As everyone knows, starting something is the hardest part. A diet, a commitment, a new job, the toilet roll. Re-starting something might be even harder. This time around you know what to expect..how hard or painful it’s going to be. This time.. you think, maybe just maybe it’ll be easier than you remember.
Following 2 extensive surgeries on my shoulder last year I found myself restricted from all physical activity involving my arms, shoulders or upper body movement of any kind. A sneeze rendered me in tears and lifting a mug of tea became my Crossfit. As an independent lass it pained me to have to ask for help lifting groceries into my car (where I’d carry them, one or two items at a time, up 3 flights of stairs) and I became adept at deciding what to cook based on whether I could cook and eat it 1 handed.
It was pitiful, with spots of hilarity (I fell over a LOT).
To call me disabled was an overstatement, but basically I became a human wine box with bruises for 18 months.
Fast forward a year and I graduated from my various slings and arrows, discovered pitches of screams I didn’t know I possessed and managed to carry my first gallon of milk. All in all, almost back to normal. Sure I’ll never salute an officer , throw down a Hiel Hitler (wasn’t going to anyway) or ‘raise the roof’ (ditto) but I can now wear a bra strap, carry a purse and blow dry the back of my head.
Exactly the qualifications for some mountain biking.
I’d wanted to get back on the back for a while… pretty much 10 mins after I came around from surgery the first time. But everything hurt, I literally couldn’t use my arm, and every time I thought about falling… the sense of doom was overwhelming. What if I fell and needed another surgery? Or a new shoulder? I packed away riding for ‘another time’. Which came this last weekend.
It had been so long. so so long. I think Madonna was on her first face lift when I last rode some dirt. And oh how I missed it. The fire in your chest, the thumping of your heart, the feeling of flying on the downhill. The smell of warm pine as you crash into a tree on a particularly tight switch back. Glorious. And I was finally done being afraid.
I packed myself into straining Lycra, grabbed the Percocet and headed to the hills.
I’ll spare the blow-by-blow suffice to say it went something like this:
- Shock (‘holy cow this is hard’)
- Concern (‘is my heart meant to be pounding this fast?’)
- Horror (‘fuck me, I don’t think I’m even moving forward’)
- Despair (‘oh god, those people with the old dog are passing me’)
- Hope (‘oooo is that the top? is it? it is isn’t it??)
- Devastation (‘damn fucking false flat…’)
- Resignation (‘Why am I doing this ? I’m clearly too old for this shit’)
- Self criticism (‘Popcorn isn’t a recovery diet dammit.. should have made more soup’
- Motivated (‘Damn it.. I can do this.. I have to do this or I’ll get old and crinkly and die’
- Thrilled (‘I did it!!! I rule!!!! I did it!!!)
- Realization (‘HOLY FUCK GODDAMN THAT HURTS MY SHOULDER’)
- Alarmed (‘OMG I need to ride down this fucker! This is going to hurt sooooo bad’)
- Joy (“I’m gonna love every single second of this. This is why I ride’)
I got on my bike, full of Oprah fed wisdom and promptly rode into tree.
Starting again is hard. You look ridiculous, you feel like a loser and your brain never shuts up reminding you of how much better you used to be at this. But the alternate – a life of memories, of ‘remember when?’, fear and failing confidence – is way way worse.
At my way, I get to look good in Lycra.. some day.