Yesterday, I was out riding along the San Gabriel River Trail on a beautiful Southern California morning when something unexpected happened.
After making it far enough south and deciding to turn around I was cruising north, listening to Boston, hands resting lightly on the tops of the handlebars when I noticed I was overtaking a couple young kids riding single file on their bmx bikes. On this segment of trail, which runs directly adjacent to the San Gabriel River, the river is completely concrete with a steep concrete slope at probably 45 degrees from the top of the trail to the bottom of the “river”. Because the speed difference between the kids and myself was pretty high (I was going about 20mph and coming up on them pretty fast), I moved my hands down to the hoods so that I had access to the brakes in the unlikely event that it became necessary.
It became necessary.
When I was about 10 feet behind them on the left side about to pass, the kid in front swerved to the left completely blocking my way. I hit the brakes hard and only just managed to skid to a halt before making contact with the other bike, but when I then suddenly wasn’t moving and was still clipped in to my pedals, I started to fall to the side. The same side as the steep slope down to the bottom of the river. Luckily, I managed to unclip one foot and land on that foot, and do a sort of bounce-jump-slide down a few feet of the slope before regaining my balance and expending all my kinetic energy.
As all of this is happening, I make eye-contact with the kid, who I would guess is about 12, and he has a look of absolute terror on his face and immediately averts his eyes. I’m not sure if his fear is that I’ll go tumbling down the slope or that I’m going to yell at him… but when I manage to stop myself from falling all the way down, I burst into laughter. It was like one of those 90′s morphing pictures when the kid transformed from terror to a really big smile. “That is my worst fear of riding this trail – rolling all the way to the bottom,” I said with a smile on my face. Both him and his friend said “sorry” a few times, I told them no harm done and to try and be more careful in the future. As I clip in to take off again, the kid says “have a nice day,” and then I’m off.
I could easily have been angry and yelled at the kid, but then everyone is upset and nobody wins. Sure, my bike has a few new scratches on it (its first scratches, actually) but in the scheme of things it really wasn’t a big deal.
I try really hard to keep myself in a place where events that are “bad” can fall into the “not a big deal” category.
Earlier this year, we ran out of cash at the non-VC-funded startup I work for. Obviously, this meant that we were unable to make payroll for a couple pay periods. But luckily (not that luck had anything to do with it), I was in a place where I could make the decision whether to go find another job or stick it out while not getting paid because I believed in the overall goals and future of the company. I decided to stay, and now things are better than they’ve ever been. And though my jokes about not getting paid may not have seemed funny at the time, in the scheme of things it was not a big deal.
I’m hoping that going forward in life that I can continue to file bad things under “not a big deal” but still continue to get excited about the good things when they happen.
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