There comes a time (or several times) as a cyclist that you will likely have some kind of accident. The likelihood increases the more you ride. You are presenting yourself to the outside world and our own humanity. Humanity being that we are conscientious human beings with the potential of making mistakes. We all possess this power.
I’ll admit, when I first woke up after my accident, I was in shock. The amount of pain that I had in my head/jaw, let alone my whole body, was intense. I felt the bandages tugging my skin as my mouth tried to form words. I had the most terrifying confusion that I’ve ever experienced in my life. A concussion can do some strange things to you.
While lying in bed trying my hardest to process basic thought, I made a request to Travis, "Don't let me be afraid of riding." Once my mind started to come back and I was able to start thinking, retaining, and functioning like normal human being, I knew I wasn’t actually afraid of riding again.
Nervousness was in the forefront of my thoughts, but perseverance to overcome said nerves was greater than their grip on me. Two weeks were coming to an end very quickly. I felt extreme tension and anxiousness over the lack of biking I had been doing. I was becoming irritable and crabby, partly due to wanting to conquer my nerves. The other part, to prove to myself I wasn’t going to instantly crash or have some accident the second I started riding.
Stress is brutal, especially when you are ready to conquer something. The biggest thing I’ve found out as an adult who has biffed it, is I am not a kid. As an adult, you don’t instantly bounce back and become fearless again (maybe some of you do). I, on the other hand, became a bit more aware of my bike.
1. Just because you biffed it does not mean you are “cursed.” Accidents happen to the best of us, and many times they seemingly happen when we’re overconfident on something, or when we are learning something new. It’s the nature of the beast.
2. No longer a kid, we are adults with real life responsibilities. Unfortunately if the accident is bad enough it can put a damper on some of that. You may find an unexpected week off of work and a large medical bill looming in your future. If you're lucky, you'll have built up PTO for work. You can't worry much or do much about medical bills until you get them.
3. Do not let fear come into the equation. Nervousness is okay, but do not let it completely grasp you and keep you from experiencing or learning. Being nervous is not a bad thing. You just have increased awareness over bikes and what can happen in situations. Take it as a lesson to be learned, and work through the nervousness with the thought that you are learning how to do something better.
4. It’s okay to smile and laugh when you go back out on your first (or all) of your rides. Especially if your accident was a bit traumatic-- that feeling of joy is what it’s all about.
5. You are not a “bad” rider. People seem to have the misconception I’m now a “ super-pro” or a “racer” or I’m magically enhanced because I date “the bike shop guy.” I’m none of the above. I’m just me, and I’ve only ridden a little over a year. The majority of my riding is commuting to work or riding the paved trail. That doesn’t really give much experience of a whole lot of other handling skills. Mountain bikers and street riders have a greater knowledge of handling skills and tricks. Rding a paved loop and commuting to work is not the same.
6. My accidents were caused by my inexperience, not because I’m a “bad” rider. Like I’ve said to others about my most current accident, I biffed doing something I’ve done before. I was on a different bike and I had an overconfident attitude. Take that, plus my inexperience, and it's not that surprising that I had an accident.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is brush yourself off, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and get back on that darn bike. Especially if biking is something you love, crave, and are passionate about. People might pick on you for the accident. Just don’t worry about it. You might also find someone in the bike community giving you a nickname that may or may not stick. (Your co-worker will want it to, and you secretly think it’s pretty neat.)
It happened, it’s done, you’ve learned and you’ve healed, so get back on that bike and have some fun!