Author Topic: miles to go before I sleep


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miles to go before I sleep
« on: December 25, 2005 »

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

That was New England poet Robert Frost, ladies and gentlemen. I have come perilously close to meeting the dead poet's society.

Here's a way of getting killed: Ride your bike into a pothole which launches you over the handlebars and onto the road, knocking you unconscious, then lie there until a car finishes the job. Once upon a time I found myself in hospital after following the above directions, fortunately skipping that last step.

The setting: a rural lane in Ohio, which is one of those United States you occasionally hear about when journalists are reporting from the American heartland and require amber waves of grain in the background. I was visiting family.

My excuse for the bad flight: a very early morning ride, a small-wheeled folding bike and a poor choice of lights. Add a pretty damn big hole, not quite six feet deep. Fortunately the guardian angel who followed me shortly after I started my gravel nap was wide awake at the wheel.

The first thing I remember is being helped vertical with the question "Do you want me to call an ambulance?" This struck me as absurd. Why did I need one? Then again, what was I doing being lifted to my feet by this stranger? And was that my blood on the pavement?

After being escorted to the passenger seat I held a curious internal dialogue concerning recent events. Something about a light. No voice beckoning me into it. Then blackness. Now unexpected decisions were being demanded of me. An ambulance…? Well, there was the wooziness to consider. Might not be a bad idea to have an MOT.

At the hospital they let me keep my bike in the exam room. It was unscathed. I answered the nurse’s questions and my bike sat silent, the defendant. There was a pain chart on the wall. I didn’t really hurt. Just felt out of sorts. But I’m a veteran.

My first technical knockout was a love-tap by a Jersey girl back in the early 90s when I lived in Jersey City. This while a pedestrian, seduced by the green man’s come hither look. I’m told my eyes danced in their sockets while an electrical storm raged in my head.

My second involved driving a car and being rapidly introduced to the windshield (no seatbelt!) after another motorist blindsided me.

As I came out of the fog of my hat trick it slowly dawned on me how lucky I was to still be alive. Cyclists are apparently hard enough to spot, even in broad daylight. There I’d been, imitating roadkill in the wee hours. One could have easily forgiven my would-be killer turned saviour for a deadly lapse in concentration.

The worst part was having to call my wife. She’s also a veteran. Oddly enough that hasn’t made a dent in her capacity to be wounded by my accidents. Not helping matters was her circumstance of being 4000 miles away and completely helpless to comfort.

After the obligatory CT scan and an all-clear from the medical profession I caught a ride home with my parents, thanking them by throwing up in the car after we pulled into their driveway. Nausea ruled my immediate future. That soon subsided, but for months afterwards vertigo would continue to have its way with me, my dizzy dance partner.

I hadn’t been wearing a helmet. Still don’t. The way I figure it, my skull was up to the task and passed with flying colours. Admittedly my accident was exactly the sort which best fits a helmet’s job description: slow-moving cyclist bonks himself squarely on the head. No question, it might have saved me the handful of stitches I was awarded as a souvenir. Then again, it could have been a nasty accessory to a twisted neck. Guess I’ll never know. Funny thing was, nobody held my feet over the fire on the helmet question while I was in the States. It was only when I got back to the UK that the doctor at my local surgery took her scalpel to my answer. If it's prescribed for the cycle accident, it should've been for the other two, no? Accidents are equal opportunity destroyers.

Those 15 minutes I spent communing with the road were forever lost as I killed time in a dreamless no-man’s land, waiting for a stretcher or a hearse. The earth continued to move underneath me, and would’ve kept right on turning had I slipped the mortal coil. Miles to go before I sleep.


km to go before I sleep
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2014 »
↑ has gone from slumbering deep in these pages to lying in wait under an assumed name at the end of the latest Ride Journal. It's nice to see it in print you can smell, too, though it appears to have been run through the metric version of spellcheck – "nearly two meters" is not the same as six feet under, guys.

Anything else you want to get off your chest?