Why I will bike no more


Bike Helmet

I used to bike a lot. Not professional cyclist or racer, just recreational cyclist. Best Husband and I, once freed of the penury of child rearing, developed our own hobbies and interests and eventually invested in good road bikes. We’d spend hours out of every summer biking together, enjoying the scenery and companionship. I will miss biking, but I will bike no more. And here is why.

Flash backwards about four weeks ago. I’m sitting on the side of the road, a good vacation gone bad, with blood pouring out of my nose. One friend is holding my head steady while another is staunching the blood with tissues. Meanwhile horrified onlookers stand by while I’m sobbing and trying not to sob at the same time, shaking hot and cold and wishing I had never ridden my bike that day.

A fun bike ride with friends had turned into every cyclist’s nightmare:  a face first over handlebars freak accident. Soon  the ambulance arrives, and my husband and I ride to the barely adequate  urgent care clinic. Once there, a third-year resident who acts more like a third-year med student takes over my care. Everyone asks me the same questions incessantly, writes them down, but no one looks at the answers. My jaws are sloshing painfully back and forth and I finally motion for a clipboard. Then, holding my swollen eye open so I can see, I write a pretty coherent med list, allergies, and answers to all their questions, while the medical indifference swells around me. As I sit in the clinic bay, no blanket offered, I realize I’m getting woozy and faint, chilled and hot at the same time, and suggest they might want to think about getting me a blanket and starting an IV.

Later, I endure an ambulance ride across the Mackinac Bridge and farther south to get to the closest real hospital, about 45 minutes away. With my face and body throbbing, I convince myself that moaning softly and keeping my eyes closed will relieve the pain, since no one has offered to give me anything to soothe the awful  throbbing during what is normally a very pleasant drive.

After x-rays and CTs, it is confirmed. My face is broken. All of it. The orbits, the delicate maxillae, and my already somewhat crooked nose – smashed into shards of bone. A week or so later I have grueling surgery to put it all back together. The plastic surgeon using screws and plates, delicately reassembles the puzzle that had become my face. The shards of bone, now held in place with metal, have put my face somewhat back together, though it no longer feels like my face. Places that once were soft are now hard, metallic, crooked, numb. It is not a perfect face, though,it was a pretty ordinary face before. Time will tell if it becomes the face that I had before, or something close enough to it, or if it will remain a hideously skewed semblance of a face that makes polite people look away and rude people stare.

No one told me that I must give up biking. I had biked nearly 5,000 miles, with no hint of a serious accident, and chances are, could bike another 5,000 in my lifetime without incident. But, it somehow feels wrong, to take my patchwork of bones back out onto the road, where anything might happen in the blink of an eye. It seems like an insult to my surgeon, and to myself and my family for all we’ve gone through, to tempt that fate again. I feel grateful to have a face, to still have life, and to not have suffered more serious injury than what I already had. And so, I will bike no more.

© Huffygirl 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in pictures


What a year!

© Huffygirl 2013

Spin doctor


I’m on my bike, pedaling like mad, leaning over the handlebars. The wind is blowing my hair, making it fall in my face. I repeatedly push it back, thinking I really don’t have time for this. I’m too busy working hard at keeping up with everyone else. The cyclists around me seem to be cruising along without much effort, making this ride look really easy. This is one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. Except, this time, I’m not on out on the road – I’m trying my first spin class.

Huffygirl, fit and ready to go!

I’ve actually attempted spin class before, many years ago, before I started biking.  At that time, I found out I was not fit enough to do an entire class, felt too uncomfortable on the bike saddle (seat), and couldn’t get the bike adjusted to fit me.  But since then, three things have happened: 1.) I’ve achieved enough cardiovascular fitness after four summers of biking, that an hour of spin class should be a cinch; 2.) my gym has gotten new spin bikes with better saddles and better adjustments; and 3) I have the right bike clothes and gear to make spin class easier that I lacked before – mainly cycling shorts and clip-in cycling shoes. Of course, it’s possible to spin in ordinary gym clothes and shoes, but much easier with. And, since I’m taking spin class to maintain my fitness until the next biking season, it makes sense to make spin as much like my usual biking as possible.

Cycling shorts and shoes? Check.

So, I’m giving it another go. Best husband helped me through the bike set-up. I’ve got my water bottle, bike shoes, heart rate monitor, so I should be good to go. This early morning class is a mix of serious cyclists, folks who just want to get their exercise over with before work, and some inbetweeners like me. I’m trying to go out hard and get a good work out, but not overdo it on my first class, but I’m having a hard time striking the balance. Instead of gears, spin bikes have a tension knob – left for looser, right for tighter. It’s hard to gauge how much tension to use for a good workout.  And I’m finding the movement and noise in the small room overwhelming. Everything is moving – wheels turning, fans blowing, people popping  up and down, cranks turning. I don’t know where to look and end up closing my eyes for a good part of the class. And the noise – fans blowing, riders chatting, music blaring. Give me a nice quiet ride outside anytime. But it’s cold outside, so for the next few months, I’ll have to make this class work, or end up riding my trainer in the basement again. Not much of a choice either way. I don’t want to look like a newbie or wuss, and I don’t want to give up and quit like last time, so I’ll have to figure out how to cope.

Did I make it through my first spin class? Find out later on “Spin Diary.”

© Huffygirl 2011