I felt very brave to go cycling Friday morning. It was foggy and 45*F. I changed the lenses in my shades from dark to rose-colored so I could see better in the fog. I had new batteries in my flashing red light so motorists could see me better. I was ready to go.
So I rode away from the house only to circle the block and come back home to put on my tights and jacket. I still don’t have a handle on how much to wear when cycling during the winter months. It’s a different calculation from cold weather running. Runners underdress in cold weather, but cyclist have to overdress since we create our own wind chill.
It felt strong to ride fast down “A” street in the cool air with no wind. I even slowed before making the hard right-hand turn into the paved alley just north of the Dakota Apartments.
But I didn’t slow down enough. I made the turn, something I’ve done dozens of times, but when I crossed a big wet spot on the pavement, something else I’ve done dozens of times, both of my tires lost purchase and my bike skidded out from under me. I landed hard on the asphalt on my right hip, elbow, knee, and palm.
As I floundered on the ground trying to get back up, a nice woman drove down the alley toward me. She had seen the entire fall, so she rolled down the window of her tan Tahoe and asked if I was OK.
I slowly wobbled up to my feet. All my bike’s parts seemed to be in working order since I’d used my body to protect my bike from hitting the ground. I didn’t see any blood or torn clothing to hint at serious physical injury.
I said, “Thanks, I’m fine. More embarrassed than hurt.”
She said something like, “OK, be safe. I’ll bet you are sore tomorrow.”
The damage to my body was minimal since I was going slow enough to fall straight down and didn’t skid. I readjusted my equipment and myself and rode on down the alley to Lancashire Road, planning to finish my scheduled 38-mile ride.
But not for long. My hip began to ache, the fog was no longer fun or exciting, and my early morning courage faded. I realized I was done for the day, so I turned around and rode back home to take a hot shower.
Standing in my closet, I carefully peeled away my layers of cycling clothes to assess the damage. I had scraped the skin off my right kneecap and had a growing, palm-sized bright purple bruise on my right hip. Neither hurt right away, at least not as much as they appeared, but I knew I would feel differently the next day.
Later that morning, as I sat in my favorite booth and wrote in my journal about cycling wrecks, I thought about those other wounds that haunt us. The scrapes and bruises to our heart and soul that come from moral failures or personal defeats or thoughtless family or friends, or even the wear and tear of daily life. Those hidden injuries affect everything we do.
Showing off our physical wounds is part of the fun. I often say, “Without a scar there isn’t a story, and without a story, it’s like nothing ever happened.”
But those wounds to our heart, we tend to cover them up. We hide them, thinking we’re protecting ourselves by covering over.
Sometimes we even hide them from ourselves and we don’t know why we behave the way we do. Why we back off when we should be brave, why we slow down when we should fly, why we fail to speak up when someone close to us needs it most.
My wounds from falling will heal soon. But our wounds of the heart last longer. Partly because they are so hard to identify, but also because they tend to hit us in our softest points.
Maybe we have to remove a few layers before understanding how damaging those old wounds can be. Sometimes we may need help with the layers, being too sore and damaged to peel them back ourselves.
As far as cycling is concerned, my plan was to get back on my bike as soon as possible. Moving often flushes the soreness away, something I’ve learned after 34 years of running.
Of course, getting back in my bike won’t heal the skin abrasions. Those take time, and even then may leave a scar or two. My hope after any fall like this is that I will come out of it a better and savvier cyclists.
That has certainly been my experience with deeper wounds in my heart. After treatment and healing, I am a stronger and smarter man. And braver. Brave enough to go out again the next day.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson or on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org