October 2, 2013.
Sometimes the right is wrong, and the left is right. But in this case, it’s not.
And sometimes your ability to think quickly on your feet does not transfer to your ability to think quickly on your butt. In this case, that would be true.
Let me explain.
On that beautiful day in October, previously mentioned, I was multi-tasking; I was trying to live in the moment and I was trying to listen to my body. You see, a few weeks prior, I had completed a marathon, and my body was still tired and achy. Now I’m telling you this not to brag, but because it’s important, as it played a role in my decision making ability that particular day. If I were actually bragging, I would have told you that I not only completed the marathon, but I PR’d AND qualified for Boston. Notice, I didn’t do that.
On this particular day, I arrived home from school, planning to bike to the Y and lift weights, as that’s what I did on Wednesday afternoons. But it was sunny and 68 degrees. And did I mention I was working on living in the moment? Plus, there really was nothing appealing about hanging out in the weight room at the Y, with a bunch of smelly, grunting men, proclaiming their manhood by noisily dropping their weights to the ground after every lift.
So I texted my husband, and shared my thoughts. The husband, being the agreeing soul that he is, instantly agreed. I went upstairs and changed into my bike shorts and a t-shirt.
The husband arrived home shortly after, and we discussed our bike of choice for the ride. Tandem? Hmm…tempting…did I mention my aching muscles? The tandem would provide a great opportunity for not pedaling. Cross bikes? Nah…my gears were all mucked up and I’d struggle to shift into an easy pedaling gear. Road bikes? Yeah. Road bikes. It was definitely a road bike type of night.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with a road bike, let me share a couple of things with you. One, road bikes have skinny tires. Very skinny. You go fast on skinny tires. Something to do with the lack of friction I believe. Two, your feet clip into your pedals. Meaning that you and your bike are like one, allowing for better pedaling efficiency. For the sake of this story, that’s really all the background information you need to know.
The husband pumped the tires while I supervised. He does a great job pumping tires. A gift really. And a task I have no interest in learning.
Before long, we were ready to go. We headed into the country.
Now here is a little more foreshadowing for you. (In case you missed it, the description of a road bike was foreshadowing as well. Go back and reread if you must.) Our regular route was interrupted by the bright orange cones that frequently adorn Wisconsin roadways. So, we detoured, and headed south on an unfamiliar road.
We passed by many picturesque farms, and embraced the beauty of the foliage on the cusp of turning color. We discussed our days. Mine was by far more challenging. Because I’m a teacher. And my husband is not.
We approached a “T” in the road. My husband asked, “Which way?” I immediately thought of my good friend Robert Frost. I’m pretty good at making connections. This thought, instantly must have instantly occupied the space in my brain typically reserved for cautious actions, like slowing down when approaching a corner.
“Left,” I yelled, although In hindsight, right would have been a better choice.
I quickly glanced for cars, and entered the intersection, leaning hard to the left as I rounded the corner. Suddenly, I found myself out of control and veering off onto the soft, gravel shoulder of the road. At this point, my husband was ahead of me.
Now, had I taken my time, slowed down, and attempted to ease back on the road slowly like everyone is taught in driver’s ed, I probably would have navigated my way back onto the road and been okay. But, that’s not what happened. Instead, I panicked.
Remember the skinny tires on my bike? Well, they didn’t handle the change of direction very well. I aggressively turned my handlebars. My front tire responded by pivoting abruptly and it slammed sideways into the three inch rise of the road.
Remember my toe clips? Well, after realizing that I wasn’t going to recover gracefully from my poor judgment, those toe clips prevented me from catching myself with my legs.
I screamed. And I only know I screamed, because my husband told me later that I did. That’s the reason he looked back. Just in time to witness my awkward descent to the ground.
For me, time didn’t stop, but it definitely slowed. The momentum of my bike, coupled with the engagement of my feet to my pedals, caused me to flip over the top of my bike, and fall toward the road back side first, with my bike following. I attempted to break my fall by placing my hands behind me, but couldn’t get them in position fast enough, so my right elbow hit first. I was then very aware of my head, and braced myself for the impact of the road. Much to my surprise, my helmet actually did its thing, and softened the blow. It hit and then bounced up and down a few times. I remember being somewhat amused.
Now the kind thing to do, would have been to yell to my husband that I was still alive. But I didn’t. I just lay there on the ground taking inventory of my body parts. Nothing was missing, Thank God.
By this time, my husband had turned around, jumped off his bike, and was crouched next to me. It was then I became aware of a barking dog, and was concerned somebody might have witnessed the crash. I disengaged my feet, while my husband removed the bike from on top of me. I stood and took note of the condition of my bike.
The handlebars were off kilter and there were some serious scuffs in the frame. Very disappointing.
My husband, however, was more concerned about my body. It was then that I discovered blood running down my arms and legs. I probably should have stayed focused on my bike, as I don’t do very well with blood. Especially when it’s my own.
“I think we should go home,” I said, stating the obvious.
He cranked my handlebars back into position, and asked if I felt good enough to bike home. Getting back on my bike, I assured him I was. Not quite the truth, but I knew the only other option was to wait for him to bike home and get the car. And I didn’t feel like waiting.
What I did feel was nauseous. When I discovered I couldn’t bend or put any pressure on my right arm, I got a little shaky. I don’t remember much about the ride home, other than there were round holes the size of a small dinner plate all along the bike lane, and I was worried my front tire would hit a hole and I’d get reintroduced to the road. Other than that, I don’t remember a thing. Apparently shock will do that to you. My husband, who was riding behind me, watched my arm swell all the way home. He was pretty impressed that we covered the 5 miles at an average pace of 18 mph.
I’m not much of a going to the doctor type of person, but instinctively I knew that something wasn’t right with my arm, so I willingly allowed myself to be taken to the walk in clinic. One hour and two x-rays later, we had the verdict. My first broken bone. And a very impressive one at that.
So in hindsight, the right really would have been right.
And in hindsight, I didn’t think very well on my behind.