I love to bike alone. For me, it’s never about competition or speed. The joy is the process of the trip, not the end destination. So when hungry, or if I want to enjoy a special view, or I feel like reading, or want to take a nap, I stop.
The idyllic peace of one bike trip was interrupted a few years ago when I managed to have my first and only wreck. I was 114 miles into a 250-mile biking trip. Although rain was pouring and the winds were blowing, I was feeling good. Shelter would come in about an hour and a half when I reached a small motel where I could dry out and wait out the storm.
But only 10 miles from my anticipated stop, at 2:45 in the afternoon, coming down a mountain my bike hit gravel. In the blink of an eye, the front wheel twisted sharply to the right and I went to the left. I still can visualize hitting my shoulder, and then my head slinging to the pavement. But thanks to a brand-new helmet, I was spared the likelihood of brain damage. (At least, my brain is no more damaged than before the accident).
When I came to my senses, there, shining through the pouring rain in my face, were headlights of a car. A kind and gentle elderly man kept asking me the same question: “Are you OK?” He retrieved my bike from the road and helped me to the guardrail.
I sat for a few minutes, collected my senses, and then told him that I was all right. I decided to push my bike to the bottom of the hill and rest at a Mom-and-Pop grocery/gas station. But as I walked, I realized I had deeply bruised my hip. Walking became increasingly difficult. Pedaling was out of the question.
Disappointed, I made the decision to call my wife and ask her to come and get me. After I had made the phone call, and was on the way out of the station, the employees behind the counter asked me if I was OK. I assured them I was. When I got to the front door there was an ambulance and crew waiting. Seems they had three emergency phone calls from people on the road reporting that some kid had been hit by a car.
Flattered to be thought of as a kid on a bike, I responded, “No, I just skidded on gravel and I’m fine.”
“Can we at least look you over?”
“Sure,” I replied. Then, much to my surprise, they discovered a lump the size of a tennis ball on my shoulder where my clavicle had snapped in half like a broken chicken wing. The mere weight of my arm was pulling my shoulder apart. I had my first ride in an ambulance, then surgery with wires and pins and plenty of pain.
Prevalent through this experience was the goodness of people. Alone, down, unconscious on a highway, just about anything could have happened to me. What did happen was a reaffirmation of the basic goodness of people.
From the moment of the accident and through the recovery process, many went out of their way to actively care for me. In a world where we become accustomed to hearing and expecting the worst, it’s good to know that when given the opportunity, so many do care.