Categories: Life & Arts
A recent “meeting” with a stranger led me to write the following letter:
June 4, 2011
Dear Idiot Who Throws Gatorade Bottles at Bicyclists,
Perhaps you were just trying to amuse the other guy(s) in the car. You thought it would be funny to throw a bottle at an unsuspecting guy on a bike.
That would make you stupid.
Maybe your intention was to actually get me hurt. Perhaps you knew I’d be spooked when the bottle hit me. That my brain’s instinct would be to jam on the brakes. That doing so would make me fly off my bike and crash to the ground.
That would make you evil.
I’m hoping you’re just stupid.
Since you were probably going 45 mph and I was probably doing 15, there’s a chance you didn’t even see what happened. (I’m hoping the driver of the car at least saw it in the rearview mirror and told you about it — not that it would faze you any.)
If not, here’s what happened. Just thought you should know.
When I jammed on the brakes, the bike stopped and I kept going. I felt an instant of weightlessness as my body did some sort of somersault over the handlebars. It felt like I was in the air forever, but it was only long enough to think “Oh, s—-.” Really, there wasn’t even time for the proverbial “my life flashed before my eyes,” but I did realize when I landed things could end badly.
I know I hit my head but, because of my momentum and the angle I landed, it was a glancing blow. And my helmet did amazing work. Whether it was divine intervention or just plain luck, I was not concussed, paralyzed or killed, any of which could have happened if I’d landed differently.
That’s the thing you have to realize before you do this kind of thing again.
When I got done rolling on the pavement, I just lay there . . . stunned. Remarkably I didn’t feel at all hurt. I was flabbergasted and wondering: Who would do such a thing?
Before long, a woman and her daughter stopped and rushed over to see if I was OK. I was probably babbling, not because I was hurt but because I was scared and starting to get angry. She called 911. Eventually, she put me on the phone with a sheriff’s deputy. I declined the offer of medical attention and I thought it would be useless to speak to a deputy on the scene because apparently nobody had actually witnessed what caused me to fall.
I don’t know if I thanked the woman or not. If I didn’t, I hope she knows I appreciate her assistance. She’s the opposite of you. She left after a couple I know stopped to check on me and offered to give me a ride home.
I left the bike chained to a sign. It looked like it was busted in some sort of way. I’ll try to figure out later what to do with it.
Here’s how I’m doing today, the day after. My head is good. Thank God for that. My right shoulder is very sore and bruised. It must have shared the brunt of the crash with the helmet. My right palm is sore and my left wrist, too. I have a big scratch on my left knee and scrapes outside my right knee and above my right elbow.
I feel lucky. Those are all minor injuries. You could have paralyzed me. You could have killed me.
Now, do I get back on my bike after I’ve fallen off? I don’t know. I like to commute to work on it. Riding is a great source of exercise. It saves on gas. It’s an easy way to enjoy nature.
Yesterday I rode my bike to work. Riding home after work, I stopped to watch a softball sectional game at Clifton Common. It was fun. I was enjoying the day.
Then after the game, on Route 146 halfway between the Shenendehowa school entrance and Bruno Road, I “met” you.
Riding a bike on roads is dangerous. I’ve always known that. I could hit a pothole and lose control. I could get sideswiped by someone who is texting while driving. But never did I expect to be targeted purposely by someone who is so stupid.
Or, God forbid, evil.
Tom McBride is The Gazette’s assistant features editor.