This past Saturday I was sort of forced prematurely into getting back onto two wheels. For those of you that may be reading my blog for the first time, I was in a bike accident about a month ago. This past Saturday was my first time back on a bike after purchasing a new ride.
I wasn’t planning on getting back onto the bike this early for a number of reasons; one, I haven’t received a check from the insurance company yet to purchase a new one. Two, I’m just not ready yet. And three, my knees! But, an unfortunate loss of my fiancées car keys lead to the premature re-entry to bike commuting.
My fiancée had to be in Dallas for a wedding shower on Saturday, and takes my car on longer trips since it’s more reliable. So, when she takes my car I drive her old Toyota Camry. But unfortunately, we lost her keys. They are nowhere to be found, so without a means of transportation while she was in Dallas I was forced into getting back onto the bike a bit early.
As far as the condition of my knees goes, It wasn’t a huge concern since my chiropractor told me that light biking should be alright, running though was out of the question – which I miss dearly. So I went to test ride the bike I had been thinking about purchasing that morning; pedaling felt smooth and didn’t aggravate the torn meniscus. Riding felt pretty good too, but I was also riding in a controlled environment, without traffic.
So, after the second test ride I decided to take the plunge and purchase the bike. Since the future of my fiancées car was uncertain as is, I will eventually need transportation since she works in North Austin and I only require working from coffee shops or other places with an internet connection.
Later that afternoon, my fiancée left for Dallas and I was left with a new pair of wheels to get me around town. Within a couple hours of her leaving I already needed to head South to the apartment I was staying at to pick up a couple of things. The apartment was only about four miles away, but it was probably the longest four miles I have ridden in my life.
I stuck to the bike routes to get there, which actually put me on the busy street where I was hit just a month ago. I was hesitant! Every intersection I approached I went through with the utmost caution, checking out the cars trying to merge into traffic, attempting to make sure they saw me, and looking ahead into traffic for potential cars making a left hand turn… it was nerve-wracking to say the least.
As I continued on with my ride I approached my first turn safely and proceeded down another bike lane on another busy street. The first potential danger I saw on this street was a car attempting to come out of a parking lot while another car was coming turning in. I was blocked from the exiting cars view, so I proceeded with caution and safely passed the car that was attempting to come out. My senses of what is going on around me have greatly heightened. I know this seems like a good thing, but it has me a bit rattled. I felt like was ride wasn’t as enjoyable as they once were.
The next potential troublesome situation I came across was a guy holding an oversized sign in front of some retail stores that seemed to be blocking the vision of the car attempting to merge into traffic behind him, so I slowed down to make sure he saw me coming. Once we made eye contact I safely passed and arrived at my destination shortly after that.
The return ride was a bit easier as it takes you through a residential area with a wide street and bike lane. I felt pretty safe along this road, but the downside of this bike route ais that it doesn’t connect with any other routes going north, so I eventually had to merge onto a busy street that sees bike traffic fairly frequently (but doesn’t have a bike lane). Thankfully though the distance I had to go along this street was minimal… only a few blocks. I once again arrived safely back at my fiancées apartment.
Earlier in the day I had gotten a text message inviting me to watch the World Series game and cook out. So, rather than stay home by myself I hopped on the bike and made the trek a few miles east. This trip was less nerve-wracking than my first commute back on the bike, as the streets traveled on had bike lanes, less traffic, and a wide street.
Part of the journey took me through St. Edward’s campus and back onto a busy street, where I opted to stay on the sidewalk. Shortly after, I arrived at my destination. People there were surprised I was back on the bike this early. So was I. These past several weeks I had been jonesing to get back on my bike, but when the time actually came I was very apprehensive.
I feel my bad experience has taken away some of the joy and freedom I felt while riding. I wonder if I will ever feel as free as I did before the accident? I wonder how I will fare when I go on my first long bike ride? I know one thing for sure; I will be sticking to group rides. There is safety in numbers. I also hope that I will soon be able to fully enjoy bike commuting again.
The accident affected me far more than I thought it did. It has me pretty shaken up about riding in general. Before the accident there was never really a fear of getting hit, even thought I have heard stories and known people that have been hit. I just never thought it would happen to me. Being hit on a bike is far different than being hit in a car, where you are surrounded by metal and held in with seat belts. Riding a bike leaves you so exposed.
It’s an exposure that I’m not fully comfortable with yet, but I will only overcome my fear if I keep riding. I do hope though I can maintain my heightened since of awareness and still be able to enjoy riding.
As far as long distance rides go, I don’t know when I will be able to do that again. My knees don’t feel up to the challenge and I still haven’t meet with an Orthopedic Specialist to determine the extent of the damages. I hope that mere physical therapy will bring me down the road of recovery, but surgery is a definite possibility. I’m scared that this will end up being the case, but I pray that it is not.
Do you have a story about recovering from an injury that put a damper on doing the things you love? Please, share it here. I find it encouraging to hear others stories that have been through something similar.