I have long been a fan of a good English comedy. If done well, they leave you feeling like you’ve been on a madcap rollercoaster ride of an adventure, with downright dizzying plot twists and turns.

Such adventures don’t often happen in real life, but this week my friend Wendy and I came pretty darn close, as you will soon learn.

It was a weekday morning, which automatically felt like we were playing hooky in spite of how long we have been in this altered state of coronavirus. We were feeling a little giddy before the adventure even began.

Some friends of mine are working towards downsizing for a big move to a smaller place, and we hoped to help lighten their load. They are really cool people with really cool stuff, so we were both looking forward to the opportunity.

There is something really fun about introducing friends that have never met to each other. You carefully curate your friendships, and it feels obvious that people that you like in separate worlds will surely like each other.

While that doesn’t always happen, that’s exactly how this meeting went. We had a grand time together, visiting and picking things from a vast collection that we were thrilled to gain, and they were thrilled to lose. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say.

We were basking in the afterglow of a successful trip as we headed back to town, but you won’t believe what happened next!

We were on Riverside Parkway, debating our plan for the unloading, when a big camper up ahead bounced over the railroad tracks and one of several bicycles hanging from a rack on the back lost its grip and landed on the pavement in front of the truck next to us.

Thank goodness we were all far enough back to slow down in time, but it was shocking, nonetheless! We were faced with a split second round of considerations, which we excitedly cataloged while we watched to see what the other guy was going to do.

Should we stop and get the bike, or should we go after the camper to let them know they’d lost part of their load? We thought surely the guy in the truck would get out and move the bike off the road, isn’t that what guys in trucks do?

So, we chose to speed after the camper to get their attention before they got away. We watched in the rearview mirror as the guy in the truck pulled around the bike, leaving several cars behind him to make last minute aversions, too.

As we approached the intersection, we saw the camper in the middle lane with a red light, so we had to quickly choose which side to approach. Our original course was straight, which meant approaching the passenger side, but just as I was about to commit, the light turned green and we knew we’d never catch them if we didn’t jump to the right side to follow their same course.

We pulled up next to them as traffic began to move, just barely in line with their window, and Wendy frantically waved to get their attention. The driver looked over and she yelled, “You lost a bike!” and he exclaimed, “Oh! Thank you!”

They rolled off to pull into the KFC, and we realized we should head back to see if we could retrieve the bike as we watched them get out to walk to the back, as if needing to confirm our story before taking action.

“You don’t have time for that,” we both cried, knowing it was for naught. We did a safe and appropriate U-turn and were quickly back on Riverside Parkway in search of the wayward cycle.

Now for a sidebar backstory. Wendy and her daughters use an app on their phones to keep up with each other’s whereabouts, called Live360. It is intended to promote safety, but it often leads to hilarious conversations, like a recent one in which her oldest daughter called and asked, “Why are you sitting in an empty parking lot?” Leading to a very logical response, “I’m waiting for the store to open.” Oh, OK, carry on.

So, as we returned to the scene of the incident, Wendy’s phone suddenly rang and her daughter asked, “Why are y’all driving back and forth on Riverside Parkway?” (No, she doesn’t stalk her mother nonstop, at that moment her little girl was wondering if her grandmother was home yet, so they checked just as things were getting confusing.)

As she explained the situation we discovered that the bike was gone! Could someone have picked it up and driven off already? As we debated what to do, we caught sight of a pair of folks I recognized, my daughter’s high school cross country coach and his wife, Luis and Leann Goya, down in the entrance to the park, with the bicycle!

We quickly turned in, explained the situation as they explained how they almost hit it and we laughed at the happenstance, just as the camper drove by up above. They couldn’t see the bike with us, so we had no choice but to run after them if they were possibly going to find it.

By the time we turned around, we had completely lost sight of them, and when we got to the bypass we had no way of knowing which way they had gone. What an anticlimactic end to a whirlwind effort!

Our only recourse was to head on our way, waving to the bike where Luis had parked it on the side of the road, and wonder if it would ever rejoin its family.

Sometimes life throws us wrenches that require split second decisions and leave us wondering what might have happened had we chosen differently. We will never know if those folks passing through our fair city found their bike, but I can guarantee that we will always wonder.

Monica Sheppard is a freelance graphic designer, beekeeper, mother and community supporter living in Rome.

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