When my best friend Tyler called to tell me he was sick and wouldn’t be able to come mountain biking with me anymore, I was pretty disappointed. I sat around my house for a little while moping and wishing I had someone else to take with me on the biking trip. As I gazed longingly out the window at my beautiful bike just begging to go out on the trails, I realized I didn’t need anyone else. I was going to go mountain biking all on my own. What could go wrong?
I put on all my biking gear and hauled the bike up into my truck before heading out on the way to the trails. They weren’t far from my house, conveniently enough, only a little ways past the little old folks home on the edge of town. Pulling into the little clearing that served as a parking lot, I was surprised to find that no one else had decided to visit the trails on such a lovely day. I shrugged it off as I climbed out of the truck and set to work getting my bike all set to go on the ground.
There was nothing I liked better that morning than saddling up my bike and getting my feet onto those pedals. As soon as I had my helmet fastened securely on my head and my gloves on tight, I started off down the main trail. It was a smooth ride, as always, which is probably why I kept coming back. The view from the top of the first hill was simply spectacular, offering a glimpse of the little lake that the trails all circled and the towering evergreen trees whose tops swayed slightly in the breeze. Even with the roar of the wind in my ears, it was amazing how peaceful the nature around me had me feeling. I was so very calmed that I sort of zoned out there for a minute. Which is probably why I didn’t notice the tree right in the middle of my path.
When I finally spotted it, I swerved as hard as I could to avoid a full-on collision. I managed not to hit the tree head-on, but my back tire careened into it, throwing the rest of the bike (and me along with it) into a violent tailspin. I spun so fast, and I could hardly keep track of where I was going until I felt the ground give way beneath me. As I toppled down the grassy hill off the edge of the trail, I was thrown off the bike, though I could feel it sliding along hot on my heels. When I finally came to a stop at the bottom of the hill, my bike was indeed only a second behind me, but it didn’t stop quite as quickly as I did. It didn’t stop until it had run right over my left leg. The pain shot through me like a bolt of lightning and the squeal of agony that left my mouth was more than a little embarrassing.
So there I laid, with both a bike and an ankle I was pretty sure were broken and an ego that was shattered. I didn’t move for what felt like an eternity, but I finally had to face the fact that sitting there in the middle of the valley was probably not doing my aching ankle any favors. Slowly and oh-so-carefully, I pulled my knees to my chest and looked down at the injured joint. My pants were ripped all the way up to the knee, and I was not surprised to see some of the material spattered with flecks of blood. My ankle was a sickly shade of purple and blue, and there was a weird bulging lump on one side, which I was fairly certain was where my snapped bone was now lodged. I cautiously raised myself into a crouching position and gingerly began to put just the slightest bit of weight onto my bad foot.
And collapsed once again in a ball on the ground. I was not going to be able to limp my way to safety as I’d hoped. But when I rolled over and spotted my bike lying beside me, I realized I might be able to use it as a kind of crutch. It was ridiculously difficult for me in the condition that I found myself in, but somehow I managed to get both myself and the bike upright and moving toward one of the lower trails that skirted the edge of the lake.
Making my way to the trail was pretty slow going, as I had to hop along beside the now pretty wobbly (and seemingly even heavier than usual) bike, putting most of my weight on it to save my poor ankle any extra pain. When I finally made it to the actual trail, I was so exhausted from hopping and balancing and hefting the bike along that I couldn’t go on any farther. Plopping down at the side of the trail next to where I had dropped my bike, I took a few minutes to catch my breath. When it came time for me to get moving again, though, I couldn’t bring myself even to stand up. The pain shooting up and down my injured leg had become nearly unbearable, and my arms felt like they would rip off if I had to lift that bike one more time. Just when I thought I might break down and cry, a miracle happened.
A little old lady on a motor scooter came rolling around a bend in the trail and found me sulking with my ripped pants and ruined bike. She slowed her scooter to a halt and came hobbling over to me to take a closer look.
“That looks like it hurts,” she addressed me, pointing at my deformed, discolored ankle.
I just nodded sullenly as she turned to examine the bike.
“And this looks like it’s seen better days, too,” she commented, “especially because all the cranks seem to be missing.”
My eyes popped wide open in surprise, and the little old lady laughed.
“Didn’t think a granny knew anything about biking, huh?” she grinned.
“Well it’s true I haven’t done any mountain biking lately, but I used to, and I certainly know a messed up bike when I see one.”
“I-I think I must have lost the cranks in the crash,” I stammered, “or in the fall maybe.”
“Well, lucky for you, I think I know how we can get both it and you out of here,” she said with a wiggle of her eyebrows.
First, she went about dragging the bike over to her scooter, where she managed to hoist it up and hook it over the little jut where the rear license plate was displayed. Then, she came back for me.
“Now, you’re going to have to get on the seat behind me and make sure the bike doesn’t slip, okay?” she asked, offering me a hand to help me up.
I nodded again, groaning as she began to lift me from the grass. Together we managed to hobble over to her scooter and maneuver me onto the back of it, facing my bike. Once she’d climbed onto the front and started up the scooter, we were off. It wasn’t exactly the mountain biking trip I’d been hoping for, but when I turned to check on our progress and saw the hospital growing closer, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the new friend I’d made.