The Brakes

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

I’ve been in three bike wrecks in my three years in New York. I’m looking forward to my fourth.

Wreck no. 1 was in Central Park. I plowed into a guy who looked like Jesus, if Jesus not only had a beard and flowing locks, but also rode a Bianchi fixed-gear across traffic to retrieve the bouncing cap of his water bottle. I flipped over Jesus, and met the pavement. I bled.

Wreck no. 2 was on the Brooklyn Bridge. A tourist waddled in front of me and I bounced off him, then pinballed into a cyclist speeding the other direction, another Jesus on a fixed-gear (bikers from Brooklyn and their aerodynamic beards; future essay topic?). I was banged up, though this time Jesus got the worst of it, his sunglasses flipping off his crown into the car traffic on the bridge below.

Wreck no. 3 was in front of my daughters’ school in the Village when I was doored by a cab. (N.B. Getting doored is very surprising!) I careened off the door and slid to the curb. My right knee looked like Soppressata. The rest of me was OK and I was really more concerned for the boy who’d opened the cab door, whose father was screaming at him for being a no-good kindergartener.


Actually, I was more than OK.

I was elated, buoyant. Filled not just with the adrenaline rush of being alive, of having made it through. But also with the deeper good feeling of having gotten something bad out of the way.

Getting in a bike wreck is like going to the dentist. It happens about once a year, it’s unpleasant but necessary, it’s a preventative check-up where all of a sudden you’re on your back and gurgling and spitting in a cup. OK, maybe it’s not like going to the dentist. Unless you lose a tooth.

Maybe a bike wreck is more like a religious offering. An offering of blood to the cycling gods to protect us from the big wreck that’s out there, to keep us safe one more year. A bit of blood to save our skin. This is why I am looking forward to my next wreck. And I’m due.

My worst bike wreck was my first. I was eight and speeding down a hill, and the fold-up bike I was riding folded up. But that’s another story. 

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