I know nothing about her other than that her helmet was pink, her vest was reflective, and she must have been over 80 years old. One thing I do know is that I saw the most incredible person alive today, and she demolished my ego.
I’ve been riding my bike to work for a while now, and when I’m not sweating, crying, or cussing, I feel almost positive about my progress as someone who is slowly developing the rough approximation of a human body. Once, I even flexed my leg and it didn’t look completely like like a cave slug. It has been a long process of suffering and feeling like nothing good has come of it, and finally, I felt decent about myself. That was my first mistake.
I don’t know if she was born or made. I don’t know if she lived a lifetime of strife and success and grit before her brief encounter with me or, maybe, she was assembled in a lab run by a secret agency whose sole job is to monitor me and make sure I don’t get too full of myself. No matter her origin, in the span of a half second, this force of nature or culmination of human endeavors slaughtered the progress my ego had gained, and she did it while ringing a little bell on her bicycle.
And here’s how it happened. I, an innocent enough fellow, was peddling along on my bicycle making my way to campus as what I thought was a respectable pace which was slow compared to cars and quick compared to the speed at which Twinkies decay. The wind was in my hair, my clothes were whipping about, my eyes were watering because a bug had died on the forehead, and my heart was light, and then she was there, and her little bicycle bell chirped, and then she wasn’t.
I saw her only long enough for her face to forever be burned into my psyche. She was old, but not the kind of old in which you’d feel comfortable only describing her as old. She was ancient, and she was grinning like a maniac with nuclear launch codes. Then she was gone before I could finish my whimper, and all I had to remind myself of her existence was the rapidly shrinking view of her back. She was magnificent, and she’s gone from my life forever. I’ll remember her as someone unstoppable, an unremitting, unforgiving force of bicycle prowess, and I will forever be in her shadow.
This encounter with the ancient cyclist is the explanation I will give to the people who care about me when they ask me why I’m lying on the floor spooning my helmet and begging for death.