Yesterday, I fell off my bike. Strangely it led me to begin my journal again.
During the lonely 20 minutes cycling to a train station and the 24 hours of pain afterwards, I learnt a huge amount. Slamming into cobbles wasn’t pleasant, but pain tends to disappear once it’s down on paper.
I’d set myself a little adventure:
My sister was running a half marathon in Newport, Essex. Instead of getting the train with her to the start line (like any sane person would), I’d cycle. It was only 40 miles but a reason to push myself to unknown roads, paths and hills. The plan quickly spiralled out of control.
After committing to riding and buying the return train ticket, I realised that:
- I’d have to get up at 0420 in the morning
- I’d be riding 90% of it in the dark
- Most of the journey would be walk paths, making the journey a whole lot slower
I’d committed though. I’d mapped the route out. I’d even tweeted about it. There was no turning back.
It was 0445 on Saturday morning. I’d eaten my porridge, layered up, filled my back pockets and double checked the garmin was working. I felt alive, powerful and my snapchat story was on point. Time to ride.
The first 8 miles were excellent. I was cycling through London, surrounded by halloween dressed drunks heckling at me from afar. Then my front light went out (damn you USB charger that wasn't connected properly). I’d eaten enough porridge to fuel me for the 40 miles so I wasn’t turning back, but I knew this was a dangerous little game I was playing. Cycling through a pitch black park at 0600 in the morning is the scariest thing you’ll do this Halloween. I shit myself. I stared at my Garmin which was telling me to go left. I could see a long, windy, dark canal. Really Garmin!?
I was making good time. I still felt great that I was supporting my sister, riding new roads and doing something out of the normal weekend routine. Cycling along, pretending I was in a film playing the lead character in a heroic journey, I confidently picked up the pace.
Like all falls on the bike, it happened very fast. One moment I was up, the next I was face down on wet cobbles feeling pain, frustration and most of all embarrassment. So much goes through your head after a fall, but without realising, you begin the survival cycle checklist:
- Are my legs and back ok?
- Is the bike still in one piece?
- Is my phone ok?
All clear and therefore time for Plan B: Cycle to the nearest train station and wait in the cold for my sisters train to arrive. One film I wish I wasn't starring in.
Here’s a few things I spent time thinking about:
- The importance of friends, family and boyfriends. When you fall off your bike, you want to tell the people closest to you. Everyone was incredibly supportive and after a few emojji filled whatsapps, I felt so much better and light hearted about the otherwise shitty situation.
- The beauty of coffee shops that open early in London. Stumbling across a Costa at 0730 near Seven Sisters filled me with such warm happiness: coffee, newspaper and the ability to wash my wounds. Life, in that moment, was good.
- The difference between the journey and the destination (cheesy but true). Getting to the start line would have been ace, but would I have learnt as much? Probably not. I’d never choose to fall, over not falling, obviously. But, I’m grateful for the experience. It certainly makes for interesting Monday morning chat at work.
- Should I turn to running? After being inspired by my sister and advent running, the thought of turning to trainers instead of tyres was tempting. I was obviously just over tired and not thinking straight.
- Life is sometimes rubbish. I smashed the front of my iPhone screen whilst waiting for the runners to finish. I’ve just fell off my bike I thought, throw me a bone here.
- Life will get better again. After spending so much time planning the trip and waking up at 0420, I was in such a bad mood when it all went tits up. One of those dramatic 'life isn't fair' outbursts. A few rants (and peanut butter brownies supplied from sister PP) later, my perspective changed back again. Like it always does. Because that's life. Forever changing, forever surprising you and forever fair.
I’ll be taking a few days off the bike. Not just for the wounds to heal but to find my confidence again. Dont cycle through London when you’re shaken up. It’s not safe for anyone.
Instagramming the moment: https://instagram.com/p/9fkcbcP8de/?taken-by=kittypp
Drawing the moment: https://instagram.com/p/9gqenmEONQ/?taken-by=kppdraws