Today I got back on my bike for the first time since I fell down Thursday, late in the night to take my dog (and best good friend) Guinness for his evening turn about the block. Over the years I've owned Guinness this has become one of our favorite ways to go for a walk together, as it allows me to keep pace with him, and us to knock out greater distances in shorter amounts of time.
Tonight was different though, because I'm still feeling the aches and pains of landing on the bottom of two bikes and another person. My confidence, which can normally be measured in the same level as the stratosphere, is (by my standards) shot. I'm biking in straight lines, but not with my usual nerve.
Part of this, I know, comes from having suffered a life-altering joint injury fairly early in life. I am very closely acquainted with the damage real injury can inflict on your life on a long-term level. This loss of confidence happens every time I have an incident that reminds me of the fragility of my own existence.
For example, several months ago, I had an incident where a bracket tore up the sidewall of my front tire, forcing me to purchase a new one. The very first day I had the new tire on, I slipped a bit making a turn into my neighborhood on a patch of gravel and almost ate pavement. I managed to catch myself before I fell, but for weeks I was slightly mistrustful of both that corner and the new tire (which has turned out to be fabulous, as tires go). No amount of logic could convince my heart and adrenal gland it was a one-off incident, that there was nothing wrong with the tire, that it was a corner I'd taken hundreds of times before. Every time, I was a bit hesitant.
So having taken a fairly hard fall, I am now faced with the long, slow prospect of rebuilding my confidence levels. Never mind it had been over a year since my last fall. Never mind that this wasn't a bad one - no sprains, no breaks, just one very rung bell. The part of me that shrieks "BE CAREFUL LEST YE PERISH!" is doing a lot of the talking right now and the cure is nothing but repetitions of riding a bike without incident. Fun!