This is the one I’ve been waiting to write. This week both my PT and my doctor gave me the OK to try biking outside, and today’s weather couldn’t have been finer. It was gently warm and sunny, with light breezes and gorgeous leaves. It felt almost artificially warm; the air was dry, like it was coming from one of the space heaters that have only begun the winter workout they get under my ownership. One of the last summery-feeling days, I think – we got our first frost last night – and I got to ride my bike! Awesome.
Despite a few months of unwinding my nerves about riding – actually about falling, not riding – I was still a little nervous. Started off in a tiny gear – from trainer warmups – and couldn’t get my right foot clipped in…but after a few feet, I got clipped in and I found a little bigger gear. Like so many things in life, riding a bike is actually easier when facing some resistance. So I pedaled on, had a mild freakout when Michael the photographer rode up alongside me (I need SPACE!!), and stopped after about 5 minutes to get some water. Still not quite steady enough to reach my rear bottles.
Then we kept going. A couple of cars passed us, and soon after, I spotted a chipmunk on the side of the road, who did a couple of fake-out moves and then darted toward the woods like a smart little chipmunk. (I found I was hyperaware of sounds around me. Rusting leaves! What’s out there?!?) But as I rode on I realized…being recovered means being able to deal with what’s out there, in the rest of the world. I don’t have to be buffered from everything that’s threatening; I just have to be aware of it and be able to respond. There are always going to be cars on the road when I ride; there are always going to be chipmunks and dogs and turkey vultures eating dead possums. There’s always a chance I’ll get knocked off my bike.
But I don’t need to be scared; I just have to be focused. Being scared doesn’t make me safer. Between overconfidence and fear, the balance point – as far as I can tell – is focus. Finding that focus is one of the finest parts of riding a bike, which, I may have mentioned, I got to do today.
Anyhow, I settled into my aero bars, and everything started to click. Shifting felt natural, hip joint felt fine. I didn’t go hard, just spun, but got a little bit of resistance going up the rollers on our road. By the end of 47 minutes, my right glute was notifying me that, um, we’re not really trained for this yet. So I called it a day. A good day. 🙂