“It’s a lovely morning” I said to my club mate I’d just bumped into at the lights, moments later I was lying on the side of the road cursing in pain. Somewhat shell shocked I tried to gather myself together after locking up my brakes, hitting the curb and smashing the uneven concrete and gravel. I rode home slowly in pain and annoyed at myself. After cleaning up the ever increasingly familiar road rash scars I realised I couldn’t move my arm at all. This could be something more serious.
I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of St George’s hospital and with their excellent service I was seen to and X-rayed within 90 minutes. The diagnosis wasn’t good; I’d fractured a bone, meaning five weeks off the bike. Just at the point when I was feeling like I was able to race at speed, the point where I was the fittest I think I’ve ever been, I was sidelined. It hurt, both physically and emotionally.
The summer had truly begun and the combination of long days and endless sunshine clogged my social media with pictures of friends’ rides. Meanwhile I was doing turbo sessions in a boiling hot apartment with just a mediocre fan and the highlights of the Giro for company.
Losing the function of one arm makes everything more difficult, basic tasks which once were a breeze became a huge struggle. Making meals, getting dressed and sleep were a daily challenge. The busy tube was terrifying, after someone accidentally sat on my bad arm, every journey involved me wincing in anticipation of being squished into rush hour madness. I got grumpy, I craved fresh air, the wind in my hair and the coffee with friends. It was a test of my resolve, it’s easy to be positive when everything is going your way but a challenge when it’s not.
As the weeks went by the pain started to subside and things became easier. I counted down the days till riding my bike again. I returned once more to the hospital to get the all clear.
It’s hard to explain just how magical it is to be riding my bike again. Turning the pedals. Chatting to friends. Being outside. Coffee and baked goods. The reality is the accident could have been much worse. Despite my constant frustration, five weeks of not cycling isn’t a big deal. The main thing the injury made me realise is just how lucky I am to have spent the majority of my life able bodied. There are people who face far greater challenges than me on a daily basis and do so without complaints.
I can ride my bike again and I’m grateful for every pedal stroke… and obviously every slice of cake and cup of coffee.
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