In high school I always thought my greatest athletic feat would come on the football field or basketball court. Instead, I was in the middle of a residential neighborhood with only my little brother and sister in the audience.

We were on our way back home from the YMCA. I was in charge of the kids for the summer and trying to get them some exercise, so when Chase, my then 12 year old brother, wanted to race home I said ok. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the bike I borrowed from my dad for the trip.

I was standing up peddling furiously on my bike when it happened. Snap. It is an odd feeling, having a bike underneath you one instant and crumbling to the pavement the next. A flash was all it took to ruin my dad’s bike, and send me over the handlebars onto the smoking hot pavement nearly one mile from my home.

The next second and a half was the most physically impressive accomplishment of my life, and it probably saved my life, or at least proper brain functioning. The handlebars on my dad’s bike snapped catapulting me over the front of the bike faster than I could regret not wearing a helmet.

Somehow I managed to hurdle off the pedals and over the front of the bike. Any trip up would have ended in a concrete face plant. But I hit the ground running and manage to bring myself to a stop in the middle of the street, seemingly unharmed. That’s when I saw the blood.

Big red drops of blood splashed onto my tan khaki shorts. I was sure I must have done something awful like clipped my groin, but at least Chase and Sydney were with me. That did not last long.

After a few minutes of heavy breathing, and exhausting but stationary confusion, I realized the blood was coming from my hand. The newly broken stub where the handlebars had been cut my finger and, thankfully, the bleeding stopped rather quickly. Not as quickly as Chase bailed though.

It was Chase’s rush to get home that prompted our race in the first place. He could not wait to get home to play video games. So, I guess it should have came as no surprise that he high-tailed it home before I even stopped bleeding.

Pushing a broken bike home was no fun. Triple digit temperatures and a brush with death did not make it any easier. The broken handlebars did not help much either. Without them moving the bike meant adopting a posture I should avoid until I am retired, or live in Notre Dame. I had to bend down to hold the front tire while guiding my up the hill to my home, with the bike occasionally darting left or right and smashing to the ground.

It was a short enough walk that I did not blame Sydney when she asked to go play at a friend’s house. That is where she ends up on most summer afternoons anyway.  Either way, I found myself making the slow walk home alone.

My emotions swirled toward anger as I wobbled home by myself. I was ready to deal Chase a tongue lashing for ditching me to play video games. After all, I do not ask for much, but a little concern would have been nice.

By the time I got home my anger cooled. Chase got away with little more than a passing comment. I am awful at holding a grudge. Even though I was not mad my bike crash made me realize something. It is nice to have someone walking next to you, even when everything turns out fine.

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