There’s something I’m still embarrassed about, despite the fact that it’s been many years since that day. It’s something so prominent that it sticks in my mind, and while telling it just makes me red, I know the rest of you will understand.
There are many people who make that first mistake.
It was evening and I was riding out with my friends for the first time. I’d always stuck to admiring from afar before, but I’d been convinced to finally try it for myself. The bike was a sharp looking thing, all black and bullet-like. At the time I had thought that it looked like something out of a science fiction movie. And while it looked like a weapon, it moved like a kitten. Easy and gentle, but nipping at the wrong time. It was a juggernaut of a thing, but I wasn't afraid. Maybe I should have been.
About halfway through the ride, I was immersed in the scenery. Beautiful mountains and tall trees. I can still recall the fresh smell of the land, even now. The bike was acting like it was happy to be on the road, and I agreed. Driving had been my passion for many years prior to the bike, but I was quickly about to switch sides.
I had lifted up the visor to admire a rocky hill where a landslide had recently occurred, moving slow because of a truck that had pulled over. There was no problem—I would pass them by, maybe give them a slight nod, then I’d carry on my way.
Halfway through the nod, something blew into my eye, and the bike jerked hard to the left, bouncing the front tire off of the truck’s own tire. The bike and I were sent jolting hard to the side, the handlebars punching me in the gut, but the most serious injury was to my pride.
Luckily, there was no damage to either vehicle and I had a bruise to write home about, but even to this day I remember my first ride in equal parts shame and happiness. Thankfully, said shame didn't prevent me from many years of riding later on.
Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil