I fell off my bike once, at the age of nine.
I was then a newcomer to bike riding, having only managed to activate the required synapses in my brain about one year before the incident. My younger brother never had to practice. When he was five years old he mounted a bicycle for the first time and started riding it. But I learned relatively late. Also, in those days there were no helmet laws; we were just expected to be careful. If we weren’t then we got hurt – hopefully not too badly – and then learned never to let it happen again.
The spokes in the wheels of my purple bike were shimmering around in a silvery mesmerizing blur. As I stared at this image, I wondered what would happen if something were to be inserted in between them when the bike was moving. Like, for example, my foot. My nine year-old self had no conception of Newton’s First Law of Motion, nor any idea of the danger involved in applying an external foot to a bicycle in a state of uniform motion.
Moving on to the testing phase of this experiment, I moved my foot towards the wheel. The sole of my shoe made contact with the spokes, which responded with a noise resembling the hissing of a cat. Like its feline counterpart, this spoke-hiss should have been taken as a warning. Danger. Stop what you are doing. Right now.
Nevertheless, I persisted. Gradually the application of my shoe to the wheel slowed it down so that I could insert my foot into the spokes. Unexpectedly, this external force brought the primary object in motion to an immediate stop. However, the secondary object in motion continued moving right over the handlebars of the primary object, until she made contact with a secondary external force, which in this case was the asphalt.
Experiment complete, I picked myself off the street and continued home. Other than a few superficial scrapes and bruises, I was completely intact. I was very satisfied with the results of the experiment. My conclusion was to never again mess with Mr. Newton. Then I would never again have to explain to my mom how my face got all scraped up.