The subdivision I grew up in goes by the name of "the Shadows." Unfortunately that didn't make me a ninja no matter how hard I tried. In the Shadows there are quite a few steep hills and in the Shadows there were also quite a few children with bicycles. If you were tough enough and cool you attempted to ride yours down one of these gnarly hills and not die. Guess who thought that sounded absolutely exhilarating?
I rode a pink generic bicycle that I ripped the streamers off of right away because those are unnecessary and equally ridiculous. The fact that I had to ride a pink bike in the first place made me feel ridiculous enough. There were no sparkly stickers as I had torn the majority of them off long ago. The tires were white and at one point I had one Ninja Turtle spoke ornament on my front tire that I was very fond of.
My brakes worked perfectly fine, but to me there was nothing like the sound of hearing your own shoe skid across the asphalt to slow you down as you leaned into turns. It was like being on a motorcycle in an action movie, minus any explosives. It was extra cool if you could get your back tire to slide out from underneath you and still stay on. Having a dirt bike would have been an honor.
The first hill into the Shadows subdivision appears in front of you like you're about to drive off of a cliff.. but that one curves to the right and isn't all that steep, so clearly, not badass enough to ride your bike down. The second hill is like a 50 degree angle inclined plane. It was perfect.
No one else was accepting this dare, partially due to the fact that they probably had more common sense than I did and also because it was TERRIFYING. I lived just a few blocks from this monster and I was going to conquer the shit out of it.
Your starting point would be at the big storm drain that went across the whole street, that has big enough grates that you could get your foot caught in and likely break your ankle. Which was a great preview for what I was about to experience next.
I took off, leaving my brother at the top of the hill so he could witness all this coolness of mine that was about to unfold. No helmet or any kind of safety precautions were taken except that I watched out in front of me in case there was a car.
Here we go.
Deep breath, keep true.
When you go down that steep of a hill as fast as I was going your front tire begins to shake like crazy, which in turn makes your handlebars shake like crazy. The tiniest flinch propelled me forward, over my handlebars, face first into the pavement and my poor child body skidded down the street. Utterly defeated by physics.
I didn't make it.
My brother rode to our house right away to go get our mom. I honestly have no idea how long I was waiting face down in the street, because I was so incredibly disoriented I could hardly move. I was so shocked I couldn't even cry out.
No one was coming to get me, I thought.
Not long after, a car comes up the road and literally just honks at me. I motioned my arm as if to signal "I'm dying here, go around me!" My bike is a several feet away from me and I'm a bloody child, lying in the street, a little help would be a fantastic gesture. Eventually whomever was driving got fed up with me not moving out of the way and got out to help me. They asked where I lived and I just pointed forward. I managed to get back to my house and threw my bike in the front yard. I walked in the house with a bloody face, scraped from head to toe, with ripped clothes. I. LOOKED. AWESOME.
My mom was in the kitchen doing dishes when I approached her with my new look. She was not very pleased with my choice of recreational activities that afternoon. We cleaned up all my wounds and I went to lay on the couch, because I had the worst headache I've ever felt in my child life. I could hear my mom on the phone talking to our neighbor down street about what happened and if it were possible I had a concussion. I was told not to go to sleep just in case, so I let everyone know I was just closing my eyes. Of course I was sleeping! I just landed face first in the fucking street!
My neighbor came up to give her evaluation. Evidently blunt force trauma is totally fine as long as you're not vomiting. I remember our neighbor brushing my hair gently with her fingers saying "How is she? Poor thing.. She looks so pitiful.. Try not to go to sleep, babe." It was somewhat like experiencing what it might be like if you were conscious at your own wake. Very bizarre, yet oddly comforting.
The enormous scab on my forehead was by far my favorite of all the battle wounds I acquired that day. It made me feel like I earned a merit badge and I wore it with pride. Strangers stared at me and wondered "what on earth happened to that little boy?"
Unfortunately no one actually thought I was any cooler afterward, but they were all still too afraid to even attempt that hill, so I knew better.
I was tough as nails and force to be reckoned with. Don't you dare step to my Tweety Bird high-tops.
"Did you really ride your bike down that hill?"
You're damn right I am.
I attempted that son of a bitch once more, on my own to try and prove to myself that I could make it to the bottom this time.
Not. Even. Close.
Halfway down, the same thing happened, but not nearly as severe. I still scraped up the entire front of my body again, but I managed to keep my head from hitting the ground. I heard several teenage neighbors nearby all start saying "ooh!" and "eesh!" And since I was completely conscious this time I was more embarrassed than anything. Moments later my mom drives by in her station wagon, stops and rolls her eyes at me and asks me what the hell I think I'm doing. I didn't have an answer. I put my bike in the back of the car and we drove off like nothing happened.
My Evil Knievel days were over.