Bike Life Adventures: Keeping On Keeping On
It's safe to say that I'm still in a state of denial over how serious the injury was as it stands let alone how much more serious it could have been if various things hadn't played out the way they did.
I have never been in a situation where I've had such a close call, so it's no wonder I've subconsciously chosen to push away the fearful thoughts.
I have been true to my own word and have reigned it in a bit when it comes to riding. It's more that I'm choosing to be more cautious than before. I am the second half of Decorah Bicycles. I don't want to land myself in the hospital again.
There are more folks than ever out on our trails and there are enough blind corners that it simply makes sense to tone it down. (Even tho I don't feel as if I was riding out of control before.) I am choosing to be more aware. I'm also not going out on rides if I'm feeling completely mentally/emotionally zapped.
My accident happened on a day where a lot of my energy was taken up by some emotional crap. One thing after another, and I think that's why I ignored my warning signal of "You don't really want to do this today." When I'm riding emotionally charged or emotionally drained, I tend to make mistakes, so the best thing most times is to just give myself a whole body break.
I have also decided that part of my "therapy" would be to go out on Mondays for a triple park ride, to pick up trash during my ride. I've done three long rides on Mondays so far, probably totaling around 7 hours of what I like to think as "community service" to the local trails. This has included picking up trash and sawing some larger limbs that were small enough for me to handle on my own. My wee hand saw from last year still cuts! Thank goodness for small things.
I will say that it's been a challenging year for me looking at it strictly from an anxiety point of view. I've been used to having the trails "to myself" but this year that's entirely different. It doesn't seem there is a great time to go where you don't have to concern yourself with running into someone. Believe me, I'm glad folks are discovering the awesome trail systems that Decorah has, but I also miss the feeling of being out in the woods totally alone. (That's because I work with the public, and there is such a thing as feeling "peopled out.")
One thing that has made me feel less anxious is having a wee bell on my bike. That has been a stress-reducer more than once!
I'm also challenged by the folks that choose to litter when they are out recreating. Be it those who leave wrappers and wet wipes on the side of the trail to those who leave beer cans at the parking area by Palisades. One thing I was taught to do was to pick up after myself, and I'm baffled by how many folks in this day and age do not practice "leave no trace." It's as if they are afraid of getting lost, so they leave behind the label of their bottled water or the lid to their tea as a breadcrumb.
I've been taught that nature is important and to respect it. That's a value that has been passed down from both sides of my family, and I'm grateful that I was taught to be responsible. I might not get a lot of things right all of the time, but I can say I don't litter.
I don't feel like I was given a second chance (from my accident.) But I do think that it gave me a good bit to continually reflect on. With everything that is going on this year, it's not a bad idea for me to take a step back to reevaluate certain things. Honestly, my "Trashy Rides" have been some of the most fulfilling rides for me at this point. I'm out to log as many miles as I can while paying attention to my surroundings. It gets tiring, to be sure, because of the extra weight on my back from my Camelbak and whatever items I pick up. I usually need a break at some point to take my helmet off because my head hurts. All in all, I'm outdoors doing what I love to do most and that is simply to ride my bike. I also feel good because I'm doing something helpful, even if it is a literal drop in the bucket. All that matters to me is that I'm out on my bike and I'm being a good human.