Slow motion crash in paradise

Despite my best intentions to stick with running this summer, the roads called to me this morning. It’s the Fourth of July, a day I traditionally celebrate with a long bike ride. Why? Extra time I get with the additional day off. Also: tiger lilies. They profuse along the country roads of upstate New York the first week of July, telling me that glory is here. And also, riding a bike long distances sums up independence for me.

I started this morning around 7:45 a.m., planning to do my Rabbit Run Route, a 32-mile loop that takes me up the west side of Cayuga Lake to Taughannock State Park, then inland toward Trumansburg on Rabbit Run Road. (Yes, there’s a carved wooden rabbit at one end.)

Not forgetting what I told myself earlier this week, I put safety first: red flasher on the back of my bike, got off busy Route 89 early to avoid run-ins with cars and boat trailers. And at the end of the ride, I took the bike path, not the road. Smart me!

Accidents pop up in weird places, though. On Ithaca’s safe little Waterfront Trail, not a mile from the end of my ride, I rounded a curve. Not 10 feet away was a woman-and-dog combo. I braked in time, but, stuck in my cleats, did one of those embarrassing tip-overs. Bam, right on the pavement.

She was very kind, asking if I was hurt, if she could help. I was dinged up—my left hand caught the fall and my left knew was already starting to bleed. But nothing hurt. I asked her to stay on the right side of the path next time, just like it’s a road, and I admitted that I was going a little fast for the bike path. No hurt feelings. More than that, she’s visiting Ithaca from Pennsylvania and loves it. I wished her a happy weekend—talking with a visitor enamored with this place compounded the beauty of the ride I’d just enjoyed.

Biking, for me, is finding the balance between miles and miles of available beauty and my limits as a human. How far can I go before my back starts to hurt and my arms get tired of holding me up? How big a loop can I do before my mind gets fuzzy and the sun gets high?

Anyway, today, crash and all, it was a beautiful ride.