My Bike Riding Adventure

Reader Contribution by D. Susan Rutz
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Ah, exercise, don’t you just love it; fresh air, the countryside, being with your loved ones and burning calories—just like it looks on the commercials. At least that’s what I thought. My husband wanted to go bike riding and purchased us matching bikes, his with a bunch of gears, of course mine had no gears just push your pedal backwards to brake. That’s the way it was when I was a little girl; of course, that gave me confidence that this was a good idea.

All the odds were against me. I just wasn’t paying attention to the signs. I was wrapped up in the excitement of the commercials where the couple goes bike riding with their picnic basket, wine, a leisurely lunch, and then friends join them on the trip; it all looks so wonderful. I also want to state that I was influenced by the old adage, “It’s just like riding a bike.” That means you never forget how to ride a bike, right?

It’s not true! They lie! They find actors who can actually ride a bike, probably use stunt people who don’t mind falling off of buildings, and they tricked me into believing I could do it.

It was a beautiful day; the temperature in the seventies, the sun shinning, and the sky was blue with big white puffy clouds, perfect day. I was nervous, but excited and we were just going to ride around the neighborhood to get used to the bikes. No sense packing a basket for a short run around the block– that would come later. So off we go. I started off a little shaky, but quickly gained confidence in the wheels gliding along the pavement. I remember this, push your feet down, the wheel goes around, no problems. The air felt good hitting my face. I could remember days as a child spent riding and how much fun it was, but that was over fifty years ago. (It hurts to say anything was fifty years ago). Then came the hill.

My husband swears it was a slight incline, but let me assure you, it was a hill with an enormous slope downwards with a curve at the bottom and lots of parked cars. As soon as I topped the hill I was picking up speed. That’s when confusion swept across me.

I pushed slowly back on the brakes to slow down a little and suddenly I thought, ‘not too hard or you’ll fly over the handle-bars’.

I could hear my husband yelling behind me, but I couldn’t distinguish what he was saying because I was fighting the growing panic that I was going too fast. The gentle breeze rippling through my hair and stirring childhood memories was quickly becoming a torrent of wind in the face stealing my breath. As I pushed back on the brakes the bike wobbled, naturally I thought I must be pushing too hard, better to go slow at it. The bottom was looming large and the curve looked sharp. I tried to turn the bike but pushing back on the brake, the wobbling wheel, the curve, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I thought I’d fly over the handle bars, or crash into the pavement, what should I do? That’s when the brilliant idea flooded my mind. I’ve seen kids get off their bikes. They just step off, the bike falls into the grass and they run up the steps to their house. I’ve seen that done a million times in movies, on commercials, even in real life. I thought I could do it too. That way I wouldn’t fly over the handle bars. I couldn’t do it.

My feet got tangled up, (old legs) the bike was going too fast, and that parked car was jumping right into my space—blam! I stepped off the bike at the same time I hit the parked SUV. I fell over the handle bars with my face smashing into the bumper of the parked car, my feet were kind of on the pavement and they drug against the road and my hip hit the curve.

Two people across the street witness this horrific crash and ran from their house to check on me. I was crumpled on the ground with the bike tangled around me, my legs still wrapped in the metal. I got up. I’m still alive. I’m okay, I’m okay. No, I’m not okay. The pain reached my brain. My cheek was the part of my face that smashed into the bumper and now it was throbbing and stinging at the same time. My knee and hip hit the curve about the same time and now were screaming with pain, at the same time. My elbow was bleeding, the palms of my hands were burning from the pressure of holding onto those handle bars and my feet were feeling very odd after dragging along the pavement.

There I was, a crumpled, bleeding mass of an old woman sitting on the curve, crying my eyes out, when my husband pulled up on his bike laughing. What’s wrong with men?

“Man, I wish I’d had a camera. That was a $100,000 video if ever there was one!”

The unknown couple who came to my rescue was far more sympathetic to my plight then he was. It must have been terrible for them, sitting in their living room watching TV when they hear some man screaming, “You’re going to hit that car!” They look outside just in time to witness an elderly, fat woman, riding a bike straight into a parked car.

The moral of this story is; don’t believe the commercials! It’s not as much fun as it looks and it’s not just like riding a bike.

I limped home, crying most of the way, pushing that stupid bike and glaring hatefully at my husband. He of course, tried to cover his tracks from the previous enjoyment over my mishap by asking me every four steps if I was okay and telling me he was so sorry that I had wrecked.

I’m back home now, sitting in my favorite chair, watching stupid commercials about exercising, with ice packs on my cheek, heating packs on my hip and band-aids on everything else. The bike is sitting out front with a sign on it—For Sale, Cheap.