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Horrific road detritus
Don’t get me wrong here: I don’t think I deserve a cookie of gratitude, nor am I lobbying for a Gus Goodguy Award, but I have been known to contribute to the upkeep of our fair city’s roadways.
It’s nothing major, mind you.
I’ve called in especially egregious potholes and reported malfunctioning street lights, and I’ve done my share of some light lifting when it comes to keeping the pavement clear of potentially dangerous detritus.
In some cases, the act is more altruistic than others. I’ve dragged several downed tree limbs to the side of the road, for instance, simply because it’s easier for me to throw the bike to the ground and move the offending wood than it would be for a passing motorist, for example, to park, get out, drag, get back in the car, drive off.
But most of the time, I’m a selfish bugger. Most of the hazards are hazardous to me, too, so by taking action I’m trying to save my own bacon. Or rubber. Occasionally, though, the act of removing the danger is just as dangerous as the hazard itself.
The other day, I was riding home from my son’s school when I looked down and saw a huge nail — seven inches or so long — in the one tiny stretch of bike lane on our regular ride. I didn’t want to toss it in the nearest yard — mowing shrapnel, doncha know — or kick it to the curb, so I scooped it up and rode the rest of the way home with it in my left hand.
At one point, I rose out of the saddle and noticed my left knee was coming precariously close to the nail’s business end. I thought about what might happen if I had wiped out — “Well, doc, I was riding with this metal spike, see, and crashed, which is why it’s protruding from my skull; won’t you please remove it?” — and decided maybe it wasn’t such a great idea.
Similarly, I encounter three box-knife blades on one of my regular commute routes, and short of carrying a sharps container with me, I can’t figure a good way to lug them home for a proper disposal.
Same deal with broken glass, which I’ve been known to sweep out of the middle of roads and paved paths to avoid dreaded flats.
In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween holiday, I’ve begun to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t plan ahead and incorporate some of the dangers into an on-bike costume.
Shove the blades through a leather glove, get a striped sweater and a hat and — voila! — Freddy Krueger.
A headband, a couple of splashes of fake blood and the aforementioned nail from hell could become the classic spike-through-the-head gag.
A handful of broken glass, especially the bottleneck, and I’m a mean drunk: “I’ll cut you man! I’ll cut you!”
Or scoop up a handful of the fasteners I find strewn all over our street, stick ’em in a thick rubber mask, zip up some black pleather and I’m Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise.
Or I could continue to ride inappropriately with all manner of pointy things, suffer a simple crash, and I would be the Bloody Stupid Biker Who Doesn’t Have Sense Enough Not To Ride With Sharp Stuff.