The art of the bike date

“Wow. That looks like it hurt,” my husband called down from his vantage point high on the trail above me. He obviously heard me grunt when I hit the ground and figured if I was breathing, I couldn’t have been too injured.

I wanted to kindly inform him that I was in no mood for chit chat, but the large rock wedged in my shoulder blade had temporarily rendered me speechless. Instead, I concentrated on wiggling my appendages, starting with my eyelids and working my way down. To my surprise, everything appeared to be in working order. There was no bleeding, at least externally, and a quick dental inventory accounted for all teeth. Not far off, my bike was motionless, still tethered to one foot by an especially stubborn pedal.

I gazed at the peaceful sky overhead from my bed of grass, where I would’ve liked to have stayed had it not been for the damned snakes. See, it was the thought of snakes that sent me tumbling in the first place. As it is often wont to do, my mind had wandered from the trail for a brief moment, thinking about a rattler my friend had seen a few days before. I was riding second in line, pondering how it’s never the first person, but always the second or third that gets bit, when I was attacked by a small, lurking rock instead. It jumped out of nowhere, hit me squarely on the side of the foot and sent me reeling down the hillside like a Raggedy Ann doll in bike shorts (note: they were not lycra.) I came to rest among a smattering of boulders, none of which – miraculously – had crushed my head like a cranberry. Anyway, I was lying there in wonderment over actually being alive and relatively pain free, when the thought of snakes returned. Gingerly, I stood up, picked what embedded thorns, small rocks and dirt I could from my skin, and limped up to the trail, bike intact, ego slightly injured.

I know what they say, go big or go home. No guts, no glory. No falls, no balls. But I’m a girl, and quite frankly, I really have no aspirations for attaining any sort of male anatomy now or ever. And besides, this wasn’t a sick, mach-10, radster, pushing the technical envelope sort of move. This was the teetering, barely moving, slow-motion, “I have it … no … I don’t have it,” type. You know, where you actually have time to think about it, as well as recite the Gettysburg Address, pay some bills and discuss what you’re going to have for dinner that night. Your life doesn’t so much flash in front of your eyes as drag out in a painfully long mini series. No balls involved, unless you count the fact that I was bouncing like one.

“Wow. You did, like, two full cartwheels,” the spouse continued as I climbed back on my bike, beginning to wonder if he had taken out a secret life insurance policy on me. Once again, I was painfully reminded of why sometimes it’s better to ride alone. Sure, I could have lay there with broken bones for days until someone found me, but at least I would be safe in knowing that no one was deriving perverse pleasure from my misery.

Of course, there are some who see the mud and the blood as a badge of courage, sort of a sign of prestige. In fact, this friend of mine tells a story about a “bike date” where, arriving at the bottom first, he turned to check on the progress of his cohort. Through a break in the trees, he watched as she slowed to a stop, got off her bike and carefully set it down. She then picked up a few handfuls of dirt and proceeded to strategically pat it on her arms and knees, with a little on the cheek for good measure. Satisfied with the results, she got on her bike and finished the descent, explaining when she got to the bottom that she had “wiped out.”

Needless to say, we could not help but be baffled by this behavior. Was it some strange riding ritual, perhaps a sacrifice to the dirt gods, or could it possibly be that there were people out there who thought yard saling (or at least the perception of yard saling) was something to boast about?

Unfortunately, there was no second date, so I never got to find out. And in fact, I had sort of forgotten all about it until another fateful day not too long ago. Once again, like the time with the snakes, the mind had wandered, leaving no one at the brakes. All it took was one innocent whoopdy-do to launch me into full-blown human catapult. Things are a little sketchy from there, but judging from the pattern of my wounds, I’m pretty sure I did what is known in politically incorrect circles as a “Chinese wheelie,” followed by a Superman dive into a full barrel roll. Not to be outdone, I then finished it off with a perfectly executed face plant. All I can say is thank god for helmets.

Once again, I lay there, staring up at the sky, thankful to be alive and thankful for the experience of now knowing what it felt like to be a piece of tenderized rawhide. For a while, I carefully navigated that unstable no-woman’s land between tears of joy and tears of pain. Eventually, the tweety birds ceased, and I stumbled back to my feet and made a feeble attempt to brush off the dirt. Perhaps after all the years of lame, slo-mo, tumbling and tottering, I was finally beginning to grow some cojones. But if that was what “going big” was all about, then I was going home.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows