I broke my leg when I was 7 years old riding my bicycle. I was going down a cul-de-sac and when I tried to turn the corner at the bottom of the hill, I turned the handlebars too quickly and the bike fell on top of my legs. After a few days of denying to my mom that my leg was broken even though I couldn’t put any weight on my leg, she dragged me to the hospital where I was told my leg was indeed broken.
Finally after suffering through months of agony with this heavy thing and walking on crutches, having to hang the cast out the shower curtain and balancing on my good leg while I attempted to take showers (back then, casts weren’t waterproof like they are today), not being able to sleep well, trying to stuff rulers, pencils, and anything else I could find to try to scratch the itches under the abominable cast, finally, it was removed. Then began the true suffering.
My leg had become so weak, it was excruciating for me to put any weight on it. Despite going to physical therapy and doing countless exercises, it still hurt too much to try to walk again. Finally when I was told I may never walk again if I didn’t do it then, I started to think maybe I should listen to the doctor and therapist. But again, it really, really hurt and I was only 7 years old. Ultimately it was money that made me walk.
Being a poor 7 year old, I happily agreed to accept the bribe from my grandmother if I would only walk. I don’t even remember how much money she paid me, but whatever it was, it was priceless. I can’t imagine what would have happened if she hadn’t stepped in and paid me to try to walk again. I probably would have eventually walked on my own, but I may have had a limp or worse. I doubt I would have become the runner I am today.
One thing I did do after I broke my leg on my bicycle is dust myself off and get back on. I don’t remember being scared to ride again, but maybe I was and it was just so long ago I don’t remember. What I do remember is riding my bike with my neighborhood friends for hours during the long summer days when I was a kid. I remember riding for what felt like miles and miles through woods surrounding our neighborhood on our bikes and not even being tired afterwards. I don’t remember how old I was when I stopped riding my bike with my friends but it must have been sometime before high school.
When I was 25 years old and newly married, I bought a bike along with my then-husband. We would go out for long rides on quiet country roads or just around our neighborhood, and it reminded me of when I would ride bikes with my friends growing up. However, that marriage ended and when I eventually remarried, I asked my current husband to ride bikes with me, and he would initially, but as the honeymoon stage wore off, so did our bike rides together.
At first, I would just go out by myself, but I missed having someone out there with me. I found my bike rides getting less and less until it had been years since I had taken my bicycle out. Having a baby and young child to take care of can do that to you.
Finally, when my daughter was in grade school, I decided to take my bike in to get maintenance done on it so I could ride it again. At first, I was a little nervous and went pretty slowly, but being a runner, my legs were strong; they just weren’t used to pedaling a bicycle. Soon, I found more and more courage when I was out riding. I wouldn’t put the brakes on quite so fast when I would go down a hill, and I wouldn’t be quite so nervous when taking sharp turns.
Then something else happened. I began to love riding my bicycle again. After so many years of not riding, I had forgotten just how much I love riding my bike. I love the feeling of going down a hill, with the wind rushing by me, and I even love the feel of pumping my legs going up a hill. I found myself smiling to myself when I was out riding. How could I have given up something that gives me such joy? I had completely forgotten just how much I love cycling but I felt like I had been given a gift by having the courage to go out and ride again. Even if it is by myself.
Even more than the joy of riding my bike, though, I found my legs getting stronger. I was using muscles for powering my bicycle that don’t get used as much for running. It turns out that cycling and running go rather nicely together. If you read this article, hopefully you will see what I mean: Runner’s World article.
How many of you that are runners are also cyclists? Or vice versa, how many of you that consider yourself primarily a cyclist are also runners? If you are a runner and have not discovered the joy of cycling, or maybe you had a bicycle as a kid but haven’t ridden as an adult, borrow one and see if you can rekindle that joy of cycling as I have.