About six years ago, I was happily riding my bicycle through a neighboring town, going as fast as I could up and down the hills. I felt free, independent, and strong. About six miles into my ride, I did something stupid. As I was pedaling fast, I wanted to see my pace, so I lifted one hand from the handlebar to look at the GPS watch on my wrist. Simultaneously, I was approaching an intersection, and I realized abruptly that I ought to stop. Immediately, I braked with one hand. My front wheel locked as my back wheel spun, and I flipped over the handlebars, hitting my chin on the pavement and skinning the right side of my body. Fortunately, I had a helmet on. A bystander called an ambulance, which brought me to the hospital. The doctors x-rayed my shoulder, ribs, and jaw. I was mainly scraped and bruised, but the jaw was broken where it hinged.
The following day, an oral surgeon put me to sleep and wired my mouth shut to stabilize the bone and let it heal, and that’s how I was stuck for a month: talking like a ventriloquist and drinking all my food. My jaw eventually healed, leaving some problems, and the wires were taken off. After the ordeal, it took me a long time to ride a bike again.
During the pandemic, when the gym closed, I bought a new bike and started riding regularly. Instead of riding with a sense of abandon, I became extremely careful and no longer raced. However, as time and new experiences accumulated, I began to enjoy riding once again. I liked the powerful feeling of propelling my body through space, riding mile after mile in the fresh air, with the breeze cooling me as I proceeded.
This week, with emergence of warm weather, I went for my first bike ride of 2021. Despite my history, the ride was delightful. I’ve regained my confidence after the fall.