• 34°

Flying on bikes and life’s detours

Laying sprawled, face-first on the narrow boulevard just outside of Ellis Middle School nearing 11:30 p.m., one question crossed my mind. “ How did I get here?”

The easy answer was, “ By bike.”  The same one that now lay partially on the road and partially on the boulevard. What wasn’t easy was how did this particular incident take place, to which I still don’t know. At present, which is to say, the moment I regarded the grass as being particularly lush and all the more softer than the street I just as easily could have bounced off, I wondered if anybody had seen.

There’s that rush of adrenaline moment when you trip, slip or fall and instead of being concerned of any partial injury, you are instead worried about whether or not somebody observed your impromptu gymnastics performance. You worry more about being the fool than being the injured.

I did that then, searching up and down Fourth Avenue SE in search of anybody laughing in the shadows. A sinister snicker that found the fact of flying through the air over handlebars somehow as comical as an ill-defined prat fall.

I know this, because I have owned that sinister laugh before. A number of years ago, during those early years of college, my friend decided to go talk to some random girl he had seen before but never met. On the way to doing such, he decided that rather than jump over the chain parking barricade suspended just a foot off the ground, he opted to use it as a step of sorts. The chain protested, swung underneath of him and deposited him face-first at the girl’s feet.

The girl wasn’t terribly impressed shooting him a facial expression that was loosely translated into, “ Really?”  The impression was further lessened by my unrestrained laughter.

So yeah, I sort of suspected to hear the same thing ringing through the darkness not 50 yards from my home. I’m not entirely sure what I would have done had someone actually been laughing. Perhaps strike a rigid stance, throw my hands up and wait for the judges’ scoring.

Regardless, nobody was on that street, either driving or walking, so at least there was that. Picking up the bike that now insists on skipping a gear, I remounted and biked the rest of the way home pondering my situation and how I came to such a farce’s ending.

Near as I could tell, this is how it started.

I rode off 14th Street Southeast on to Oakland and switched to a lower gear, preferring the longer strokes for the cruise down the lightly declining road. My cruising speed was at around 20 mph or so and I was feeling good. The wind was cool, the night clear. Above the half moon lit the road ahead of me.

Pumping and cruising, I let my mind wander in the light breeze, alone with the road, alone with my thoughts … and alone with … holy cow that’s the curb coming awfully fast!

My foot shot out as I instinctively tried to right the ship, but it was already too late. I hit the iceberg and my fate was set. The tires grated against the cement of the curb, giving me the small hope that I could recover until time slowed as bike threw me like an ill-mannered thoroughbred.

There was a moment of clarity and peace as time slowed around me. On my headphones a delightfully whimsical piece by composer by James Paget accompanied the flight, a piece that speaks of the stars and the oceans between and fit the circumstance for the split second I was airborne.

Then, just before I hit, time sped up as I slid safely into second base, the bike squirreling away from underneath me to rest at its spot half-on, half-off the curb, leaving me deposited on the boulevard wondering how I got here.

Later, when I got home, keeping the moment to myself rather than sharing it with my girlfriend, I thought again about the circumstances of that night.

Instead, my mind wandered to the greater detours of life and how we deal with each moment. Some struggle to deal with those circumstances, others take them in stride and find ways to continue on.

So, flanked by our cat Nemi, sleepily looking at me from her cat bed, I came to certain conclusions about life and those things in it that we all must deal with:

Pistachio/walnut ice cream is amazing.