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Creeper Collisions

The Virginia Creeper Trail might be a mild spin downhill for 17 miles of picnic spots, but it’s downright dangerous.

We stood waiting to get our bikes from the shuttle when the first overly serious cyclist elbowed through the small crowd barking, “Watch it! Watch it!”

“Seriously?” I asked incredulously as witnesses laughed.

It was then I started wondering what kind of story this day would turn up. Last year I wrecked trying to race my then 6-year-old son while fighting to see who would be first to do the jump off the bridge back onto the trail. I hadn’t planned on the boulder so close to the trail, so I grabbed a bunch of front brake at the last minute, and skid out, landing facedown. He landed his jump within inches of my head and pedaled off, laughing over his shoulder.

It was later that a boy of about 10 years careened wildly off of the trail and down a steep, rocky embankment to the river’s edge, jacking his shoulder up. His father, who was NOT a cyclist, moaned in angst about what a stupid idea it was to be on this trip in the first place. I felt sorry for his wife and what the ride home was going to be like.

“We will NEVER do this again!” he shouted at her.

Well. No duh.

This time I was in the center of a flowing wreck that unfolded so neatly I could not help but applaud. Unfortunately the main characters in this act were surprisingly grumpy.

The baby had just awoken from his nap, so it was time to find a spot for lunch. Ben pulled the trailer over to the left side of the trail to access the short path down to the river’s edge. I stopped to pull in behind him, pulling to the right of the trail first. Michael and Elijah pulled up to the left to follow Ben down the short section of singletrack. They were getting ready to turn their bikes around when from behind me a large woman shot past, slamming her front wheel into Michael’s rear wheel. She spilled to the right, in front of me, her bike on top of her. I braced for the pileup when her riding buddy came flying up next, yanking his front brakes as hard as he could.

I thought for sure he would run her over or land on top of her, but no. He was much more graceful than that, which was quite surprising for his size. In fact, he flew over his handlebars, executing a most perfect dive roll over both her and her bike. His tuck and shoulder roll were especially perfect for a person not wearing a helmet. In three seconds he was standing as I peeled bicycles off of the both of them.

“That was PHENOMENAL!” I shouted. “You deserve a medal for that dive roll!”

I figured that he was saving his bows for after helping his girl back onto her feet. Her shoulders, knees and elbows were coated in dirt and she was a bit emotionally tousled, but otherwise ok.

“Anyone need any Band-Aids?” I asked, even though I didn’t have any.

No. No. They did NOT.

“No. We don’t. But maybe you should be a little more conscientious of the trail,” he quipped.

“OH!” I said, jumping back, letting them get their own bikes off of the ground. “OK. OK.  I will do that.”

Admittedly I was disappointed not to have a better look at their wounds before they scurried off. In fact, I was surprised that they didn’t want to do a bit more inventory before racing off again.

I didn’t even get mad. Outside. After all, I had my children to impress.

Instead I used Southern Sweet, calling out to their broad backs:

“Well you all have fun then, and make sure you keep it at a speed you can handle!”

Next year we’re all going to wear full pads.

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