Bike crash on vacation shows me how the French roll

ANNECY, FRANCE – So there I was, in the Tour de France, fighting the pack as I zoomed around a fast corner, when suddenly — crash!

OK. Not entirely true. Wasn’t the Tour. But the rest is accurate. I was on vacation, riding a bike, in France, coming around a corner. It was a warm afternoon in the lakeside town of Annecy, and lots of riders were out. A group of young cyclists were coming the opposite direction. One of them, a teenage girl, crossed the line in the middle of the road and eased into the lane that I was cruising along.

She didn’t move. She just kept on pedaling, chatting with her friends. Maybe she assumed I would move. Which I had to. Hard. Swerving to avoid her, I hit the curb and went sprawling off the bike and onto the concrete.

My hands hit first, my shoulder and knees next. My head, protected by a helmet, hit the ground and bounced off. When I lifted up, my left elbow shot with pain. My knees were dripping blood.

A look at the bike lane where Mitch Albom had his crash in Annecy, France.

The friends I was riding with rushed to me.

“Are you OK?”

“Easy … easy …”

I was OK, head-wise. But I saw the blood and yelled some angry English words. Some of the French riders had stopped to gape at me (I literally was the wreck on the side of the road.) My friend Kim, who grew up in Annecy, confronted the girl who pulled into our lane. She and a male friend were watching me struggle.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do,” the guy told Kim in French.

“You could apologize,” Kim said.

They didn’t. instead, they rode away. As I poured bottled water over the bloody cuts and squeezed my fists in pain, I silently stereotyped the culprits as rude French kids who somehow figured an American had it coming. Not proud of this. But that’s how I felt.

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