It’s 85 degree heat with nearly 100% humidity. The heat from the asphalt hit’s like hot breath. I watch my heart rate, which is usually in the 140 range when I’m going 20mph, hit 150 and then climb. I’m not thirsty really, but I try to remember to keep drinking. My legs feel strong, and the view is euphoric: fields where hay is being cut; horses standing along a fence in the shade; purple martins swooping into the low eaves of a barn; chamomile and cornflowers blooming thickly at the edge of the road. It’s the end of the ride and T is a little ahead.
I tuck down into my drops and start pedaling hard. And then, without warning, my world goes suddenly black.
Just for an instant. No road, no fields, no handlebars. No warning.
In the next instant I’m pitching over my handlebars into the grassy stubble on the side of the road.
I hear my wheel hit the uneven lip of the asphalt, and I have just enough to reaction to tuck and roll, clipping out of one pedal just in time to avoid twisting my ankle.
I land, chest first, my bike on my back, on soft dirt, narrowly missing the guard rail.
T has seen me as I’m falling, and is looping back, at my side in an instant. I’m already trying to sort myself out: unclipping the other pedal, disentangling myself from my bike. I’ve got a sweet crank set mark on my jersey: just between my shoulder blades.
My face stings, but I’m barely scratched. Just grass stains on my shirt.
I try to stand, but a rush of nausea and darkness descends again upon me like a hood over my head.
Because he’s a diabetic, T’s first thought is to give me a glucose tab, and it helps. The grape flavor sugar dissolves in my mouth, and I drink water, and within minutes I’ve cooled down and feel good enough to get back on my bike and take it easy the last mile to home.
Riding home I keep thinking how it could have happened so differently. I could have swerved in any direction. It’s in these moments that I feel like I’m held by something greater than myself. Some filament of grace, some spirit wing between me and what could have been.
Have you ever had a moment like this, a close encounter, a moment of protection, a sudden certainty that your life is right and full of grace? I want to hear your stories.