Story Time: How I Almost Died In Bethlehem, Twice!


bmx trails dirt jumping dirtjumping

Not only did I almost die twice in Bethlehem, I almost died twice in a matter of seconds! Let me give you a little background first before I get into how I managed that feat.

It wasn’t long after I originally found Posh that I began making regular pilgrimages up to the trails mecca that was the Lehigh Valley. I say “was” because though two of the best sets of trails in the world still reside there, it’s nothing like it was back in late 90s when there were literally over a dozen sets of thriving trails the area. It was absolutely mind blowing, and still kind of is now that I’m thinking back on it!

Anyway, myself and the crew of dudes I rode with back then were lucky enough to be welcomed into the scene, and we tried to make it up there as often as we could. We even got to crash at the infamous Superdome! That’s a whole nother story though! So being as none of us drank back then, we would inevitably end up riding around downtown Bethlehem at night after riding trails all day. This was more or less to look at the whatever college girls were left around during the summer and to see what mischief we could stir up.

Keith Gower was one of the first guys up there that we befriended, and it was on one of those “rides” that we decided that we would cruise out and pay him a visit. Now Keith didn’t live in downtown Bethlehem like the rest of the people we knew, he lived pretty damn far out of town. We didn’t have anything else to do so it was decided that we would undertake this mission to ride out to his house. The ride there, though it consisted of riding down some dark and isolated Pennsylvania backroads, was uneventful. There was a pretty gnarly hill that we had to climb but even though it sucked pedaling up, we were looking forward to getting to ride down it on the way back. We kicked it around Gower’s house for a bit and then decided to head back to the Superdome before it got too late.

The ride back started off as uneventful as the ride there, but things got interesting around the halfway point when someone noticed that there was a bobcat in the window of a pet shop we were passing. Yes, a fucking bobcat! This is one of those things that as I’ve gotten older and some of these memories have started to fade, I think back on it and ask myself if that really happened or not. Then I’ll randomly talk to one of my old friends who was there and they’ll say “remember that time we saw a bobcat in the window of that pet shop in Bethlehem.” So after being enthralled and slightly scared of this captive bobcat that was only being held back from mauling us by a thin piece of glass that I’m sure was never intended to hold back an apex predator, we continued on our journey back to the Southside of Bethlehem.

It wasn’t long before we reached the top of that hill that had kicked our ass so bad on the ride out. Of course everyone took a few solid cranks to get as much speed as possible for the impending hill bomb. The usual shenanigans ensued; some people were manualing, some were tucked down with their heads below their crossbars trying to be as aerodynamic as possible, and then there’s me and my buddy Chris. We were engaged in a full on race down the hill, even trying to sneak in some futile cranks to go faster! I remember both of us were uncontrollably laughing at each other trying to get a 44/16 gearing to actually catch while going mach five down this hill… and that’s when shit hit the fan! Somehow our dumb asses managed to get our bars tangled up during this epic hill bomb race, and we both exploded into a 30+ mph tumbling mass of dudes and bikes. It was definitely one of those “holy shit we almost died” moments, and that very phrase was uttered as we collected ourselves and our bikes from the middle of the road. To mine, his and everyone else’s astonishment we both got out of the crash completely unscathed.

I vividly remember both of us looking at our respective limbs and being dumbfounded that neither of us had so much as a scratch… and that’s when we heard the sound of tires screeching. We all looked up to see a car right in the middle of a full on drift coming at us from the road that intersected the one we were on. Roaches wish they could scatter as fast as we did! I mean it was pretty much a dive off of the road with bikes in hand. The car rips through the spot we were standing a mere few seconds before and then tries to drift onto an intersecting road just up the hill. Apparently the dude’s left-hand drifting skills were nowhere near what his right-hand skills were because he slid right that thing right on into the ditch. To be fair, maybe the sight of six kids fleeing with bikes onto the shoulder threw him off of his game a little bit.

Police cars come flying around the corner before his car can even come to a complete stop in the ditch! Turns out they had been chasing the guy through Bethlehem and the chase just happened to end with him crashing right where our hill bomb had ended with a crash seconds before! Once again it was one of those “holy shit I almost died” moments! Somehow we managed to have two of those only a few seconds apart and escape both of them with not even a scratch, just one hell of a good story to take back to the Superdome!