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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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Of course it's safe!        Thor: “Go ahead, Blackie … I’ll catch all this on video.”

Biking? queries Six. Man, I’d give your heart for a Harley about now.

“Don’t doubt that. But motorcycles are not the topic. I speak of bicycles.”

Then why your fearful expression? wonders Three. Reliving The Accident without us?

“No. This is much worse.”

All six screens look at me in confusion. I often look at them the same way.

Worse than The Accident? laughs Four. You died on that bike ride! What could be worse?

“Riding with Thor.”

All six screens hide.

“He’s not here. But you have every right to be afraid. Why, at the start of each truly warm spring, I begin ‘The Hunt for Ted October.’”

The what? asks Three.

“As March arrives, I beg cold weather to return. I look for – practically hunt! – signs of snow, praying the ‘pedaling’ months pass so swiftly we’re suddenly in October.”

That must be when Thor puts away the bikes, concludes Four, and you survive another season.

Shudders Two, Are bikes the only tool he uses against you?

“What else does he need? Thor describes in his own words the high-tech weaponry he employs.”

Old Schwinn[Eldest brother] Mike helps me select a new bicycle because it has been 17 years since I purchased my last, an “iron horse” Schwinn with heavy steel frame and one-inch-thick metal cables.

I am out of the loop on technology AND terminology … like lightweight, double-butted, aluminum-glazed tubes and SRAM double-indexing shifters. After much mentoring by Mike, including evaluation –

 Mike: OVER-mentoring and OVER-evaluating.

 – of components, frame sizes, weights, and type of riding I would do, I buy the Diamondback Response.

 Diamondback? That’s a rattlesnake! gasps Five. Is this Thor’s fiendish plan? Throw the bike at you the way he threw the Colorado mountain rattler?

Jet black. Front shock. Quiet shifting just drops into the selected gear for effortless travel.

The black, analyzes Four, renders him invisible on night rides. Silent shifting helps him sneak up. The front shock smooths his riding right over you. Thor is a … he’s a stealth bomber on wheels!

©Earl Harper“Keep in mind, guys, that years back Teddy undid me with ancient technology … gold-colored, single-speed bikes with tires so thick they ran over glass and never lost a breath of air. Imagine what he could do to me with a Diamond Response.”

So the two of you had lots of accidents even before The Accident? asks Five.

“Endless. And all without helmets.”

Yet you keep riding with him, Black, points out Four.

“My next-youngest brother is an adventure machine. Every ride brings something new and wonderful and dangerous. We explore endless hours and yet return to tell incredible dinner-table tales.”

Right! affirms Six. You couldn’t possibly bid that excitement adieu!

“To this day, when Thor writes all his sibs about his latest ride, we first skip to the end of his account to see if … well, let Mentor Mike explain.”

Mike: I’ve got to admit, Ted, I am so SURE that something is going to happen (a la Calvin and HobbesTM) – maybe your bike is stolen or you crash on the way home – that I have a BIG sigh of relief when I finish reading your story.

Does Ted peddle BadBikeBoy genes to his kids? wonders Five.

Screen Three bursts into laughter. Peddle? Such wordplay!

“Daughter Olivia escapes. Son Luke does not.”

Ted: Leading and pedaling hard, I yell over my left shoulder, “You may need to switch gears to get up this steep hill.” To my right, Luke books past on his 24-speed, road-racing bike. Wearing the BIGGEST pie-eating grin, he says, “Don’t think I need to change gears,” and pulls away. I never do catch him.

Say, suggests Three, get some bike company to sponsor your brother as he tells how well their riding machines outlast his roughest handling.

Two likes the idea. He could be a great spokes-man, Black. Pun intended!

“Thinking he’s not the best roll model. Pun intended! Here’s the final note from his account.”

Luke acts just like you, Den, taunting me as you once did. I laugh all the way home. When I get there, I throw his bike in the bushes.


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Postscript: These days I pedal without fear, knowing Thor is three heel clicks away in Kansas. I also know the Golden Rule: get thrown from a bike even once and the helmet goes, its structural integrity compromised.

Riding my stunning orange Trek mountain bike, I squeeze the right lever of its highly responsive V-brake system … and flip over the handlebars. Duck, tuck, roll! Orange helmet keeps my head safe and crash secret.

One week later, Miss Laura, applying the last of her makeup, sees my mirrored image step into the shower. “Your buns!” she gasps.

“Awesome, eh?”

“No!” wife exclaims, deflating my ego. Then she points, “What happened here?”

“Here” is “rear.” Mine. I stay silent. Bride continues.

“They’re black and blue and” – she leans closer – “green!” Straightens, changes tone. “Green … like you did it about a week ago,” accuses counselor wife-turned-forensic legend.

I freeze despite the shower’s steamy spray. “Ah, little spill on the bike.”

“A little spill? YOU?”

So I order a tough Bell “Citi” helmet, recommended industry-wide for its ability to withstand damage, and tell my bride, “The only one I’ll ever need.”

She laughs and buys a second.

* * * * *

Just going for a casual ride, Mom …

Bike stuff Thor talks me into