Monday, November 23, 2009

Bike Traps: An instant endo?

I came across this wicked little bike trap during a ride over the weekend.

It's a crumbling drain cover reinforced with rebar. The sinister thing is that there's a series of these covers in a long line. So when you're riding along looking at the undamaged covers, you get lulled into complacency, stop paying attention to them, stray a little bit off your line, then "BAM!" you ride over this one and go over your handlebars. OK, this is unlikely because any fool knows that you should never ride over any kind of manhole or grate in China - and probably in most other countries. So many are ill fitted, unstable or just nonexistent.

This bike trap is along a narrow road that goes through a semi-rural area. On the right side of the road, there's a big banana field. But there's also a farmer's market nearby along with a university district and an industrial zone. So there are always trucks, buses and tractors and three-wheel carts that you need to avoid. It's easy to ride into a bike trap like this while doing an evasive maneuver to miss a swerving container truck.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes to fix this thing. The stretch of road has long been a disaster, but about four months ago, road crews patched up some of the roughest parts. I chalked it up to China's US$586 billion stimulus plan. But it didn't take long for the road to become a nightmare again. Maybe I should start riding a cross bike.

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