I'm usually a very careful guy. I don't take a lot of silly risks. Friday at critical mass in San Francisco I did a dumb one. After a couple of hours of riding and general silliness, I decided to try to get to the front of the procession to see if we could steer it towards Fisherman's Wharf. At the time we were on Market Street. In case you don't know, Market has lots of trolley tracks. These work out to grooves the perfect size for tripping bicycles. Zooming in and out, I didn't have the luxury of hitting them at a safe angle. Sure enough, they got me. It was by far the worst fall I've had in many years. Allow me to show you the damage.


My helmet was totaled. Aside from the cracks, the walls they are part of are now noticeably thinner than they were. I got ten years out of the thing, and when I got into a bad spot it crumpled on cue. It was a Giro. I'm going to buy another one of their helmets if I can find one that fits as well as that one did. Good insurance. As Xion Host told me, "helmet is your friend."


I had minor damage to my shin and knuckles. I bit my lip and got minor strawberrys on my cheek and chin. Probably I can thank the helmet that wasn't worse, because the bulk of it mostly kept my face off the ground.


My keys dug into my leg and out through my pants. The keys came through okay. All of them still work. Even the fob is fine. I'd take some of them off the ring except for the fact I use every one of them on a regular basis.

I'm not sure how I managed to skin my elbow without ripping my jacket or shirt, but that does seem to be what happened. Aside from those, I've got a sore shoulder. Nothing too dramatic, but it makes carrying my bike up and down stairs a hassle.

My back tire went flat. At the scene I didn't notice this, and I got to the train station okay. When I got off in Mountain View it wouldn't carry me any more. At that point I didn't care. I was a bit wobbly, and walking home was a calming experience.


The seat, headlight, and derailure all suffered minor cosmetic damage. I think of that kind of thing as "baptism." It gives my bike that aura of being a real part of my life.

I remember getting up after the accident. I was a bit foggy for a couple of seconds. I vaguely remember being surrounded by my fellow riders, but once they realized I was okay they vaporized. I did a quick check to make sure that my parts worked, picked up the loose pieces and headed for the sidewalk as fast as I could get there. I thought for a bit and figured it was time for me to go home. I moved very gingerly the whole way. Waiting for the next train, I talked to somebody that told me bicyclists get tripped by those train tracks all the time.

Looking back now, I don't remember another time since the 1980s that I've gotten that dinged. When I totaled my car a couple of years ago I didn't even get bruised by the seat belt. The evening before this event I'd been at a talk about the Israeli bombing of Gaza just after Christmas. In the slide show that went with the talk there were many pictures of seriously hurt and dead people and other animals. This was nothing compared to that, despite being a big event for me.

You know that old saying "courage is getting back on a bike after you fall off"? I'm sure I've got that much courage. The problem is that I don't have another "the revolution will not be motorized" sticker. That only happened once, many years ago now. The daily democracy sticker is also rare nowadays. I clipped that out of a Nader 2000 sticker. I'm going to miss riding with those feathers on my cap.