See? That’s the road right there. A short, narrow downslope leading straight into a wall or, Option B, into a sharp 90º right-angled turn. However, I traveled this very path last summer and created Option C — go wide, crash into the tunnel opening, and detour to the ER. In actual practice, though, Option C was a nonstarter. It’s where fun came to a complete stop.
I broke my shoulder and a rib, punctured my lung, opened a deep gash in my head, and spent nine days tethered to a morphine drip and chest tube. I’ve had better times. And now here we are, on the brink of a new summer, and I’m scared. Really, really, very scared to get back on a bicycle. I want to, I love riding bikes. I love the sound of ticking gears when I coast. I love leaning into turns. I love the wind and the freedom and feeling like a 10-year old.
Crashing, that’s the drawback; it’s a buzzkill. I can deal with the honking horns and screeching tires, the people yelling out car windows, the obscene gestures, but the crash — even the thought of a crash — takes all the joy out of bike riding. If I were younger, if the consequences (a punctured lung?!?) were less severe, if driver’s paid attention, if there weren’t light poles and parking meters and cratered pavement, I’d be on my bike right now — happy and free.
Instead, I’m fretting about what might happen. Well, heh, might. Given my luck and track record, an accident is inevitable. And I resent having to choose between fun and safety. Safety has never, ever been a consideration; caution just isn’t my nature. Headlong and heedless, that’s me, and that’s the lifestyle I want to live forever. A timid, careful, helmeted life isn’t worth living.
I vow to remain defiant until the bitter end, except when gravity is involved. Apparently, that’s a force only astronauts can defy. Dammit.
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