I have been moving slow the past two months because I was moving too fast. You see, it was a beautiful day in Austin in mid March so I went for a bike ride. SXSW was in town but that did not deter me. Streets were full of cars, people, beer cans from the prior night and numerous other obstacles. That did not deter me either. I was on my way to the water, the Colorado river known as "Lady Bird Lake" and the Hike & Bike Trail. It's a great loop, about 10 miles around town and another 6 miles there and back. It's a good workout especially on the trail where the gravel grabs tires and makes you peddle a bit harder. The people watching is terrific though I'd prefer the ladies with strollers not walk three across. Ah, what the heck they earned it so I always slow down and tip my helmet, as I skirt around the edges.
I did not make it to the trail. On a downhill slope with cars parked on both sides and all lanes filled there was no room for a bike. I was forced onto the sidewalk and saw a path back to the streets but the sidewalk dipped and the front tire hit a 45 degree angle bump. Boom! The bike made a complete stop but the rider continued on. I was airborne, flying through the air. But is was a short trip as gravity did it's job and I fell quickly back to earth or rather onto the sidewalk, headfirst. I lost my fight with concrete and must have been out for 10 seconds, maybe longer. I was wearing a helmet but my face took most of the hit along with a knee, wrist and shoulder. A few passersby stopped giggling and ran to aid the old white guy. My only question was "where is the blood coming from"? They dialed 911 but I made them hang up. Cars passed by and I saw a Mercedes, BMW and other expensive vehicles. None stopped. Then an old beat-up car, I think it was a Chevy of some kind, stopped and a young Spanish gent got out and brought me a towel to stop the bleeding. He did not stay long and I did not get his name. As he got back in the car, I rose and hopped to the street to yell "thanks". He turned and smiled at me then waved goodbye. I could not make out the plates, the blood was coming from above my eyes and made everything cloudy. One thought struck me at that moment - the poorest among us was the first to offer help.
I don't mean to make this a rich white guy and poor Spanish dude thing but that's what I was thinking. I was thankful and wish there was time to meet the man and shake his hand. I am ever so grateful to the stranger that helped me. He must have just finished the laundry because the towel was a large bath towel and it was clean and smelled fresh. I can't help but think it cost him to help another but he did not hesitate, not one bit. I guess the Mercedes and BMW drivers did not see me or perhaps their laundry was being cleaned by their maids. I don't know. I drive a Beemer myself so that's a bit unfair.
Ok, I will pay this forward. It's the best I can do and certainly the right thing. Bikers in Austin, a warning to you all. If you fall or get hurt and I am in the area, I will stop and help. I put a fresh, clean towel in my car so I am equipped to come to your aid.
I like to read and write stories that dig deep into characters and how they respond to challenges.