Friday, September 05, 2003

A boy on his bike

Who hasn’t had a few scrapes on a bike? OK, OK, you can put your hands down now, don’t draw attention to yourself, you’re at work remember, you’re not supposed to be reading this.

I’ve had many; I’ve used a peddle-back break, one which I didn’t know I had, whilst taking a corner making me involuntarily apply my front break and sending me flying over the handlebars. I’ve slipped a bike into neutral losing all power causing me to slide alarmingly across a gravely road tearing my 'Battle of the Planets' t-shirt in the process. I’ve been hit by a car, and was so startled just jumped back on and rode off without a word to the horrified driver.

Having cut and banged my knee in that accident, Emma, along with a number of her maternal friends insisted that I visit A&E to get it checked out. After all, they said, knees are funny things; a small bang can come back and haunt you in years to come. It was a little swollen and quite sore. I think Emma may have made me a cup of tea out of sympathy. Yes, it looked that bad.

So the next day I went to A&E and sat with the children with pots on their heads and the winos who had overdosed on Vim. Being healthy, male and in my early twenties, having walked in unaided and wandered around picking up leaflets, I was left to wait for two and a half hours for my check-up. Eventually I was seen by a dashing young doctor who rolled up my trouser leg carefully so not to damage ligaments or dislocate the knee cap. I sat and looked down, wincing and what we might see. I was shocked to see…

My knee.

I swear, even the cut had healed up, the swelling was nowhere to be seen, the doctor muttered something like “another Munchausen tosser”. When I asked him to clarify he looked me in the eye in a pitying way and said. “Would you like a tube-e-grip to go on it?” I said no and left in a hurry.

Despite this my greatest fear and scrape has always been with divots; little folds in the road, the lowered part of pavements that allow cars to access driveways. Anything, in fact, which is less than a quarter of an inch high.

For some reason I can bunny-hop any Doberman that comes my way (I used to have a BMX Raleigh Burner with yellow Mag-wheels and trick nuts… Ah now you’re checking my flow.) but when it comes to navigating over something you can barely see from six inches away I’m all over the place, I inexplicably line up my wheels in parallel with the fold or curb and find myself hurtling along unable to steer with my legs sticking out desperate to stop myself. When eventually I come to a halt, all the cars that have stacked up behind me drive past, laughing hysterically.

I’ve been on my bike everyday this week; I’ve been near to catastrophe about two hundred and forty times.


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