The Great Bicycle Mishap

sari-sari1

Story Contributed by Chuck Beltran

The recklessness with which the Bilbao youth rode their bicycles in Hinoba-an made it only a matter of time before an accident occurred.  So when one did, on a summer afternoon back in the 70s’,  it was to no one’s great surprise.  The only surprise was that no one had gotten hurt, spectacular as the mishap was.

What came to be known as the Great Bicycle Mishap happened at the T-junction of the unpaved National Highway and the similarly graveled, steeply inclined (at least 50 degrees) private road leading to Don Francisco Bilbao’s ‘hilltop’ house in Po-ok.

It was at a luncheon party at the ‘hilltop’ house that the cousins took to bicycling down the hill, exhilarated at being propelled to breakneck speeds by the steep grade.  At the end of the run, they were obliged to turn a sharp left or right onto the main road as directly at the bottom stood, inauspiciously enough, a Sari-Sari store.  The store’s frontage was set up as an alfresco watering hole — the traditional, rural Tuba-an.

As if the downhill dash wasn’t perilous enough, the temerarious boys soon devised madcap twists to ratchet up the adrenaline rush.  Eleven-year-old Chuck Beltran—a good-natured lad, and the less rambunctious of the lot—came up with a beauty.  Caloy Daland, a same aged lad, and confidant chuckled nervously as Chuck described his stunt.  Not only would he race downhill without applying the brakes, he’d have both feet resting on the bike’s handlebar!  This would assure him a place among the ranks of Hinoba-an ‘Evel Kenevils’ (essentially his devil-may-care, older brothers and cousins) he fancied, as he pushed off downhill yelling “Yippee…”.

Chuck had ill-timed his downhill run.  His timing, in fact, could not have been worse.

There was just no way he could have seen the Ceres Passenger Bus racing up the highway from the South, nor the Sakbayan (the island’s 70s’ version of a cross between an SUV and a Jeep Wrangler) careening down the same road from the North until it was too late.   Both vehicles would traverse the T-junction simultaneously, and, as luck would have it (or not), at the same instant as would he!  In the face of imminent catastrophe, Chuck’s mind raced to analyze the situation and find a way to avert becoming road kill.  He couldn’t turn left or right as that would mean turning into either vehicle.  He couldn’t brake as he would not stop in time and simply end up in their paths.  What to do?  Just seconds left!

Chuck had only one option.

Maintaining his speed and proceeding straight, he might beat them thru the junction… but boy it was going to be close!  Shutting his eyes and transitioning from a gleeful “Yippee” to a terrified “Aaaaaahhh,” the would-be daredevil shot like a bullet across the junction a mere second ahead of the vehicles!  The startled drivers glared angrily at him, honking their horns as they whizzed by.

Chuck’s loud scream, along with the Bus’ even louder bocina (horn), alerted the Tuba-an patrons (leisurely enjoying their Tuba) to the missile headed their way.  In a flash, they cleared out as Chuck barreled through their midst narrowly missing them.  One patron had the presence to yank their pitcher of Tuba (palm wine) off of a rickety table an instant before Chuck crashed into it.  The laudable bid to save ‘Happy Hour’ was for naught however as most of the sweet brew spilled, ending up on  instead of in the patrons. 

The demolished table was of little consequence; Chuck, however, was a millisecond away from crashing into the flimsily built store!  In a last-ditch gallant effort, he veered the bike through an open door, tearing through the inside of the small abode.  Stooped over a wood burning hearth deep-frying banana-ques, the lady of the house let out a startled “Sus-Maria-Hosep” [Jesus-Mary, and Joseph] as she bolted upright in near-cardiac arrest!  Hitting a raised threshold at the back door as he exited, Chuck was launched off his bike and sent hurtling through the air, landing  face down out in the backyard amidst an uproar of agitated farm fowl and livestock.  As an exclamation point, a small, ruffled feather wafted downward settling on his head a moment later in comic finale.

“Ano ato man?”  [ “What was that?” ], inquired a passerby who had heard but not seen the mishap. 

Glancing behind them at the scene, his companion replied: “Wa-ay ah… isa ka Bilbao nga bata…”  [ “Oh nothing… it was a Bilbao kid.” ].

The passerby nodded knowingly.

Sari-sari eilouge

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2 Responses to “The Great Bicycle Mishap”

  1. I think Chuckyboy practiced his daredevilry at the “Deathrace 2000 Tracks”.

  2. Pete:

    He did indeed, following pretty much our lead…

    The lively memories I have of “Death Ride 2000” (as I think it was dubbed) are those of cousin Jimmyboy slamming into the craggy walls of that steep and narrow cleft. In one run he hit a rock and was sent somersaulting (with an impressive, inverted hang-time), landing painfully on his back while still on his bike!

    Yup, the Bilbao youth’s daredevilry had been honed on that hill.

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