How NOT to cycle in Cambridge

It seems that I have an uncanny knack for falling off my bike for no good reason whatsoever. In addition, most of these incidents have been fairly spectacular, so I will recount them for you...

Location: Chemistry Site Car Park. Lensfield Road.

Dynamics: Cycling back from a CCMS rehearsal one night with Dot, we had cause to cross the Chemisty Dept car park. We entered from the far corner, and I saw a huge expanse of tarmac open out in front of me. I did what any other slightly insane person might do - put my foot to the floor (metaphorically). Across the centre of the car park I noticed a series of short poles, about one foot high, separating parking spaces. I carefully aimed inbetween these. I was only about 5m from these (and doing c.20mph) when I noticed they were connected by a chain. Naturally I braked and hoped that I might ride over the chain. Moments later I landed on my face.

Dot soon came back to me (she realised the danger about the same time as me). I was leaking quite a lot of blood, and was very unsure of how much face I had left. Passers-by soon called an ambulance and fetched the Chemistry Dept security guard (complete with first aid kit). Having discovered that sitting up was a bad idea, I lay (in the cold and wet) until the ambulance arrived. They cleaned me up and took me to Addenbrookes where I was checked over for concussion before being allowed home.

Consequences: Two ambulances were called out (and arrived), I was left with quite a bit less skin on my face, which looked aweful for a few days, and a broken nose. The nose was straightened a few weeks later in day surgery (general anaesthetic), but is still a little wonky. There was a pool of blood on the tarmac for the next week.

I know that I am not the only person to have done this...maybe the chain should be removed/painted white?

Location: Trumpington Street, southbound, outside Pembrook p'lodge.

Dynamics: Straight road, no traffic. I was going quite fast, and had occasion to change gear. My gear lever was rather stiff at the time and this required me to take one hand off the handle bars. I fear I didn't compensate properly with the other, or slipped, or something. Anyway, I ended up skidding along the road. It was quite a long skid because I had enough time to think; "I've fallen off. I haven't stopped yet, I wonder when I will?". Eventually I did and after a failed attempt to get up just before the pain hit I was helped up by a passer-by and a porter. I left my bike and limped into lectures.

Consequences: A rather severely grazed knee, and a hole in my jeans. In addition I lost a tiny bit of skin from the top of my finger, which bled for HOURS. I was limping for the next few days, and as a consequence of walking, was late to most of my lectures.

Location: King's Parade, pavement outside the Senate House. (during the roadworks)

Dynamics: I approached the end of King's Parade and half-dismounted (riding on pedal). I had intended to cycle up onto the pavement (the pavement is lowered just there), before walking. I approached the pavement at a shallow angle, and upon turning into it, my wheel slipped from underneath me and left me lying on top of my bike on the pavement.

Consequences: I looked really silly. No injuries.

Location: Hill's Road, on southbound approach to Station Road traffic lights.

Dynamics: As I approached the traffic lights, I needed to get into the right-hand lane to continue down Hill's Road. Checking behind me I saw a car approaching, but a little way off. Wanting to do so promptly, so as not to be carved up by the car, I indicated and turned right. In the process of doing so, I lost my balance and (I believe) got my leg caught under the bike. This had the effect of tripping me up so that I lay (once again) in the road. Fortunately the car missed me and passers-by helped me up. (Thank God for passers-by!)

Consequences: A sore elbow and wrists. A broken brake lever on my bike.

Location: Bridge Street, at the zebra crossing at the south end. I was travelling north, though you could have worked that out - it is a One Way street. 11.6.99.

Dynamics: I was cycling round from the back entrance to Whewell's Court. Ahead of me I spotted a man stepping out onto the zebra crossing. As I was going quite fast and he was not far ahead of me, I braked hard. Clearly I braked too hard, as my bike threw me over the top of it, before jumping over me as I hit the ground. (A complete sumasault, with zero grace.) I was on my feet very quickly afterwards (almost landed on them), and a nice NSPCC collecting lady picked up my bike. She checked that I was okay, commented that I had gone rather white in the face, before leaving me to carry on.

Consequences: Cuts on my left leg accompanied by lots of bruising. A small amount of skin missing from the palm of my right hand, in such a position that I had to get John Hall to sign the Perse (girls) school (for that was where I was headed) guest book for fear of smudging blood all over it.

More to come...?

Disclaimer: I do not recommend doing this, to anyone, not even myself. Which is a shame, 'cos I've already done it (needless to say I have a cycle helmet). Still I thought you might be ammused.

TonyJohn uses: a Pergeot Laser 15. One of a rare batch that came with 18 gears instead of the usual 15. It is around 7 years old, and still going strong, though I have replaced: rear spindle, brake levers, both gear cables, both brake cables, bottom bracket (twice), grips, rear tire, rear derailer, bottle holder, brake pads.