Field of Nightmares

| June 12, 2014

It’s been quite some time since there has been any word as to how it’s been going on the bike I bought last year.  I haven’t crashed it in many months (although that admittedly could be related to the very few times I rode it during winter).  Really, it’s been an uneventful spring.  In April, I biked in the Netherlands without dying…


And in May, we took our bikes on vacation and never took them off the back of the car, which definitely contributed to my current safety record statistics.  But today, I broke my streak of uneventful bike rides.

Today, I was reminded that my inability to detect when it is time to acknowledge that I should turn back is not limited to when driving a motor vehicle.

Today, I should have turned back.

I rode over to a friend’s to pick something up this morning, with the intent to continue on to Kaufland (a store) to buy chicken and celery.  When I left her house, I thought, you know, I’ll just keep going in this direction, because aren’t I heading in the direction of the Real (another store) when I’m over here?

(Answer in retrospect: I HAVE NO IDEA.)

I continued down her street.  I crossed an actual marked bike path and thought, “I could take that left,” but I continued straight.  Soon I came to a dead end that I thought would turn into a bike path.  It did not.  However, there were tire tracks leading into a farm field.  Tire tracks, especially in Germany, totally count as a bike path, right?  (Answer: Sure, but probably not to my bike.)

Eventually, due to my decision to turn left instead of heading straight toward the men working the field, I was no longer riding through tire tracks.  It seemed that someone had walked through a narrow path before, but the grasses and weeds were up to my knees as I blazed through the field with as much momentum as I could muster, lest I lose the speed necessary to propel my weak, ill-equipped ass through the field.

Did I say up to my knees?  I meant above them.

Did I say up to my knees? I meant above them.

Up ahead, I noticed a trail and got excited.  Then I hit it with a thump.  It was a rocky, root-riddled trail that I rattled over faster than I would have liked, but again unwilling to lose momentum.  I wanted badly to photograph my position in the woods, but I truly feared that 1) if I stopped the bike, I would lose the momentum to be able to begin pedaling over the terrain again, or 2) if I merely took one hand off of a handlebar to take a picture, I would lose control of the bike and be launched off of it (although this did not seem a completely unviable option since there was the chance that I could be launched in the direction of an actual bike path).

Now sweating as profusely as when I spent a summer in Iraq, I came happily upon a gravel path.  I followed it to a smooth dirt path and back into Dieburg.  I then rode home, climbed into the car, aimed the air conditioning vents at my armpits, and drove to Kaufland.

"Kari, it doesn't look like you dressed this morning for a bike ride through farmland and woods."   "No shit."

“Kari, it doesn’t look like you dressed this morning for a bike ride through farmland and woods.”
“No shit.”

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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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