It’s like riding a bike

Things that are like riding a bike:

– Getting up close and personal with concrete.

– Frightening innocent drivers by unintentionally threatening to veer into motor traffic while trying desperately to remember how to clip your cleats in and fumbling with the gears to make the pedals go easier.

– Taking a stone mallet to your bum, producing bruising and soreness in places that you forgot existed.

Things that are not like riding a bike:

– Actually riding a bicycle for the first time in years.

Yeah.  Not buying the old adage.  At all.

Before I get in to today’s inglorious return to the world of recreational cycling, let me tell you a little story about a bicycle.  I promise to keep it short.

I was 11 years old and learning to ride my first ten-speed.  My route was pretty boring, tooling around the mile-or-so radius deemed by my parents as acceptable adventuring territory.  I was minding my own business when a pickup truck, which happened to have some sort of sharp trailer hitch thingy sticking out from its back bumper, suddenly sprung from a nearby driveway and brutally attacked me!

This is where you say: OMG!  You got hit by a car?

And I have to reply: Well, if you want to get technical about it, the car was parked.  And I kind of didn’t see it because I was busy messing with my gears and stuff.  But seriously – it came out of NO WHERE.

Because I was a tough little cookie, I shrugged, got back on my bike, and rode home.  With blood streaming down my leg and chunks of muscle protruding from my knee.  Or, if you want to get technical about it, I somehow didn’t notice any of that at the scene of the crime and remained unaware of the fact that I’d acquired a pretty serious injury until I got home.  (Just call me Captian Oblivious.)

I now have a pretty disgusting scar on my right knee.  The gouge went down through the muscle and there were 40+ stitches in all.

And I didn’t ride a bike again for years.

(Although a pleasant side effect of my little accident was that I was couch-ridden for a week and my parents rented me a Nintendo.  I had never been allowed to have a Nintendo before and, a couple of years after everyone else, I finally got my Mario on and saved the Princess.  Or, if you want to get technical about it, I finally made it through the stupid dungeon level but definitely never got close to actually beating the game.)


Cycling and I have a tense history, which is probably why I was a little nervous to head out on a ride today.  And, to be honest?  It was a little rough.

Coming out of my apartment building, I did a few circles around the block to get re-accustomed to the machine.  Holy crap, there was a lot of stuff going on. Clipping my shoes in and out of the pedals and getting the shifting right and holy crap my Cat Eye isn’t working and AHHHH….this is so much more complicated than running.

I finally got comfortable enough to attempt an actual ride.  I negotiated side streets until I got down to a stretch of the Greenway that I’d run on a few times and which I remembered being more or less appropriate for a road bike.

After steering myself on to the path, I relaxed a bit.  Hey this is kind of nice!  I can get some good speed going, there are no cars to worry about, the leaves are turning and this is just gorgeous and –




I managed to get one foot out before falling over rather pathetically.  There was a patch of roughness on the path that would have been totally negotiable if I’d been expecting it, or if it hadn’t been concealed by fallen leaves.  So less than three miles in to my re-inauguration to cycling, I fell.  Not a bad fall – my hand is a little scraped up and I’ll probably have a bruise on my thigh – but still.  Pretty demoralizing.

After that I headed back to the road and terrorized motorists with my somewhat erratic pedaling, especially coming out of stoplights.  I need to practice biking a lot more before I’m comfortable doing on a busy road.  I may try to find a group or something, because I really have no idea where to go in Raleigh to accomplish this.  I live in a busy downtown area; I don’t exactly have empty roads at my disposal.

So why am I even bothering with all of this?  Because…clearly, cycling is not my forte?

Because I managed to make my right calf and Achilles (the same one that I nursed a bit this summer) rather angry on the dance floor at last weekend’s wedding.  I’ve been having a lot of tightness there lately, and bouncing around like a jumping bean for several hours on Saturday night (apparently this is now my signature dance move?) was not what the doctor ordered.  I could barely walk on Sunday morning!

Things are feeling a lot better today, but I still felt like taking an extra day of cross-training would be a good plan.  And biking outside, no matter how scary, sounded better than the elliptical.

Being on the injured list for a bit isn’t a horrible thing if it forces you out of your comfort zone a bit, right?  And honestly, I had SO MUCH FUN this weekend that if I’m nursing a mild injury for a few days, so be it.  Totally worth it.  (Oh, and also, having chatted with several of you this weekend who apparently read but don’t comment – consider this your personal invitation.  No more lurking!)

Today’s EAT: While laying in our hotel bed on Sunday morning, feeling generally sorry for myself, my injured leg, and the considerable quantity of champagne I’d consumed the night before (which was still percolating in my stomach), I flipped on the Food Network and saw someone frying ham.  Like – cheap, lunch-meat ham.

What brilliance.

So I tossed some ham in a pan as part of tonight’s big-ass salad:

BAS components: greens, ham, sliced Medjool dates, caramelized shallots, pine nuts and a bit of grated Parmesan.  I caramelized the shallots in a pan with a bit of butter, then removed them and used the same pan to cook the ham and the dates together.  The dates got wonderfully soft and tender and imparted a sugary sweetness to the ham, which itself crisped up a bit and tasted a lot more like bacon than plain old ham (WIN).

Today’s DRINK:  Last week, we had irony here in the wine section on EDR.  This week, it’s:

I saw this Ambiguity white table wine at Target and couldn’t resist!  It was only $9, and expectations were low, but it’s actually not that bad.  Very dry and fruity – like drinking a tart Granny Smith apple.  One glass was kind of enough, because of the over-the-top fruity tartness, but the it was an enjoyable glass!

Today’s RUN: Cross training on the bike to the tune of 50 minutes.  My Cat Eye is apparently battery-dead and/or broken, so I have no idea how far I went.  My goal is to get my cross-training workouts on the bike, when I occasionally do them, to the 30-40 mile level (which would be closer to two hours – biking is rather inefficient relative to running, eh?)  I am pretty sure I can physically handle that; the bigger challenge is finding a good route!

Today’s QUESTION: Have you ever had stitches – or broken a bone? My bike wreck at age 11 is definitely the biggest trauma I’ve ever had!  I am pretty lucky to have never broken a bone, considering how clumsy I can be. 🙂


29 responses to “It’s like riding a bike

  1. My bike confessions:
    1. When I was about 8 I was riding my bike and decided that biking into the middle of a street without looking was a good idea and nearly got hit by a car. That was fun
    2. I purchased a bike a year ago and am yet to ride it. Where I live is super hilly and I CBF with hills!

    And yes I have broken a bone. I broke my ankle falling down some stairs at work. No one could cover and none of the staff would make floor changes for me so I waitressed 3 hours on a broken ankle until the floor could be rearranged and I could go. Fun times. 3 customers offered to drive me to the emergency room. Once I got there my shoe no longer fit, the ankle and side of my foot was black and the staff were horrified that I had been walking around on it for 3 hours. Needless to say I called that job and told them where they could stick it.

  2. 1. Beautiful MS Paint. I approve. Which as you may or may not recall, is all that matters.

    2. I must also thank you for reminding me why I’m scared of bikes. Both the present day version and the stitches story. OWWWWWWW.

    3. Had stiches once. Jumped into a friend’s car…a VW that is much lower to the ground than my car. I hit my head on the frame and split my eyebrow open and had to spend a few hours in the ER because it was the night before Easter. You can see pictures of it on facebook. The best part was that I eventually laid down across three chairs and a little girl came up to me and asked what was wrong and almost nearly started crying. I don’t know why, but she was very concerned. I chased the whole evening with a shot. And the best part?? The best part??? I was going to play pool. Almost a year to the date after the first time I attempted to play pool with pretty much the same people and couldn’t…because I stepped on a nail on a city street and had to go to the ER. I’m awesome.

  3. I’ve only had stitches from my wisdom tooth extraction. I’ve never broken a bone. Gosh, I’m boring. :D. I did have a horse incident and have never gotten back on a horse. :-/

  4. Even my old mind still remembers that bicycle accident day very well! Feeling so bad for my little girl, rushing you to the local doc in the box for medical attention. You were very brave! And that old doc was sooooooo proud of his creative stich job on you. It was such a mess…he probably bragged about that one for years…maybe still is!
    Hope you have only good biking experiences this time around hun. Watch out for those sneaky parked vehicles!
    Love, Dad

  5. I once crashed into a runner with my bicycle. He was running on a cycling path and everything would have gone well if he didn’t suddenly swerve to the left as I was about to pass him.

    We both went flying into a steel railing and I cracked my left elbow (the radius head) and my left ear was half torn off. I was on my way to my night job, which happened to be an admin job at a hospital, so the logical thing to do was to get back onto the bike and cycle to work!

    The hospital happened to be all out of local anesthesia, so they had to stitch up my ear without it, which wasn’t fun at all.

  6. Your paint skillz are awesome!

    I think it’s so funny that parents let you have things you aren’t allowed to have normally when you’re hurt. I was never allowed to have Lunchables as a kid, but when I got my wisdom teeth out in 9th grade my mom caved and bought me a few. It’s amazing what a set of puffy cheeks and a few tears will do for you!

    At any rate, be careful out there! 😉

  7. Yeah, I know there’s probably a really good reason for it, but clipping your feet into the pedals sounds like the stupidest idea in the world to me…but you do have some mad MS Paint skillz, yo.

    I got one stitch in my chin from falling on my face in high school. It looked like a whisker.

  8. Jump dancing! My signature move also, boyfriend has to physically restrain me sometimes. When I was first learning how to ride a bike, we lived on top of a hugeeeeee hill. My dumb ass thought it would be a fantastic idea to try and ride my brand new bike down said hill, started going very fast, lost all control and ate shit. Hard. Still have the scars.

  9. I have had stitches. My first experience was when I was 3 and a coat rack came detached from a wall and land on my face. It split my nose and lip wide open. Got stitches and sued the bowling alley. :0)

    I also got stitches in the palm of my left hand 4th of July weekend in 2006 after having one too many beers in the sunshine. I thought it was a great idea to bring along a brand new serrated knife for cutting tomatoes & watermelon. Instead I pulled it through the entire palm on my hand. it’s a pretty nasty scar and I am left with nerve damage.

  10. Cycling is actually much more efficient than running because it requires less energy to do more work, but I know what you mean by that 🙂 I love the paint images, it is one of the things I miss most about a PC.

  11. Sorry to hear about the bike spill – but it’ll get better with practice. My cousins were visiting from the city – and I guess I forgot how challenging it might be to ride a bike downhill if you haven’t ridden in a long time. She got scared as we were going pretty fast, hit the brakes hard. The bike stopped, she kept going forward over the handlebars and onto the road. She has seriously big boobs, so I’m going to say that they either cushioned the fall because she claims it didn’t hurt that bad.

  12. I love your illustrations lately.

    I am sorry that the only thing I seem to focus on from this post is wine at Target. It blows my mind – still – that other states have this. You would think a hearty, imbibing state like Minnesota would have more relaxed liquor laws. You can’t even buy on Sundays. Lame-o.

    Never had stitches but had a similar run-in (literally) with a trailer like you. I still have a deep scar above my knee from it. We were at a neighbors when it happened and I remember my Dad saying, “eh…just run some water over it and get a band-aid. You will be fine.” Pretty sure I should have had stitches but I was 5…and what did I know?

  13. Cycling on roads terrifies me because I’m clumsy and know too many people who have been in serious accidents. “Erratic pedaling” is pretty much the perfect characterization of my biking, too! Stitches & scar above my right eye from running into a sewing room fabric cutter when I was in pre-school. I’m telling you. Clumsy.

  14. OMG twins! I also rode my bike into a parked car (at age 10). But it gets funnier. (1) The accident occurred because I was watching some boys playing basketball. (2) We think I may have dented the car with my nose, but I didn’t break my nose. (3) I had to get ~ a dozen stitches on the middle fingers of each hand (since that was what went through the hatchback glass first) AND wear splints on my middle fingers for a few weeks. It looked like I was flipping everyone the bird. and finally (4), all this happened on April Fools’ Day… my younger brother refused to go to the hospital since he thought it was a prank, so he had to be forcibly lifted into the minivan.

    • That is an awesome story. Simply awesome. I’m sure it was awful at the time, but a ten year old in constant middle-finger-up mode is pretty hilarious. 🙂

  15. i’ve had stitches before, but only for removal of moles. never for anything serious. same with broken bones, only fingers. *knockonwoodRIGHTNOW* hahah

    i wish i had a cool battle wound story to tell though. i do have funky looking toes and toenails from all my infections…does that count? hahah

  16. This is just a great, great post. It has everything. I am deeply approving. I think it was AMBIGUITY that did it for me, but even so.

    To answer your questions: yes. And yes. My first experience with both was – surprise! – during a bike ride. I didn’t get hit by a car, I just had to SEE a car (a cop car, at that) to brake too hard, wipe out, and fly across the sidewalk. Good news: the bemused officer stopped his car to see if I was okay. Broke my pinkie finger and got stitches on my wrist.

  17. My parents lived on a hill with trees. The first time I rode a bike I could not stop and went directly into a tree. I didn’t return to the bike for many years but I didn’t get any stitches.

    Instead I got stitches when I was 18 when I lost the softball in the sun so that it could smack me just below the eye. Nice shiner!

  18. Yeah, I don’t do so well with bikes. I clearly remember first learning to ride. I crashed into my sister on her bike because I got so nervous/excited/crazy that I was actually riding on my own and going pretty fast. My knee got tangled up in the spokes, and I too still have a noticeable scar on my knee. My stitches on the knee, but I probably should have given the nasty scar! I am ok with biking on paths, but I am way too uncoordinated and freaked out to bike on actual roads with car traffic.

    Hope your achilles is feeling better soon. Cross training is good; I’ve been trying to do more of it myself when my achilles gives me trouble. Wishing you happy and safe biking!!

  19. Last spring when my boyfriend and I were training for Reach the Beach I crashed into him on my bike. I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see him stop. It was embarrassing. 😉

  20. Now I know why you’re a runner. Three words. High Pain Tolerance. You got 40 stitches in your knee? That must have been some wound. I kind of hate bikes, due to the damage they can inflict, on myself and on others. In New York, it just seems like there are too many moving obstacles that need to be tracked, when walking or running, never mind when riding along at 20mph.

  21. haha I haven’t ridden a real bike since I was probably 13 – just my stationary bike. I have a feeling its not the same.

    I’ve never broken a bone either, but I did get stitches once. I had two gashes on my upper arm after a car accident (that happened the day I got my license) and I wound up with four stitches. 1 for one cut, 3 for the other.

  22. No broken bones (knock on wood) or stitches (more knocking). I’ve had some pretty awesome falls and the scars to prove it.

    Clips are the devil in some cases aren’t they? 😉 I took a good fall in the summer on W 39th street. Ow.

  23. lifeisbeachykeen

    I *thought* about wanting to ride a *real* bike with clips and all the non-sense that comes with it. Stories like this make me remember why I still ride a 15yr old cruiser type bike. I have no bike horror stories. We used to rollerblade a lot as kids, and skateboard behind the golf cart.. I did have some busted up knees from that.

    I’ve had stitches once, in my forehead. I was 2wks shy of my 3rd birthday and my dog was chasing, er, playing w/ me and he jumped on my back and knocked me down. I had a nice little trip to the ER where my Mom proceeded to say “1-2-3, Ouchie” every time they would put a “stitch” in.

  24. Pingback: Training time | eat, drink, run

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