Learning to fly

March 22, 2019 § 6 Comments

There is some stuff you can only see on a bike ride, stuff like watching an Olympic medalist swimmer and 7-time world record holder launch off a steep muddy descent through the air like a missile, shouting, “I’m fine! I’m fine!” even before she lands with a thud and rolls into the bottom of a deep ditch.

I was in front and everything up until then had been, well, fine. You could hear the tires quietly rolling behind, everyone picking a line down the muddy slope, when suddenly I heard the onrushing sound of an accelerating bike picking a completely careless line off the trail, the sound of quiet tire-on-dirt replaced by the chaotic noise of tall grass being torn aside by the onrushing bike, and then the immortal “I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine!” and thud.

I’ve been good, but I guess I’ve never been fine

Baby Seal was unimpressed with the head sticking out of the ravine, the body twisted the just-so way of someone who was going to be quadriplegic, and least of all impressed by the “I’m fine.”

“Dude,” he said to the Olympian and world record holder. “You can’t crash like that until July. The Tour is in July.”

I was more concerned about having killed one of America’s greatest swimmers ever on her first Wheatgrass Ride, and concerned about how fine she really was, because she kept saying “I’m fine!” even though she hadn’t actually moved after crumpling into the ditch.

Sure enough, up she sprang. “See? I’m fine!”

And then she did what you would pretty much expect from an Olympian and world record holder. She hopped back on her bike and half-pedaled, half-walked, half-swam down the hill in an abbreviated 200m freestyle.

I tried to think of something encouraging to say, something better than, “Good job not dying back there.”

So instead I did what cyclists do whenever one of their own narrowly avoids a horrific demise. I understated. “Not bad for your first time off-road. Pretty solid 4-point landing, that.”

Meanwhile back at the coffee shop

As we sat at the Sckubrats recapping the day’s event, which will never be forgotten, Sippy, who was indeed fine, had a few questions. “How come that other girl told me that it was an easy descent?”

“Her? The one who turned around and went down on the paved road after telling you it was fine and you’d have no problem on the muddy, treacherous, steep horsetrail?”

“Yeah, her.”

“She was on a bike, wasn’t she?”


“So she was lying. If the person is on a bike, he/she is lying.”


“‘It’s only a few more miles. It’s not too steep. It’s not too windy/cold/hot/rainy/snowy. The road is fine. There’s sag. It’s no drop. I’ll wait for you. I’ll lead you out. Convo pace.’ All lies.”

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know. But how do I know you’re not lying now?”

“Easy,” I said. “I’m not on a bike. I’m sitting in a chair.”

Jerry wandered up and plopped down, heavily. “Man,” he said to me. “That was a gnarly hard pull you took back there. I was gonna go up to the front and take a pull and help you out.”

I looked at Sippy. “See?”

She nodded sagely. “Got it.”



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