“Fall seven times and stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb
After my shorter-than-expected NC500 attempt, I was keen to get back out on the bike. The road bike. And what better way to ease myself in than to join the Wheelers for a ball-busting club run?
Sunday morning at 8:45 I found myself, along with Roz, Pamela, Robbie, and a dirty Thistle interloper (joking, obviously), heavy breathing like never before simply trying to hold Robbie’s wheel on the ride out of town to Netherly Bridge – the start point. The route was a reasonably flat 50 miler with a hill in the middle, so there was a glimmer of hope that us ladies would manage to keep up with the menfolk, with limited turns on the front, in the “slow group”, advertised as a 14-16mph average pace cruise. Sidenote: our average speed was upwards of 16mph. Just saying.
While we managed to stick in with the boys, maintaining a heart-attack effort throughout and being overtaken by the fast group (who had set off 15 minutes behind us) just after 30 miles, the real drama came courtesy of a mf’ing chicken. I was holding Roz’s wheel when this creature let out the most ridiculous sound imaginable, causing Roz to laugh and stop pedaling. As someone who rides so close to someone’s wheel it should be considered vulgar, I peeled off to one side to avoid crashing into her, but then, in slow motion, I saw her back wheel swerving towards me. Unable to do much at all, and thankfully at a speed that was unlikely to cause too much pain, I resigned myself to the fact that in a matter of moments I would be making sweet love to the road.*
I landed with a horrific sounding ‘crunch’, possibly peppered with a yelp on my part, and did that thing where you just remain as still as possible, mentally surveying the damage based on what areas hurt the most. In this instance, my shoulder and wrist, which I landed pretty hard on, and my right thigh, which was burning in that way that foretold a stinging shower experience in the future. Pamela and Roz helped me, shaking, off the road and onto the grassy verge where I realized, with mild concern, that I couldn’t feel my fingers on my right hand. I also couldn’t stop them from shaking.
Roz offered husband assist, but I decided to try to get to Floras coffee shop, about a 20 minute ride away, and reassess the damage. Thankfully, Robbie managed to bend my rear mech hanger back into a usable position so my gears stopped jumping and, with some discomfort, we made it to Floras, by which point I was starting to feel a little more put-together, bar the excruciating pain of putting weight on my right hand. Still – with no bruising or swelling, so nothing broken, I opted to just cycle the remaining ten miles or so home, because TENACITY, where I got that bastarding shower with some pretty impressive road rash down the right side of my body.
I hobbled to the shop afterwards, picking up some vegetables and chicken for a stir-fry. I hope this is your mother, you degenerate, I whispered to the two chicken breasts as I dropped them into my basket. The stir fry was delicious.
This morning I awoke to what I have previously experienced as whiplash. Like a geriatric, I stumbled about some chores in the morning, before deciding to check out what’s on in the city online. Apparently there was an art exhibition called ‘Northern Lights’ on today from 10-4 at Drum Castle. With no solid plans, I decided to cycle the ten miles out – on the touring bike, because the road bike needs fixed – only to discover that the castle was closed. The curse of the chicken continues! I had a quick walk around the grounds, but in slightly sweaty lycra I was soon pretty cold, and cycled home.
Last winter was my first experience as a non-fair-weather cyclist, at times finding myself on the open road with actual goddamn snow lying on my thigh as I had serious concerns about losing appendages to hypothermia. I saw huge improvements in my speed and endurance, and I don’t want to let that go into hibernation along with my flip flops. Armed with some more appropriate cold weather cycling gear, I’m hoping for some decent winter rides with some equally enthusiastic (read: unhinged) people.
The change has happened you guys: Cycling > Running.
*Roz, it wasn’t your fault. Stop saying ‘sorry’.