All kinds of activities have to be reworked. You use your teeth more. Toes become an anchoring device (handy for can opening). An oven mitt is repurposed as a glove:
But if you’re a cyclist there is never a moment where, once healed, you would consider stopping. I know, sounds crazy, right? What could the attraction possibly be?
My friend M had a wicked bike injury last year. Like most falls, it was harmless in concept, but it had big consequences. Her healing process took months. There was surgery involved. She ended up with a plate in her wrist and 8 pins. Ouch!!
Yet never once during all of that time did I hear her speak of not biking again. To my astonishment, long before she was fully functional, she was already talking about upcoming local tours.
As someone with no experience, it was clear to me that anyone with an injury like that must be nuts to want to resume cycling. And yet here I am, a scant week later, counting the days until I can return (there was never any doubt). In fact, the more bikers I talk to about injuries, the more I find out everybody seems to have had at least one. And yet here they are.
Why do we do this? Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about cycling that is so addictive, so fulfilling, so wonderful that we are willing to take these risks?
I imagine everyone has their own reasons. For some, the danger itself is the attraction; an activity that lets them live life on the edge. For others, it’s speed and competition, or simply a pleasant form of exercise. For me, it harkens back to a time of childhood healing. And as an adult, biking allows me to escape from whatever’s bothering me and return feeling healthy and with fresh perspective.
But all of this assumes that we somehow live in denial of its dangers. We compartmentalize them so that we can keep going (I never ride fast, I’ll be OK; that was my fault, it won’t happen again; that was a freak situation, what are the odds of it repeating? Etc).
Because when all is said and done, we love it too much. It was love (oddly) that drove me out onto the ice that day. Not wanting to relinquish, even for a day, the joy and freedom that riding a bike can bring. And having learned how to conquer the cold, I was bound and determined to conquer ice. It didn’t work out that way.
Why couldn’t I have fallen in love with Pilates or Yoga like a normal person? Those are activities that are good for you, and will see you well into old age (not to mention through the seasons). Believe me I tried, but couldn’t get myself to continue an activity that was fundamentally so unappealing.
I suppose there are sports with greater dangers: car racing, extreme skiing, advanced barbecue (with its unique risks of hardening of the arteries). I suppose.
This time last year, biking wasn’t even on my radar. In fact, after I lost my friend Jamie, on a bike in the 80s, (http://www.bikeloveny.com/blog/riverdale) it was the one activity I swore I would never do in New York. Yet when the moment came, that was the form the transformation took. And then I met Lucille and I was a goner.
Some would say cyclists are born, not made. There’s certainly something to be said for that. I didn't bike for many years - and then suddenly, I did. And once I did, it felt like a long-lost love; something I had always known. Because I didn’t choose cycling, really. It chose me.