Thou shalt not run over adorable little girls going to church in floral patterned dresses. I’m most certain had there been an 11th commandment that would've been it. From 21mph I squeezed the brakes. As Daddy holding the little girls hand stood frozen directly in our path, I squeezed harder praying my wife behind wouldn’t touch wheels with me and we wouldn’t all become a twisted heap on the Lord’s front steps. Total slo-motion.
“What are you people doing? LOOK!”
That’s the words that escaped my lips after taking my first breath as we passed between. At least I didn’t swear in front of a church on a blue sky Easter Sunday. It was close. Our bikes did touch. Her front tire briefly graced the spokes near the non drive side of my rear hub. I remember hearing the ratcheting sound. It all happened so quickly. I should have, but didn’t say anything, which is just like me. I think I have the mindset that I can escape tricky situations and don’t hit the panic button. Maybe it comes from my career in broadcasting, where freaking out on deadlines or dead-air only complicates matters. Bike racing’s the same way, wasted breath is wasted energy. Best to calmly deal with it rather than sounding the alarm I guess. Maybe that Dad was the same way, waiting to see how I’d react so he’d know which way to yank her hand. It was a shot at the buzzer.
I saw them between cars and they just stepped out in front of us. We were only 2 to 3 cars, maybe two seconds away. There was no where to go, no time to swerve or shout. Daddy was to the left, the girl down the center of my wheel, a line of cars to my right. I lightly grabbed the brakes trying to minimize the impact while at the same time trying to give my drafting wife a smoother deceleration into the rear of my bike. Just in time Daddy tugged the girl further into the road and we passed inches to spare between daughter and the car. Woosh. The whole time mom and the other daughter dressed in pastel prints stood with mouths wide open on the sidewalk. Aside from the noise of my wife’s wheel grating my spokes it was silent as a football floating through the uprights. I looked back and shouted! Church members on the other side of the road stood mouths and eyes wide open. Easter tragedy avoided.
A hundred yards down the road, we stopped to asses any damages and gathered our wits. The bikes were fine. We were fine. I looked back expecting a reaction, a finger, a “you okay,” an “I’m sorry,” but nothing. We rode away. Nothing needed to be said. Judging from Mom’s shocked expression, no doubt every Easter Sunday from now on Daddy will get a reminder on how to look both ways before crossing the street.