I have no satisfactory explanation for this occurrence – my ‘guardian angel’ moment.
I have ridden a bike for as long as I remember, and the older I am, the more I ride, but probably something to do with my time now being my own to spend as I wish. Until about 15 years ago, I always wore a helmet for a longer ride, and seldom for any ride of less than 5 miles – as if I would be safe on short rides.(!) Ever since this particular summer’s day, I never, ever, go out for a ride without one.
It was a warm afternoon, and a good one to ride a short distance along the quiet clifftop coastal footpath between Marsden and Trow Rock in South Tyneside, about a mile from home. My bike helmet was on a hook on the garage wall, and, as I walked in to collect my bike, something drew my attention to it, and I found that I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It could have been glowing, but wasn’t; it could have been signalling to me, but obviously wasn’t – and I simply couldn’t take my eyes off it. In this rather strange situation, I felt that I couldn’t set off without putting it on – so that’s exactly what I did.
It was an uneventful ride working my way along suburban roads until I hit the Coast Road, and the entry to the coastal footpath. I was heading north along the surfaced track, with the drop to the sea lessening the further I travelled, so that after a half mile or so, the sea was barely 10 feet below the path. The water was calm and blue, and perfect for stopping the bike and sitting on the shoreline rocks, just to stare out to sea and think about nothing in particular – which is what I did. I never thought about taking the helmet off.
I propped the bike against a bench just off the footpath, and started to clamber the short distance down the rocks to the waterline. I spotted an easy route to the perfect rock for sitting on, but what I hadn’t spotted was that the one smooth dry rock which I could ease myself down, wasn’t what it seemed. It was covered in a layer of seaweed slime.
My legs went from under me, and my head cracked back against the rock with a significant bang. It wasn’t far from a knockout blow even with the helmet on. Thankfully no damage was suffered at all as I slid down to waterline, where I managed to stop myself on another rock. Was I glad I had my helmet on!…. Then it dawned on me… I HAD MY HELMET ON. And if I hadn’t had my helmet on, I realised I would more than likely have knocked myself unconscious (at best), and slid straight down into the water, where my body would have been found eventually.
Why did I put the helmet on in the first place? Why did I decide to stop and sit on the rocks? Why did I leave my helmet on without a thought, when I stopped? What I do know, is that my ‘guardian angel’ seems to have taken me firmly by the hand from the moment I walked into the garage, and saved me from a watery grave. I have no other explanation bar this one. I said a very big thank-you.