It’s been nearly five years since I was almost killed.
Specifically, it was October 25, 2011 at 9:46 AM.
That Tuesday morning was brilliantly sunny.
There was a delicate bite to the crisp, clear morning air as I pedaled my bicycle north on E Street to a 10 AM yoga class. After waiting for a green light on the corner of Fifth, I slowly pedaled into the intersection, immediately noticing a silver Honda was turning left into me, leaving no escape. Since the driver faced directly into the sun, she didn’t see me and accelerated, causing me to fly from my bike onto her windshield, shattering it with the force of my impact. Although I was conscious, I don’t remember details well; they were images scrambled like a video of a riot. However I clearly recall being tossed about like a leaf in a tornado; frenziedly trying to grab on to anything to hold me in place. Seconds later I slammed head first in the roadway 15 feet from impact.
Strangers flooded the intersection from every direction, protecting me from traffic as I lay, in shock, on my back. Cell phones clicked to life; people were shouting, running to my aid; someone grabbed my helmeted head from behind and said he would stay with me until the ambulance arrived, insisting I not move.
I could wiggle my toes and fingers, alleviating a minor level of anxiety, especially since I could see my pants were shredded and blood was flowing freely from my left leg. All I could do was let go and wait.
Five hours later, the emergency room doctor said to me, “You’re either made of steel or someone is watching out for you because men your age don’t take a hit like that and walk out of here. Go home.”
I am fortunate beyond words. My bike? Not so much.
For the last 56 months, it has lain on its side in my garage, gathering dust, front wheel bent beyond repair, cables knotted, chains dry. The internal battle has constantly been, “Do I get back on the saddle or get rid of the bike?” The intense, frightening experience left too many scars to do the former; and the latter seemed disloyal. Does that make sense? I mean, how can one be disloyal to metal tubes and rubber tires? Yet it’s how I felt; strange how we humans make attachments to inanimate objects isn’t it?
As the Irony Gods would have it, I won yet another bike late last year. So, now two bicycles are side-by-side, in my garage, begging the question, “What are you going to do with us?”
“I don’t know,” says my inner voice, “Maybe when the weather clears up, I’ll fix up the old one and my wife and I can ride bikes together.”
Clear, sunny skies last week forced the decision.
Quite literally, I dragged the broken Specialized bike to the repair shop. When I retrieved the now shiny machine, it must have seemed odd to the attendant because instead of riding out the door, he watched as I walked it home along my side. Truth be told, I was still afraid.
Last weekend, we donned helmets, jackets, and enough reflective gear to light a runway and — for the first time in a very long time — I threw my leg over my old metallic steed of years ago and pushed down on the pedal.
Together we rode two miles. I know it’s not much, especially compared to what I used to do, but it’s a heck of a lot more than I’ve done in half a decade. Strangely, as I experienced the breeze against my skin and my legs pushing against the pedals, it seemed like a reunion with an old friend. I actually felt a bit teary-eyed (but I’ll deny it if asked).
Was I wrong to wait so long? Who knows? More importantly, does it matter? The healing process is a journey, not a destination.
It appears I’ll be traveling some of it again on two wheels.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a nationally known weight loss expert for baby boomers and the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. He is available for coaching and speaking. His new book (co-written with his sister), “The Busy Baby Boomers Motivational Guide to Weight Loss” is now at www.BabyBoomersGuides.com