Cheap Tools Equal Danger


Good tools are usually worth the money spent. Not only do they make tasks easier and improve the quality of products, but they generally improve safety. Kitchen knives, chisels, wrenches, … the list is long.

Alpental ski rentals gave me a lesson, back on Christmas Eve 1999, if memory serves me well. Rather than my usual choice of demo skis, I chose the standard package and, when making a hard turn at the top of a cliff, came to the sudden realization that the bindings were poorly maintained. My downhill ski released and shot me right off the cliff. Amidst the screams of my favorite ski partner: I took a chunk of ice off the mountain with the back of my head; lost the other ski, both poles, half a boot, my hat, and at least one glove; and made something that looked like a cherry sno-cone with the fluid from my split lip.

Our day of skiing ended once we gathered my gear. My current habit of wearing a helmet also started as a direct result.

Saturday night I got another such lesson from my commuter bike. Not wanting to watch an expensive bike reduced to a pile of rust, nor wanting to tempt the rather scarce thieves in Japan, I opted to buy a cheap hybrid to park near the train station. Recently I noticed odd behavior from the chain and rear derailleur, and was planning to make time to get it inspected.

Applying hard pressure to the pedals for a quick burst of speed, the chain skipped several links forward causing the pedals to spin freely, making for a bad combination of inertia and leftward rotation. Not quite as hoped for, I did get a burst of speed, but the bike did not. Carrying a fully loaded pack helped encumber me and prevent me from taking much preventative action.

My left elbow hit the pavement hard, trading some flesh for tar and sand. My right ring finger apparently exerted enough force to break off a brake handle, resulting in enough pain to worry that I might have broken a bone. Realizing I needed help cutting some skin off the elbow, I decided to seek medical help.

I was afraid to go to a hospital in Tsu because it was late enough that I might miss the last train back to Ise, so I trotted the broken bike to the station and locked it up, bought a towel at the convenience store, and scrubbed out the elbow wound in the station bathroom, before boarding a southbound train.

On the other end, there was a comedy of errors in getting treatment which included finally going to a bar for help and me having to ride my good bike to the somewhat distant medical facilities.

Positive points included: no damage to my shakuhachi; unscathed, homegrown peaches in my pack; finding new bandage development which is producing amazing healing; new vocab skills; chat time with cute nurses; reassurance that even at 44 I can weather a nice slam into concrete; and some wonderful twists at the shop on Sunday resulting in speedy, inexpensive repair.


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6 Responses to “Cheap Tools Equal Danger”

  1. Dena Says:

    Correction I (bolded, underlined, and italized) collected your gear on the cherry sno-coned SLOPE because you were unresponsive at first…thus the screaming of your name over and over and over – until your ungloved hand rose from the snow and signaled me with the OK sign. Get your story straight Hammond.

    Glad that you weathered your second major bike crash. Please don’t try for three! I would like to ski with you again at some point! D.

  2. Teela Says:

    Wow i remember that story, you were quite loopy and looking for drugs (probably advil or smt) at our christmas party that year 😀 I’m glad to hear that you’re well and will still be able to come visit us in august!!!

  3. びっくり Says:

    Dena – I’m not sure if this counts as a major crash, but it isn’t my second. When I was about 6, I was knocked unconcious in a bike crash. Very disorienting riding around in the neighbor’s driveway, feeling the tires slip on spilled gravel, and waking up in a very dark room. When I was 22 I hit a rock at 35 mph on a downhill with a pick-up about three feet behind me (because he wanted to see how fast I was going). In Delaware I had a head on collision with a Camry (no question: that one could be considered major; although I walked out of the hospital a few hours later.) I’ll try not to have any more for a few years. Looks like they come about every 10 years or so.

    Teela – yes, I’m pretty sure I was concussed, but happy to be alive. See you on the 10th!!!

  4. Stefanie Says:

    Ouch! That made me cringe. I am glad you are ok and your failing bike was an inexpensive repair.

  5. びっくり Says:

    Things are healing up well.

  6. Several Broken Teeth « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] related. No, there is no need to worry. Those lines are for people who know about my getting thrown by a rebellious bike early in the summer and being hit by a car on August first. Actually, it has to do with getting to […]

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