My dear friend JQ has been a great riding buddy and friend since I met her four years ago. We normally mountain bike together. I’d hurt my tailbone recently and couldn’t do anything too strenuous, so we decided to take to the road in Bear Creek Lake Park. It was planned to be a slow, chatty ride so we could catch up on all the recent changes in our lives. As we pedaled along the bike path, I couldn’t help but be astonished by the fact that there was an entire paved loop throughout the park that I had never ridden. I typically ride the dirt there on my mountain bike, so this was an exciting discovery for me! I’d always wondered what people were referring to when they talked about riding the loop through Bear Creek clockwise or counter clockwise.
As we climbed up a hill on the southeast side of the park, the path forked and I started to veer to the right. JQ called out to keep left. A bike in the distance caught my eye. It was laying in the dirt beside the path with what appeared to be a sweatshirt or coat beside it. I thought it seemed odd that there was a bike there, without a person nearby. They do tend to go in pairs. I looked left and then right again as JQ repeated to keep left. I didn’t see anyone around the bike and decided to go investigate. As I approached the bike, I realized the clothing on the ground was, in fact, on a person who was laying there, entangled in the bike. I dismounted and approached the man as he lay in the dirt bleeding from his nose and head. He was unconscious but breathing. Beside him was a puddle of blood. I started talking to him to see if he would open his eyes or speak. After a few seconds we decided to call 911 and summon help. I didn’t find any identification on the man and his phone was of no help. We managed to get his name ~ Mark ~ and remove the bike whose handlebars had somehow found their way around his leg. He was in obvious pain and could barely move. As he moved in and out of consciousness, we kept him calm and still as the paramedics made their way up the bike path.
As the ambulance drove away, we observed 10 feet or so of silver scrape marks on the sidewalk that led directly to the puddle of blood. It appeared Mark was descending when something went dreadfully wrong. The few cyclists who had gathered had a brief discussion about the risks of riding alone. Phones that require a touch ID or key code are of absolutely no use to a complete stranger trying to offer help to someone incapacitated. Some of us were wearing our Road ID‘s, others were not. Each of us keenly aware that it could have been any one of us laying there in the dirt.
Have you ever observed how people come into our lives at just the precise moment when we need them? Then, when their job is done, they’re gone. I’ve observed this a number of times in my life and the timing of this phenomenon never ceases to amaze me. It’s sort of like the ebb and flow of the ocean tide. As you walk along a beach, you’ll encounter shells and sand washed in by the waves. Some of the shells will catch your eye, some will not. Some will end up in your pocket to keep and others will disappear back into the water as quickly as they appeared. And like the grains of sand under your feet that make your path of travel easier, some people are simply there to lend a hand when you are unable to help yourself. I’m not sure what compelled me to go right rather than left. I guess on this occasion, I was meant to be the grain of sand.