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I’m 40 and don’t know how to ride a bicycle.
Mom didn’t know how and never thought to teach me. Then, when I was in elementary school, I sat on someone’s bike and, God only knows why, picked up my feet. Down a hill, off a four foot wall, over the sidewalk and face first into the gutter I went. My bleeding self picked up my fairly new adult front tooth from the street and sobbed my way to my Mom. A quick drive to the hospital left me with lots of bandages and a poorly shaped fake front tooth.
Most of my childhood I refused to smile for pictures. My happy self hated to see my flawed fake front tooth and felt it ruined my smile. Nightmares where my teeth would crumble like sugar cubes were frequent until I was 22 and the guy I was living with gifted me with the best Christmas present I have ever received. A new front tooth. A beautiful cap that gave me back my smile. But I never got back on a bike. Except for that drunken time when I was 16, but that doesn’t really count.
ANYhow, lots of friends have given me crap over the past year or so about my “needing” to learn how. Add to that the fact that I have more than a few pounds I could stand to shed and BOOM, this past perfect Saturday morning my dear friend Jim met me on the Montour Trail to teach me how you ride a bike. As Jim got the bikes down out of the truck I snapped this photo and sent it to Twitter, asking for good luck wishes:
The parking lot lesson went fairly well and soon we were on the trail. Except every group we would encounter I would hit the brakes and stop, heart in my throat, fighting the urge to puke and desperately trying not to hyperventilate. I waited until the approaching people passed, then I would start again. It took forever to make it one mile, but here I am hugging the mile marker for dear life:
I turned around and struggled to make it the mile back. Damn people walking, damn kids loving being outside, damn happy dogs on leashes, damn everybody on the trail that day. They all had me struggling to breathe, keep my hands steady, and avoid puking. Each friendly face caused braking and gasping for air. The fear of biking was strong, but I kept going. The wind in my hair felt great, even as my hands hurt from the death grasp I had on the tread pattern rubber handlebars. I made a stranger take a photo of me and Jim surviving the adventure:
After taking almost two hours to do two and a half miles, we were back in the parking lot. Jim pedaled over to his truck, but I kept going. I wanted to see if I could do a turn in the empty parking lot of a local bar and then come back down the deserted road. Things seemed to be going ok until I hit a flaw in the asphalt where the parking lot met the road. The more my bike got wobbly, the more I felt panic internally. The realization that in front of me was a telepole and beyond that a guard rail so I was about to crash freaked me out. I hit the brakes…while on gravel. It all happened pretty fast, but next thing I knew I was face down in the equivalent of a gutter. First thing I did was check for my teeth and exhale a beautiful breath of relief. The next thing I felt was OUCH. I rolled over and sat up, but just sat there for a minute trying to get my heart and head to relax. By then Jim got to me and I apologized for hurting his bike. Adrenaline was still pumping because I got back on that bike and road that bitch back to his truck. Of course I asked Twitter if road rash was sexy. And I made Jim take a picture of my bleeding self:
We met Jim’s wife Kim and her Momma for lunch. Fortunately I had a little time to clean the dirt and blood from me in the restaurant’s restroom beforehand, but I was still a hot mess. Kim noticed my swollen left wrist, but it didn’t hurt at the time and wasn’t bleeding like my right hand so I ignored it. Then after lunch I stood up and realized how much my entire body hurt, especially my right knee and left wrist. Ice when I got home helped as each got progressively worse. Ibuprofen became my best friend, although there was no way I was going to the ER on a Full Super Moon Saturday that just so happened to also be Cinco de Mayo.
Pain was still pretty rough Sunday morning, but I didn’t want to hit an ER when the Pittsburgh Marathon would have roads closed to my favorite hospitals or worse yet, having bunches of injuries flooding hospitals. Besides, I had plans with some of my favorite women and I really wanted to go play in the perfect day. An Ace bandage and not driving made the day doable.
Then Monday just didn’t feel like dealing with doctors. But Tuesday everyone was on me so much that I stopped at an urgent care. X-rays show a bone chip / calcium spot where it should not be. Doctor said I would need a cast. And that is when the tears flowed freely. Tears that wouldn’t stop until I was home and forced myself to get my shit together because I had a volunteer committee meeting soon. The tears were not from the pain that would take my knees out if I moved my wrist the wrong way, they were tears for the thought of not being able to wash my hair or hook my bra or walk my dog or button my jeans or so so many things that I would not be able to do with a cast on. Living alone is something I adore and it became suddenly overwhelming.
So I started praying for no cast necessary. I asked everyone I talked to for no cast prayers. I asked Twitter to pray for no cast. My favorite prayer arrived from a coworker today, before my appointment with the specialist:
As I look upon thy Holy face,
please forget the cast,
But remember the brace,
Bi-psyche-ling ain’t easy,
But it’s also no sin,
Heal Becky quickly,
So she can try it a-ghinn.
If your will is not for Becky to bike,
Then show us the way,
With your heavenly light!
Becky’s a world famous horder,
(Have you seen all her shit?) ,
Why not make her a skate-boarder!
God, please, Just -Do -it!
In Jesus name, AMEN! YAY GOD!
I love that Billy says “YAY GOD!” like I do.
And guess what? NO CAST NECESSARY! The power of my mind’s wishes and hopes, the power of prayer and oh yeah, the power of Orthopedic Doc saying the spot showing on the x-rays might be from an old injury (I fall down a lot and always have), but NO CAST! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay doc for thinking the chip is not from this wipe out. The brace ain’t pretty, but wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I’ll wear something I can take off to shower and dress myself!
P.S. For the record, I doubt the part of Billy’s prayer for me where I “try it a-ghinn” will come true. I say fuck bike riding, I’m walking…