Four years ago – almost to the day – I had a cycling accident.
I was tired and I tend to make mistakes when I’m tired. It happened towards the end of a 100 km ride and I was preoccupied with the increasing traffic on the 4-lane road … so I didn’t notice I was about to ride head-on into a concrete boulevard. Don’t ask – just nod and accept the fact that sometimes I manage remarkable feats that might not otherwise make sense.
I became a human projectile as I flew over my handlebars and broke my fall with my face as I landed on the concrete. To my surprise and dismay, I couldn’t get back up.
The world was spinning at a sickening speed and I lay panting on the ground with the edges of my vision turning black. I was trying desperately not to pass out. A motorist had stopped and called an ambulance. I remember thinking that the ride to the nearest hospital felt like it took hours.
I was lucky that day. My body took a major rattle, but there were no broken bones and – more importantly – all my teeth were still intact. Even the scars on my face from the considerable road-rash have since healed to faint shadows that are apparent only to me.
Although it wasn’t the first crash I ever had – it wasn’t even the first crash where I banged up my face – but this one left me afraid. After almost 10 years as a long distance cyclist, I was afraid of my bike – and afraid to ride outside.
So why am I telling this story now?
Well, an opportunity to go to Thailand on a cycling tour is in the planning stage – it is a potential reunion of the friends who all climbed Kilimanjaro together 6 years ago. It is a trip on bicycle of over a 1,000 km from Bangkok to Phuket. I want to go – I really, really want to do this.
Problem is … I haven’t rode a bike for 4 years. I didn’t intend that to happen. It just became easier to defend as each day went by.
Coach-Potato-Joanne is horrified at the thought of cycling again. The fear of the crash hasn’t been forgotten. The training needed to recover that level of cycling fitness again – within the next 17 months – feels insurmountable. Quite frankly, I was never a great cyclist to begin with and the memories are still fresh of a chronically tender butt, funny tan lines and the tyranny of hours and hours spent on a bike seat.
Joanne-The-Adventurer is having none of this negativity. She’s cooing soothing and confident words about goals, challenges, and – damn her – facing our fears and doing it anyway. She can barely contain her excitement.
This morning, Joanne-The-Adventurer dragged out all our cycling gear, dusted off the bike, and – sandwiched between 2 large rain systems – rode outside for an hour. It was a glorious start.
So now the next steps are to convince Gilles this is a great idea and develop a training plan that will get me ready for this challenge. It’s not going to be an easy journey – the body is older and not as resilient as it once was.
… and so it begins again with a shiny new goal dangling in front of my face. Stay tuned – it could get interesting.