I have three older brothers who from the sound of it were quite a handful as kids. Apparently, when they were young, they played a game on their bikes that involved riding as fast as possible straight into one another, sometimes missing, sometimes not. They called this game “Near Miss.”
Of course as a girl child I had no interest in any kind of game in which I intentionally risked my safety. But now, as an avid cyclist, I intentionally risk my safety just by getting on the bike, although I try my best to prevent accidents. And there are other risks I take, just like everyone else, to get “life” done. This weekend I came as close to Near Miss as I like to.
On Thursday after work I rode with Sherpa and another friend (ON MY NEW PINK TIRES), and afterward decided to finally stop in to the bike shop to get a lax rear brake fixed up. I’d been smashing the brake lever into the handlebar just to get it to grip, and a few weeks before I’d had a horrific experience with trying to get those brakes to grab with near-frostbitten hands on a 45-degree rainy ride. Anyway, I went to the bike shop and they took care of it.
Near Miss Part 1: On Saturday Sherpa and I did a ride with one of our best friends, who has earned two nicknames, Sister and Roomie. From the beginning of the ride, I was shocked at how responsive my brakes were — I barely needed to touch them and they grabbed the rims instantly. Wow, my brakes work! I kept saying. The ride was tough (I am fairly sure I was near fainting on the way up one of the hills). We were tired. Well, Sherpa and I were tired; Sis/Roomie was just peachy since she’s training for the Iron Man (she’s awesome).
So, at mile 44, with one mile to go, unexpectedly we came to a Y-shaped intersection where we had a stop sign and the oncoming traffic did not. Sherpa was ahead of me and saw a car that had no turn signal on, so he yelled “Stopping!” and I swerved to the left to avoid hitting him, and clamped my brakes – HARD – instinctively, falling back on the muscle memory from the brakes needing a lot of grip.
If you’ve never fishtailed a bike, I don’t recommend it. My brakes worked this time – the tires were completely stopped and I slid side to side all over the road and somehow had the wherewithal to let up on the brakes a little and stay upright. I don’t know how. The car ended up turning right, into the opposing lane that I would have skidded off into had I lost complete control. I rode for a few hundred yards, saying “Oh my god,” over and over. There were a few tears at the next intersection. Near Miss.
Near Miss Part 2: Yesterday, I had planned to paint the kitchen. I rolled color out on the walls, using a stepstool for the tall bits, then I switched to a ladder to get the ceiling edges with the brush. A few minutes into the edging, I stepped back, muscle memory thinking that I was still on the stepstool. I missed the step. Sherpa was, of course, on the other side of the oven that we’d moved out to paint around. He watched me fall, in slow motion, flat onto my back off the ladder. Amazingly, although I didn’t put down drop cloths or wear painting clothes, I landed with a full tray of paint upright in my hand and spilled only ONE drop on the floor, which probably flicked off the end of the brush.
Unbelievably, I am not seriously hurt. I mean, yes, everything hurts, including my legs from the tough ride and my back from hitting the floor. But I am really lucky. I keep thinking it has something to do with the residual magic that Manya left with me last week. I spent the night laying on ice packs and marveling at my near misses.