Where the Legacy trail ends in Venice, the Venetian Waterway Park trail picks up. The meandering five-mile recreational trail runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, through woods and neighborhoods. One section even offers a brief history of the city. There’s a timeline painted along the cement path and a circus mural on a nearby building.
Saturday, John and I rode our bikes the length of the trail and then continued on to Caspersen Beach. The trail was quiet. It was easy for my mind to wander, and it kept rewinding to a recent conversation with my sister. We were standing in her garage, and I noticed my niece and nephew’s bikes up against the wall. Dylan, who you know from De Soto National Park, is four and catching on to bicycling pretty easily. Ella, who you know from the Buddy Walk, is ten and still struggling with it. Beyond their ages and genders, the difference is that Ella has Down syndrome and Dylan does not. Ella will ride a bike one day; it just won’t be tomorrow. You know that old saying, “It’s as easy as riding a bike,” well it isn’t for individuals with Down syndrome. As my sister explained, there is actually a lot of thought that goes into riding a bike.
I, as an individual without any sort of intellectual impairment, had been taking for granted the ease of it. When broken down, there are quite a few steps. You have to use your legs to pedal, your arms to steer, your core to balance, and your eye and ears to stay alert. Ella has to think about all that; it’s a lot to learn. So as I rode my bike, I thought of Ella–about her struggles and about her triumphs and about the day when we’ll ride this trail together and then…I flew over the handlebars!
No joke. I was messing with my camera, lost complete control of my front tire on the sandy road, and did the worst thing you can do in the midst of all that fumbling–hit the front brake. I launched from my seat and somehow managed to land on my feet with the bike behind me. John was in disbelief; he said I stuck the landing like a superhero. He was baffled he didn’t have to pick gravel out my skin with tweezers that night. He did, however, have to bring me multiple ice packs over the next day and a half. So landing or not, and even though I spent my entire childhood idolizing her and an entire summer dressed like her, I have faced the sad fact that I am indeed not Wonder Woman. She would never bruise this bad.