Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Letting Go of the Brakes

Today was my first bike ride in a while. Yesterday I'd tested to see if I could lean some weight on my upper body while on the exercise bike. It was time.

Before I headed out, I posted my first draft of the Evotri essay for review by my editors (sister & husband). Then I just had to fix 10 more things before they probably saw it. Finally, I got my procrastinating butt out the door with my Bike Friday.

It was a gorgeous day, which always helps. I couldn't get my bike computer to work, though. Strange. But this was to be an easy ride so who cares how fast I went or how far. Let's just see if I can ride without hurting as much as before.

Once on the road I had no major pain but was noticeably riding UNlike my usual self. And I'm not talking about simply riding slower, I'm talking about riding scared. Yes, I'd definitely lost some confidence in my cycling skills. I was afraid I'd fall again and hurt myself even worse than before. And if I did, Dave would be unable to help me, being thousands of miles away. I needed something to distract me.

Unfortunately, all I could think of was this darn head-on car collision I was involved in over 20 years ago (What happened to positive thinking?). Back then, no seat belts were required so my head found the windshield and it cracked (the windshield). I ended up with a concussion and also good chest bruise from the steering wheel. I kept "seeing" imaginary cars and headlights coming towards me when going through that intersection and avoided it for probably a year.

Back on my bike, something similar was happening. Everything seemed to be out to get me ... rocks, glass, gravel on the ground, parked cars, cars coming up from behind, cross traffic. Even surfboards in the back of trucks going by seemed to be waiting to jump out at me. I felt as if I was pedaling through a war zone, in Hawaii of all places, LOL.

Then I spun up that little hill that I ran up the other day and got a lift. No shearing rib pain, though I was breathing pretty heavy at the top -- YAY!

As I recovered I tried to clear a nostril that was bugging me. No one was near me but I wasn't able to generate the force that was required. I had to settle for a sniffle. Very unsatisfying.

But later came the most telling part of my ride, going down a big hill. Usually, I fly down hills as if I had a death wish. This time, I couldn't get my hands to let go of the brakes. OMG, what happened to old Shirley?!

Obviously, my mind was not back into it yet.

But I made it down to the bottom safe, back up and back home without the sky falling. Tomorrow I'll head out for a longer ride, try letting go a little more. I think it's actually better that my bike computer stays all zeros right now. I just need to get out and ride.

PS - My Macbook Pro just arrived !!!


akshaye said...

A little caution is probably ok! Its just a sixth sense and I'm sure you'll be back in full force soon. Important think is you're back riding and I'm so thrilled to hear that!

Yay.. for the Mac.. now I can look fwd to more videos from you!

skoshi said...

Once you've been exposed to injury, it's hard to take that feeling of vulnerability out of the equation. You're such a strong person, I think you'll get your confidence back--tempered with a little life experience.

(Don't take my example, since I'm a scaredy cat), but I was on my bike and hit by a car 4 days after I arrived in NM. I didn't ride for quite awhile after that, and when I did, I was so scared of every passing car, that I finally had to limit my riding to a carless bike path only. I found that what happened when I got injured, is that I realized what a fragile bag of bones we humans are. Of course, it doesn't help that I work with injured and ill people daily. I finally got my "mojo" back--but it took time (and a patient boyfriend).

Sometimes, I wish I was still that younger, UNknowledgable person, who could ride a bike with such confidence--because I didn't know the possible consequences. However, as per the previous comment--a little caution is OK!

Yay for no rib pain!
I'm glad you're feeling better.

Susan said...

Yay Macbook!

I think the apprehension is 100% normal. I bet after another ride or two the old Shirley will be back. Nope -- correction -- the new and improved Shirley will be born.

I'm so glad that you're feeling better!

As for me, my ankle looks darn-close-to-normal in the mornings! Then it is swollen by bedtime. That's a little bit of progress, I guess.

Jade Lady said...

Good luck on your come back. Looks like you have some great advice from Akshaye, Skoshi and Susan already. Thanks for writing about your detailed account of your experience on getting back on the bike. It was a very interesting read. I've never been in a bike accident (yet!), but I'm sure that that day (spill!) will come as I start to ride more, and I'll get to dive into your archives to find this post.

Before you came to Austin, I thought you were pretty fearless (hard for me to relate to). When you told me you still had many fears, I was so surprised. But, you always manage to find the strength and courage to overcome those fears. Getting back on the bike after your bad spill was the first step.

Also, I don't remember your car accident - when and where was this?

Maddy said...

I think it's important to get out there - even if you rode the brake all the way to the bottom of the hill.

Give it some time and with some practice" you will back to your old self before you know it!

Enjoy your Macbook pro. I miss mine.

TJ said...

Yep. Same thing here. Car accident and all...although I didn't crack the windshield with my head.
I've had a couple of bad bike crashes and it took me a while to shake that fearful feeling after returning. But it does go away. Continuing to ride is the best cure.

Smithposts said...

Hang in there Shirley! My bf was in a car-bike collision last fall that required surgery. He is dealing with similar emotions. Each time out in traffic gets a little easier.

Brent Buckner said...

Yeah, sticking with the zeroes for a bit makes some sense.

Good that you're back out there. No need to force the process of desensitization.

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks all! Good to hear this is all pretty much to be expected. I thought so but it's always good to hear from others. You guys are the best!!

Anonymous said...

In 1988 I broke the rear axle on my bike and going down the hill at the Wildflower Tri the bike developed a major wobble. I was going around 25-30mph and it was about a 200 ft drop into the lake to the left and the hill was to the right. When I taped the brakes, it got worse. I have never before or since been so scared. To this day going down a hill I get scared and feel that the bike is wobbling. Doesn't stop me from riding, just one of the fears I live with. I'm sure you will get over yours before I get over mine.

runninggeezer262 said...

If anyone can overcome adversity, you will! As a cyclist, I don't belong on the same page with any of you. I finally got the training wheels off. :-)

Ellie Hamilton said...

Congratulations, Shirley!

Just so you know, I ALWAYS have my hands ready on the brakes going down a long hill. I usually give them a little squeeze every couple hundred feet just to keep things from getting out of control, unless the road is completely straight and I know every crack and pebble in it, and unless I'm positive that a deer, dog, or squirrel won't suddenly appear in my path.

Tri to Be Funny said...

Way to get back out there and congrats on being brave! Based on photos of your injuries, your much more brave than most people would be. Hopefully there are some safe roads out there for you!

Jen in Budapest said...

congrats on the mac pro! and glad to hear you got back in the saddle again....hope you're back to feeling good about the rides in no time.

Cliff said...

In 2005, I had a bike accident, landed face forward and lost 3 teeth. I remember the first time i got back on my bike. It was a harrowing experience.

On the road, it is generally better to be on the safe side than push it. Sometimes, we do have an urge to go hard =D

Glad u are back on the saddle. Even if it is a quick and easy ride.

Wendy said...

Oooh. New Mac!

Steve Stenzel said...

I hate having to "settle for a sniffle...."

IrishBlue said...

Sounds like a rough time on the bike. You'll get your confidence back though.