Shit happens quickly, but in slow motion at the same time. In a split section I had launched sideways, but it took hours to hit the asphalt. With the side of my head. Hard. I lay in a pile, unable to breathe, eavesdropping on the traffic lining PCH that was jammed at the stoplight, listening to the amazed drivers. “Shit, he went down in a heap!” and “He looks bad,” and “Call 911,” and “He’s not moving,” and “He hit his head hard,” and then doors opening and closing and kind, helpful faces staring down at me.
“Are you okay?” the kind hippie in the Porsche asked.
“Yes,” I said, noticing that no words actually came out, and finishing the sentence with “I am always okay when I smash my head and lay down in the middle of the fucking street on my brand new bike before work.” None of those words came out either, but the thought of my brand new bike, now crumpled in a heap somewhere, was enough to make me jerk upright. Only, like the words that didn’t come out, I didn’t move. Finally a big fresh draft of air poured into my lungs, and with it a giant harpoon that had been rammed into my ribcage.
“Shit,” I said. And everyone heard it.
“I’m calling 911,” the kind hippie said.
“No,” I said. “Don’t. I’ll be okay.” Everybody moved back a step. I sat up, my head still ringing from the huge smack I had taken on my right temple, a smack that, had I taken sans helmet, would have meant brain on the pavement.
The inventory had already begun. Bleeding elbow, check. Bleeding knee, check. Bleeding hand, check. Lucid thoughts, no, just a confused jumble of randomly inappropriate ideas. Double check. I glanced over at the new bike with less than 40 miles on it. Brake hoods, twisted over to the side. Bars crooked. Brakes slightly bent. Wheels, check. Frame, not a scratch. Game onnnnnnnn! I threw a leg over and pedaled off after thanking the helpful people.
They looked at me like I was crazy. Immobile and crumpled one second, rolling off the next to find Fuckdude to fix my brakes and straighten my bars.
We’re kicking you off the team for excessive displays of dorkitude
Fuckdude came to the gate and started laughing. “You’re a fucking idiot, dude. Fucking fucked up your new bike on your first ride? Well, at least you got it out of your system. I hope. Better not pull that shit on Man Tour, dude.”
Fuckdude’s awesome wife offered some first aid, but in the Man Tour spirit of things I offered up the old, “I’m okay,” even though my head was still ringing. Fuckdude straightened the bars and the brakes. “Don’t be such a dork, dude. Course, you can’t really help it, dude, being such a fucking dork. Sweet bike. How does it ride? Rad, huh?”
“It really cuts the wind when you’re flying sideways through the air,” I said. “But its handling when the bars hit the asphalt leaves something to be desired.”
Back at the office I showered and tried to reconstruct the crash. I was heading south on PCH, coming up to the intersection at Beryl. A left turn, then briefly onto the sidewalk per the StageOne shortcut in front of the fortune-teller’s, then a tiny 3-inch drop off the curb onto North Gertruda, and…only problem was that the fortune-teller had turned on the sprinkler and the little lip of curb was wet. The slight angle off the curb slicked the wheel out from under me, sending me and the bike into a nice Blue Angels-type aerial formation, you know the kind they do just before they touch wings and plunge down into the viewing stands.
Of course, the Karma God noted with pleasure that a few minutes earlier I’d been sitting on the porch at the Center of the Known Universe, ribbing Frankendave for his propensity to finish out crits with a trip to “crit”ical care. A couple of bandages and an Advil later, though, it’s all good…just waiting for the laughter and ridicule to start raining down. As ye sow, or something like that.