Wednesday, August 12, 2009

sometimes God needs a cell phone

today I had a big ride planned: to snowbird and back. you go girl.
I planned to leave home about 6 am, and ride south on wasatch to the the mouth of the canyon (1 hour and 5 minutes or so) then up to snowbird (1 hour-ish) and then fly down the canyon (12-15 minutes) and ride back home (50 minutes or so).
you can guess from where the desire for this route came: the answer is, of course, my thwarted ride up little cottonwood last saturday. I was determined to get up to snowbird before the big 1000 warriors ride 10 days from now (when I will have to climb up there at the tail end of a 96 mile ride), and since I have kids returning to school next week, this is my last week of being able to take long morning rides.
therefore, little cottonwood was on my schedule today.
and this is the story of my morning:

I get up on time; I leisurely get myself ready. I am out the door just a minute or two ahead of schedule.
at the last moment I change my path from an easy right turn onto foothill to a straight-up-the-hill-to-wasatch route: it's one of those follow-the-green-lights decision. a little more climbing, and it might add a minute or two to my ride, but a more pleasant route over all.
wasatch soon comes to an end, and I ride foothill for a brief block or so until I reach the bike path over the freeways by the mouth of parley's canyon. it is the morning version of twilight: not yet daylight, but full enough of light that shapes, colors, and entities are recognizable though fuzzy as if you're looking through a vaselined camera lens.
on my first descent I pass three cyclists heading up, a guy and shortly after, two females. I continue down and am buffeted by the canyon winds as I start to ascend the climb up and over the next freeway.
then I see something strange: there is a large lump thirty or so feet in front of me, on the left side of the bike path. who could have left what there? as I get closer I see there is also a bike halfway off the path, and then there are 2 cyclists coming down the hill toward the lump, which is suddenly in my slowly-moving mind becoming a body.
we all leap off our bikes and exchange horror-stricken looks, as one of the guys says, I don't have my cell phone. the other guy shakes his head as well, and I frantically dig in my back pocket to grab mine, saying, I do. I look more closely at the body on the ground and see a small river of blood on the asphalt and say aloud, oh God.
I stare at my phone a moment, thinking, how do I dial 911 from my cell phone? is there some trick? do I have to add another number? I try it, simply 9-1-1 and the connection goes through, and I am suddenly making my first intentional 911 call of my life.
I am calm, as is the cyclist who has squatted down beside the body which I have now determined to be a small female. she moans and tries to turn herself out of the semi-fetal/prone position she is in, but the guy beside her tries to keep her stable. the second cyclist hovers and I tell him between bouts of conversation with the 911 operator that I think she may have friends ahead, perhaps even the red lights on the bike path bridge to the north might belong to them. he climbs on his bike and heads up to them, as the sky continues to slowly lighten.
she mumbles, she is scared and asking what day it is, then she is terrifyingly silent. the blood seems to have stopped flowing, and it all seems less impossible. her friends arrive, dismount and come over to join cyclist 1 by her side. one of them uses her phone to call the woman's husband, and keeps her free hand in contact with the woman's torso. I remain on the phone with the operator who has dispatched the paramedics. they first arrive at the south end of the bike path, and cyclist 2 rides up to tell them they'd reach her more easily from our north. they move their trucks with flashing lights and use their sirens while driving to the new location.
she is shaking with shock and the cold as the wind continues to whip us, and I've lent my jacket to cover her and I squat in an attempt to block some of the chilling wind.
the paramedics eventually wheel their gurney to our small grouping, and I am released from my phone call. she is still shaking, answering questions and continuing to question what day it is. she has no idea what happened, nor do we.
I gently remove my jacket as the paramedics move in, and I pick up her bloody glasses and hand them to her husband, who arrived shortly before the paramedics and is stoically evaluative and quietly calm.
I am done here, and move to my bike, pulling my jacket on as I have become chilled as well. I say goodbye to cyclists 1 and 2 and continue on my way up the hill, toward my chosen canyon for the day.

the universe and all its far-reaching fingers worked together to get me in that certain spot at that certain moment, cell phone available and ready for use.
I didn't save a life, there were no heroic measures called for or executed, but there was something serendipitous and perfect about my being where I was at the moment I was.

and little cottonwood waited for me, not bothered at all by my 25-minute delay. it sat there, granite walls solid as ever, patiently awaiting my pants and groans and eventually, my victorious rush of gratitude for having been safely delivered to my goal.

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