Bicycle (Or, How I Got a New Helmet)

February 26, 2017
By saalan BRONZE, Modesto, California
saalan BRONZE, Modesto, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people."-Heinrich Heine

On the last Sunday of August, I learned how to ride a bike. It was a long and difficult process. I don’t know how seven-year-olds do it. Yeah, I know, a thirteen-year-old not knowing how to ride a bike. Lame.  Well, sorry, I was scared, and apparently for good reason. Not one day after I learned how to ride a bike, I got into a car accident. I don’t even own a car!

It happened like this. I was pedaling (quite slowly and wobbly) around the block. My neighborhood is a gated community, and the end of our block happened to intersect with the main entrance. As a result, our block was very busy. However, people needed to get through the gate, which made a loud beeping noise every time it opened,  in order to get to the street. As a result, I was relying on audio cues to tell me when to stop pedaling. What I didn’t take into account was people trying to leave the neighborhood, which wouldn’t set off the gate, but it was around 6:30 pm (rush hour) and most people were coming back from work anyway.

I was going through the intersection and didn’t see a Sedan trying to exit. It barreled toward me at 35 mph, so I was told. As a result, I didn’t have time to brake. All I saw was the side of a gas inlet before hitting the ground. My handlebars were twisted all the way around to the side of the tire, my helmet was broken and pushed to the side of my head, a throbbing pain was, for some reason, in the back of my head, and I was tasting pavement and something metallic.

The world was swimming, a blurry mixture of the orange of houses, the green of trees, the gray of cement, and the dusty blue of the sky. My glasses, intact, pinched the bridge of my nose, and my watch was covered in scratches. The sedan pulled over and braked, and a middle-aged white guy came out of the car and assisted my slow-as-molasses ascent. He also righted my handlebars, which I’m still grateful for. I grabbed my bike and started walking in the direction of my house.

The person driving the sedan asked if I was okay and tailed me for a couple of blocks. I didn’t want him to follow me, so I circled the neighborhood a few times before he finally left me alone. Not the best choice, as he could have provided vital information, but I wasn’t thinking properly and the first thing that came to mind was the “stranger danger” rule.

You could imagine what happened when I came home, helmet askew and broken, half the pavement on my face, and enough scrapes to justify months of biking accidents. My mom probably had several panic attacks. Even worse, for some reason, I thought it was cool to hit a car, and demonstrated that by excitedly yelling and making finger guns as I yelled, “I HIT A CAR!!!!!!!” In my defense, adrenaline is quite a drug. I also was bragging about it to my siblings, and they looked concerned.

Afterward, I went to my pediatrician and got diagnosed with a concussion. They told me that I couldn’t do anything for a week. Complete brain rest. That meant no electronics, no reading, no studying, and no going anywhere. I was devastated, but mainly by the “no reading” part. What was I supposed to do all week? Do household chores like some sort of dysfunctional Cinderella? Nah, I just listened to audiobooks and sat on the couch.

As you can see, I’ve (probably) recovered and have to work again. However, it could have been a lot worse. Had I not been wearing my helmet, I would have certainly sustained much longer lasting and painful injuries. I could have even gotten into a coma, or worse. If this were a fable, I would presume that the moral of the story is to “look both ways before you cross the street,” and "read the warning labels that come on bikes".

The author's comments:

What inspired this piece was an accident. A tragic, horribly funny accident. In retrospect, all of these screw-ups are kind of hilarious. But going through all of this wasn't. I really could have been killed. It would also be hilarious, a 13-year-old girl peddling precariously on a too-small pink bike and a rainbow helmet, but no one talks about funny things at a funeral. So stay safe, don't go outside. And if you do, wear a helmet.

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