Urlick: Planes, Trains and Bicycles

Published 12:36 am Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some stories are just hard to believe. These days I find more often than not I’m the skeptic in the crowd. I recall recently debating with my family the authenticity of the show “Operation Repo” on TruTV.

It’s my contention, entertaining as it may be, the entire show is scripted and the players are merely actors. I’ll concede they’re all big enough to handle themselves but there is no way even a SWAT team could encounter so much danger, so frequently, without actually getting themselves killed. Team Repo would surely have met the reaper by now, it’s only logical.

That’s why I found it really hard to believe the story a friend was presenting over the phone recently when she called requesting an emergency ride for herself and her bicycle.

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“A what ran your bike over” I queried loudly in disbelief.

“A train.” she gasped, in a laugh mixed with tears, just enough to sound believable, even to me.

“How?” I asked, my tone losing volume and gaining sympathy.

“I was riding on the trail when I came to the train track out by Todd Park. I didn’t think trains ran on Sundays. There was one parked on the track for a long time, so I decided to drag my bike under it really quickly because I didn’t know how else to get around it”.

“Seriously?” I asked, quieter.

“Seriously” my friend affirmed. “The pedal got stuck on the track under the train and I couldn’t get it out” she explained, convincingly upset.

“Really?” I said, softly.

“Yeah, then a guy walking the trail started yelling at me that the train was moving and I needed to get out right away” she went on.

“Oh my God…” I whispered, an icy chill slowly making its way to my extremities.

“I got out just in time, but my bike didn’t and it got smashed to pieces” she told me, crying more than laughing now.

“Are you OK?” I asked, genuinely concerned now.

“No,” she said through tears, “my bike got destroyed.”

“Hang on, I’ll come and get you.” I said, and I did.

This is a friend I’ve known since high school. She’s not stupid, she’s one of my more intelligent friends in fact, and this column is not an attempt to belittle anyone. She’s a proud mother with a beautiful home, raising two lovely children, which is two more than me. She’s also a teacher, and wanted me to tell this story so others could learn from it, including myself, even at her on peril and certain humiliation.

I’m going to tell you straight up too that I’ve dragged my own mountain bike under a parked train in the past to save time. Not my wisest move I’ll admit, but I’ll own it like I do all my other mistakes.

We both shared a cathartic laugh of relief when we examined her bike at the scene, twisted and busted handle bars, bent cranks, rims, etc. It wasn’t a cheap bike either. Specialized is a good brand name, although it looked more a product of Frito Lay now, twisted like a pretzel and leaning against a sign post.

This is a good lesson for all of us, myself included. Had the events turned out another way, we wouldn’t be laughing it off in a column, but I for one will never try this maneuver again and I hope you never do either.

If you’d like to get a look at my friends crumpled bike, find “Bike Rides” on Facebook, where I’ve posted photos. “Friend” Bike Rides while you’re at it!

“Maybe you could put this in as a Traffic Tip or something in one of your columns” my friend suggested.

“We have way more material here than a condescending, one-sentence remark at the end of a cheesy column could do justice to.” I replied, both of us laughing out loud now, completely without tears.

Traffic Tip: Trains run seven days a week.