I saw a friend the other day, and he looked at my hand in horror.
“What happened to you?” he exclaimed.
“Oh, you know how I started riding a bike again,” I said nonchalantly. “I fell.”
“But I read your blog post!! You didn’t mention that.”
“Well it was already a long post. I have to edit some stuff out.”
He looked at me like I had yadda yaddaed out the sexy part. “You can’t just EDIT THAT OUT!”
Ok, reader. I fell off my bike.
So last you read, your heroine (that would be me because this is my blog) was riding her bike off into the sunset. But we had actually rented bikes for a ride the next day around the reservoir.
We loaded up kids, bikes, scooters, and headed a few miles away to a beautiful trail. It was the first really nice day of the summer and the trail was absolutely crawling with people.
I had been looking forward to practicing my newly remembered biking skills on a dedicated path, but I was less excited about trying to navigate around the myriad of pedestrians, joggers, stroller pushers, and bikers.
“Mama!” P shouted. “Try biking down this hill!” she demanded right at the start of the trail. “You need to learn to ride on hills!”
I looked terrified at all the people I could mow down in my wake. “Um, P, I think I’m going to just walk down this hill with the bike because there are too many people.”
Nervously, I got on my bike. My sister instructed me to go first, followed by P, and then herself at the end.
Slowly, I wobbled around the hordes, holding the handle bars with my death grip.
The first mile or so was a slog, as I tried to find my balance, avoid the crowds, and keep moving. But after a couple miles, I felt myself get the hang of it, and I told my sister and P that they could go ahead while I rode slowly by myself.
I was moving slowly and stopping and starting, which was annoying, because it meant that I would pass the same pedestrian and jogger, and then I’d stop and they’d pass me, and then I’d have to go through all the work of maneuvering into the left lane to pass them again. I was getting frustrated and trying to at least keep P and my sister in earshot, so I was pushing myself.
And so, as I tried to maneuver past the jogger, I turned a bend just as the path was sloping, lost my balance, and tore my hands and elbows up on the loose gravel.
“Are you okay?” the jogger asked quickly coming to my rescue.
I sat dazed on the ground, unable to get up. Which seemed silly. It wasn’t like I hit my head or anything. Really, all I had done was scraped some skin off of my hands and elbows.
And yet, here I was, unable to pull myself off of the gravel, bloodied and dirty.
After a few seconds, I felt more stable, and she helped me and the poor bicycle up. And we realized it was somehow twisted and we couldn’t get it turned around.
“Don’t worry about me,” I said lamely. “I don’t want to ruin your jog or anything.”
“No, no!” she said. “Here, you wait, and I’ll go try and catch up to the people you were with,” and she sped off to go find my sister.
I waited for her, my hands still bleeding, and feeling increasingly frustrated and teary. I didn’t have my cell phone so I couldn’t call anyone. I was stuck with a bike that wasn’t working and hands that were bleeding and who knew if she would be able flag down my sister. Why had she left? I thought indignantly even though I had told her to go on ahead.
But it wasn’t long until both my sister and husband found me. Between the two of them, they were able to fix the bike and help me clean up my hands with wet wipes. “Do you want me to ride the bike now?” my husband asked.
“No, I’m going to keep going!” I said.
“Really??” he asked. “Are you sure? You’re still bleeding!”
“No, I want to keep riding!” I insisted. I got back on, and closed my mind to the fact that my hands were still bleeding and hurting. I wanted to keep trying.
And you know what?
I managed to ride four more miles, mostly without incident. For a total of six miles.
When I ended, I felt pretty proud of myself. Sure, I had fallen and sure the bike handlebars were now covered in blood, but I had fallen and then GOTTEN BACK ON.
Surely that counted for something in the biking Olympics right?
“How did I do today, P?” I asked.
“You did okay,” she said, “but I can’t cross off hills or turns because they’re weren’t any, but I think I can cross off faster.”
“But what about how I fell off my bike and got back on? Doesn’t that mean I did good?” I asked.
“Yeah, but you’re still level 1,” my level-obsessed child said.
“Wait, what? I did all that, and I’m still level 1? What level are you?”
“Twelve,” she said. “If you want to get to level 2, you have to do turns, Mama.”