About two weeks ago I had what could have been a fatal or catastrophic MTBike crash had I not been wearing a helmet. As some of you are aware, I was running Livi, our German Shorthaired Pointer in typical fashion, on a completely nondescript and unchallenging little trail about a quarter-mile from the house. But this time our timing was off because some school children were at the end of the path, and I stopped to let them pet her.
As such, I was slow putting my feet into the clips when I turned around and this allowed her to reach the end of the path, and completely turn around and come back toward me. As fate would have it, she came through the only unsighted bend just as I was coming through it and WHAM! We avoided each other but I got too much front brake and went down on this hard-packed trail like nobody’s business. I have bruised ribs, an AC Tear to my shoulder but the Real Deal is that my helmet cracked inside, time for a new one. I'll never forget coming to -- I was out for like just a couple seconds -- and wondering, OMG am I dead. It was really an out-of-body experience.
I could still hear the smack of the helmet on the hard ground and as I looked around everything was out of focus yet extremely sharp at the same time. Livi stood right there and just looked at me, she didn't move an inch. And I mean not an inch for the next 2-3 minutes that seemed like an eternity while I struggled to get up, figure out whether I had entirely dislocated my shoulder and tried to breathe. When I finally got it together to walk home I had to walk-wheelie it because the front brake was jammed and I lacked the chest or arm strength to unjam it. I’ll never forget feeling so alone and realizing that all of those children who had just been there were all gone.
When Elisa returned home from work and opened the door after I returned from the ER all I could do was fall on her cry, unendingly. I hurt so bad and the uncertainty of knowing when I would be ok was just too much at the time. The fokkers at the ER had not given me any meds and so I had to wait for them, can you believe that?
I returned to the scene several days ago, with Livi. I discovered that I could easily ride my motorcycles but not a bicycle yet because of my injuries that include back muscles and tendons. You need those on a bicycle, especially an off-road bicycle. Those same tendons and muscles, when injured, make it next to impossible to cuddle with loved ones. Talk about a reminder of gratitude for little things. As I retraced the path it was surely nothing akin to, say Niki Lauda walking down the Nurburgring or anything after his epic crash 40 years ago but it was nonetheless a very Heavy Experience.
Most significantly, I wondered how long it would have been before someone had wandered past and saw me had I had not been wearing a helmet and was knocked unconscious or critically-injured. Niki had heroic racers pulling him from his flaming Ferrari within seconds or he would have perished. Critical minutes or hours could pass by, no problem. And I might not be sharing these thoughts or any others. There have, after all, been 4-5 times in the past two years I did not wear a helmet because I had locked the door already or some lame excuse and what if that was The Time? There will categorically never be another time without a helmet, even skateboarding on the road. There is simply nothing that could justify the risk. I may even start wearing a chest and shoulder protector on the MTBike as well, even for easy trails because I tend to haul ass on them.
Just like Livi, I like to cuddle but I like the speed when I am not.
My life-long friend Randy commented on FB, “I’ve been waiting to say, you need to slow down…. You’re an old man!”
But alas, these are the things in life the keep me alive. If I slow down, I will indeed be, an Old Man.