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Getting Back on the Horse…err, I mean Bike

I love riding my bike. I love that when I’m biking or running the rest of the world just disappears. It’s just me and the road and the wind in my face. I love the feeling of my muscles propelling me down the road. If you haven’t tried them, the Phoenix canals are an awesome place to work out. They’re well-maintained and you can go for miles without having to worry about being hit by cars.

With my leg injuries last year, I was doing all my cardio on my bike. I was riding 13 miles, 3 times a week, and doing an extra long 18-mile ride on the weekend. I was riding so much I was ready to get a pair of padded-butt shorts and starting to look for a 50 or 100-mile charity bike ride to inspire me to up my training.

And then the accident happened.

Day After my Bike Accident - Look Where my Head Crashed into my Helmet

Day After my Bike Accident – Look Where my Head Crashed into my Helmet

I tracked my friend while he was doing his first half Ironman and I felt so lazy in comparison vegging at home. So I suited up and headed out for a 13-mile ride. It was a gorgeous sunny October afternoon. I was still tired from Ignite Phoenix a few days before and a full Saturday of events but it felt good to feel my quad muscles working beneath me. I was about 2 miles from getting back home when I headed through an underpass. A skateboarder was ahead of me, right in the middle of the path so I couldn’t safely pass him. I went to ring my bell to alert him of my presence and somehow my hand slipped over it. I was on the downward ramp and picking up speed so I slammed on my brakes to avoid colliding with him.

The good news is my brakes work great. My bike stopped on a dime.
The bad news is I didn’t.

I went over my handlebars and I slammed into the ground, my legs tangled up in my bike frame. My helmet protected my head, but the fall rattled it pretty hard. The skateboarder heard me crash and came back to see if I was OK. I sat up and did a quick head-to-toe injury check – both knees were scraped up along with both wrists and my left elbow.

Singing at Christmas Service - Check out my Elbow Scars

Singing at Christmas Service – Check out my Elbow Scars

I walked home, threw away my ripped shirt, and took a shower and gently scrubbed the dirt out of my wounds. I wasn’t sure I didn’t have a concussion or a broken elbow so I rested without pain meds until the next day. I slathered my wounds with antibiotic ointment for weeks until they healed, and now I’m left with scars on my wrists and elbows that vary in color from light pink to dark purple depending on how cold I am. I hate my scars.

Since the accident, I’ve barely ridden my bike. I have ridden along the canal but now I slow down on the underpass ramps instead of flying under the streets. I told myself I wasn’t riding because it was cold in the winter, but now that excuse is gone. I think part of me is still really nervous about riding. I’d never had a bad accident like that before. The only thing that comes close is getting hurt in gymnastics but they have you back out working your skills again as soon as it’s safe. With this, there’s no coach telling me have to do it and encouraging me every step of the way.

Last week I shared my list of cool stuff I want to do this spring. I think I need to add “regularly riding my bike” to the list. It will be a nice supplement to my new running regimen. And I still think I’d like to do some type of charity bike ride so if anyone knows of one in the Phoenix area, perhaps in the fall, please let me know!

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