Bicycle Adventures

Bicycle riding may be defined as long, Saharan passages of discomfort and boredom interrupted by occasional unexpected oases of entertainments and curiosities. About a month ago at three separate locations on our local rails-to-trails, Kelly O. and I saw three copperheads, agkistrodon contortix, one of which had the misfortune of coming under my wheels as I, being distracted by Kelly O.’s elucidation of the finer points of certain metaphysical problems in which he and I were engaged, neglected to give the surprised and annoyed serpent a sufficiently wide berth. We did not trouble to inquire after his injuries, but it is a certainty that he slinked back to his lair with a few broken ribs complaining to his wife about callous and inattentive humans.

Having nursed his ribs and bruised muscles back to health, I feel sure he would have taken comfort mixed with pleasure had he known of the adventure two weeks later of the author of his maladies. On that occasion, Kelly B., Glen, and I were at mile 46 of a long ride, again on the trail, rolling along at almost 20 miles per hour, with Kelly B. in the lead, me second, and Glen third. The trail was spangled with patches of sunlight and countless leaves, obscuring its contours, and at about the time Kelly B. said “bump,” I unaccountably found myself somersaulting through the air, with my feet, still clipped in, pointing skyward, bicycle momentarily above me. I landed on my back with a resounding and unpleasing thump, which happily threw the bike into the ditch, avoiding the inevitable scrapes or crimps otherwise its due had it, too, hit the trail. My helmet was cracked and the seat was twisted, but my companions were able to straighten the latter, and we were able to resume. Glen observed that the whole affair was most entertaining, and if I would offer to repeat it, he would happily wear his GoPro to record it for the entertainment of others.

This was not the end of our adventures. Yesterday, Kelly O. and I were resting at the Sumrall station, joyously occupied in heated debate, with Kelly this time challenging my views on some unresolved paradoxes of Aristotle. I was facing west, toward Main Street and the post office, and he was facing east toward Hattiesburg. Behind him, not seventy-five feet from us and a mere fifty feet from the post office and Main Street, there was a truck in the parking lot, with the passenger door strategically open and a woman of middle years standing on our side of it, minimally blocked to Main Street but totally visible to us. Just as Kelly was offering an unassailable riposte to a point I made concerning the Nicomachean Ethics, I interrupted with a dumbfounded “Holy cow!”, or similar expletive, as the lady completely dropped her drawers along with any pretension to modesty and partially squatted. Kelly turned around and briefly digressed from his enlightening disquisition to make an apt comment on the phases of the moon, which was then full. Before I could pull my jaw off the floor and regain the power of speech to inform her that there were facilities not five feet from where we were sitting, all of the physiological necessities had expired, drawers had been raised, and Sumrall returned to its genteel, bucolic self.

Surely these excitements were at an end. But no. Today five of us were homeward bound, having returned to the trail after a couple of hours absorbing the pastoral delights of the countryside. The wind was gusty and strong, and with no warning we found ourselves watching, not quite in slow motion, a dead oak tree, perhaps a foot in diameter near its base, wickedly fall directly onto the trail, one of its limbs catching and slightly wounding the lead rider and causing Teresa to hit her brakes so as to avoid running right into it. We all stopped of course, and fortunately the tree was small enough that we could move it off the trail. It is presumably unwise to anthropomorphize trees, but its intent did indeed seem a touch malevolent.

I would take up golf instead, but I happen to agree with Mr. Chesterton, who felt that it is unsporting to hit a sitting ball.


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