This morning I had a bike accident.
I was riding my roommate’s single-speed Schwinn cruiser on my usual route to work because my bike got a flat this week.
As I started rolling down Interstate Ave, I pedaled as fast as I usually do. I realized after a moment that pedaling seemed to no longer have any effect on the bike. So, I pedaled backwards to see if that still triggered the bike’s brake system.
I quickly discovered, as I began my fast descent down one of the steepest hills in Portland, that I no longer had functioning brakes.
In a split second, a dozen thoughts ran through my head. Having ridden this hill many times before, I knew what lay ahead. The hill would go on and my bike would only continue to gain momentum, and before the bottom, I’d reach an intersection. In the unlikely event that I’d reach the intersection without spinning out and losing control of the bike at such speeds anyways (I normally ride the hill with both my front and back brakes engaged to maintain control and a manageable speed), I’d have to get even luckier still and have a green light on my end, or collide head-on with the cross traffic.
I weighed the options in my head and made a split-second decision to cut my losses and veer out at the only opportunity I saw–I turned right into the a fenced driveway and braced myself for impact.
That part seemed to last for minutes. Then, BAM.
“OW. Ow. Owwwww.”
Imagine a bird who’s just slammed into a window. I was totally stunned for a few moments.
My first few thoughts were something like, “Ow. What just happened? Ow. Er… ow. Wait, what? I think I’m gonna be late for work. I wonder if I’m bleeding. Shit. Oh shit. Shit that hurts. Is my face bleeding? How am I going to get to work? I’m gonna have to buy my roomie a new bike. Ow.”
I tried to formulate a plan for what to do next but my brain was totally jostled and shocked, and for a few minutes, I couldn’t do much at all.
As I began to be able to take stock, I found that although my right hand was pretty scraped up and bloody, the rest of me seemed to be o.k. The bike looked fucked though–the handle bars were twisted a complete 90 degrees and now parallel with the frame.
I called my boss and squeaked out what happened, told him I’d be there as soon as I could. I managed to get the chain bike on, twist the handle bars back into place, and rode cautiously back home on the sidewalk.
I got home, washed up, had a piece of toast, and drove to work.
As I walked in to work, I was still under the impression that I was gonna have a normal day and get crackin’. The owners of my amazing workplace (a sensory deprivation “float” tank/massage/acupuncture center) were wiser.
They were eager to hear what happened, made sure my injuries weren’t serious, set me up with some anti-inflammatories, brought over their sweet kitty to keep me company, and instead of working, sent me upstairs to rest and rejuvenate in a float tank. If you’ve never heard of floating, you should definitely check it out. (Basically, it’s the closest you’ll ever get to having no sensory input–the tank is light and sound proof, and the water and air is the same temperature as your skin. The water you float on is full of epsom salt. It has TONS of benefits and I could go on for days about it and the company I work for, but we’ll save that for another post.)
As I lay in the dark absorbing the healing salty goodness, I mostly just felt grateful. I truly could have died this morning, and I am extremely grateful that I came away with just a few scrapes and bruises.
I felt grateful to be alive.
I’ve never had a bike or car accident before, or had a near-death experience. And usually in decision-making, I am slow and deliberate. I also analyze and over-think things. I take my time to make decisions. But this morning, I truly didn’t have time, I HAD to make a split-second life-or-death decision. And I chose right.
I felt grateful and empowered to be able to trust my self and my thinking in time-sensitive, life-sensitive scenarios.
I’ve been working a lot on surrounding myself with people who inspire the shit out of me, who do good for themselves and the world. I have already felt so lucky to join the team at my new job–my bosses created a really wonderful business/atmosphere/community that inspires growth, healing, and goodness all around. And today I felt especially cared about, and that was a magical, sappy feeling.
I felt grateful for the people in my life who I love and who love me.
I spent the day eating nourishing food, hanging out in the park watching kids play, indulging in ice cream, and talking to one of my very best friends.
Here’s to life.