Monday, November 17, 2008
This is not going to be the most upbeat and encouraging entry I’ve ever made here. Last weekend, I had what could be called a philosophical discussion about fear with my girlfriend. It started with a spot on what I consider the only must-see TV show on my list – “Sunday Morning.” It was about businesses that are selling the ultimate in thrill rides – launches into orbit around the Earth for about a quarter-million bucks. If I started saving every penny I make, lived in a refrigerator box under a Mass. Pike overpass and start eating nothing but insects and wild berries, it would still take me until 2017 before I could afford a ticket. I mentioned, to my sweetie, that even if I did have that kind of money, I still have the sight of the 1986 Challenger tragedy burned in my memory, which turned our topic of conversation to fear and risk. I mentioned how she takes a pretty big risk when she zips down Route 95 on her morning commute in her Mini every day. She countered that I’m not exactly enhancing my safety by cycluting, especially during the winter. Good point. Truth is, fear occasionally clutches my throat while I’m biking to work. For no apparent reason, the thought of getting rear-ended by a car sneaks into consciousness and I start playing a video clip of the accident in my head. At the moment of imagined impact, my real body tenses, I put a death grip on my handlebars, and I go breathless for a moment. Ultimately, it’s the risk I’ve chosen to take, counting the joy of biking as worth the possiblility of becoming mangled in an accident by an octogenarian who had a mini-stroke behind the wheel, a teenager who was text messaging, or someone “only had a few” and misjudged his sobriety. Even as I type this, planted safely in an office chair, I’m giving myself chills. Be safe, fellow cycluters, and be vigilant.