So, fast forward to this year….I’m still a relatively novice cyclist but definitely gaining on experience every week. That being said, I have already fallen twice this season!! The first time was relatively embarrassing; the second time – super embarassing. I wear bike shoes that clip into my pedals. Normally, a little kick out with my heel causes the shoes to unclip from the pedals and I’m good to step down on the ground when coming to a stop. A couple of months ago, I was going to pull out onto a road, a car came along and I had to put on my brakes and stop so as not to have a collision. I must have been daydreaming as I came to a complete stop and never once thought about unclipping so that I could put a foot down on the ground for balance. I literally tipped over and fell right onto my side with my feet still clipped in to both pedals. I scraped my knee and my pride; quickly jumped up (no, I didn’t look around to see if anyone saw me as I had just passed a group of runners and I’m certain they witnessed the entire event), got back on the bike and started off as quickly as possible. The second time was just a few weeks ago. I have been riding time trials with a local cycling club. I’m still learning about lingo, ride types, equipment, etc. and I think that hanging out with people who really know what they’re doing is the best way to learn. At these time trials each week, there are cyclists there who have been riding since before I was born. Cyclists with tricked out bikes and equipment that makes them really fast and, seemingly, really cool. I, on the other hand, have an entry level road bike, no cool bike clothes, and am a bit slow. At a time trial, everyone lines up single file along the side of the road and the timekeeper starts each rider one at a time about 30 seconds apart. It’s an 11 mile out and back ride that (I think) the objective is to ride as fast as you can back to the finish line. As usual, I’m running a little late and am one of the last riders to arrive. There are 15 people all lined up ahead of me as I ride to the end of the line. Well, just before the end of the line is a set of railroad tracks. In order to safely cross RR tracks on a bicycle, it’s very important to position your tires exactly perpendicular to the tracks. For some reason that is still unclear to me, I decide to look down to re-set my bike computer at the exact instant that I am to cross the tracks. Needless to say, as soon as my carelessly positioned front tire hit the first track, it caught in the ridge next to the track and I went down hard. Super embarrassing. I jumped up and looked at the line of cyclists in front of me and…..not a single one was looking in my direction. This was either because they wanted to be polite and averted their gazes so as not to stare at the heap of middle aged momma with a bloody knee on the ground, or because they couldn’t possibly be bothered by such a novice puppy as myself who couldn’t even stay upright prior to the time trial even starting. I think probably the latter.
Once I was back on my feet, I started to walk my bike to the end of the line with my head down, feeling that I was not worthy to be among this group as I had just made such an elementary mistake, wanting to turn around and go back to my car to tend to my wounds….but I made myself walk to the end of that line, raised my head high, and never once acknowledged the blood trickling down my shin. I stood there waiting in line to start without a single person looking at me although one woman (without looking at me) did ask me if I was OK out of the corner of her mouth.
I had survived the fall, the embarrassment, and the perceived shunning. More importantly, however, I learned that there are actually three types of cyclists: those who are about to fall, those who have fallen, and those who have fallen and gotten right back on that bike.