As I limped to the parking lot yesterday, describing my crash to a friend, she stopped me and said, “You really need to change that story. All it does is make you sound like a big ol’ klutz!” Thanks, Nancy. She went on, “What you need to say is that you hurt yourself in some heroic way, saving a kid on the path or something.”

True, true. Now that I think about it, I must have hit my head, because all these memories have started flooding back. I know remember what really happened…

On Saturday, my sweet and I had decided that the one thing we wanted to do above all others was to ride into town and help kids struggling with the new math curriculum. Clouds hung low, threatening rain, but our steadfast resolve overcame them, and they dissipated, leaving nothing but blue skies and good times ahead of us. We spent the ride on the Watts Creek and Ottawa River pathways, partly to drink in the idyllic beauty of the world slipping from one season to the next, but also to avoid the rampaging death machines that stalked the roadways into town.

We passed other cyclists, jauntily ringing their bells at the other path users, smiling at us with the shared feeling of security and fellowship of our two-wheeled tribe. As I remarked to my sweet that my bicycle seemed to know which way to go, and how I had to give it only the merest of coaxing to move forward, I heard it: the distinctive growl of a death machine.

I don’t know who’s great idea it was to build these things, less who let them out into the wild, but they’re a fact of life, and we deal as deal we can. They never usually came near the paths, perhaps they were programmed to avoid wildlife, but as we approached the parking lot for the Kitchissippi Lookout, I realized the naïveté of this thought. If they could get into the parking lot, they could pick cyclists off as they passed. I looked up the path and saw a boy riding alone, massive headphones blocking out the grinding and hissing from the death machine stalking behind him on the lot. I resisted the urge to call out. He wouldn’t hear me, but the machine might. The thing began to extrude stilettos from the ends of the two writhing masses of cables it used for arms, their silent points glistening with who knew what poison. I had to do something.

I poured on the speed. The boy and the death machine were both almost at the intersection of lot and path as I burned up behind them, my legs pistoning as hard as I could make them. The machine reared up to strike with me still several metres away. I jammed the front brake and twisted my body as my bike came up into a stoppie. The twisting launched me into the air, neatly pinioning the deadly appendages in my spokes. I continued my twist, ripping the machine’s arms from their sockets. The machine gave me a look of contempt before its oil started pouring out of its new orifices and it ground to a halt, black smoke pouring out of it. I watched all of this and not my trajectory, and I paid for it with a bad landing, my knee taking the bulk of my weight.

The boy? He never even noticed something was wrong.