My Fireworks Fiasco (long)
Last night there was a large fireworks celebration in my town. It is an annual event put on by many of the "local" businesses in town (Wal*Mart, Home Depot, PetsMart, Toys R Us, Circuit City, etc.) to "thank their customers."
This year I decided to ride my bike. I rode there (about 3 mi) in the dusk with my L&M HID light and two rear blinkies. I cruised around for a while, but when the fireworks started I pulled off the side of the road and sat on the grass to watch. By this time uit was pretty dark. The police and fire departments were there with full force and had cordoned off some areas.
The fireworks were great, but the wind brought them toward me. Soon I found that flaming pieces of fireworks were landing not 20 feet from me! It was like a meteor shower. They also landed on the road and cars in the road. I didn't think this was good, but the fire chief (right in front of me) didn't seem too concerned.
However, when the fire chief started ducking behind his car for cover, I knew things were getting interesting. During lulls in the fireworks, I discovered I could hear pieces of debris falling all around me. It almost sounded like rain. When an especially bright firework went off, I looked to my left and found a 3" piece of firework casing right next to me. I reached over, picked it up, and put it in my jersey pocket to take home. I also adjusted my position so I would be less exposed from above. It was scary, but a fun kind of scary.
Soon a firework went off at about 1/2 the height of the others. Bright streamers came down into the grassy area across the street. They landed and each started small fires. Some people were shouting "There's a fire!" The fire chief said something into his radio and several fire trucks, sirens blaring, went into the field and started putting out the fires.
After the fireworks ended I rode home. One man said, "Look at that light; it's almost as bright as a car." I like to hear that -- it means I'm visible!
I leisurely pedaled and coasted down my dead-end street, not paying much attention to where I was going. I knew the street so well I hardly needed a light. I turned my light to the side to look at people's yards. I was having a great time, when about 200 feet from my house, I heard a thud and my bike started going uphill.
I had forgotten about the skate ramps that my brother and other neighborhood kids had in the street. I went up a three-foot ramp, onto the tabletop, and crashed down the vert ramp. At 18-+ mph this all happened in less time than it took to say, "Oh, $%!#!" My pedals came out of the cleats, and I fell forward onto my bike on my knees and hands.
I was lucky - in the end I just had a scraped-up knee and a cut on my thumb. My gloves really saved my hands. I walked my bike home, and had some interesting stories to tell my family.
My bike's handlebars are almost 90 degrees out of alignment, the front wheel is out of true, there's something wrong with the rear brakes, the right hand shifter is bent in, and there may be other damage that couldn't be seen with a quick 30-second inspection. I'll probably do some of the repairs and have the bike shop do the rest.
Lessons from last night:
* HID lights are good. Really good.
* Bike gloves are good too.
* Stunt riding should be performed with BMX bikes, not expensive road bikes.
* Pay attention - the HID light doesn't help you if you don't look where you're going.