An Un-planned Adventure

I finally got around to the Williamsburg ride I’ve been working on. I’ve been hoping to do it for the last several weekends but the weather has not cooperated. The weather forecast for today looked as good as can be expected in February, so I decided to give it a try. The plan was to ride from my home neighborhood to the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn where there are several nice coffee shops and eateries. My hope was that the route would be suitable for a club ride sometime in March or April. 

What should have been a straightforward ride turned into an adventure. I’m using the term adventure in its mountaineering form: a series of unplanned and unexpected events. 

Many, if not most, of the unexpected events related to my Garmin. Almost immediately, the Garmin signaled me to turn around and backtrack the course to the beginning. I’m sure there is some routing option that I’m overlooking when plotting my routes because the unit often wants to send me backwards on the course instead of in the desired direction. I think it has to do with the GPS seeing both the outbound and return legs of the course on the same road. This cost me about 20 minutes of time on the outbound leg, because I was on some unfamiliar side streets and the unit kept telling me to go home. Eventually I ignored the damn thing and found my own way to where I needed to be.

I made my way to the World’s Fair Grounds, which provided a nice respite from the traffic.



Shortly after leaving the fair grounds, it became apparent to me that my route was canine feces! What looks good on mapping software (in this case, Basecamp and RidewithGPS) does not translate to a nice route on the bike. My route as mapped crossed one too many super-busy intersections in the heart of Queens, posing an unacceptable risk for use as a club ride. Good thing I took this test ride.

My route took me through a deserted industrial park, not bad in itself but there were horrible cross winds to contend with until I got into Willamsburg. Once in town, I found that both places I wanted to patronize (Toby’s Estate Coffee and Fette Sau barbecue) had long waiting lines. So I took a ride down to the waterfront to snap this picture.


The view was lovely but the wind was really picking up and the sun had disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds. Time to head home. And time for the next phase of the adventure.

Because I had been tooling around the side streets of Brooklyn, Mr. Garmin wasn’t much help other then reminding me that I was “off course.” So I told the persnickety device to take me home. And it promptly told me to get on the BQE, a major highway. I pulled over, reset the course and once again it told me to get on the highway. I fumbled around for routing options, found none and decided to ride home unaided by the GPS. I’m pretty familiar with most parts of NYC so this wasn’t a major disruption beyond annoying me that the Garmin somehow forgot it is a bike GPS and should not suggest major highways. 

I made my way into Queens against a moderate headwind. Somehow I managed to time the ride so I pedaled into the wind in both directions. By now, the sun was setting so I decided to hop onto a NYC Parks bike trail to get some shelter from the wind and avoid automobile traffic. Big mistake.

I crashed after about 5 minutes on the bike trail. I was turning from one path to another when something shiny and long caught my eye (and my wheel). It was a metal rail, or edging, used to trim the edge of the paved path and separate it from the dirt and grass of the unpaved portion. My turn was just wide enough to align the edge of my tire against the edge of the rail and down I went in a right sided skid of about 6 feet.

As I began the fall/skid, I remember thinking, “This is gonna cause some damage, I wonder how much.” 

Quite a bit, as it turned out. As soon as I stopped skidding, I realized I was going to have some serious road rash to attend to. Pick up the bike. Stand up and stretch out. Head seems to be attached and working. It’s cold. My right hip, knee and elbow are screaming. I look at my clothes, two layers of lycra on the bottom and two long-sleeved layers of wool an poly on the top. No holes or rips. No blood showing. How can I be in pain-the pain of bad abrasions- when the clothes appear undamaged?

I stomped around for a few moments cursing and hating my choice of the bike path over the streets. Contemplated calling for help and decided the best thing to do was to get moving and let the adrenaline blunt the discomfort.

The last 15 miles were cold, windy and unpleasant. The pain disappeared within 10 minutes of hard riding but my brain was busy anticipating the damage, clean up and how miserable I will feel in the morning. Having to explain the crash to the wife wouldn’t be easy either.

It is odd how human skin can tear and shred underneath layers of slippery clothing. None of my garments were seriously damaged but my knee, hip and elbow have impressive, deep abrasions. The injuries will likely keep my off the bike for the rest of the week.

What an adventure. 47 miles, and I didn’t even get to try the barbecue.




About robertkerner

Educator, registered nurse, attorney, inquisitive mind
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2 Responses to An Un-planned Adventure

  1. That turned out to be a truly tough ride. Sorry you got hurt. I didn’t know your skin could take such damage and without tearing up your clothes. Hope the soreness doesn’t last too long!

  2. Sorry to hear about your injury!

    It sounds like you have auto-rerouting on in Garmin, and you have not selected the avoid major roads option. If you go to my blog and click on “Using Garmin” there are some instructions on how to set a Garmin properly for cycling. I went though all of what you described here before finally figuring it out!

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