Dodging the semi that had just entered the interstate from the right, I yanked the throttle and regained my safe spot behind my husband. Even traveling at 70 mph in the heavy traffic we were still being passed like we were in second gear. With multiple signs pointing in every direction, I could see Highway trying to figure out which lane we wanted to be in. It seemed everyone in Baltimore knew the roads much better than we did.
Except that woman in the Buick.
She was exiting, not far in front of Highway, off to the right. In the split second I had to evaluate her position, I assumed she was committed to exiting because she was passed the point of legally merging back onto the interstate, nearly parallel with the grassy divider. But I assumed wrong. At less than 10 mph she jerked her wheel to the left, cut in front of us, nearly hitting Highway.
To my surprise my braking was flawless. I kept the bike straight, came nearly to a stop in a very short distance, still able to watch my mirrors as my rear tire came off the ground. I managed to avoid running into Highway as well. All I could hear was my own voice screaming in my helmet. The moment that my rear tire thumped back to the ground, I throttled again to follow my husband around her Buick and onto relative safety.
Suddenly my heart started to beat irregularly. I have had issues with atrial fibrulation in past, but I've not opted for the pacemaker. I went rogue and denied it, deciding to take my chances. The thought of being opened up and having a foriegn object situated within me was too much, not to mention the limitations it puts on a person. I wasn't ready for this type of life-changing surgery and most times I'm grateful I didn't do it. But when I get terribly startled or extremely angry, it has a way of reminding me to calm the fuck down.
Opening my visor to take in fresh air, I took slow, steady breathes inhaling deeply. I concentrated on Highway's rear tire, focusing, following and breathing. Katie Scarlet seemed to know the way and drive herself. I hung on to her to save myself, trusting she had me. My heart thumped in an odd rhythm and the pain welled up in my throat. I started to feel faint, my vision began to close in and I became weak .
I grasped the handlebars tighter, determined to stay alert. Cars were swooping in and out, all around us, regardless of the fact that we were still traveling at 70 mph. With no shoulders, traveling literally among a dozen interchanges, I realized pulling over was impossible.
"SASH UP FOR CHRISSAKE!!" I shouted in my helmet. "GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF! SASH UP!"
Often I find my body will respond to these positive commands, almost magically. Immediately I felt better, knowing that it is always a conscious decision to quit or push on. Sure enough, just shouting at myself pulled me back into survival mode. My heart kicked back into rhythm and my energy and focus came back immediately.
We continued on our ride to New Jersey, which for the rest of the day wasn't nearly as eventful as the first 3 minutes riding in Baltimore.