The Brink of Death

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

When I was 13 years old, I went on a 735-mile cycling trip with my brother and father. My father was a professional cyclist, and wanted to show us, his twin songs, the work of the trade and bond with us. My brother Chris and I were ecstatic for the adventure—my mother not so much. However, there is nothing that can stop three adventurous guys.

The trip was across the San Juan Islands and then Vancouver Island. We prepared for the journey by going on smaller rides and practiced cycling with panniers. Adjusting to the weight on the bike was harder than I thought. We were all avid cyclists, even though my brother and I were so young. I can say I felt like I was born on a bike, despite smashing into a mailbox the first time I rode one without training wheels.

When we set out for the trip, I knew that I yearned to have an adventure and wanted to see the beautiful sights of mountains, bears, moose, deer, forests, and much more. But I what I did not realize was that trouble was around each corner. There were bears, inclement weather, cougars, and much more.

One night, after perhaps a week into the trip, we were on our last legs getting to a campsite, and going down a large hill. It was raining moderately and we were coasting down the hill in eager delight to take a rest from going up a mountain with all of our gear and sore legs.

Suddenly, my brother’s front tire slipped in the rain, and he slid into the middle of the road. My father and I stopped, asking if he was okay. Apparently, he was not hurt too much, but his leg was caught up in the bike frame. From the top of the hill, we saw the light of a car coming. My father and I looked on in shock. Chris could not seem to get out of the entrapment of his bike, and now the car was blasting his way. This all happened within seconds.

Instinctively, I rushed out in front of my brother in the middle of the road, and waved my hands frantically. The car rushed forward, but swerved to the left to go around my brother and I. My brother was saved from being crushed by the car, and for some reason, I did not think that I was risking my life. It seemed like the only thing to do. There was no way I would watch my brother die under the wheels of a truck.

My brother says I was incredibly brave, but I think we do what we know is right. I believe that one should listen to one’s gut in times of peril, and not intellectualize dilemmas. If I had thought about what I was doing on that night, my brother might have been robbed from this world. Life and death often swing in the balance between what seems natural and rational.

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