Since I was 6 years old and first taught myself to ride a bike I have understood the flaw in the man plus machine combo. That being, that you’re going to fall, its gonna hurt. As Lance Armstrong said ” If you don’t wanna fall, don’t get on the bike”. Likewise, if you ride in traffic, you will get hit by cars.
The first time I remember getting into an accident with a car was the summer I learned to ride. I was 6, as I said, and my family lived in Newburyport, MA. The town was still fairly working class at the time, ’84, and we rented an apartment in a two family across from Brown Elementary. It was a kid friendly neighborhood and my friends and I roamed the streets at will. One day we were riding bikes at the school, Kaitlyn, Andrew and myself. We were trouble makers and all got held after class together regularly. Anyway, someone decided to leave the playground and head out onto the sidewalk and I noticed last. I raced after them. It was cool New England summer sun and the cool shade of maples and oaks. It was laughter, it was glee. The other two raced ahead blocking the sidewalk so, at the corner I jumped the curb and turned left into oncoming traffic, I looked to Kaitlyn and Andrew, I was catching up. I heard a terrifying screech and looked back in front of me. There was a car, a little blue four door with two stunned old people just screeching to a halt. I froze. The bike skidded. My front wheel made contact and I flew forward and seriously crushed my little nards. Damn banana seat. The old couple just stared at me. I waddled to the side of the road, sucked it up and peddled slowly after my friends.
The next one was simpler, I was in junior high, probably seventh grade. My family’d moved to suburban North Jersey. I was riding the wrong way down the street on my way home from school. I went behind a bush at a corner on a hill and a car swept out from behind the other side. She smacked me pretty good, tossing me a good five feet into traffic. The driver was a mess, she had apparently just divorced her husband mere minutes before. When the police arrived they had to calm her down more than deal with me. I was only shaken, she was completely rattled. People made me sit, even though I wasn’t hurt. They gave me watter and reassuring pats on the shoulder etc. My bike was a bit bent up so the cops gave me a ride home. I hope they never fucked that woman over, she’d been through enough. But what can I say, I was a kid and I never followed up on it. Meh.
So you see, I’ve been stupid since the beginning but I’m resilient. I’m not going to try to list every accident I’ve ever had but I’m gonna lay out all the biggies and some of the little ones. Next in Part 2 I move to Boston and start getting hit for real.