Twilight of the Bicycles

I make one tiny little joke about preventable death, and then I nearly experience one…

I was cycling in to my first class this morning when I was nearly run down by a young motorist who was wisely watching for other cars on the street as she made a turn into traffic–and unwisely not watching for anything else. She did eventually stop. I’m not sure whether it was my polite manly screams or the crunch of my bike’s rear wheel under her car that led her to realize this wasn’t a routine turn. (I hope it wasn’t a routine turn for her.)

She was most apologetic, and I was undamaged and even the bike escaped relatively unharmed. The rear wheel is now bent like a banana but the rest of it seems to be in good shape.

And, as it happens, I have another ruined bike I can cannibalize for a rear wheel. I was biking around campus during winter break when the pedal-shaft of my bike actually snapped. My explanation for this is that my powerful, classically trained thighs exert a force that mere carbon steel cannot be expected to withstand. My son’s rather skeptical reply was that “there must have been some corrosion” (which is, unfortunately, supported by an examination of the broken shaft).

So I plan to use the rear wheel from Bike A to repair Bike B and get back on the road fairly soon.

Maybe this isn’t such a great idea, though. Powerful cosmic forces seem to be aligning against my biking on or near the campus. But as long as the weather isn’t among them, I guess I’ll keep giving it a shot.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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8 Responses to Twilight of the Bicycles

  1. sartorias says:


    May that be your bad luck quota for 2008!

  2. burger_eater says:

    When I rode a bike, I wanted one of those brain-shatteringly loud electric horns that people sometimes blast at sports events. Something no one could miss.

    • JE says:

      Hey, that would be great! Except I’m afraid that some people behind the wheel might be operating with already-shattered brains…

  3. le_trombone says:

    Geez. I hope that is the last time anything like that happens to you.

    Are there alternate routes that you could take? There are some roads that are in theory fine to bike on in Chicago, but I won’t take them because I consider them a little too cramped for the bicycle. Fortunately there are plenty of residential roads to chose from.

    • JE says:

      Thanks–it wasn’t fun, but I guess it could have been worse.

      Unfortunately there’s no way for me to get to campus without going down or at least crossing this street, which runs right by some dorm parking lots. If there’s a car waiting at an intersection there I normally don’t cross in front of it until I’ve made eye contact with the driver. But this time I didn’t because the car’s windows were tinted so heavily I could barely see the driver. Another time I think I’ll make extra sure the driver has a clue before I proceed.

  4. bg_editor says:

    I’m glad you’re okay!

    Must be a conspiracy afoot against BG authors and editors…

    • JE says:


      I didn’t think of the conspiracy angle: we’d better warn John.

      My first notion was that the driver was some disgruntled former Latin student resorting to the ultimate student evaluation.

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