Here’s a story about how I met a young man whom I’ve grown to admire through AIDS/Lifecycle. Let’s call him “Crash”
I believe it was the Day 1 of my first AIDS/Lifecycle as a rider. I’d trained well for the ride, and met my fundraising goal, so this AIDS/Lifecycle really was an opportunity for me to sit back, and take in some of the gorgeous views as a cyclist.
In the afternoon, I found myself overlooking the cliffs of Pacific Coast Highway, looking out onto the Pacific Ocean. It was a warm day with a cooling sea breeze. I was climbing a small hill when I noticed him. He was standing by the side of the road, obviously a rider who had crashed. Despite his thumbs up, he was bleeding in a few places, and crying, but still trying to smile, he nodded yes when I asked, “is everything OK?” I think that’s why it took me another twenty feet before I thought, “What? Wait a minute. That’s not right!”
It wasn’t just the fact that Thumbs Up (and smiling for that matter) is the AIDS/Lifecycle symbol for “I’m OK”. It was the Universal Thumbs Up that caught my sense of irony; that “everything’s honky dory, carry on”, “I approve of this message”, that got me. He was in fact, being a real trooper through some painful road rash. He was clearly shaken. Boy, do I know that feeling. I pulled over, stopped, and walked back to him.
“Are you sure you’re OK?”
“Yeah, my front tire blew, and I fell while trying to get to the side of the road. Something’s wrong with my bike now, so now I’m waiting for the Sweep Car.”
“I was a Bike Tech last year, so I could take a look at your bike if you want. But you should really clean the wounds that are bleeding as soon as possible.” (With road rash (or trail rash), this is the best way to prevent Staph infection.)
I offered him my emergency Crash Kit, which he gratefully took. We chose a shady spot, and while tended to his wounds I tended to his bike. It turned out that his handlebars got knocked out of alignment during the crash, which is an easy on-the-fly adjustment. I lent him an inner tube, since this he was out. We had a pleasant conversion on the side of a hill, overlooking the ocean.
He decided that he’d like to get back on his bike and ride the rest of the way to camp. Like I said, he was a Trooper. His first few strokes of the pedal were understandably a bit shaky and tense, but after few miles of following him, I could see that he was fine. More than fine, he was actually quite a proficient rider. I felt no qualms about leaving him when he turned off at Rest Stop 4, and I continued on to camp.
BOOM. That’s the sound you hear when you’re in a rush, and pump up your tire too fast. It was 7:50 am the next day and I was still in Bike Parking. My rear tire had gone flat overnight, so there I was, rushing to fix a flat and get on the road. Threats of sagging (not being able to ride that day) were blasting over a megaphone, and I had just used my last inner tube.
“Can anyone spare an inner tube?” I yell out in desperation.
“I CAN!” I hear a familiar voice call out. It was Crash. He looked fresh as a daisy and ready to ride. He lent me the tube, and I made it out in time to have a wonderful riding day. Thanks, Crash.
It’s wonderful how Instant Karma works, isn’t it?
If you’d like to register for AIDS/Lifecycle 10, visit http://aidslifecycle.org
I’m registered as a roadie this year! If you’d like to help me help others, you can visit my AIDS/Lifecycle 10 Webpage here.