5:20 AM, Monday 3-Aug-09
I had a dream that I was back in Cleveland, biking in and around the Cuyahoga river valley. It was ahead of a really big ride – a century ride, a charity ride of some sort that I was completely unprepared for. I hadn’t trained, I hadn’t registered, and my bike was in need of all sorts of repair.
I decided to do a couple of laps around the valley to get warmed up. I headed out with a friend of mine. We rode out along the rim, several hundred feet above the water. The trail made a turn and led down to the river bank, and then out on a long, continuous boardwalk that rode us out offshore by about 30 feet. It was a series of small wooden planks about six feet wide. Every so often, a perpendicular boardwalk led back to shore.
We were coming up on a bridge which towered high above us, and I was dreading the thought of climbing up it. Off to our right was an elderly couple on a bench on one of these perpendicular pieces.. The next thing I know, the bridge gives out.
Now, because this is a dream, it defied the laws of reality. When I say the bridge gave out, I mean all of the wood instantly disappeared, leaving only a narrow strip of concrete support, about six inches wide, with a two inch rut running along the middle.
My friend and I were somehow balancing our bikes in this rut, while the elderly couple’s bench had vaporized, and they were sitting – looking rather dazed – on top of a perpendicular concrete strip.
I get the bright idea to bike along the rut to the next strip to try to get to safety. That’s when the concrete collapses.
The bikes are gone this time, and my friend and I are now standing on this concrete strip, the top of which is about an inch under water. The strip the old people are on is on an incline, from just under the water leading up to a concrete walk on the bank. My friend starts to walk up the incline, and I begin to follow, when the submerged piece crumbles away, and I fall into the water.
Keep in mind that, while the Cuyahoga River is sometimes even more of a pathetic trickle than the Rio Grande, at certain points it is quite deep. It is also murky and cold. I sank like a stone.
I got all the way to the bottom before I was able to push off and send myself to the surface for a gasping breath of air. The cold set in quickly, though, and I was unable to move my legs or arms fast enough to stay afloat. I sank several more times before a medic arrived and pulled me – and the other three – to safety aboard his boat.
As the paramedic was interviewing all of us to figure out what the hell happened and who was to blame (yes. Biking on the boardwalk caused the wood to mysteriously disappear and the concrete supports to collapse), many people were coming along the boardwalk on the other side, unaware that it suddenly stopped. The first was a young guy with a baby, and they went toppling into the water, the bike making an audible “thump” against the side of the boat.
Somehow, the scale of the river and the river bank had shrunk drastically. They were able to stand up in the knee-deep water and climb up onto the grassy bank. This happened several times to all sorts of people before everyone aboard this boat started yelling “STOP! THE BRIDGE IS OUT!” All this shouting woke me up, and I sat down to write this before I forgot it all.
(The image of the Cuyahoga Valley is not my own; it came from this website.)