I’m having a difficult time leaving my temporary homes. My method for coping is to leave as late in the day as possible before I say my goodbyes. At 5:00 PM I left Micha’s guadua home, and I was on my way to meet my new friend Seva about 20 km away. Micha and Seva were a bit worried about me leaving so late and traveling in the dark, but I let them know that this was nothing new and I could handle anything.
As darkness fell, the rain also began to fall; simultaneously the 800 meter climb out of Pereria began. This was an ominous beginning to my mountain trek, but I was oblivious. Confidence and calmness were permeating my mind. I climbed effortlessly filled with happiness from my experience with Micah and my excitement to see Seva. I was singing as I pedaled and waving to everyone as I glided forward; nothing could stop me.
Seva called to check on me; I assured her that all was fine, and I would be extra safe. After returning to the road I was riding a perfect line to maximize safety. There was a sloped drainage area to my right that I kept at a distance of 2 feet, while allowing adequate space for cars to safely pass. My lights were flickering brightly, my helmet buckled tight, and my mirror fixed on potential traffic coming from behind. I was the model of safety.
The road changed from monotone, to two different colors; I thought nothing of it. There was a large truck coming in my lane, so I shifted over a bit to give him more space. I felt a soft dip as I slid to the second color in the road. Another kilometer passed when I noticed a car blocking my current path. As I tried to softly shift further into the road, the soft dip had become a substantial bump. I hadn’t cut towards the road with enough resolve and wasn’t able to cross the hump. I slid back down into the shoulder, the car was close now, and still in my way.
A quick decision had to be made, so I cut towards the road with conviction. Simultaneously a SUV approached from behind in my lane, so I corrected a bit to avoid the vehicle. My front tire cleared the hump, but my back tire didn’t follow, sliding back down towards the drainage area. Unfortunately physics doesn’t allow the bike to continue in this position. The back tire immediately tried to follow the front tire another time, but with less direction and control. The tire bounced off the bump and threw the bike at and angle. Boom! Down I went, sliding in the road.
My eyes were at street level. Half of my view was the road, and the other half was the SUV and the sky. Processing the situation, I realized I wasn’t in a safe space. I popped up quickly shaking my arms and legs, shouting “Woooo!! Woooo!!!” Adrenaline coursed through my body. The SUV had blocked the road and put their blinkers on; the lady in the passenger seat yelled at me to be sure I was okay. I gave her a big thumbs up and shouted “WooooOO!!” A man appeared from his home and dragged my bike out of the road; I thanked him by patting him on the back over and over, then shouting “WoooOO man; ese fue acerca (that was close)!!”
He picked up broken pieces of glass from the road, and handed me a pannier that had fallen off my bike. I checked myself for broken parts; all seemed to be in order. There was blood on my shin, and my knee hurt. It was minimal, considering the fall and the situation.
After several deep breaths, I patched up my mirror, reattached two panniers, and fixed the hole in my handle bar tape. I said goodbye, and pedaled off; this time with a different perspective. I reflected on the previous moments and reminded myself that things change in an instant. I smiled, thankful to be given this scary reminder relatively unscathed. We’re never ready to fall, we never expect to fall, but sometimes we do. Our only option is to get back up, hopefully all in one piece, wiser than we were, and continue on our life path without fear. I’ll be riding as safely as I can, but sometimes we fall.