APRIL 27, 2010

Prato della Valle: My pop-a-wheely fail

Prato della Valle: My pop-a-wheely fail
Prato della Valle: The spot where I had my infamous crash
Prato della Valle: The beautiful park where I had my infamous crash

From Master’s in Teaching candidate Kate Peterson.

While cruising around town recently on my bicycle, which I’ve lovingly named Stella, something silly happened. Here’s the story:

The local park Prato della Valle has a stream running around the perimeter. Four bridges lead to a central fountain in a plus-shaped fashion. Vendors sell fruits and veggies all along one side and on weekends, the whole park is surrounded by a market where one can find anything from toys to power tools to lingerie to leather goods to jewelry to formal dress suits. On any given day, the park is fairly crowded with joggers, soccer players, children chasing pigeons, seniors relaxing on benches with newspapers and extremely affectionate young couples canoodling in the grass.

On a particularly busy afternoon this week, I thought I’d test out my new wheels by trying a move I’d only seen attempted by teenage boys. After crossing the bridges, there are smooth, narrow openings designed for the passage of a bicycle. There is a step on the opposite side, I presume, designed for pedestrians on foot. I thought I’d see if I could pop-a-wheely up onto the platform as I’d seen done a few times. Yes, the boys were on stunt bikes but I thought if I approached the lip fast enough, I could make the jump. As I narrowed my eyes and gained speed, I attracted the attention of a few horrified locals.

Just as I was less than a meter from the step, I panicked and slammed on the so-called brakes, skidding to a near halt as my back tire became wedged between the cobblestones. My upper body thrust forward and my knees got stuck under the basket by the handlebars (thankfully preventing me from flying off the bike and into the shallow stream). Refusing to release my grip on the handles and hooking my toes tightly under the pedals in an attempt to secure myself, I ended the stunt by simply tipping sideways, wide-eyed and trapping myself beneath the lifeless cruiser.

As the nearby children stopped chasing birds to watch, a very kind person muscled the heavy bike to the side and peeled me off the ground.  I muttered a few sheepish words of gratitude in Italian and casually pedaled past the mystified onlookers sitting at the fountain. And yes, I went directly to my favorite gelato stand. I figured I deserved a double scoop after that debacle.

More highlights (and hopefully not accidents) from my week soon! Thanks for all your comments!


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