Getting your confidence back after you’ve taken a nasty fall is something akin to looking at your passion from the eyes of a novice. Every minor risk involves an over-reactive imagination that suddenly dominates your answer to the question, “Is it worth it?”
Instead of my usual ambiguous response, “Meh, we’ll see,” the answer always becomes, “Hell NO!” After receiving seven stitches to the palm of my hand, sitting in the ER waiting room for 8 hours, and then lamenting my poor choice of simply not wearing gloves for that specific section of my mountain bike ride, my reactions to getting back on my bike were what you’d call bi-polar. I will forever feel the gravity of my bicycle pulling me towards it, but after an injury, that same feeling shares an unhappy marriage with self loathing every time I doubt my ability to ride well.
After this particular injury, I waited two and a half weeks before getting back on the bike. My hand was still tender but I was willing to grit my teeth through the pain as I was en-route on a pre-planned trip to Bend, Oregon and the McKenzie River Trail was bucket list item: a 26 mile trail with shuttle assistance.
The trail tested my abilities and every ounce of confidence that I possessed. It posited itself as one of the more heinous adventures I’ve taken on–the first 10 miles presents the rider with perilous lava rock and several drops that might have sliced my hand back open. In fact, after walking down the umpteenth drop, I believe I joked at mile 6 that I had 20 more miles to get my confidence back. My riding partner rolled her eyes and proceeded to wheel herself in front of me to be the leader for a bit.
Ultimately, that tiny voice inside my head that kept saying, “no” suddenly disappeared and was replaced with the ever familiar goading of my ego. So what really got me rolling into my rhythm again was the camaraderie and partnership of the sport–trusting someone else to push me and trusting myself to let go of those memories of pain.
The last sixteen miles were smooth, glorious, and so enjoyable that, dare I say, I would like to go back for more. It might appear on a future summer agenda.