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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


April 02, 1997

THE ATTACK

It was Wednesday night and I had hoped to find a church that had a prayer service. I had a hard day getting into downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Kingston, New Jersey because of a strong headwind. A couple of miles into Pennsylvania the front tire went soft from a pinhole leak and I had a hard time getting it fixed because of the wind.

It was around 5:00 p.m. when I got into downtown Philadelphia and made my way to the visitor center. I was lucky to catch it still open and have somebody give me directions to Delaware through the SW burroughs of Philadelphia. Along the way, I had another flat tire.

During my ride through Philadelphia's Southwest burroughs, I looked for a church to stop at but there wasn't any on the route I was taking. I didn't want to go off it because I wasn't in a good part of the city. There was some woods near a hospital that I had passed but I didn't think I could camp there safely.

It was a little past dusk and I just wanted to find someplace to stop. Around 6:30 p.m., I gave up trying to find a church and I hoped to possibly get to the state line because I knew that there would be a baseball field next to a large oil refinery where I had camped out before. When I got to the Chester city limits, I knew that I had about three or four miles to ride to get through the city and passed all of the petrochemical plants and refineries to the state line and the ball field.

About a block into the city's limit, I passed a group of black kids who were marching eastward for some reason on the street's edge heading eastward. Right after I passed the group, I heard one of the kids yell out "Let's get the biker!"

When I heard that, I sped up as fast as I could. There wasn't any traffic in either directions. In my rear view mirror, I caught a glimpse of somebody on a bike chasing me. I couldn't see any face because the person had an athletic team's sweat jacket with a hood up. The other biker caught up with me, passed me, and tried to make me swerve around the corner but I sped through the intersection.

About a block later, the other biker must have caught up with me because something or somebody gave the bike a big jolt and I crashed into the right curb of the street. I flew over the bike onto the sidewalk. I tried to get out of there and I had the bike almost up with my left hand on the bike's handlebar.

The next thing that I knew, I felt a sharp blow from behind to my left arm and also to the back of my helmet on the left side. It happened so suddenly and I didn't get any chance to see my attacker or how many there were. Before I blacked out, the last thing that I saw of my bike and belongings was a glimpse of my bike's rear flasher disappearing in front of me.

The next thing I remember, I was in the back seat of a police car with a loud rude African-American police officer asking me what happened to me and where it happened. I couldn't think straight because I was in real pain and I didn't even know where I was. After complaining about the pain for about three or five minutes, I must have blanked out again. The next thing that I knew that we were in the parking lot of a hospital in nearby West Chester.

The police officer walked me into the emergency room and registered me in. I couldn't give the nurse any real information because the attack and robbery left me without any identification. I was pretty surprised how late it was when we got into the emergency room. Somehow, I had lost two and a half hours and I couldn't seem to remember anything from the first blow to my head and walking from the police car into the emergency room. In about ten minutes, the officer left and I waited till around 11 p.m. to be seen.

When I was finally seen in triage, the doctors were surprised to see all of the bruises on my body. I was taken straight over to the main section of the emergency room. One of the doctors said that I was quite lucky to be alive.

It turns out that Chester is so bad that fire trucks don't go into the area without any police escort. The doctor told me that the deep indentation in the back of the helmet must have come from a pipe wielded by my attacker. If my helmet would have slipped just a little bit, I might have not survived the attack or possibly came through it with some major mental disability.

My left and right arm were almost covered with black and blue bruises and there was a bruise that went from the top of my chest down my torso to my legs on the left side. It looked like one of my attackers might have kicked me around for sport before leaving.

Just to be on the safe side, the doctor's ordered a series of x-rays and an M.R.I. because I might have suffered a concussion. It was almost one in the morning., when I was admitted into the hospital for observation.




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