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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bicycle bedlam

When I was a kid, I loved riding a bicycle. Although I lived in the accurately-named neighborhood of Forest Hills, I was able to roam freely on my bike... to homes of friends, the neighborhood shopping center, the elementary school, and the junior high school. By the time I turned 16, however, I had passed down my bikes to my younger cousins. All I wanted was the keys to the family's electric-blue 1963 Ford Galaxie 500.

Gail had kept her 10-speed from college, and I occasionally rode it after we married. But I didn't truly re-familiarize myself with bikes until Ryan and Eric got theirs. Like I, Ryan lost interest in bikes as soon as car keys became available. Eric, on the other hand, sometimes rode his bike to high school (10 miles each way). Now he attends university in DC, where he rides his bike to classes on weekdays and all over the city on weekends.

Two months ago, Eric had a collision with an automobile. Fortunately neither he nor his bike was seriously injured. This week, Gail was riding her bike after work and also had a collision with an automobile. Hers was more serious -- requiring a precautionary trip to the emergency room -- but it turns out that she wasn't seriously injured, either. She definitely would have been injured, perhaps gravely, if she had not been wearing a helmet. Her head hit the asphalt with sufficient force to split the helmet. Ouch.

My parish priest mentioned that she often hears of serious bike accidents. Last week, a well-known writer and community activist in Raleigh passed away from lingering effects of a head injury from a nearly fatal bike accident five years ago.

I think I'll stay off bikes for a while, but there's no denying that bikes are fun. Bill Ruddick, a colleague at Nortel since Atlanta in 1985 and a great friend, devoted his summer to a ride from the Pacific shore of Canada all the way to the Atlantic shore. That's some serious riding, and he had a blast! He chronicled his adventure at http://mysummerbehindbars.blogspot.com. And his trip was accident-free.