As I was falling, my body was quickly trying to assess what in the heck was happening. Earlier in the morning I borrowed my husband's mountain bike and now, as I glanced down at my feet that were trapped inside the half-dome cages firmly affixed to the front of the pedals, I braced myself for the crash, knowing full-well that nothing was going to stop my downward trajectory but the warm, hard, black asphalt of the semi-vacant parking lot. Once I was awkwardly splayed out and horizontal with the bike tangled between my legs, all I could do was laugh at my predicament. Laughter would have to help guide me today because OBVIOUSLY I was in way over my head and, funny enough, the handlebars, too. The top layer of skin was scraped clean from one of my knees, a bruise the size of a dollar bill was already forming on my hip and pain, like a pulsing radar, was radiating from my right wrist - all of this and the trail ride hadn't even started yet. A bad omen? Maybe.
This humbling spectacle took place in front of a dozen middle schoolers and a few of their parents in a quiet parking lot in town just prior to setting out on our Saturday adventure. Apparently, I was the opening act for the day's 14-mile roundtrip bike ride. I was roped into this afternoon fun session with the promise of popcorn and George Clooney at the half-way point. He, along with movie theatre butter, was the dangling carrot(s) at the end of this yet to be acted out, endorphin-inducing and, clearly, dangerous (to me) escapade.
In an effort to shift my mood, I said yes to the kid/parent bike ride into town to watch Disney's new release, Tomorrowland. Keeping in mind that I haven't ridden a bike in over 15 years, I thought what the heck, it can't be that hard, right? how does the saying go? it's like riding a bike? what could be easier? - and had my son pump up our tires and throw the bikes into the back of my car. Mind over matter was the not-so-quiet mantra looping in my head as we prepared to head out. I didn't give the impending ride too much thought (my first mistake), but knew that it most definitely mattered - to my son, to my dear friend who organized the day trip, and to my frazzled psyche. We all needed me to rally and show up, so I did.
I've been paying so much attention to ME lately and, to be quite honest, I'm kind of sick of myself. All of the introspection can wear a girl out! My pre-adventure bike crash actually made me pause long enough to think about the timing and my reaction to this not so graceful fall. As I pushed myself up and brushed myself off in that parking lot, I knew I needed to do the same in real time. I needed to quit wallowing in self-pity and self-reflection in my day-to-day life, show myself a little kindness and just get on with it already. Today would serve as my reset button.
After I took that spill, instead of giving up or politely declining to participate in the ride due to my minor injuries, I went ahead and organized my thoughts so that I could fully enjoy the experience. I flipped the pedal cages to position them underneath the soles of my feet, facing the ground, and pedaled along with the younger kids at the back of the pack. The cages would drag along the concrete pathway every so often, making noise and taunting me to flip them back into position and use them as they were intended, but I stayed the course and rode slow and steady.
I had plenty of time to glide down the trail and ruminate on my recent bout with depression. To be honest, I really didn't feel like taking a bike ride with this amazing little crew, but I knew it would stir something in me and I was right to listen to that feeling. Little did I know by joining in that I would mildly scar and bruise my body, but that seemed a worthwhile price to pay for the key to unlocking my dour mood.
Arriving home from our six-hour excursion, I was appropriately tired and worn out and fell into bed a little worse for wear than when I started the day, but I felt different. A contentedness washed over me and my head was clear for the first time in weeks. The sadness in me had finally been dislodged and it seemed like my funk had finally left building. Actually, I think I left it in that parking lot just off of Main Street along with part of my knee!
The next day found me cooking (a real) dinner for my family and paying some household bills; grocery shopping and finalizing a few summer travel plans; tidying up the house and penning some correspondence - all things that usually bring me great joy, but had been a chore over these past few weeks.
And just like riding a bike, I was reminded that I could easily jump back into the saddle of my real life, pedal fast and easily fold back into the group of friends, as well as my family, that make up my day-to-day peloton.