Yesterday, on a Sukkot outing with some of our kids and grandkids, we drove to Daniel's Bike shop in Marina del Ray and rented assorted bikes for the family. Some with training wheels; two tandems, one with a trailer for the youngest grandkids.
It's been many, many years since I rode a bike, and I had some trepidation about getting on the seven-gear purple number Joe, the shop manager (owner?) chose for me.
"I can't do this," I told my husband.
"Sure you can."
So I did. After a few wobbly moments, I started peddling out of the parking lot and onto the bike path.
The bike path, between the car lane and the curb, proved traumatic for me and for the kids, who were frightened by the cars that came hurtling around the curve. In retrospect, we should have walked our bikes to the path several hundred feet ahead that is reserved for bikers and pedestrians.
The day was glorious--a mild breeze, the sun glinting off the water. My husband and one of our daughters stopped on a bridge to say "Tashlich," the traditional Jewish prayer you recite on the second day of Rosh Hashana or in the days following to "cast off" your sins.
Then I pedaled to join the others, who were somewhere up ahead. There were buildings and jungle bars to my left, the sandy shore and ocean to my right. I passed a couple with a toddler whose corn-rows were embellished with sparkling mulitcolored crystals.
I felt exhilirated and remembered how much I had enjoyed biking. We should do this all the time, I thought. Great exercise, great scenery.
Joe had offered to stay open until 5 because it had taken so long to get all the bikes ready. At four-thirty I saw my daughter-in-law and granddaughter on one of the tandem bikes.
"We're all heading back," she told me.
I reversed direction. My legs were a little tired, but I was still doing fine, still enjoying the activity. I crossed the bridge where we'd stopped earlier and prepared to turn right onto the path that would take us back to the bike shop.
My turn was too wide. In a moment of panic, and because I hadn't ridden a bike in decades and was unfamiliar with this purple beauty, I didn't think to use the brakes. I hurtled toward the wire barrier and slammed into it. My bike and I ended up wedged between the two wires that kept me from plummeting off the cliff into the ocean.
I felt a burning sensation in my left leg. I couldn't move.
Three men came to my rescue and, after some manipulation, extricated me and the bike from the barrier.
I rose slowly. I had thought that my left leg was broken. Thank goodness, it wasn't. My knee was burning. Through my torn tights I could see that it was a mess, bleeding and abraded. My left hand was mildly bruised.
My diamond earing had fallen from my left ear. One of my rescuers found it, and I spotted the backing glinting on the path.
My daughter and daughter-in-law had arrived, along with the grandchilden.
"You are too funny," my daughter-in-law said as I bent down to pick up the earring backing.
My daughter tore the tight away from the wound.
"What happened to your beautiful leg?" one of my granddaughters said.
"I'm fine," I assured her and the others.
We had planned to host a pizza party in our sukkah that night for the family, including our niece and her husband and two daughters. No reason not to have it, I told my husband. I placed the order on the way home.
By the time we got home, my knee was stiff, and when I rinsed it with hydrogen peroxide and applied a bandage with Neosporin, I was alarmed by how swollen it was, how distorted it looked. I had no sensation on the left side of my knee. My son worried that the kneecap may have been displaced, or that I had torn some ligaments.
All lovely possibilities.
So while everyone was in the sukkah, my husband drove me to Cedars Urgent Care (my daughter suggested this--it's better than sitting for hours in the Cedars Emergency Room), where my knee was X-rayed and a nurse dressed the wound and gave me a tetanus shot.
"Might be a hairline fracture of the tibia," Dr. Yamini told me. "The radiologist will have conclusive information in the morning. Call your doctor then. Chag sameach," he added before he left the room. Happy holiday.
I was trying.
Back home I put ice packs on my knee and watched "So You Think You Can Dance," which I love. Then "Gary Unmarried." I had two cups of Baskin' Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge, which I could eat every day.
Even with four Advil tablets, I had an uncomfortable night. In the morning my knee was stiff, but I thought the swelling had subsided somewhat. Using a section of Press & Seal to keep my bandage dry, I showered and called the doctor.
"No fracture," his receptionist told me.
I feel lucky. I also feel stupid for not having used the brakes.
And I'm ready to go biking again.