Since I crashed my bike on August 19th of last year, I have only ridden my bike one time - that was Ironman Canada on August 29th. The bike crash really shook me and made me very afraid to ride. I don't remember being afraid of crashing during Ironman, I was more afraid of my injured arm swelling up, so I didn't have time to think about crashing!
Over the winter, I tried NOT to think about the crash. Every once in a while I would be out running and would remember it - I would feel sick to my stomach. It haunted me. It haunted me because of how bad it was and how bad it could have been. I knew, eventually, I was going to get back on my bike and I would need to work through that a bit.
We had planned our first ride for last weekend. I got our bikes all ready to go. We had never really unpacked them since Ironman - the front wheels were off and they hadn't even been wiped down. Saturday morning came and it was pouring rain, so we put the ride off until this weekend.
This morning, it was a beautiful, sunny 60 degrees and we headed out for a 30 mile ride. I commented to Trevor that I never used to be afraid to ride. He reminded me that I have always been afraid to ride. And he was right. I have never been afraid of crashing, I've always been afraid of cars. I am very aware of what goes on around me, of cars coming up to intersections or coming behind us. Hitting a rock and crashing? Not something I worried about. Now....it seems to be ALL I worry about.
The route we chose for this morning was the same route we rode on that day back in August. The crash happened four miles from home. I wanted to get past that point on the ride. I knew I would be okay after that. I told Trevor that I wanted to go nice and slow.
We geared up. We pulled out our sunglasses that had been packed since Ironman. Mine still had suntan lotion on them. I put on my armwarmers, the same ones I wore for the entire day at Ironman. I had washed them, but they still smelled like lake water and suntan lotion. It really took me back to that day - one of the best days of my life. I started really looking forward to our ride.
She's all ready
We headed out. It was the strangest thing, I was reliving that last ride. I remember it was an overcast, cloudy day. It was our last long ride before Ironman. 120 miles was the plan. We started way later than intended. We were zipping along Fruit Valley Road, headed out to Vancouver Lake. Last summer, they were doing a bunch of construction on that road and so there was gravel always on the pavement. We passed the Frito Lay plant. It was Tuesday and so it smelled like Tortilla Chips. Tuesday must be the day they process those because every week when we rode past there, on Tuesday, it smelled like that. It didn't today, but I was remembering how it did then. We came around the corner and were at the place that it happened. It was on a bend and being there today I realized how lucky I was that no cars were coming behind me. It was a bit of a blind curve and a car would not have seen me on the ground.
Trevor was behind me and was obviously reliving it too because he mad a screaming sound....mocking the noise I made when I crashed. I love him for that. We slowed a bit to pay tribute to the place where our summer took a crazy turn. Then, we put our heads down and kept pedaling.
I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. I wasn't afraid anymore and I realized just how much I love to ride that bike. It was brand new last year and it suffered only minor damage in the crash. It still has some scratches on the gear shift and pedal. I felt sorry for this bike of mine....sitting in the garage all winter long, all spring long...wondering when it would get a chance to ride like the wind again. Today was its day. I look forward to a summer full of riding...