bicylce handlebar - Macrovector - Shutterstock

This Day in History – July 22nd – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight

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NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY… JULY 22

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1990 – Tour de France.

American Greg LeMond wins his third Tour. He called it the most enjoyable victory of the three, because unlike the first two, in 1990 he had the support of a strong team. LeMond is still the only American to have ever won the classic race without fueling his victory with banned drugs. He also won his final two tours after nearly losing his life from being riddled by an accidental shotgun blast while hunting.

After he was done racing LeMond became a Minnesotan. This about the time I became a serious bike rider. I never did, but other riders I knew had encountered LeMond on the bike trails interwoven throughout the Twin Cities.

The Tour is being televised right now and in watching it, one witnesses some spectacular and gruesome falls. My July 18th blog post was about a bike accident and I am going to continue with that theme today: the story of my own most serious accident, eighteen years ago. It also fits more accurately under the category of stupid rather than spectacular. If I employed any common sense after Naomi’s accident, that quality was certainly missing after my own.

I was moving all of two miles an hour at the time of my fall. At the bottom of a S-shaped ramp leading up to a bridge over the Mississippi, I slowed to a near stop to let two bikers coming down ride past. They said thanks and just as they passed, one said with a smile “Beautiful day.” Good Minnesotan that I am, I thought I should acknowledge the friendliness. I looked back over my shoulder to reply as I turned onto the ramp. My front wheel caught a crack and in a moment I was down. My left arm instinctively shot out to break the fall. There was a jolt of pain in my wrist as I hit the cement.

My immediate thought was a broken bone. I lay there stunned for several seconds, and then took a cautious look at my wrist, fearful of what I might see. Everything looked okay so I slowly got to my feet, convincing myself nothing serious was wrong. The other bikers had kept going, not hearing my yelp of pain. I was wearing those old knit type of riding gloves and noticed blood was seeping through from my knuckles. I washed off the blood with water from my bottle and wanting to believe that was my only injury, decided to continue the ride.

About fifty yards later the pain in my wrist suggested I should reconsider my decision. Especially since I couldn’t even close my fingers to squeeze the brake. I decided the wisest course of action would be to head home. The problem was I didn’t exactly know how to get there. So far that day I had ridden for twenty-five miles in a circular route around the city, but was sure I was less than ten miles from home so backtracking made no sense.

No doubt I must have been experiencing some sort of shock for I made very few good decisions from that moment on. I took my right hand and squeezed the fingers of my left hand onto the front of my t-shirt. Gripping it that way hurt less. I coasted down a hill into North Mississippi Regional Park. At the bottom of a hill a squad car was parked. Two police officers inside watched me pass, perhaps noting the something didn’t seem right. I haughtily ignored them, as if nothing were wrong. Why? I haven’t a clue. All I know is I did not want help.

I took several wrong turns before finding my way out of the park. I got onto a road that passed through an industrial area populated with junkyards, warehouses, and lumber yards. A Sunday, there was little traffic on the road. I stopped at a red light and now another police car pulled up next to me. A woman officer was inside and I felt her long stare at me. I stared straight ahead, as if everything was fine. Again, why? There was a fear fluttering around deep inside me, maybe by asking for help I would be acknowledging that fear. She pulled away and I was relieved.

Next I got lost, meandered amongst a maze of warehouses, and had to backtrack. I had been looking for a shortcut. I reached Broadway Avenue and now knew where I was. I crossed the bridge over the Mississippi and pedaled onto Boom Island. Maybe five miles to my house now. I could make it. Next was Nicollet Island. I had a friend who lived there and I biked within two blocks of her house. My resolve was strong, I was holding it all together and I worried if I veered off to her place, and she wasn’t home, that resolve would crumple. Then what? This was before I owned a cell phone so I couldn’t call.

Near the University of Minnesota the road I wanted to take was closed for construction. I ignored the sign, thinking what, that they didn’t really mean it? I hit a muddy road and was unable to ride. Not wanting to retreat, I picked up my bike and carried it up a very long set of steps only to be greeted by a chain link fence at the top. What the hell do I do now? This whole thing had become so absurd I almost had to laugh. Except for the pain. Then I saw a gate locked with a chain, but it had enough play in it for me and the bike to squeeze through. I wasn’t quite sure where I was, somewhere on the edge of the U of M campus. I was walking my bike and something was off, like the planet was wobbly, not solid. It hadn’t felt that way when I was riding so with some difficulty I got back on my bike. I rode past a family of four on a sidewalk. They stopped walking and just watched me bike past. I must have looked pretty bad.

Then I saw the River Road and got my bearings. A mile from my house I became nauseated. I stopped, sat under a shade tree, wanted to take a nap but decided against it. I drank some water and poured the rest over my head. It helped and I got back on my bike and made it home. The ride home was thirteen miles and it had taken me two hours. A friend took me to the emergency room. Broken wrist, broken bone in my hand, dislocated finger, and six weeks in a cast.

The next year I rode backed back to where I had fallen. It was only eight miles from my house. Shock, pain, and bad decisions had added an additional, and certainly unneeded, five miles onto the ride. In my July 18th blog post about Naomi’s accident, I noted how I’ve never found much joy in embracing sensible. Stated another way, good sense seldom contributes to a good story.

Okay, enough with bike accidents, got that out of my system. The next This Day in History will follow the more traditional pattern.

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ABOUT GARY JENNEKE

At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at gary@newswhistle.com.

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CREDITS

The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.

Sources:

OnThisDay.com 

Wikipedia.org 

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We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (Bicycle Handlebar Art) – Macrovector / Shutterstock.com

* 1990 Tour de France (video) – Classic Cycling / YouTube.com

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio / Shutterstock.com

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OTHER DAYS IN HISTORY …

December 2

* December 5

* December 9

December 11

December 12

* December 15

December 16

December 18 

December 22

December 23

December 24

December 28

* December 30

* January 3

January 4

January 6

January 7

January 10

* January 11

* January 14

January 15

January 16

January 19

January 21

January 22

January 24

January 25

January 29

January 30

February 1

February 3 

February 5

February 6

* February 9

* February 10

* February 11

February 14

February 15

February 18

February 20

February 21

February 24

February 25

February 28

March 2

March 3

March 6

March 9

March 10

March 12

* March 14

March 16

March 17

March 19

March 20

March 21

March 23

March 26

March 27

March 29

March 31

April 2

April 3

April 6

April 7

April 11

* April 12

April 13

April 18

April 19

April 22

April 23

April 25

April 28

April 29

May 2

May 3

* May 4

May 6

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 13

* May 17

May 18

May 19

May 23

* May 24

May 26

* May 28

May 29

June 1

June 2

June 3

June 8

June 9

June 10

June 15

June 17

June 18

June 19

June 21

June 23

June 24

June 28

June 29

June 30

July 2

* July 3

July 6

July 12

July 13

July 15

July 18

* July 19

July 23

July 25

July 30

July 31

* August 3

August 7

August 10

August 11

August 16

August 17

August 21

August 24

August 25

* August 28

August 31

September 2

September 5

September 6

September 8

September 11

September 12

September 15

September 16 

September 17

September 21

September 23

September 24

September 25

September 28

September 30

October 1

October 3

October 7

October 10

October 12

October 14

* October 16

October 18

October 24

October 25

October 27

October 28

October 30

November 3

* November 4

November 5

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 13

November 14

November 16

* November 17

November 19

November 20

November 23

November 28

November 30

* Stay tuned for more!

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