CREIG P. SHERBURNE
When I was about 11, I remember riding my bike up the street toward my house. I was switching gears and looking down at the chain and the gear-cluster as it clack-clack-clacked into place.
I flew over my handlebars and landed in a heap on the trunk of the parked car I’d crashed into.
Later, when I was 15, my friend Dave and I were inseparable and dedicated to athletics. Specifically, we were dedicated to cycling and roller-blading. I know, nobody roller-blades any more, but that was pretty rad and I find myself wishing it would come back into vogue.
We had this bike ride we’d do. It was long ago and far away, so my very rough estimate says it was between 12 and 15 miles.
A very cool thing about that ride was the liquor store near the top of the hill. It was the only place that we knew of that sold super-caffeinated Jolt Cola. The cola’s slogan was, “All the sugar and twice the caffeine.” So of course we had to have it.
One day, Dave and I decided we’d to the bike ride on roller-blades instead of on bikes. Why not, after all? We were 15 and healthy and had all day.
It was hard, but it was good. Roller-blades are not really for climbing four miles of hill with, but that’s exactly what we did. We must have looked like awkward weirdos in those big clunky skates fighting gravity up that hill. If I remember correctly, I was in a too-large bright blue tank top and violently green shorts. I’m pretty sure Dave was in cut-offs and a multi-hued tank top of his own.
I wish I had a photo of that to share with you. Nothing like fashion regret to make people take you seriously.
Anyway, we enjoyed our caffeinated drink at the top and, giggling like the only the non-drunk can, headed down.
I’d like to share a secret with you. If you are headed down a four-mile hill on roller-blades, you can go much faster if you crouch down into a little ball. That’s called aerodynamics.
As we headed down, a guy in a car clocked us at 36 miles per hour. On roller-blades!
I guess I should clarify something. Remember when I described my horrible outfit? That was the extent of my protective gear. I had on exactly five items of clothing, not counting the roller-blades themselves, and none of them were a helmet or knee-pads.
Toward the bottom of the hill, we’d hopped up onto the sidewalk (the better to go faster on) and were standing tall, slowing down to a reasonable speed. That’s aerodynamics, too.
For some reason, a car pulled out of a driveway and blocked our path. The front lawns in the area were big, so I’m sure if the driver had paid the slightest bit of attention, he’d have seen us in all our multi-colored glory and waited for us to pass. It’s not like we had brakes, after all. But no, he pulled right out into our path.
I had three choices.
1) I could dive for the grass of the front yards around me and hope I didn’t break my arms.
2) I could do my best to brake by dragging the one skate behind me and then use my arms to break the crash into the car
But what I did was 3) Jump over the car. Well, mostly. It was a white Honda, souped up and obviously well-loved. But I was 15, had a belly full of punk rock and Jolt cola and no regard for property, so I jumped. I landed on the hood nice and hard and my wheels left at least one mighty black scrape behind me.
I landed on my feet and skated like my life depended on it. My life probably did depend on it. This was when I still lived in Torrance.
Nothing ever came of it. We had no injuries and the driver of the Honda never found us.
It was same with my stupid crash into the back of the parked car. Zero damage, except to my pride. Two dumb mistakes with zero reprisals. What a lucky kid.