Easy As Falling Off A Bike.
"Come on," I said to myself, trying to encourage my weary legs to go faster, but the hill was unrelenting and the sky looked ominous. It was mid afternoon but looked like late evening as the clouds darkened and thickened. Cars began to drive with headlights on and I began to wish I had lights on my bike. The first drops of rain began to fall, or so I thought.
The wind which had been in front of me for the past hour seemed to drop away and my speed increased. However, I began to seriously worry about the weather, the atmosphere was growing heavier by the minute.
Here I was in the middle of nowhere, on a race bike with no waterproofs, lights or mudguards. I did have the obligatory spare tube and puncture kit and a mini-pump, otherwise it was zilch beyond the clothes I was wearing, a cycling shirt, helmet, shorts, gloves socks and shoes. I felt something touch my back, then one on my arm. It was rain and I cursed my luck and the misleading forecast. "Rain tonight;" it had said, this was the middle of the bloody afternoon.
If it was possible the sky darkened even further and it became like night. A flash in the sky caused me to worry some more as I waited for the rumble which would soon follow it. A few seconds later the sky roared and I'm sure I felt the ground tremble. Next came the hiss of rain as it deluged me and all around me. In seconds I was soaking and my eyes were stinging as the large drops of water lashed into them despite my supposedly protective eyewear.
I neared the top of the hill; leastways I thought I was near it I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me through the curtain of water and the road had disappeared, replaced by torrent of dark fluid, with ripples in the middle caused presumably by the cat's eyes. I was becoming cold as well as wet and yet I had at least an hours ride for home.
Looking for a place to pull over and wait out the storm became a priority, except I couldn't see anything beyond the hedgerow on my side of the road and that was of no use for shelter.
The rain intensified and a flash of lightning struck somewhere not far ahead, my bowels grumbled in fright. Cars may have a Farraday Cage effect with lightning but not bikes. If I was struck I'd probably be killed.
I could hardly see anything now, except the outline of the hedge the rain was so hard and my speed was irrelevant, I couldn't read the computer anyway. Suddenly my thoughts were wrenched from my control as I was one moment sat on my bike, the next flying through the air. My brain went into hyperdrive and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I was flying, wow! Then reality kicked in, "Oh shit!" Followed by the shock of being lashed by the twigs and branches of the hedgerow, and I felt myself falling through it. Amazingly, nothing was hurting, well just then it wasn't and I even had time to hope there were no wires, especially the barbed variety or trees nearby.
Then I hit the ground, a soft muddy ditch. It felt cold and slimy as I lay there. My bike seemed to bounce past me and fell a few feet away and I saw in detail the damaged rear wheel, with tyre flayed off and spokes pointing in all directions. I was still alive; I asked myself the major question, "How the bloody hell am I going to get home?" I don't remember any more.
"Are you okay?" came the voice, female from some distance away. "I said, are you okay?" This was almost shouted at me and getting nearer, followed more quietly by, "Oh fuck; oh fuck, I didn't see you in the rain."
I heard the next clap of thunder and saw another flash, the cold and the wet made me realise I wasn't dreaming. I managed a groan.
"You're alive, thank God," came the female voice.
"Yeah, I think so. Where's my bike?" My prioritisation was faultless even under duress, it was valuable or had been I hoped it still was.
"Can you sit up?" I shook my head but she pulled me into a sitting position and before long I was standing, shivering and wanting my mother.
"Look, lets get out of this rain, my place is not far away and we can sort things out from there."
By taking off the front wheel, I managed to stuff the remains of my pride and joy into the boot of her car and I almost fell into the front passenger seat.
The rain continued to hammer down on the roof and windscreen of her car and I could still hear the odd rumble of thunder as we drove towards her place, whereever that was. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up with this having never happened, but I knew I couldn't. I was shivering uncontrollably, my helmet was in my hands and broken, and I had scratches on my arms and legs and probably on my body as well. I was so cold I couldn't feel anything except my coldness and I felt sick.
"Not far to go now," she said hesitantly.
I seemed to be in a trance, it was probably the beginnings of hypothermia because I couldn't seem to focus on anything, it was like I was inside myself rather than looking out, it was weird and unpleasant.
The next bit was hazy to say the least, I think she parked in a garage and manhandled me into the house, up to the bathroom where I threw up in the washbasin then sat down on the toilet. She must have run a bath because she began to help me to stand and undress.
"Oh!" she said, as she pulled on my ripped shirt my breasts were wrapped in a crepe bandage. "I thought you were a b.."
"I am sort of," I replied and grabbed my shorts as she was about to pull them down.
"It's okay, I'm a nurse so you won't have anything I haven't seen before." There was an apprehensiveness in her voice which belied the words.
I held on to the top of my shorts, she pulled at them and I resisted. "Look, I don't care what you are let me help you into the bath to warm you up."
I was still shivering and wanted to sit in the warm water, but somehow my embarrassment held sway.
"Come on, drop 'em," she laughed and I laughed too. I was too tired to resist any longer and reluctantly stepped out of the torn and muddied shorts, my hands dropping to cover my genitals, all two inches of them.
The bath soothed my aches and pains although it hurt at first, feeling like I was being boiled. Gradually my body came back to normal temperature and I began to function mentally again. Now things were beginning to hurt as bruises and scratches made themselves known, but the mud was washing off as I stood in the shower and rinsed off the dirt and dried blood. It was all superficial stuff, I was going to be okay my worry now went to my bike, four grand of carbon fibre and high tech engineering. I wanted to cry.
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