At least it's not raining, I thought as I lay on my back on the roadway of the DeQuindre Cut. There was more to appreciate. My head was protected by my bike helmet, the sky was a brilliant blue, the air crisp. I had been riding alone, spinning along the Detroit Riverwalk, enjoying the evening air, when there I was, after an unsuccessful U-turn, having lost my balance and crashed to the ground. My left ankle bore the brunt of my weight. And the bike's. My cellphone was back at home.
Thus began an 8-week journey to repair and then heal the multiple fracture, during which time I am to put no weight whatsoever on my injured leg. Surgery over, physical therapy underway, I am ever so grateful for the orthopedic surgeons at Detroit Receiving Hospital and the incredible nursing staff at the Detroit Medical Center. Although I'll be missing many eagerly anticipated events in our amazing Detroit literary scene, this too shall pass.
One thing I did not expect was the politicization - or Detroit-icization -- of my experience, but I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. The first question I received when telling a non-Detroiter about my fall was, "Did they get your bike?" They? Uh oh. Urban code word strikes again. What dire scenario did this person have in mind?
The response of complete strangers to my plight was one of the blessings, if that can be said, of this awful mishap. A crowd instantly gathered, offering comfort and trying to help. Someone biked off for help. Another called EMS, and a discussion ensued: would they know where the DeQuindre Cut was? Could they get down the ramp? Ten minutes and no truck later, it was: better call them back. Tell them she's having chest pains. Tell them she's been shot. I remember a lot of laughter and a woman named Gwen, a retired anesthetist, who took charge of the situation. Don't give her water. She might need surgery, she said.
Gwen called my son for me, once my emotions had calmed, and thankfully he was there. She had broken her ankle in March and was riding again - we'd passed each other several times -- and we joked about forming a broken ankle biking club. Her husband and biking partner, a man nicknamed "M" - whom I later learned is an M.D. - gave me his phone number so I can retrieve my bike and my helmet, which he took--for safe-keeping. So yes, dear Ms. Afraid of Detroit, someone did "take my bike."
And speaking of bikes, this Sunday, September 21, will be the 5th annual InsideOut (iO)"echo" effect bike ride, sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts for their "Inside|Out" (note the punctuation difference) which places reproductions of the artworks from the museum into community settings. Each year the DIA contracts with iO to mount a team of students who create poems tailored to the works of art to perform along the ride. Check here to read about last year's ride. And sign up for the ride yourself. It goes through Downtown and the Riverwalk this year, AND the DeQuindre Cut. It promises to be a beautiful Detroit weekend. Come out, learn about some fabulous works of art, and enjoy the voices of our young people. But be careful on those turns.