Bikes take abuse.
I just happen to be especially rough on mine.
My first bike’s final condition after wrecking it, crashing it and wiping out numerous times was as follows: Front fork bent up to the handlebars, one missing pedal, too many dents to count, an eighteen speed gear system that could barely switch gears and reflectors that have been sheared clean off. That’s due partially to the fact that I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until the summer of seventh grade, but my clumsiness might’ve had something to do with it. Rather, I wouldn’t call it clumsiness, because that implies that I wasn’t trying to do something that would cause me to wreck. Recklessness is a better description of my bike-riding.
“I wanna go fast. That’s what I want to do.” I started pedaling furiously. I didn’t want to stop, and I was running out of sidewalk. I felt like I was free, my joints didn’t hurt; I felt more alive than I had in a while. The adrenaline was fantastic. I felt like….. ummm…. like I had a lot of adrenaline going through my system, and it takes A LOT to get my adrenaline pumping because my heart has a constant supply of adrenaline due to my heart condition of sinus tachycardia which causes my heart to beat at twice its normal speed. That means that I’m always so chipper because my bpm is 120. I’d like to say I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but that’d be a lie.
About fifteen yards away from the intersection, I hit the brakes. It was at that moment that I realized that I had been riding a bike with completely worn brakes. A man at the bike shop described it as a “hideous death-trap.” This was my hint that I might be in a bit of a predicament, but then, thinking on my feet, I decided to try and round the corner at the stoplight. I didn’t realize until the moment I began to turn that there was no way I would be able to make it.
At a 45 degree angle, I hit the curb, and my front fork collapsed. I, of course, was sent flying like a bird…….. A flightless bird.
Although I didn’t fly that far, I had some serious momentum behind me since I was going obscenely fast, and I had my backpack fully loaded with all my books. I landed flat on my palms, barely avoiding oncoming traffic. I felt the force of my landing reverberating in my body. My bones rang. There was a loud crack, and I realized recently after going to a chiropractor that the noise was my arm being dislodged from its socket. My heart was pounding like an offbeat drum; it was all I could hear. As my backpack began to sag over my head, I became aware of my surroundings. I was on the edge of the sidewalk with my backpack hanging over my head, pulling me into the street and I bend my arms, and sent myself backward in an effort to try to stand.
I immediately tried to get back on my bike, but something wasn’t quite right. As I looked down, it came to my attention that the front fork of my bike had collapsed, and the wheel was next to the handlebars.
When I had my bike tuned up a while back, the bike salesman said that it was incredibly dangerous just to ride it down the sidewalk, and that the front fork could collapse at any moment. He said that, “When forks collapse, people go flyin’ and breayk theiya cowllah bowhnes.” I was luckier than I realized at the moment. I got out of that potentially fatal accident without a scratch.
I carried my bike to the nearest bike rack, so I found a tree in front of a church that doubled as a bike rack. I chained it there for the next three weeks telling myself that I’d carry it home today, but eventually it was just gone, so I figured it was just less work for me.
I didn’t complain; it was a heap of metal and rubber that should’ve been melted down a long time ago.
I later chanced upon a yellow road bike made of solid steel in a friends basement. I brought it into the bike shop, and they called it “a tank” because although it was a skinny, wiry looking thing, it weighed a ton.
It had a speedometer. I loved it so much. It was the best thing ever, I could now measure my speed! Because…. speedometers, they’re just….. so cool…. I was so excited! So in no time after the crash, I found myself riding back to my house at two in the morning pedaling as hard and as furiously as I could. The speedometer clocked in at forty miles per hour. God, I loved the adrenaline; I let go of the handlebars and put my arms out in the wind. As I let my momentum carry me up the next hill, I became lost in thought. I was just loving the wind in my hair.
Just then, out of nowhere at the bottom of the hill I saw a car, so I had to hit the brakes. That was the thing. This bike only had front brakes. I forgot that, and squeezed the brakes as hard as I could, so I was sent barreling forward as my bike gave all of its forward momentum to me and laid on the ground smugly.
In the air, I didn’t have that slowed perception people often speak of, I just flew really fast, and it was over faster than it began. The only thought that crossed my mind was, “Wooooowwww sheissta meista!”
Instinctively, I tucked my shoulder and rolled forward, and I managed to stand up after rolling a couple times. Again I was shocked to find that I escaped this accident without any kind of injury other than a bruise on my shoulder. I still can’t believe my luck.
The Lambs are lucky in two areas, only two, and in those areas, we are very lucky.
More details next time on Maxx’s Musings.