Pedaling as fast as I could, I raced along the busy street, staying in the bike lane whenever possible. I admired the blue sky that was dotted with clouds, and the autumn trees that were just beginning to turn colors. I breathed in the fresh air, breathed in joy and freedom, as I celebrated my independence, strength, and ability to travel miles from home. I looked at my watch to find my pace; it was my fastest training speed. Happily distracted, I noticed a side street coming up and cars that might turn onto it, including one car that was passing me. There was no real danger, but quickly, I braked with one hand and turned the front wheel to take the right turn. Inadvertently, I ended up locking the front wheel with the rear wheel still spinning, and I flipped over the handlebars, slammed my chin on the pavement and broke my jaw. I had also scraped skin off of my shoulder, hands and knees. I sat on the street, dumbfounded.
I won’t go into the details of the ambulance and the x-rays in the hospital and such. I will, however, mention that my mouth was wired shut for a month. The irony of the situation was that I had been told by orthopedic doctors to stop my favorite sport, running, due to my damaged knees, so I biked to avoid injury. Hah!
I missed running terribly. I had run for decades, completing short distances, marathons, and everything in between. I sprinted with joy in field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. I coached runners for years. On a good day, running was like dancing to me – a delightful way to move through the air. It was much more enjoyable than biking and I longed to return to it. However, doctors had been warning me for a decade to stop. I already had three surgeries on my knees, and problems still arose.
After I broke my jaw, when I was allowed to exercise again, I went back to running, but I cut down the distance and frequency, and chose soft surfaces. Looking at the biking accident, I realized that I could not play it safe. I decided that there was risk inherent in all things, and that I should do what I love.