The Biking Gods must be crazy.
If not, they’ve certainly been passive-aggressive.
Because that’s exactly how I feel about them nowadays.
One day, I feel their smiles, all warm and fuzzy; the next, I feel nothing but bad vibes and the premonition that the Biking Gods are plotting my exit, without consulting me, of course. [See: Warm and fuzzy]
Which is exactly what happened to me a few Saturdays ago.
During one weekend, I was on cloud nine, purchasing what might possibly be one of my many dream bikes for a fifth of its original price (it was used but still in a serviceable condition). However, the next day, I was in the pits, falling flat on my ass after being sideswiped by a jeepney, resulting in a lump the size of a bavarian-filled munchkin on my left butt cheek.
You got that right: I was hit by a stainless-steel, owner-type jeepney while riding a bike that I bought just the day before (Yes, I could have died, had my legs or other limbs broken, or permanently incapacitated. Instead, here I am cracking jokes about Dunkin’ Donuts.)
The jeepney driver, who looked older than Juan Ponce Enrile’s grandfather, insisted that me and my bike—appropriately named The Black Swan*—ran into him.
However, I pointed out that it was the other way around.
He ran into me.
He veered to the rightmost part of the road, sped past me, inched into whatever available space that lay ahead, and cut me off. As a result, he sideswiped my handlebar, causing me to lose balance, and scrape my left knee and my left elbow on the stretch of Barangka Drive in Marikina City.
As far as I can remember, I got up immediately after I fell off my bike and hugged the pavement. After all, I didn’t want to disrupt Sunday afternoon traffic in Marikina by acting like human roadkill and becoming an unwitting subject in a photo that might be retweeted by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
But the driver denied it was his fault.
I disputed his denial.
The old man then defended himself using the same arguments, prompting me to attack his defense.
This weekend roadside Blame-O-Rama went on for at least three minutes before the guy, at the end of his menthol cigarette, finally offered me some money.
Unfortunately, it was a measly sum so I refused out of self-respect, which was slightly more considerable than the cash at hand. Had the peso amount strayed into the high four-digit territory, I would have hugged him, bought him a beer, and called him Papa.
To make himself useful, I just told him to go get me some isoprophyl alcohol (the better to torture me with).
In the meantime, a fellow biker stopped by and offered help—Jong was on the way back home to Krus na Ligas in UP. When I told him I was fine, he gave words of encouragement and wished me a safe trip.
Next on the scene was T., my biking buddy, who came back after it took a while for me to catch up with her. She gave me sanitary wipes and—get this—fixed the chain on my bike which came undone, something which I remain congenitally unable to do to this day.
T. was later joined by the old man who was so nervous he couldn’t pop open the green plastic bottle of isoprophyl alcohol he got for me. He just stood there, trembling, smoking like a smoker in a smoking area.
Nearby residents later joined the three of us, plying us with betadyne, drinking water, and gossip. They had witnessed worse incidents than mine, they told us. Blood, literally, was on the street, they said.
After a round or two of small talk, all three of us went on our own ways—the residents went back to people-watching, the old man to his cigarette, T. to her bike, and me to my regular programming.
And that is to tell you that despite my fall, I’m still going to ride my bike. Why? Because biking is one of the secrets of the world’s happiest cities, according to this report from the Guardian.
Meanwhile, a week or so ago, I just rode my bike to Novaliches from Marikina for the first time—without any hitches at all.
But that, as they say, is another blog entry.
*From the Department of Comparative Literature. The Black Swan is named after the book of the same title written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. If you intend to read just one book for this year, make it the Black Swan. [See: The Black Swan] If not, make it Antifragility: Things That Gain From Disorder. I’ve read both, the first twice and the second just once but thinking about them restores my faith that every one of us has that chance of making it big. That is, if you want to make it big. Because there are others who just want to ride their bikes.
(Editor’s Note: The third to the last paragraph was edited to include the link from the Guardian. The last sentence of the addendum was also changed.)