When you ride bikes with any level of seriousness, as with any athletic endeavor, you’ll fall. It’s a fact. Of course, you should always get up and keep riding if you can. I’ve enjoyed decades of riding, pushing my limits, and finding sometimes that I’ve pushed them a little too far. There have been bruises, bumps, sprains and the rare broken bone.
Honestly, the worst was probably the time I was practicing a “gut lever,” which is a sort of handstand on the handlebars on a BMX freestyle bike, and for no reason my brakes locked, throwing me forward over the bars. I felt it coming, so I tucked and landed on both feet, but I felt a painful, “Crunch!” on my right foot. I thought I had bruised something, because that’s the way it felt. It stayed painful and slightly swollen for the next six weeks. I went to the doctor for a bad cold, he examined my foot and said, “You’ve broken this metatarsal (one of the long bones in your foot). Stay off of it for six weeks.”
“I’ve enjoyed decades of riding, pushing my limits, and finding sometimes that I’ve pushed them a little too far.”
I didn’t stay off it. I kept riding, though I avoided anything that put pressure or leverage on that foot. You find out just how much you use a particular body part when it’s injured. You have to learn to do many tasks very differently.
Through all the years of BMX, mountain biking, and other types of riding, I’ve crashed and gotten up again. I had some nagging pains in joints that would be mostly dormant, but decide to flare up if I moved the wrong way. I changed my diet, and the inflammation that caused those went away, interestingly. But, they’re never gone for good, because the underlying cause—some of the damaged tissue—is still there.
Every once in a while with injuries you end up re-injuring the area. I did that recently, and my knee reminded me of its severity. I’ve been on crutches and hobbling around for a couple of weeks after re-injuring my leg. It, of course, had to happen right around the holidays when my family was traveling to meet more family. I did everything I could to rehab it, using RICE (i.e., rest, ice, compression and elevation), a brace and some topical treatments. They all helped, but I was still in need of at least one crutch. I didn’t know how that was going to go with air travel.
It turns out, I had nothing to worry about. When I got to the airport, someone saw the crutch and immediately brought me a wheelchair. At first, I was thinking I was too proud to be wheeled around in a wheelchair. But, eventually, I swallowed that pride and took them up on it. What a treat this was as I zoomed past everyone in all the lines, from the security area to boarding.
This reminds me that, though I can’t ride like I did 30 years ago with reckless abandon, I can still hang it out there a little. There are ways to work around small injuries. People most everywhere are very accommodating at work and in travel. At our offices, of course, there are several people walking around with obvious injuries at any given time, since our editors all like to ride!
Don’t be afraid to ride, even if you’ve crashed before. Sometimes, they make you a little more aware and a little more vigilant. Riding a bike is really freeing; you’re able to go places so much cheaper than you can in a car (in some cities, faster as well in traffic), as well as park nearly anywhere. I maintain that there’s no better way to see a new place you’re visiting than on an e-bike. You have the freedom to ride at your own pace, be able to look around more and stop anywhere you’d like.
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I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how e-bikes have changed your life. E-mail me stories and pictures at email@example.com if you have them, or send them in snail mail or via passenger pigeon.
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