Driving and Biking in the Big City

Bushwhacked by “Jackass” movie fans

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BruiseI took a tumble over a curb today on Streak, my really fast Trek street bike, and was reminded of my serious bike wrecks in recent years. I’m not talking about the many tumbles I took as an elastic-boned kid who ran the roads barefooted and kept scabs on my knees. Those days when I nimbly jumped back into the game, more interested in catching up to the neighbors than even considering a Band-Aid are long gone.

These are current times as I try to Baby Boom myself past my tennis days and into some serious bike riding to offset eight hours of desk-sitting. My middle-aged bones are more brittle and the extra padding is not at all helpful so a bike wreck feels a lot like a car wreck these days.

I’ve had two serious wrecks in the last five years, the first because I’d switched from a slow-moving mountain bike to a hybrid. I couldn’t control my speed when I dropped off newly concreted pavement and took a tumble completely over the handlebars. Skinned knees to match my younger self.Bruise again

But today, I was reminded of my most serious wreck ever and one that has my left side deteriorating faster than my right side. I know these things because of bone density tests, necessary at my age.

This bike wreck was caused by an intentional prank from the neighborhood urchins. I’ve concluded they’d been watching the movie “Jackass” and its subsequent iterations, getting ideas about how to pull off some serious mischief on unsuspecting folks. The good news about this story is that this prank had some serious comeuppance.

It was early evening after work in May 2012 when I took Streak for what I was expecting to be a 10-mile, hour-long ride. Of course, like any work-outer, I try to get in as much as possible as quickly as possible. Thus, I was determined to have my speed faster than 10 m.p.h. even though my greenbelt path would take me on winding paths where I’d have to slow at corners and try not to mow down dog-walkers.

I had just glanced down at my speedometer and noticed, satisfactorily, that my speed was 12 m.p.h. I was thinking good thoughts when I heard a shout of “No!” off in the bushes to my left.

Now is when the jumble in my mind starts. I looked up, of course, and saw directly in front of me a clear tape, the strong kind for sealing up moving boxes. It crossed, almost invisible, from one side of the greenbelt to the other, only feet away from me on the path ahead. I’m now convinced I was saved by the shout because I had time to brace myself, if not to stop.

I went screaming headlong into the tape at top speed, the tape being too strong to break or even to stretch much as it took me for a total flip, my hands clinging to the handlebars. I was tossed like a rag doll into the bushes beside the path, bruised and mangled. I felt like the tape had cut through my arm and I may be bleeding so I yanked out my cell phone and called my son before I even assessed all damage to my body.

While my son came running to the rescue, the next few neighbors tried to help or to at least figure out what had happened to me. The very next folks to come up were a young woman on a bike with her baby behind her. They were lucky that this had happened to me. I guess everyone was pretty lucky because I am, in fact, pretty sturdy.

Now, this action thriller becomes a mystery. Who did this?

My son gets to my side, hears my story and goes looking for the hooligans who set up this terrible accident. He finds bikes abandoned in the bushes, about where I’d heard the shout of “no.” We are both now thinking these pranksters set up the accident and waited in the bushes to see its outcome. Then, when the victim turned out to be a middle-aged mom, they had second thoughts. Not at all how it turns out in the movies.

By this time, my husband joined the fray, deciding to confiscate the bicycles and look for their owners. I am beginning to draw a crowd of neighborhood kids, hearing my story and looking at my war wounds. They know these bicycles but know the owners would never, ever cause such havoc. Don’t you love neighborhood kids. I was one of these; I related; I knew everyone by their bike.

My husband is told where the bike owners live and heads that way in the truck while I take my bike on a shortcut, coming across three cherubic-faced 12-year-old boys, two still short and one already hitting a growth spurt. They eventually tell me they own the bikes but that the bikes were stolen and they would never, ever cause me such harm. By now I’m bleeding and bruising up nicely and am looking pretty matronly and no one’s idea of a good victim for a prank.

I’m concerned for the innocence of this threesome because I know my husband’s sense of justice and he just happens to be back from a day of prison ministry on death row, something he does for fun. An old college football player, he’s a big guy and pretty intimidating in his all black. I rush ahead to reach him first and to tell him these boys are innocent and that the real culprits are still out there somewhere.

Husband John jumps out of the truck, stands massively across the road and shouts, “You boys are lying!!”

“What?” I say, “Oh, no, no.”

“These are not the right boys. I just walked over here with them. They are innocent.”

And then, they confessed.  One look at John, and their bullshit skills disappeared. I was flabbergasted. Others in our entourage were equally shocked. None of us saw it coming.

Now for the comeuppance. John then went to each of the culprits’ houses, telling the boys’ parents before he released their bikes to the parents. I stood on neighborhood steps as “Exhibit A.” Most parents were unbelieving, of course, until they heard the confessions. One mom was so distraught, we cried together and hugged. My arm and face, by now, were excellent evidence of their angels’ wrongdoing.

Justice was done; lessons were learned. Streak and I were back in the saddle the next day, a bit more careful and certainly more leery of humankind.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

June 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’m glad your outcome wasn’t worse. The idiotic things people do without thinking about consequences, or because they saw the prank in tv and “no one got hurt. I’ve had several upending crashes on my bicycle but I can’t give it up; that’d be like not living!

    Sammy D.

    June 25, 2014 at 12:19 am

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