Too Afraid to Ride

Today while I was supposed to be listening to a lecture on statistics, my mind began to wander and drift. Suddenly, a thought popped into my head — I’m too afraid to ride my bikes.

My first thought was denial. Nah, no way. I LOVE biking. There’s no way I’m scared of riding. I tuned back into the stats discussion, but on my long commute home I gave it more thought.

It turns out, I AM scared of riding right now. See, if I’m too busy to ride, I don’t have to test my body. If I don’t test my body, I don’t have to know whether I’m too broken to ride. Instead, I can just be busy and out of shape, not damaged goods who CAN’T ride. This way, I can pretend it’s a choice.

I’ve really been struggling with nerve pain over the last 7 weeks. I made it 165 miles across Iowa before my leg had shooting nerve pains, and I was damn happy with that result. Then what was supposed to be an “easy” century a week later had me feeling horrible within 30 miles. The telltale hip socket pain began to radiate down my leg, and within a few more miles I was pulling along my half numb, half painful left leg. I suffered through 80 miles that day and had rampant nerve pain, the kind that keeps me awake at night, for a week.

Since then work travel and life have kept me off the bike … or have they? Travel makes the pain worse, bad enough that I’m seeing my Physical Therapist again and wearing a back brace while I sleep. I’ve ridden an hour here, an hour there, and have focused on general spine health. I miss my bikes, but I don’t. If I ride and I hurt, then I quit feeling dejected like a broken, washed up toy.

On a related topic, I ripped apart my road bike right after the ride across Iowa attempt. The bike needed it, but it was also a therapeutic act to “destroy” the bike, in a sense. I had never overhauled a bike before. I did all of the work myself, so this is a BIG deal. The job was like an apprenticeship, with my skilled bike mechanic boyfriend overseeing the project and providing tips. Tasks included things like overhauling hubs, installing a new crankset, and swearing while I tried to wrap bar tape and make it look good. The only thing I didn’t do was the final derailleur adjustments and fine tuning. What would have taken me 2 hours took him about 15 minutes.

I had announced to a group of coworkers that I was overhauling my bike early on in the project, and one stopped me and said “No, wait. YOU’RE not doing the work. Your boyfriend is a bike mechanic, right?” and to him, I say … well, it’s not appropriate for print and I like being employed, so I’ll just leave it at that.

As of this week, my lightweight carbon road bike is gleaming and ready to go. I stalled and put off the finishing touches for weeks, but she’s finally ready. Will I ride this weekend, or will I be too scared to find out if I’m capable?

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