I am currently nursing multiple scrapes and bruises from a nasty spill I took while cycling last week.
The fall was totally my fault. My husband and I were enjoying a rare mid-week getaway in Wimberley, a quaint and quiet small town along the Blanco River in the Texas Hill Country.
We brought our road bikes with us to take in a little scenery and get in a little exercise during our mini-vacay–a small attempt to counteract the wine and decadent food we were sure to consume. Wednesday morning offered us glorious riding weather—sunny, but not-yet-hot, almost zero humidity, and just a slight breeze. Clad in our fancy cycling gear, we took a right turn from the rustic cabin we were staying in and started off on our first bike ride together since completing almost a year’s worth of treatment for Stage III colorectal cancer. While I love the heart-pumping intensity of a good spin class, nothing really compares to the exhilaration of riding outdoors on the open road. Even with my feet locked into my clips, I feel a sense of freedom when riding; I can pedal fast, I can coast, I can stop and rest, take a picture, have a snack, and enjoy nature more up close and personal than from the window of my car and less dangerously than when running. This day was no different. Within our first mile, we had spotted two deer, a hawk, and a cardinal.
We stopped and took a selfie (us-ie?) in front of a “Watch For Ice” sign appropriate for Hill Country winters but laughably out of place on this picture-perfect spring day. The hills were challenging yet manageable, and I might have even squealed “Wheeeeeeeee!” on a downhill. Two-and-a-half miles into the ride we came upon a one-lane bridge traversing the Blanco River. Due to recent rains in the area, the road was covered with about several inches of water creating an idyllic scene. Nothing is as quite as refreshing as the chill of crystal clear Texas river water on a sunny day. Armed with that knowledge and an ever-present sense of adventure, I got set to ride across the bridge through the water.
I could already feel the droplets of water spinning from my tires and misting my arms and legs. I could already see my tires slicing through the calm, clear water, as satisfying as being the first to stick a knife in a fresh jar of smooth peanut butter. Not once did I think about the physics of riding across what must be a slick, water-covered concrete surface on a lightweight road bicycle with skinny tires specifically designed to decrease road friction and increase speed and efficiency. My husband also does not think about this because like me, he is so taken by the scenery, that he is only busy setting his phone to video mode. I could tell you the rest, but this video sums it up best (warning: my husband says the bad word for poop).
As my husband wrestled me from my bike and my cycling shoes, I cursed myself for my stupidity and my hasty decision to ride across that bridge and simultaneously wish we had brought our mountain bikes so we could make it across to the other side. My sweet husband offered to attempt to ride across the bridge on his road bike in solidarity, but I told him that wasn’t necessary, that one fall was enough for the day.
I was in great pain, but I managed to blink back my tears to smile for a few pictures and enjoy letting the river water run over my feet and ankles. I declined my husband’s next offer to ride back to the cabin and get the car so that I don’t have to ride back after taking that tumble. Getting back up and getting back on my bicycle after a fall is more than a matter of pride; it is in my DNA. This wasn’t my first bad wipeout, and I guarantee it won’t be my last. Some people are afraid of falling down in life. I am only afraid of not having the courage to get back up and keep on rolling.
As much as I should be embarrassed by my fall, it is an opportunity to show my son and my daughter that falling and failing are nothing to fear; that scrapes and bruises are bearable; that sh!t happens, and that we should all be able to laugh at ourselves and in the words of the ubiquitous Taylor Swift, “shake it off”.
You can follow my cancer journey at http://www.facebook.com/fightlikeaboss