Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Revisiting the Urban Jungle

A night of street riding with friends a few
weeks before "The 2012  Biff" that put a hiatus on
riding in the "Urban Jungle."
It's now August and soon I will becoming upon the weeks where I had my first two bike biffs; the latter one more severe. It was the accident that paused all form of street riding for almost a year, something that I was enjoying and learning some basic skills.

I loved riding off of sidewalks or curbs, working on raising my handlebars up so I could land with both tires at the same time or back tire first. I had also worked on riding down a couple small steps as well. Riding with Travis and his friend felt kinda like the cool kids inviting me over to the lunch table at school. Granted, that never happened, but the bike riding did.

That Sunday evening my world turned upside down. The accident that halted all forms of urban riding...the accident that made me feel shame and embarrassment.

The thought of taking me out on a street bike and riding around was something that Travis had to work towards.

Tuesday there was an inkling of want, but it was squashed rather quickly by Travis' feelings vs. my own. Again, I felt ashamed. I've wanted the cloud over me from that accident to go away for good...it's been something that Travis has held onto for a bit too long. That nervousness and concern over my well-being is considerate, but all it did was raise my anxieties.

I got a text message when I was done with work, saying that supper was being made and we'd hit the streets after. I was fatigued but I refused to let that get in the way of my battling some demons of my own.

The thought of hitting the streets on a street bike did make me nervous. I haven't ridden that style of bike in almost a year-would I be clumsy? Would I forget?
As soon as I started pedaling I felt a bit better. We're probably the oldest people in Decorah on street bikes and that kind of gives you a feeling of badassery.

Of course this evening would be me just pedaling around while Travis did stuff-no. He would push me. The first lesson would be riding a "skinny." There was something riding a skinny rail of cement that gave me anxiety. The worry of falling...my face slamming into the pavement...I was doing something different than what I rode when I had my fall, but it still made me feel like vomiting.
I tried a couple times, the fluttering nervousness in my gut was overwhelming. Eventually I said that I was done with that. (Insert Travis and I headbutting over the situation)

Originally I rode away from the skinny practice area, then I rode back to it slightly pissed off and fully anxious. "Fine! I'll keep trying!"
I felt pushed...the internal Josie was being pressed up against this square that she was hiding in. The sides were bowing from the pressure, and soon a wall would crack.

Travis remembered another skinny that was a little wider, something easy to ride on and the width less intimidating.
Riding a skinny is a great skill to have-basically all about control and balance.
The only downside of this location is you have to start out in the street, but the positive is that it's very open and you can keep an eye out for cars easily.
We worked the area for several minutes and at the end of it-I rode down the entire skinny!

We found another area to session, this time it would be riding off of a sidewalk. Riding off, lifting up the front end of the bike and landing on both wheels or the back.
This is something closer to what I was doing when I crashed and the frustrating part is that I really enjoy launching off of curbs/sidewalks. When you go fast, lift up the front, and land...it's like flying...it's a rush!

The first few times off the sidewalk were filled with trepidation. After about 5 times or so I felt a sense of relief. This was different, the launch wasn't angled upward (I would go straight out) and I wasn't falling and eating cement. I could do this.
I was doing it!
Yay! This didn't happen!
(from accident in '12)

We worked on my manual-the bending of the knees and "popping" up. I'm not very proficient at it, but hopefully I have the technique down a bit better and can work on it.

My mountain bike ride that day had been less than stellar. I had been feeling a bit grumpy all day long, now I was feeling a sense of relief. I didn't suck! I was able to accomplish some basics and not let the worry and anxiety take over.

Sometimes working on fear is difficult, especially when you have some negative experiences that really traumatized you. Travis and I did butt heads over some stuff, but ultimately his gentle pushing helped me take those few steps out of my box. In doing so, he helped prove that I can still ride in the urban jungle.

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