Tuesday, January 25, 2011

France: Awkward Bike Moment #6,702

Today while walking through downtown Montpellier, British guy and I watched a woman roll past us on her bike. As she made her way effortlessly across the tram tracks, British guy turned to me with a smirk on his face.

"Look, she didn't fall over." 

Glaring at him, I tried to suppress a smile. 

He was referencing an experience I'd had last summer. I'd just purchased my new-to-me road bike, and I was still getting the hang of, well, riding it. 

I'd hopped on the train with my road bike in Geneva to meet British guy for a weekend of cycling in the mountains around Grenoble. He met me at the station and then we jumped on our bikes to ride back to his apartment. 

Wearing a light summer dress and flimsy sandals, getting on my bike was anything but an elegant affair. With one hand on my dress and my knees clamped together to try and keep the fabric from sliding up, I did my best to keep up with British guy who was whizzing through traffic like some sort of crazed video game character. Crash Bandicoot comes to mind.

Darting around cars and slipping neatly into the small pockets in the mid-day traffic, I was just barely managing to keep up with British guy. And then we started crossing the tram lines. With narrow grooves just wide enough to snag the tire of a road bike, they're a potential hazard for the novice cyclist. 

We cross our first set of tram tracks. No problem.

Second set of tram tracks. No problem. 

British guy turns to me at a traffic light. "You're doing well going over the tram tracks. Sometimes beginners have a difficult time and get their tires stuck in the tracks." 

This hadn't even occurred to me. 

Tram Tracks aka The culprit. 

Third set of tram tracks going through Victor Hugo square. I turn my bike to ride over the tracks and the next thing I know I'm heading straight for the pavement, headfirst and with no time to stick out my arm to brace myself. I can already hear the collective gasp of everyone around me. 

Hitting the ground with a resounding thwack I don't even have time to register what has happened before I'm bounding to my feet and trying to assure everyone in broken French that I'm perfectly alright...I think. Adrenaline is surging through my veins and as British guy wheels his bike around to see what all the commotion is about, all I feel is sheer humiliation. 

I pull my dress down, checking the girls to see that they're still restrained behind the flimsy fabric, and wipe dirt smudges off my face. My hands are covered in grease and all I succeed in doing is smearing grease across my face and dress. My attempts at being sexy are completely and utterly thwarted. I look a mess, am burning red from the shame, and I have a mild concussion to boot. 


British guy helps me drag my bike to the sidewalk. He looks concerned and then amused when he realizes that I'm fine. He helps me to pop the chain back in place and suggests that we walk to a café.

I sit down and British guy follows with a glass of water for me and a coffee for him. I look at him sheepishly.

"I can't believe I fell off my bike in front of the whole town."

British guy grins. "I can." 


  1. Oh no, I really liked Never a Dull Moment for a title! Well, as long as the writing doesn't change I think I'll be ok :D

    I hope all is well with you, have fun globe trotting!


  2. I end up doing stuff to embarrass myself in public all the time...