Monday, September 29 2008 @ 04:51 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Seven months ago, I was on my beloved bicycle, a 6.5 trek Madone with the SRAM Red groupset and Easton climbing rims. Tipping the scales at a featherweight 13.8 pounds, it is like riding a carbon butterfly. I was closing in on a 50-miler, just five minutes from my own driveway, and the sun had not yet risen. It was a good start to the day.
I was riding west on Park Lane between Greenville Avenue and Central Expressway, approaching the light at Bed Bath & Beyond—when a pickup truck knocked me into the Beyond section. His wing mirror barely missed me, but the trailer was wider than the truck, and even though I was doing about 20 mph, the impact was shockingly violent.
I’m an alcoholic and a narcotics addict. A couple of years ago, I bought a bicycle and started to ride to my meeting. I liked it, and after a while I started riding farther. Then, one day, I kept going. Now I’m riding instead of meeting. My bicycle is my lifeline, my meditation machine, and without question one of the reasons I’m alive. I acquired the addiction to painkillers from years of playing professional golf with bad elbows and a worse first wife, and the alcoholism I guess is just an Irish thing. I have the double curse: the thirst and the internal stoicism to consume an utterly absurd quantity of alcohol and still remain lucid. I quit drinking not because I was a bad drunk; on the contrary, I was spectacular.
Having kicked all my bad habits for the better part of two years, I finally thought I was addicted to something that wasn’t going to kill me. The irony flashed through my head milliseconds after the corner of the trailer made contact with the middle of my saddle and then my lower back. I remember thinking, Oh, crap, I hope it’s not a beer truck. My head snapped back and I began to fly, like a silhouette of E.T. across the moon. All that was missing was the basket on the handlebars. I had everything else, down to the glowing red light, of which I had two—one on the back of my helmet and the other, a dazzling Planet Bike flasher, clipped to the back of my jersey. I am, if nothing else, safety conscious on a bicycle. The only person who could hit me would have to have a grievance against Christmas trees or, as it turned out in this case, a pressing need to get to a red light. He just had to get to the red light before I did.
Then a man standing above, his arms folded. He is not looking at me. The lady says, “You just ran him over!”
“He was in the road!” comes the reply, defiant.
At this point, I don’t know if I’m going to live, but I do know that if I die, I definitely want to take this guy with me. If I could just get up, maybe I could push him into oncoming traffic. That way, even if the bastard survived, he’d know what it feels like to be hit by several tons of fast-moving metal. (For the record, it hurts.)