It had to happen eventually, but I was taken out today on the ride into work. Bobby came over to my house so we could ride in together since he lives even farther away than I do. Seve overslept and didn’t meet us so we were taking it slow and easy waiting for him to catch up. This turned out to be a good thing. Five miles in we’re cruising along the bike path that follows the shoreline of Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. The path has recently been repaved and is a really nice part of the commute with the lake to the left and some great architecture on the right.
At one point the path swings in a wide arc around a parking area, then takes a sharp 90degree turn to the left around a clump of trees with a lot of underbrush. If you aren’t familiar with the bike path it’s easy to overcook the corner and end up on the grass. That’s exactly what some guy on a recumbant coming towards us did as we came up on the corner so Bobby and I slowed down a bit to let him clear and I led into the corner. And that my friends is where the fun starts.
Now just to give you the full picture, there is a little dirt track or cattle path that runs straight out from the path which runners use to cut out the little jog around the parking lot. This is where the teenager on his purple Kmart bike was heading as he pedaled across the corner without looking for oncoming traffic, namely me. I locked up the brakes, started to pull a Todd Johnson, and…
What’s a Todd Johnson you ask? Todd is a friend of ours who is a killer BMX freestyle rider. We tease him about riding “little kids bikes”, but the truth is none of us can do what he does with a bike of any size. He and his buddy Adam were riding downtown along Nicollet Mall when two women stepped out in front of them. Both women were dressed out for clubbing in the Warehouse District, mini-skirts, high-heels and all. One of the women, on her cell phone, stopped dead and Adam darted left into the clear. Todd turned right, but the second woman moved the same way. The gap narrowed, Todd went back to his left and so did she! With only one option left to avoid a collision Todd did a hard bunnyhop to the right up onto the sidewalk, just as this poor woman leapt to apparent safety… on the sidewalk. As they were both in midair, Todd realized where this chain of events was inevitably heading. So he lowered his shoulder and leaned forward into the coming crash.
Now Todd’s a pretty solid guy, after all it takes some muscle to move a BMX bike around a halfpipe, and this wisp of a club-girl took it full in the torso. Adam had a good view of the destruction as Todd cleaned her off her feet. Not just off her feet mind you, but legs parallel to the ground, folded double, eyes wide open, and a foot and a half off the ground. She touched down ass first, rolled once, and stopped in the middle of 5th St completely stunned. Todd went over to her, unsure of the protocol in a situation like this. Do you exchange insurance info like a car accident; point at Adam, yell he did it and ride away as fast as you can; or introduce yourself and ask for her phone number? Todd settled for asking if she was OK. Pale, unsteady and shaky sure, but otherwise unhurt.
So back to me. All of this was going through my head in the tenth of a second I had to react. The key here being one tenth of a second. In other words, I didn’t stand a chance. I took it full in the side, dumped it out on the thin strip of grass between the path and the street, and somehow didn’t break anything. My rear wheel was a little tweaked, the kid took off, Bobby laughed, and we got back on and kept riding to work.
Hopefully the ride home will be a little kinder to me…
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