Are We Lost Yet?

OUCH.
OUCH.

Happy New Year, kids. Started mine off with a bang. Or a crunch, rather.

Yesterday was the Westenders Lost Ride, and Doc lead twenty of us into the wilds of Washington on his glossy pink Stella, dual flags flying behind him. I was already lost when we passed UW and kept going, so I’m easy to please.

Our Fearless Leader, Doc. It takes a man very secure with his masculinity to ride a pink bike while wearing a scooter skirt!
Our Fearless Leader, Doc. It takes a man secure with his masculinity to ride a pink bike while wearing a scooter skirt!

I think the idea was to just keep taking random roads until nobody knew where we were. It was a fabulous day for a ride; the mountains were out and heavily frosted — even Rainier. We went down through the Arboretum and past Lake Washington and the views were gorgeous.

Once we were good and lost, snaking through serpentine corkscrew roads, the whole pack of us entered a narrow unpaved alley. I probably should have taken a detour as soon as I saw that long stretch of loose gravel. But alas, we pressed onward, attempting to navigate a sea of mud and circumvent enormous potholes filled waist-deep with black water.

I white-knuckled it through and when the end was in sight, the scooter in front of me slid to a stop at the mouth of a cavernous hole, and I tried to defy physics by braking with my front wheel turned. This may sound familiar, as it’s the same stupid mistake I made on the wet incline when I wiped out a few weeks ago.

But my choice was either hit the shiny new Vespa in front of me, or hit the pavement. So down I went with a vengeance. I actually heard the Frankenstella groan, “Oh Christ. Here we go again.”

I landed in the aforementioned wading pool, breaking my fall with my left hand, and breaking the scooter’s fall with my left ankle. Good thing that limb has a reinforced platinum core from the last time I broke it. I got a mouthful of mud and a rock imbedded in my palm through my glove.

After the three second shock delay passed, I got up and shook myself out. Nothing broken, no (visible) blood. The Frankenstella, not so lucky. I lifted her back up from the mud that had swallowed her left cowl, hearing the cha-ching of cash registers in my head as I surveyed my paint job and mangled front fender.

Hairy helped me get the scooter back upright and collect my scattered belongings. She started on the first kick, which was pure luck, as the engine often gets flooded when the bike goes down. I know all about that “getting back on the horse” philosophy, so soaking wet and muddy, I remounted and picked my way carefully through the gravel pit to the solid road ahead.

At the next stop sign, I checked my rear view and noticed we were missing half the group. A few minutes later, they were still missing. And then they came up the hill behind us, with Stella #2 covered in mud.

I would like to bring these statistics to light: 50% of the Stellas on this ride crashed. Fortunately (?), Vu’s bike was already put down twice on asphalt and the mud simply performed a mild exfoliating facial on the orange paint job. Here’s a photo of our twin mudbaths (I broke my camera when I fell on it):

mud

We arrived at the playground for a well-timed snack of hot cider and cookies, and I tried not to cry as I noticed the “S” from my emblem had broken off, and I was now riding a FRANKEN TELLA.

Eleste, my Tella.
Eleste, my Tella.

But Hairy to the rescue: he had retrieved my S from the mud and presented it to me with a flourish. He is part of the non-crashing 50% Stella Nation, and we kids try to look out for one another. I did feel quite a bit better. It’s the only emblem I have left on the stinkin thing after somebody swiped the one from the right cowl when it was parked on the street last spring.

One of the best parts of the ride was definitely the Coconut Curry Soup at the Honey Bear Bakery, where we had lunch at the end of the ride. After I ate, and my wounds thawed, and Doc bandaged my bloody hand, my bones began to feel the aftermath of my collision with unfriendly ground.

DEFEAT.
DEFEAT.

It’s a quiet defeat. I crawled home, into my hot tub and velour jammies. I entertained the idea of walking to work.

But I did ride this morning — first to Victrola and then to work. I was extra careful in the rain, which made me realize that I am *always* extra careful. And even though I feel like I was pressed under a steamroller today, the ride yesterday was well worth the price of admission.

Happy New Year. It can only get better from here.