I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride it Where I Like

I had a strange feeling almost from the start. I rode down the block to the corner, just like always, and turned right onto 13th, just like always. The weird thing was that I suddenly found myself in a small pack with two other bicyclists, looking like they were also on their way to campus. I'm generally the only bicyclist on 13th at 8:15 in the morning.

We all three rode down to Speer, then got on the Cherry Creek bike path to take us the rest of the way to campus. Suddenly, the guy in front of me just wiped out. I don't know why, he was just suddenly (and very briefly) airborne, and then sprawled on the pavement. Bad enough for him, but things were worse, because I was only about ten or fifteen feet behind him and cruising fast when he crashed.

How often during the course of an average day do you curse? I throw an f-word into a conversation every now and then for emphasis or just for the childish joy of swearing, like I suppose a lot of people do. But how often do you curse because there's really just no better alternative to express how you're feeling at a given moment? For me, it almost never comes up. But here was a moment where it was absolutely necessary.

"Holy shit!" I yelled as he hit the ground. I squoze the brakes so hard that my hands hurt, to no avail. It looked like this was about to become a two-bike wreck. Time slowed as my wheels kept turning and I loomed over the poor guy and his bike. Our eyes met in a shared look of horror, dreading what we were both certain was about to make both our days a lot worse.

I rolled right over him. More accurately, I rolled right over his bike, which was on top of him, and I surmise protected him from damage from my own bike. I finally came to a stop after that.

"Holy shit," I said again while I caught my breath and waited for my heart to resume beating. I hopped off my bike and helped him up. He was dripping blood from a pretty ugly gash on his left eyebrow, but appeared otherwise unhurt. His bike wasn't so lucky. The front end was pretty mangled. Still, the whole deal could have been an awful lot worse. After confirming that the dude was okay, I got back on my bike and rode on.

Guy was especially lucky not to be hurt worse than he was, as he wasn't wearing a helmet. I've been a helmet-wearer since I got a concussion in a bike accident when I was twelve. Even though I wound up not crashing, I was very glad I was wearing my helmet. I was thinking about this as I rode on, and wasn't paying much attention to what I was doing and took the wrong exit from the bike path, bringing me out on the wrong side of campus. Still not thinking much, I rode across campus to the spot where I usually lock up my bike. I was really rattled, because I didn't even think about most of campus being a mandatory pedestrians-only dismount zone. As I'm locking up, a cop rides up to me and I realize what I just did.

"Riding through there's a $60 ticket," he tells me. Aw, fuck. That's all I need. "You're lucky it was me on duty," he continues. "I'm the last guy to write a ticket for that unless I have to. Just mind the dismount zone." I assure him I will.

Oy. Heck of a way to start the day.

Let's be careful out there. If you're riding a bike, wear them helmets, boys and girls.