I fell off my bike the other day. I seem to do that a few times a year and it's usually not a big deal but this time I thought it was going to be bad.
It was a combination of going a little too slow on a steep downhill turn and finding the gravel to be a lot deeper and looser than the last time through. More speed and I would have just rolled a bit wide, maybe slid the rear wheel out in a dramatic spray of rocks but certainly not dug in like I did, ending up in a textbook "High Side" dismount. That's where you fall toward the outside of the turn, accelerating as you launch over the bike and head for the clouds in the "Superman" pose (toes pointed-arms outstretched-stern look) instead of the more benign "Low Side" where the bike slides out from under you, and you grind your speed off feet-first. Neither are any fun but if you have a choice, take the low road. I think I gained more altitude than I did distance this time, and in that discreet little span where time seems to slow and the individual leaves on the trees popped into sharp focus and the birdsong blended with the sounds of the stones I sent skittering across the road, I thought to myself; "I am about to break my collarbone and 7 fingers", and then, "That Poison Ivy on the barb-wire I'm going to crash into is such an incredible shade of green". And then I was running down the hill in the middle of the road in that bewildered way of a child waking from a fever.
And I was fine.
Not a mark. Well, nothing other than bleeding from the corners of my eyelids from them opening out over the top of my head in terror when I was in midair and anticipating getting killed in the face with a dirt road. I wasn't even sore the next day which is un-freaking-believable considering the high-G maneuvers I had to have executed to land on my feet pointing roughly in the direction I was going. My bike even came out better than could have been predicted, just a torn brake hood, a scratched fork and scraped fenders. The saddle was covered in dirt and had some grit embedded into the leather but no gouges or scratches, almost like it bounced(!?) off it.
It's as if I got some sort of a pass. I drew the short straw for the suicide mission at the moment the war was called off, had the trapdoor of the scaffold drop out from under me as a runaway cart of mattresses rolled underneath. I can't explain it, it certainly isn't the product of clean living. And while I know this crazy turn of events is just a coincidence of a thousand factors coming up in my favor, it SEEMS like something more, something Cosmic or Divine. Like this was a sign, you know? I mean, one moment I'm resigned to a sudden painful stop and a lungful of rocks and five minutes later I'm back on my bike, sipping from my bottle and trying to remember what John Calvin said about predestination. Or maybe it was Camus.
I'd like to say I'm a Rationalist, that I'm not superstitious. But if you know me, have hung out with me, have seen the books on my night stand you know what I really am. I'm a Romantic. Yearning for the mystical, susceptible to the promises of religion, spirituality and revolution, a lover of Thomas Merton, George Eliot and Cervantes. Of all the people you will ever meet, of all the dudes standing on the sidewalk, gawking up at the buildings as you step around, I am the one most likely to come away from an experience like this with a message, an altered perception. A man with a new and radical plan for myself and the rest of the world around me. A mission.
I just need to decide what message to take from my near-near death experience. I'm pretty sure it's about bikes. I know it's going to change the World. I'm convinced it's too big to be stopped and I alone have been chosen to bring this revolution to fruition. This Revolution that will bring about The New Way Of Everything. I might be about to force Mandatory-Helmet-Usage-For-All-Outdoor-Activities-At-All-Times down the throats of all the warm blooded creatures of the Entire World or it might be a FER REAL Total-Solar-System-Wide Helmet-Ban FOREVER. I'm not sure which, but it's coming.
I'll be in touch...