Even though last night I lay flat on my back, trying to get comfortable in bed from all the impending bruises that were set to appear, yesterday’s 50 mile (80.5km) cycle for Cycle Live was all worth it.
Each year I tell myself how much I hate riding bikes and that I’d much rather run, and each year for the past 3 I’ve hopped on a bike with fellow colleagues and cycled the same 50 mile route anyway! Each time I finish, I’m often exhausted but excited. This time was no different, I just did it with some extra bits of skin and pride missing.
It takes an incredible amount of mental preparation for me to do these rides, mainly due to the anxieties that appear due to some bad experiences I have had in the past. But the reason I do it every year is to prove to myself that I can, and that in reality, my anxieties don’t have a grip on me – it’s me that has a grip on them.
I’ll happily run 13 miles, maybe even further but a bike can often terrify me. A run, I’m in control of my own body, my own ability to stop and start – on a bike that control disappears for me, and even though I can squeeze the brakes, I know that technology can fail and there could potentially be a time when squeezing them doesn’t actually work…yes, this has happened before!
Unfortunately 20 miles into this cycle, I didn’t give myself enough time to brake when swerving and skidded to a halt straight onto the tarmac onto my left hand side. A wonderful friend, was there thank goodness to get me back on my feet and he stayed with me right until the finish line.
It was my first long distance ride on my own bike (I usually rent one) and it’s been a long time coming. I usually hire one due to the worry of something going wrong en route but this time I decided to suck it up, prepare in advance by visiting the bike shop for the various tools and supporting equipment I needed and see how I got on. Gosh, I was even worrying about that. Luckily a work colleague prepared me well with a list of questions to ask and things to be prepared with. And I kept telling myself that the worst thing that could happen, if I got a flat, was I could ask for help – or call a taxi back home…
Considering the accident I did end up having, thank goodness the bike came out unscathed, even though I didn’t. It was also my first experience with St John’s Ambulance who were a real treat and cleaned me up while having a giggle – I’m always happy to make new friends.
Anyone who knows me well, will know of the bad tales and experiences I’ve had to tell of my previous bike rides, having to re-learn to ride a bike numerous times after various incidents which have involved me either getting nipped by a car or almost ending up in a ditch by the river – so it was a pretty big thing for me to just hop back on and ride the remaining 30 miles or so.
Today after work, I unwrapped my bandages in a bid to get some air to my cuts, in order to heal. I sat down, and I looked at my bike. The weather was beautiful, and I had no plans – I sat and wondered for a moment whether me finishing the ride yesterday was just a one-off. Maybe I’d never ride a bike again – but I could at this moment.
So, I got changed, packed up my yoga mat, with a plan to head down by the riverbank near my home, popped on my helmet and jumped on my bike – I didn’t think it would be that easy but it was.
Five miles in, I unraveled my yoga mat – realising that I couldn’t kneel or put any weight into my left arm, due to yesterday’s injuries, I practiced some standing poses and took some time to regain some inner focus.
It wasn’t long before I was thanking my body and my mind for letting me do this today!
It might sound silly, but that fall could actually have been a great thing to have happened to me – as much as it hurt – because it made me realise that, ok, I can get knocked down pretty easily, but it is just as easy to get back up again, if you know how.