Every once in awhile I think about all of the stupid shit I did as a teenager-wait, even before that considering I had two concussions from bikes before I was 8- and am thankful to have a functioning body. My friend Brad sent this clip and said, ‘this made me think of you.’
It has been a long time since doing any of that on a bike came naturally or with ease. And I’m talking the ‘easier’ stuff, none of this 180-ing into rails and then 180-ing out that I’ve never been able to do. Bikes. Such a medium. Meanwhile though, I fall off of my road bike doing wheelies. So dumb because I actually hurt myself. Had my hands on the brakes, was three pedals in and WHAM! I’m on my ass. Thud. I thought I broke my tailbone. It still hurts ten days later and I have been beating myself up over it. How could I be so dumb? Why do I do these things? How did I let myself fall?
But I’m over that. If I start self-restricting risk and danger it would require an alteration of my entire life. Every day I’m on my bike is a risk. Whether I’m cruising along on the Eurotour or splitting lanes at 20 MPH on my track bike. If I didn’t mountain bike and jump stuff I would go insane. I self-reflected on this in my Dan Cortese vs Noam Chomsky post last summer.
Those who take less risk have said, ‘Just stop doing what’s dangerous then you don’t have to worry.’ What’s the exchange for that life and is it worth it? So much is dangerous. ‘How do you think we can get up there?’ comes up far too often. The blizzard on the East Coast reminds me of high school where we drove around 6 deep in an SUV with shovels and ladders finding our way onto buildings to jump off into snow piles. The time I jumped off a three-story building over a road and that feeling still gives me chills…
I am scared to death (which is a funny statement right?) of being seriously injured or killed. Not a day goes by where I don’t take a deep breath and think, ‘Wow, that could have killed me’. Not long after I watched this video and fell I heard the news that an ultra-cyclist named Bruce Taylor died from his injuries in a bicycle crash here in Southern California. We’ve done the same events. I’ve ridden with him. He was on a bike path. Safe, right?
Weighing risk is the basis of public health. We all do it. But knowing what is in us and how we want to act when not restricted is fundamental in understanding what ‘danger’ is and how we use it and feel it. I’m watching this (on mute with Jay-Z playing: better):
and thinking about the summer while nursing my injury…which really is pretty minor so why worry? Is death and injury a reminder of our fragility and a sign to live more or a warning to take it easy? I’m pretty sure I know the answer and I have the French to thank for articulating it:
in which the certainty of not dying from hunger
comes in exchange for the risk of dying from boredom.