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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ride #3: Wipeout

So embarrassing.

I'm still unable to run. After the ride that I did on Tuesday evening, my toe joint "popped," and actually felt a lot better. Today, I am actually wearing normal shoes again and walking almost normally. My right leg is sore from walking differently or perhaps from yesterday's bike ride.

So, because of my inability to run, I decided to hit the NCR trail yesterday for a ride. I went at the same time as two of my co-workers, but I didn't ride with them. I can't keep up with them, and I'm still lacking confidence in my abilities. I started from Monkton and went south, they started from Ashland and went north. That way, since I'm still without a cell phone (more on that later), I would have help if something happened.

So, things went along well at first. I am feeling better about getting off and on, so I don't have the fear of that quite as much anymore. I passed co-workers Amer and Jared quickly, almost as soon as I started out from Monkton, since it had taken me a while to drive from work up to Monkton in the first place.

Then, I came to the first cross road.

Now, this isn't the crossroad that I speak of. This is actually Ashland (Mile Marker 0), and that is not my bike. I was at Corbett Road, which is just south Monkton. However, this photo really shows the size of the little gaps in the gates that are all up and down the NCR trail and must be navigated through when crossing streets, whether on bike or foot. Naturally, this has never caused an issue for me on foot.

The problem that I have is that when I focus on something, I steer towards it. When I get to the gates, I get nervous that I will hit them. My nerves cause me to focus on them. So, I steer towards them. And what happened going south yesterday was that I hyper-focused and then froze - unable to stop the bike because I when I stop I have to think about it so that I leave the seat properly. I did slow significantly, I was really not going fast, but then CRASH, into the gate.

I crumpled down, one leg through the bike frame, I don't know what happened to anything else, except that I got up right away and made sure that Amer and Jared weren't coming back down the trail to witness this catastrophe. Then, I inspected the bike. It seemed ok, but it had some scratches on the shifter/brake and a gash in the handle bar protective rubber. I meekly walked the bike across the street, but I kept going south.

I didn't have any more trouble all the way to sparks (just over 3 miles from my starting point). I made it through the gates fine, although I was scared about it and white-knuckling the handlebars. I was afraid when I had to pass walkers/runners, and when bikers would pass me. I focused on staring at the path in front of me, making sure that I stayed straight when I would pass or be passed. Nervous.

I headed north again. I was feeling better, but still upset that I'd scratched up my bike. Amer and Jared passed me again, and I didn't have much farther to go to get to Monkton. I came upon Corbett Road, the place where the crash had happened. I knew it was my last set of gates to cross through, and I knew it was where I'd crashed earlier. I nervously approached the first gate (across the street from the one I'd crashed into). Happily, I made it through, but my stomach was still full of butterflies.

I don't know what happened exactly and how I fell. I was nervous. I lost control. I thought I should have jumped off, but I was too late. Maybe I turned the handlebars. Maybe I just rocked off of the bike. I really don't know, except that after I cleared the gate, I fell to the left, this time making every attempt to NOT hurt the bike. I landed on my hip and then back onto my ribs, and the bike slid out in front of me (like a movie or something, to be honest). I was wearing my heart rate monitor and the plastic clip on the chest strap dug in between my ribs when I hit the ground. Ouch. I think I hurt myself worse on the second crash than the first.

Still, I got back up. A guy who was mowing his lawn nearby saw me get up, and then went about his business since I was ok. I walked across the street, walked through the gate I'd hit earlier, and then got back on the bike and headed north.

Humiliating. Why is this so hard? Other people don't have these problems. I have never heard of anybody riding on the NCR and just randomly crashing without other people or bikes being involved. I made it back to my car, put the bike away (after taking an agonizing 20 minutes to get the brake detached so I could get the wheel off), and went home.

I thought about keeping it all quiet, but decided to be open about the incident. Jared and Amer have been surprisingly supportive. Jared made some suggestions about things I could practice. Todd suggested that I walk through the gates on the NCR for now.

I've been invited on a group ride on Sunday. We'll see about that.

Image Credit: Sign - Drewish, Ashland Gate - jon13009


Kitzzy said...

So sorry to hear about that, but good on you for getting back on it and keeping at it. You'll get more confident and it will be easier.

BTW, I found your blog through the Brain Exchange and have been enjoying your archive. I'm a Galloway runner too and love finding others who use the same method. It's truly amazing.

Keep up the good work and hang in there with the bike. You'll get it!

Mary said...

You'll get better. Most people I know who bike as adults came into it pretty gradually from the time they were kids, growing into trail riding on a serious bike and such, so they don't have the same kind of learning curve. Moving directly from tooling around the neighborhood on a kid's bike to what you're doing now with a multi-year gap in between is pretty intimidating, so I've not known many people to do it. So, good for you!

Wacky Neighbor said...

Sometimes you just have to get back on your bike and ride.

As silly as it may sound, you could also practice going through the gates? Go back and forth a few times slowly, stopping a few yards after you get through. Then go a bit faster through until you're near your riding speed.

Lacey said...

ooh i am sorry but glad you aren't hurt. whenever there are gates to go through i also get nervous, like fearful i'll scrape the side or something. just take it slow. can you put a foot down to steady yourself if you start to fall? that way you won't have a total wipe out :)

Kim said...

@WN - That was the goal yesterday, to be honest. I'm not speeding through these things, I'm going as slow as I possibly can. If I go too slow, I'll wobble just because I'm going slow.

@Lacey - The problem with the big girl bikes, it seems, is that you can't put your feet down while you sit on the seat. When I had the seat lower, it hurt my knees. When you stop, you have to jump off the seat, which is part of my panic.

Wacky Neighbor said...

One other tip that comes from the world of skiing - when you're tree skiing, you need to make quick turns to go through the trees. The key is to look to the opening and plan to make your turn after you pass the tree. So rather than focus on the gate, focus on the opening and the spot you're headed towards past the opening, rather than the gates. Don't know if that helps or not.

Kim said...

Yeah, I tried staring straight ahead, not only with the gates but when people pass me. Just keep looking at the path ahead so that when I focus, I'm focusing on where I am supposed to go, not what I might hit.

I just need to get more comfortable. For now, my butt hurts and I'm all banged up, so I'm done for at least a few days... :)

Kitzzy said...

One trick that may help when you stop, is slow down and then take one foot off the pedal and lean the bike to that side to rest on that foot -- as if it were a kickstand -- then you should be able to get off the bike easier.

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