The first thing I noticed upon regaining consciousness was her underwear. A faceful of silky whites and a non-sensical stream of German words welcomed me back from the haze.
“Sprechen sie English?” I muttered.
The German woman in a short skirt crouched in front of me effortleessly switched languagesand played the role of calm, reassuring nurse, questioning and comforting me. Meanwhile my ever faithful dog Jack walked over to lay down beside me (luckily escaping the crash with only a slight hobble), another onlooker called an ambulance, Fin tucked my feet in away from the busy road and moved my twisted bike out of the way causing Paco, the little dog, to start barking indignantly for being relegated to the outside of all the activity, although I don’t remember any of these details.
Within minutes the flashing lights of an ambulance pulled over. Damn it I don’t have medical insurance filled the back of my head while I was helped to my feet, and the silky white underwear made way for a surrounding of ambulance officers. In Canada an ambulance call-out would be a hefty blow to the wallet, but while being checked for broken bones and bandaged for road rash I was reassured there was no cost. “In Germany we look after everyone.”
After declining an offer for x-rays the ambulance officers made way for the police officers, and the highest ranking, a thickly mustached policeman came to the fore. We gave our best rendition of what happened, but like most accidents it happened too quickly to be certain of the details past the “oh shit…” feeling. Our best version: 9:16am, sunny Thursaday morning, 2 cyclists turn off a busy commercial strip of bakeries, hairdressers and chain supermarkets on a cycle path descending towards the glistening body of water which divides Germany and Denmark along the East Sea. Nothing too exciting, a cement factory loomed at the bottom of the hill, when my front tire felt like it dug into a bump in the cycle path and my back wheel lifted clear into the air, like I was riding an angry bull. A very angry bull it turned out, as the back wheel was instantly slammed into by 50kgs of trailer and dog which sent me catapulting through the air to the side of a busy road. From behind Fin said it looked like the work of a magician, although no bearderd, robed men were sighted.
“Didn’t you see the bump?” the officer interrupted, not too interested in the physics or alchemy involved.
“Yeah, but it didn’t look very big.”
“So no car or no other party was involved, you were just riding along and crashed your bike.”
A thick load of paperwork seemed to lift off the officer’s shoulders, and he moved onto taking our details to be archived away in the great tome of worldwide beauracracy of reports never to be read again. Satisified he walked back to the car with his silent sidekicks, glanced down at the twisted bike and added “This bike is un-rideable” and drove off.
Left to ourselves we took in the final damage. 1 very dizzy Zoa, with my entire left side in pain and a barely mobile shoulder. 1 pair of forks bent so much that the front wheel could not turn, 1 kaput steel Surly Long Haul Trucker frame with a buckled down tube, and a cracked junction on the top tube. (a Surly employee described it poetically as “total carnage”.) 1 bent and broken aluminium trailer frame in need of re-welding, and 1 heavenly helmet cracked in 2 places (a much better thing to crack than a skull).
Luckiest of all, up until 1 minute before the accident I was like the nonchalent locals, cycling without a helmet. After all, the cycle paths are separated from cars and we’d already cycled this route the day before. Just before the cycle path went down a long hill, a little voice inside my head told me to put my helmet on. A guardian angel at the top of the hill and a pair of silky white undies waiting at the bottom of the hill. You could do alot worse. Still 2 hours left to walk to the town dentist for my root canal operation.