Bicycle crash offers insight into human nature

The sound of sunglasses scraping against asphalt is one you’re better off not hearing.

Not only does it feel as pleasant as it sounds, it hurts even more if the shades are brand new. Trust me.

I had to learn the hard way this summer as a spill on my bicycle made me temporarily lose faith in my ability to pedal a two-wheeler while permanently destroying any remaining confidence I had in humanity.

If Don McLean says Feb. 3, 1959, was the day the music died, then I consider May 20, 2011, as the day altruism died.

After stopping on my Tour de Presque Isle to break at the crest of the bridge overlooking the Perry Monument, I continued down the hill even though my feet weren’t squarely on the pedals.

A classic tale of hubris meets apathy.

Halfway down the slope my right foot flew off the pedal, hit the road and was sent careening into my bike’s back tire.

Before I knew it, my helmetless head was hitting pavement while the road was acting like a cheese grater on the rest of my body’s right side.

Being more embarrassed than hurt, I attempted to walk the pain off despite looking like the day’s newest road kill.  It was an effort that I knew was in vain after feeling the blood dripping from above my right eye from the laceration caused by my sunglasses – a nice little gash that would later require stitches.

After realizing that my foot was fine and I was cognitively OK, I turned back to the scene of the incident only to see car after car drive slowly past.

Talk about insult to injury.

At least they managed to meticulously avoid hitting the bleeding boy, his bike, sunglasses and iPod that lay strewn across the middle of the road.

Their graciousness shall never be forgotten.

After playing Frogger to collect my belongings, I sat against the guard rail utterly flabbergasted that there weren’t any Good Samaritans to be found on the Isle.

No one even bothered to yell out their window to ask if I was OK.  In fact, I would’ve welcomed any reaction.

Hell, at least if they flipped me the finger for slowing down traffic, I would’ve known what just happened wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

However, minutes before my roommate arrived to take me to the hospital, Erie-ites everywhere were redeemed. But this savior came in a camo hat and waders instead of a robe and sandals.

A father and son on their way home from an unsuccessful afternoon of fishing decided to stop and give me ice, which they intended to use to cool the day’s catch, to keep pressed against my eye.

Too bad no gesture will ever erase the memory of that caravan of cars slowly swerving around the crash’s debris.

But the cross-generational, first-aid outdoorsmen didn’t leave empty-handed.

They may have been out a few cubes of ice but they sure gained one heck of a fishing story.


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