Posts Tagged With: Riding


Back in the Saddle, Again

June 14, 2016 Tuesday  ~ A month after my bike crash.

I woke up to a debate in my head.

I was tired and so I thought maybe I could justify not going out on my bike because of that. But I knew I’d feel better psychologically and physically if I rode. I tried to tell myself I’d exercise somehow at home. A bike ride sounded scary, potentially dangerous. My face remembers hitting the sidewalk; my head remembers the pain that lasted several weeks. My whole body remembers feeling out of control and suddenly, inexplicably, thrown to the ground.

I somehow have to push past all of that and make myself get out of bed, dress in my biking clothes, put my necessities in my pockets, fill a water bottle, tie on my shoes. I remember to leave the bedroom door open so if I have to call Lynn he’ll hear the phone ring. I put on my helmet, tighten up my chin strap a bit, since I remember the helmet coming off after hitting the sidewalk, or at least it seems like it did. I set my phone to track my ride distance and speed. I roll the bike out of the garage; push the button to close the garage. I adjust the pedals; I walk to the end of the driveway with the bike in hand. I look both ways down the street.


Not my helmet.

And then I’m riding. Every push on the pedals feels awkward, I can’t get comfortable on the seat, and my grip is too tight on the handlebars. My knees remind me that they took a hit and aren’t quite fully recovered. I’m on high alert for any tiny obstacle, extra careful on turns. I’m tired already after only half a mile. I remember that the first mile is just to loosen up. I try to relax and start to get a rhythm.

I turn the bike south, the sun already too warm on my left; I push through and start to find I’ve settled in to the seat. I start to remember the exhilaration of moving under my own power, although I’m certainly not riding at any speed to remark about. If a runner came by they’d probably pass me.

I told myself I would only ride four miles and not cross any major streets. And yet, I find myself at a major arterial road and wait, probably longer than I need to, for traffic to clear. Then I ride past my own personal boundary line. A half mile later I turn and ride back to the same road, take my time, cross back, negotiate a curb and ride north an entire mile. At that point I’m sensing the bike react to every nuance of the terrain beneath me. I lift myself off the saddle to negotiate a large bump in the path. The bike manages through some rocky terrain as I turn south again. My hands squeeze the handlebars too hard and go numb. I shake the feeling back into each one, hesitant to let go even briefly. I regret this unpaved section, with its unpredictability and slippery sand and varied rock, but I remember that I’ve ridden this path dozens and dozens of times without incident at a much higher speed.

I turn, I negotiate another sidewalk to cement, and then cement to sidewalk and I don’t slam to the ground. I finally remember to breathe, although I’m sure I’ve been unconsciously breathing the whole time. I roll into the driveway, hop off the bike; punch in the garage code, back my bike into its parking spot.

I remove my helmet. I look at my phone and the app tells me I rode four and three quarter miles. Not much, not far, twenty-five percent of what I was doing with frequency only a month or so ago.

I report in to my cousin with a text.

Her response heartens me, makes me feel like a champion.

I did it.

I can do it again.

There’s no guarantee that a fall or crash or some craziness won’t happen again. In fact, it’s probably inevitable. But I’m more mindful now, less cavalier. I know there’s a lot I don’t know about the sport that only experience will teach me.

I know I can’t give it up. It’s one of the major things that keep my mind alert and my depression-prone psyche on an even keel.

Maybe next time the pre-ride debate will be shorter. And the time after that, or two or three, maybe there won’t be a debate at all.


“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”   ~Dale Carnegie




Categories: Biking, Mental Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do I Hold On or Let Go?

While out biking a few months ago I discussed the following question with a friend of mine.

“When you’re falling off your bike do you think you should hold on to the handlebars or let go of the handlebars?”

Bouncing the question around got us no where other than she had a story to tell about a friend’s husband who chose to take a steep path downhill when the rest of the group decided to carry their bikes around the obstacle. It didn’t have a very happy ending, short or long term.  I think she said he held on to the handlebars, but that didn’t have much bearing on the painful long-lasting consequences of a plain old bad decision.

I even asked my cousin, the super athlete, for her opinion and she said it didn’t really matter and that it depended. Which at the time I thought was a lame answer.

This morning I came to understand her answer.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 5Woke up long before the sun kissed the horizon today and planned a quick six or eight mile ride to round out the weeks mileage to at least forty. I was on the trail hoping to avoid crowds. A gloriously cool morning after a 100 degree day yesterday, I reveled in my freedom and the glow of the sunrise. I was making good time, for me, and enjoying every minute of it.

Making the transition from gravel onto the sidewalk, which I’ve done hundreds of times, my wheel caught the edge and refused to pop up over and instead threw me to the ground.

It happened in this slow motion super fast way I can’t explain. It’s like being in a dream where your brain just can’t quite process what’s happening because it’s so out of the norm of your experience doing this easy thing.

What I remember most is thinking: this is my face smashing into the concrete. Everything is going to be broken and shattered and I am in deep trouble.

Here’s the answer to the title question. I had no idea where the flip the handlebars on my bike were or where my hands were.

Shock is the first thing that happens. So I just lay there. I might have rolled over on to my back. I could taste blood. And everything hurt, especially my head. I felt my face and came away with a handful of red. Oddly my glasses were still on my face. That’s how I knew my helmet saved my brain and most of my face.

I hoped someone would come along the trail but didn’t have a lot of hope for it that early on a Saturday. Lo and behold a friend of mine rolls up and says, “Hi Kami, what are you doing down there?” Or something equally hilarious if you aren’t the one on the ground. “Stan?” I said. “Am I ever glad to see you!”

He did a quick assessment and pulled me up off the trail of ants I had landed in. (Surprisingly didn’t get bit!!!)  Brushed the ants off of me, got my bike out of the way and told me to sit tight while he rode back and got his truck to drive me and my bike home.

A couple minutes later another friend happened to jog by. When she was sure I had help on the way and was okay to be alone, she suggested I use the ice in my water bottle on my face to keep the swelling down.

Another friend called a mutual dentist friend later in the morning who came by my house and made sure I hadn’t really ruined any teeth even though they hurt a bunch.

Needless to say, I felt like a crew of angels had been dispatched after I learned my lesson to not be so cocky on my bike, be more careful of transitions, and make sure MSH can hear a phone ringing if I’m going out riding alone. Oh, and the lesson to always, always, always wear my helmet.

Everything hurts everywhere almost ten hours after my fall from Grace. (Isn’t that a cute name for my bike?) I feel way worse than I look, which isn’t saying much, I suppose. My knee feels swollen, I have bruises that I can’t explain.

Oh, and the bike is okay. Some scrapes on the right side of the bike even though I fell left. The handlebars must have turned completely around to face me. I’ll get her a nice tuneup at Global Bikes next week, just to make sure I didn’t do any permanent damage. I’m not going to be riding for a week or so, I’m guessing. But I’ll be back out there again, for sure.

For today at least, I’m sucking meals out of a straw and hanging out on the couch bingewatching stuff and alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol and icing the knee and mouth.

I’m also counting my blessings that I can still walk, and talk and laugh about all this.

Biffing it just aint fun.

So hold on. Don’t hold on. Just stay safe while having fun.

FullSizeRender-4 copy

A Mother’s Day Gift from my Son and Daughter in Law. Perfect!




Categories: Biking, Exercise, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hot Pink on a Harley

Friday Letter to my Kids-

Dear J, J, L and L,

This weekend marks year four of Big J’s big Harley ride with his hot woman for the annual “Bikers for Boobies” event.

Makes me laugh every time to say that out loud.

Makes me proud that you’re doing something to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Makes me terrified that your charitable inclination involves a Harley.

I have nothing personally against Harley’s, or Honda’s or any other brand of motorcycle. I just get a little woozy when I think of people I love out on the road with other maniacal drivers who might not pay much attention to the loud roar and flash of chrome.

To quote your Grandma M from my teenage years:

“It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s everybody else.”

I’ve had a little experience with motorcycles in my past life, believe it or not. My first ever chance driving one on my own happened in our back yard. At eleven years old I may or may not have been a little too young for the attempt. The tiny Honda 50 was so cute and fun looking. “Nothing to it,” my Dad said.

honda 50


I threw my leg over the seat, sat down and grasped the handlebars. My dad explained the gears, first, second, third. He talked about the clutch. He reminded me I had to pull in the clutch when I braked. I said, “Okay, I got it,” when I really didn’t understand about ninety percent of what he’d told me. Mostly what I heard was, “pull in the clutch when you want to brake.”

So I let out the clutch in first gear and the thing almost left me behind. I remember hearing yelling, with grass and dirt flying. I was so busy trying to figure out why pulling  in the clutch wouldn’t stop the bike that I failed to turn. Next thing I know the bike and my flailing body launched off a foot high drop off into the garden and then across the garden down another small drop off. Luckily a chain link fence finally stopped the bike and what was left of my quivering body.

Dad ran over and caught the bike before it fell over on me and said, “Why didn’t you push on the brake?”

And that’s when I realized that braking involved more than simply pulling in the clutch. Ding, ding, ding!!! Light bulb!!! I needed to push the brake with my foot at the same time as pulling in the clutch.

My ego took a far bigger hit than my jostled and bounced around butt ever did.

You can bet that the next time Dad let me ride I paid attention to every single detail he told me. Luckily, I had other chances a year later and soon became a fairly brave rider when we’d take the bikes up to the mountains and ride around the dirt roads and wide trails. Those were some fun years buzzing around free and fast.

Can you picture G and G M on one of these? Cool!

Can you picture G and G M on one of these?

My dad went on several weekend long trail rides on various motorcycles. The trails he rode scared me even back then before I developed my fear of all things high and dangerous. (He also did a multi-day cattle drive on horseback once, but that’s a different story you’ll have to ask him to tell you about.)

Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know about your Grandpa M. He had said back then that when he retired he wanted to buy a Honda Goldwing and tour the country with Grandma. Sadly, that never happened. I think all us kids took the oomph out of his get-up-and-go. Not to mention, priorities change as life morphs and lengthens.

The Happy Harley couple last year…or the year before.

The happy Harley couple last year…

That crotch rocket you drove for a while, Big J, just about wore holes in my knees for how hard and often I prayed that you’d be safe out there.

When you and your newly christened Mrs. left the reception for your wedding night roaring away on that Harley, I thought my heart would bust wide open for joy and fear at the same time. I know you couldn’t hear me but I yelled, “where’s your helmets?” That would have spoiled the effect, I know.

I’m glad you’re living your life and taking measured chances and enjoying your youth. Don’t let my worries hold you back.

You other three, don’t be thinking I’m giving you permission to take up motorcycles. Not that it would matter what I thought at this point, right?

Have a fun ride this weekend, my sweet son, with your blonde bombshell wife on the back holding on tight. You’ll always be my little guy no matter how old you get, so I’ll always worry. I’ll also always be happy knowing you’re happy.

All my love,


"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

p.s. Just wondering if you’ll wear sunscreen this year… 😉



“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” ~ Edward Abbey ~~

Categories: Friday Letters, Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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