I was really hovering on my bike this morning, effortlessly, on my way to work, enjoying the sunshine and dark asphalt roads finally cleared of both snow and gravel. It seemed like Spring was finally here, at least for the day, and my thoughts drifted.
I had a rare moment of pure bliss just gliding along. Was too warm for a hat, so I took it off. Gloves too. Had to open my jacket a bit. Then roll up my sleeves. And put the sunglasses in the basket, because for some reason they keep chilling your eyes when the wind flows around them. I crossed the street, to a shortcut through the woods, where the gravel was still loose, and was rolling down a soft Earthy slope under canopies of filtered sunlight, looking out for grooves in the road when, damn, there it was, a big one, right in front of me.
There was no time to brake, so I just maneuvered a bit to the left to avoid it, but maybe I leaned a bit too much to the right in the process, and maybe there was just too much gravel. My front tire lost traction, and before I could react I was on my side, surfing on the dirt and stone, my right arm and left hand on the ground, and the first thing I realized when I came to a halt was: damn, my pants were dirty.
The contents of the basket were strewn around, my shades were bent, the basket was bent, and my right arm was coated with mud and gravel. My left hand was bleeding profusely, the skin scraped clean on a patch of the pad. I had some water with me, so I tried flushing away the worst of it, and I had one tiny band-aid in my backpack, which I wrapped around one finger with a worryingly ugly-looking crater under the joint, and I had some tissues in my pocket so I wedged those inbetween my jacket sleeve and arm. I was surprisingly calm and collected at this point, wondering if I should go to work anyway, or get this checked out, or turn around and go home.
I stopped an old man with a dog and asked if they had some health center nearby, and he pointed me in the right direction. So, I made my way there, showed them my skin - or lack thereof, and was soon lying comfortably on a bunk while they brushed away the gravel with soap and water as well as they could.
It still didn't look very refreshing. One wondered if I had taken my tetanus shots, which I do think I have, though it was all a long long time ago. I wondered if I should call home to check, but they didn't seem too preoccupied once they'd started cleaning the wounds. They weren't too deep, they said. They didn't clean that one crater I had on that one finger barely at all, though I wondered if it was a cause for worry, and until I came home and cleaned it up some more it was throbbing and hurting all over. He said it'll probably get infected, and then the body will just take care of the rest and flush out any remaining dirt. Somehow, I imagined hospitals were a bit more pedantic about hygiene.
It was over before I knew it though. They asked me if I had any pain in my neck or back, and then let me go. I cycled to work with a pretty sore body, sat there a while, and then cycled back home with an even sorer one, and have since been Googling tetanus shots and dirty wounds, wondering if I should go to work tomorrow at all or get this checked out.
Turns out Tetanus is a pretty serious thing. Also turns out I did have a tetanus shot when I was small, and it supposedly lasts for 30 years. According to the booklet, however, it only lasts for 10, and according to Google you should really get a boost every five years if you think you need one.
That had me spooked a while. It still does. I'm starting to feel stiff all over, and in somewhat related news it looks like I'll be getting the biggest bruise ever on the side of my right thigh. I didn't have any trouble walking before, but it's becoming a bit painful now. The wounds sting and throb, and looking back I might have been just a bit too rash on that road. I can't remember the last time I had road rash, but last time I'm sure it was nothing like this, just some scrubs and bruises. I'm heavier now. Biking in winter gives you the benefit of a soft landing too, drifts of snow and polished ice that don't tear you up on the outside. And sleeves.
Moral of the story: if there's ever a puddle in your way, just go right through.