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face your fears

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!

Get A Helmet

I was a gymnast from age 4 to 23. I was a competitive gymnast for 8 of those years. Gymnastics was more than a sport for me – it was a lifestyle. Not doing it was never an option. When I struggled with injuries, I just had to find a way to work through or around the pain.

Rocky & His Girls, 1993

I had an amazing coach during my competitive career named Rocky Kees. He brought out the best in me and all my teammates. That man was gymnastics magic. I absolutely loved training with him.  It was one of the best times of my life. And Rocky taught me more than gymnastics. He taught me life skills that I carry with me to this day.

One of Rocky’s mantras was, “Get a helmet.” It was his way of saying, “Suck it up” but it had an added element of respect for how hard our work was. He respected that gymnastics was hard or scary, but he wouldn’t tell us to do anything that we couldn’t do. We all heard, “Get a helmet” on a regular basis. To this day, I can post “It’s a Get A Helmet kind of day” on Facebook and I’ll get lots of acknowledgements from my former teammates.

Post-It Above My Desk

“Get a Helmet” has become my mantra for building my law firm. I have it written on a little post-it note above my desk. Every day comes with its own set of challenges, whether it’s managing my calendar, balancing the books, doing client work, writing my book, or marketing the hell out of myself and my firm. There are a lot of things I’d rather not do, but that’s not really an option when you run a one-person shop.  Sometimes I get tired, frustrated, and unmotivated. That’s when I look up at that post-it note, take a deep breath, and soldier on.

Remembering to “Get a Helmet” keeps my eye on the prize. I’m not asking myself to do anything impossible. It’s just hard and scary. I can handle that.