03 July 2013

Post-cycling funk

So, what have I been up to since returning to Colorado from Kentucky so suddenly?

Not much.

It took me about two weeks to work up the energy to do anything besides watching Netflix/DVDs or faffing about on the internet. I think the medication I was taking made me feel weird and my body needed the time to just heal my infection and my contusion without cycling 50 - 70 mile days, y'know?

Ten days after the accident, I got my elbow X-rayed again to check for the kinds of fractures that show up again after swelling goes down, but, thankfully, nothing showed up. Soft tissue injury only. Still, I had to wear the splint for two weeks and the sling for three, and tho' my arm is mostly healed by now, if I use it normally all day it starts hurting before bedtime. Sigh.

I ultimately decided against joining the Handlebarbarians when they come thru Colorado--which is July 2nd, actually; we're going down to Pueblo to see them soon. Reasons? A big one is that I'm simply not ready to face traffic again for a little while. Even driving in a car frightens me now; I can't imagine being on a bicycle again. After taking my first spill on a bit of loose gravel (see the video in my previous post), I took every downhill after that slower than Jenn, even, because it was frightening. I just kept seeing my bicycle, in my head, flying out from under me and dropping me to the asphalt again. It just happens after you get hurt--you don't want to get hurt again. Same thing used to happen with skiing: I'd be fine, going fast, having fun, then I'd have a fall, and even if it wasn't that bad I'd still be slow all day, and not get up to speed again until my next trip. I know my injuries from this car accident weren't that bad... no broken bones, no head injuries, nothing serious or scary... but, still, I was hit by a car. I didn't slow down fast enough, I hit an obstacle, I spilled off my bike, and WHAM I felt a car slam into my shoulder and I felt the rubber of the tire hit my elbow and I got up and I just couldn't do it anymore. Now, if I tried to keep going, I know that every time a car passed me I would just have a flashback of falling down in front of one. Big trucks passing me in the Kansas wind? No. I need some time to build my strength and my courage back up before facing that, and if that makes me a coward, well then, that's what I am.

Another reason I'm not joining the trip again is a conflict of interest. I love my family and I love Ben and Dan too, and I had some genuinely good times on the 920 miles of trip that I managed to go on. Nevertheless, I had some really, really bad times as well. Bad times that go beyond mere physical exhaustion, and which I'm not sure anyone can properly understand, what with my celiac disease and personal demons and getting that skin infection in my arm and all the swelling that was in it and various aches and pains that go along with having the body I have. This trip started out as something I wanted to do because I had so much fun cycling in Ireland, and because cycling there saved me from a lot of funk and depression that I otherwise would have been wallowing in. I was genuinely excited for this TransAmerica thing. But, once the other five cyclists joined on, it wasn't my trip anymore. Slowly and surely a lot of my plans and ideas got outvoted--this, because of differing budgets; that, because of differing time schedules; the other, because of differing fitness levels; yet another because of differing personalities and interests. Maybe this is selfish, but it got to a point where I didn't feel like the trip I was on was a nice vacation anymore, because it wasn't MY vacation. It was work. It was someone else's project, someone else's adventure; someone else was calling the shots. Since I wasn't fully equipped on my own and didn't have my own set of maps, I had little choice but to follow along. Many times along the road I seriously considered breaking off and going at my own pace, but that lack of maps and lack of certain communal items (first aid, food, cooking supplies) kept me from being so drastic.

Yeah, we had some personality conflicts in the group. Conflicts that may have been resolved over time, but never got resolved because I had to come home before they could be. And I don't have the mental or emotional energy to face unresolved issues right now. I simply don't. I have a lot of emotions to work thru, old bad habits of laziness coming back, health problems that involves super low energy levels, muscle pains, awful digestion, nonstop headaches. I have a tendency toward both depression and sloth, and I'm trying to fight it back. I've started with some professional counseling. My relationship with my parents is a bit rocky at the moment and I feel isolated from old friends by so much distance and I hate living in Colorado Springs but every place I've lived that I liked living in is closed off to me now, for one reason or another.

I can't stop comparing that 920 miles to what I did in Ireland and the small trips I took in England. I'd give all 920 miles back to time if I could just ride the 25 miles from York to Rievaulx and back, in England, by myself, the way I did in August 2012. If I could re-live my Irish cycle trip in July 2012 I would do it every summer in the exact same way without changing a thing (except maybe bringing an effing mosquito net or a proper tent for the midges, yikes--oh, and without burning my leg in Doolin, haha). America has a lot of promise in certain areas, but you have to go thru a lot of crappy areas to see the promise, and that's another part of it, too. I wasn't super happy with the route, and tho' cycling across America is an impressive achievement, I feel like a shorter route, say along the west coast, along the east coast, or simply starting in Colorado thru to Oregon would end up being a nicer trek overall with less doldrums to suffer thru to get to the nice bits.

I'm trying to start job hunting and start working on creative projects that I'd been putting on a backburner for far to long, now that I'm back. I'm reconnecting with friends in Denver and I've decided I'm going to a convention in the first week of August so that I can wear an elaborate costume I commissioned for that very purpose two years ago. I've been cooking with dad (more on that in a later post, I think), and I went to the Pride Parade in Denver and the Ren Faire in Larkspur. I'd rather be spending my time doing these things right now. I want to get a job and get out of here and be on my own again and it's just too much to try and put all that on hold a second time to get out there on the bike for another month and a half.

So I haven't even taken my bike out of her box and put her back together again. Even if I wanted to go, I wouldn't be in the shape for it, not when the other Handlebarbarians have been cycling 100 mile days and the most exercise I've gotten is one 4 mile walk since I've been back.

I'm going to reconnect with the Handlebarbarians soon, just for a day, and I'll write about that I'm sure, and then I will bid them farewell as they continue on to dip their front wheels in the Pacific Ocean--the Handlebarbarians, minus one. I'm happy for them and that they're able to do this and that they're having fun and that no one else has been injured on the way. I'm also a little jealous, a little angry, and a lot sad about it. But there's no point in dwelling on the negative, is there? Especially not when they're doing such an adventurous, exciting, and difficult thing. I do wish them all the best.

That pretty much covers it, I suppose.



  1. Anonymous04 July, 2013

    Honey, I don't think anyone of us would blame you for being scared of traffic right now. You had a close call, and even though your injuries were mild, the shock of actually getting hit by a car is certainly enough to cause some panic and anxiety for anyone. That's not cowardice, it's just normal human reaction. You will feel like riding again someday, in your own time and at your own pace.
    Love, Mom

  2. When I was a teenager, I was thrown from my horse and got a nasty cut on my head. For months afterwards, I couldn't close my eyes without reliving it. The only cure was riding again, but it took time.

    You are normal to feel the way you do. You write so well; we see bits of ourselves so much of the time. Your future holds good things! Believe in yourself. We do.
    Love, Aunt Becky

  3. It's been a little while since this post. How are you doing and what are you up to? You made quite an impression on those of us who met you on the journey and we genuinely care about you.
    Chris (of the Radford, VA/ Jutta contingent)