Last year it was coat hangers. Five of them distributed across the bike lane in the middle of an awkward 3-way intersection. Perhaps they were laid there by some disgruntled dry cleaner or the person who jettisoned an assortment of blue children’s bathing suits a mile or two up the road. The hangers sat there for months defying street sweepers and car tires to move them.
I started to wonder if they were being replaced and repositioned each night just to add another obstacle to the daily commute’s challenge of nails, sheet metal screws, pull hooks, pins, nuts, bolts, bungee cords, broken glass, batteries, assorted plastic cutlery and the occasional left shoe. (why left, always left?)
Call them the occupational hazards of the professional bicycle commuter. You watch the road and stay sharp or the sharp bits get you sooner or later. I’ll tempt fate by saying that since having a bad stretch this summer, I’ve gone three months and 1500 miles since the last flat. The breakaway will get caught tomorrow morning then, guaranteed.
Of course, it’s always the bullet you don’t see that kills you. I’m reminded of that famous line by all the stuff that crackles, pops and pings beneath our tires, sight unseen. My favorites are the gunshots that go off sending projectiles sideways into passing cars (never react), unsuspecting friends or once, spectacularly, hitting the front window of a house 30 feet away.
Stranger still is the invisible but audible debris you trigger several days running. Given the width of a road tire that wouldn’t seem possible, but mystically it is. I guess my line of travel is just that precise. It’s that confounding precision you experience after repeatedly running over the same sunken drain camouflaged in the shadows of a tree-lined street. And don’t get me started about the blue lizard sunning himself in the road on Mondays and Tuesdays.
You tell that to the young people of today, and they won’t believe you.