not nothing was B.O.O.B.S. 2007. When Portland puts on a burlesque show, it puts on a fucking burlesque show. There were pasties. There was glitter. There were tassels and feather boas. There was a devastatingly sexy lady Prince impersonator. There was fire. (For my reader who performs fire-spinning tricks: yes, but have you done it with your nipples?) There was, at one point, the lounge version of "Baby Got Back" and spinning ass tassels. Spinning ass tassels.

So there's that to be said for the evening.

Posted by dianna at September 16, 2007 02:15 PM

I think that was a technique in the advanced class, and i never quite got that far.

Posted by: Ping at September 16, 2007 11:22 PM