One colorful, breezy autumn day, my friend and I were out coasting on our bikes. The barren trees whose coarse leaves on the ground became a blanket of yellow, orange, and red hues created a dreary, somewhat lulling, atmosphere. The small town we resided in was always as quiet as a graveyard and didn’t have much to do, but luckily we both lived about five minutes away from the pizza joint where the scent of freshly baked pizzas wafted through the air. Across the street, the carry out gas station that had metal bars on the door since it had been broken in to twice in the last month and the ice cream place that every student in our school knew and loved were placed. At the time, we were only eleven, so we would hop on our bikes, grab the rubbery handlebars that we had worn down to be as smooth as silk, and peddle around all day. We’d adventure to our friends’ houses and attempt to perform “tricks,” just have fun, and enjoy the sense of freedom we had as a little kids. We often took our bikes to and from football practice during the summer, so we basically had the entire town memorized and were knowledgeable of every single in and out, every main and every back road, and we would just roll around talking and laughing for hours.
“Hey, man, do you wanna go over to Cook’s or Jordan’s and play some video games?” my friend inquired multiple times. One of the perks of living in a small town with all our friends was that we basically just appeared at someone’s house and spent hours there because everyone knew everyone, and parents would just text back and forth about where the kids were playing on that given day.
On this particular autumn day, my friend and I had been watching videos of people on BMX bikes performing tricks and flips and spins, everything anyone could ever imagine, and we thought it looked cool. “Hey, man, do you want to go try that?” my friend questioned. We decided that we ourselves wanted to defy physics and become like these fearless people, so we made a plan. We grabbed an ancient piece of soggy, mahogany plywood that we could tell was rotten that was lying in his back yard, stacked up rows of smooth, maroon bricks to make a staircase, and placed the wood on top of it to make a “ramp.” Sounds pretty nifty, right? Wrong. As I’m sure everyone ever with any sort of a brain can tell that this was a really, really bad idea, but our little eleven-year-old brains weren’t too keen on focusing on the consequences, just the adventure ahead. Impatient with excitement, we went on to ride our bikes over the ramp a couple of times and were amazed at the “killer airtime” our bikes would achieve. As we kept going over the ramp, over and over and over, it started to get a small crack in it. We noticed the crack and discussed it. “What’s that noise?” my friend wondered. Every now and then we heard the loud “CRACK” of wood snapping, but we figured we’d be fine and the adrenaline running through our veins pushed us to keep going.
My friend hit the ramp and one particular time, and it made a very strange noise, but again, we figured it would be fine. This is when it happened, the great fall, the wipeout of wipeouts. As I peddled my little fire truck red bike with my stubby little legs to the top of the hill, I was so unbelievably pumped to get the most air I could, so I went farther back than usual. I peddled as fast as I could, the fastest I’d ever peddled in my life, and when I reached the grassy green hill, I started rolling down the fastest I’d gone yet. As soon as I hit the ramp, as my friend cheered me on, “BOOM!” the entire piece of plywood split in half and exploded, ripping my bike out from underneath me and sending me flying into the air. It actually felt like life was in slow motion; my life flashed before my eyes, my soft, fluffy little dog, my brothers, my Xbox, I’d never see any of those ever again. It felt like I was literally hired at NASA and sent on my first space mission; my heart was a brick. Finally, when I hit the ground, my bike came crashing down on top of me. “Are you all right?” my friend asked worriedly.
“Yeah,” I groaned.
I lay there for a solid fifteen minutes before I finally stood up and limped inside to go lie down. I had no physical injuries, but my pride and reputation as a “professional” bike trickster was tattered. It’s safe to say that since that day I haven’t gone anywhere near a homemade bike ramp or tried to do any of the “killer tricks” with my bike.