Every time I sit down to make a headbadge, I seem to cut my hands somehow. On our last trip, I had semi-permanent bruises on the backs of my legs, from all the times my pedals would raise up and bite me. My first aid kit and I are friends; and I’ve gotten quite good at slapping on some Neosporin and a bandaid and pushing through. But, try as I might, there is no pushing through an ankle sprain.
The doctor said I could get back on my bike after the first 72 hours, but he forgot to mention that it would be an excruciatingly frustrating experience.
I have been latching on to possible new get-out-of-town dates to give myself something to think about other than how weak I feel and annoyed that I’m in such a state of limbo. I thought, for sure, I’d be able to leave this weekend. Except, when I actually got on my bike on Friday, it was a completely pitiful experience.
On Sunday, we joined friends at Sunday Parkways. I rode the very leisurely women’s ride, and had a great conversation with a reader (Hi Gretchen!). I thought, for sure, since I was feeling so good after 10 miles, that we would be able to roll out this week. I talked Russ into planning for Wednesday. Then, last night, we went for a short ride, and it became entirely too obvious that I wasn’t as ready as I had thought.
There are hundreds of books on the psychology of sports injuries, my brother tells me. After the emotional roller coaster of this past week, I have no doubt.
It is a humbling experience to not be able to do the things that would normally be so easy. When you’re me, and oh-so-good at always being strong and in control, humble is not a positive experience. There are moments when I can focus on the silver linings and the many things for which I am grateful about this set-back. And then there are the other moments, full of darkness and tears.
At the heart of it, I hate the waiting. I waited for years before I was finally able to make my dream life happen. And I waited through a long, wet winter before we could get back on the road. To wait, now, for some nebulous time in the future, feels like the Universe is taunting me.
They say that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. I keep thinking that there’s a lesson in all of this that I am still blind to.
The Voice of Reason says to wait a little while longer, to let my ankle heal and get stronger. It says, this weekend is Memorial Day, you don’t want to have to fight for road space and campsites anyway. It’s hard to quarrel with logic, even when I want to. So, we are waiting until at least Monday before we do any serious riding. But this endless sitting is wearing on me, on both of us, so we are considering a short transit-and-bike trip in the meantime. Seattle? The Coast? Klamath Falls? We’re hoping to find an example of bicycle tourism positively affecting a local community/economy, so please email us if you know of a great place in Oregon or Washington.
Karen May 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm
Hang-in there Laura and trust what your body is telling you. 6 years ago I suffered a stress fracture in my ankle and was laid up for quite a while before I could return to running. I felt like a whimp and wondered how much of the pain was emotional. I used the time to cross train and put running in to perspective. You’ve got an exciting trip ahead of you and you’ll set off any day now and I can’t wait to follow your adventure. If you’ll be patient, I will too.
Patrice May 25, 2011 at 6:40 am
I’m a long distance hiker, and beat the hell out of my body on a thru hike 2 years ago. I learned that you always need to listen to your body, it knows what’s best. It’s hard now to see the big picture, but when you’re back on your bike pedaling away with a huge grin on your face, you’ll then realize the lesson of your injury. It’s all small potatoes, you’ll see that in time. Best of luck through the healing process, us anxious readers are waiting for the epic adventure to begin!
gl. May 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm
It was good to meet you, Laura! I know waiting is hard; I feel like I wait all year to get to Portland summer, and if something put it on hold I’d go mad. If it was my own body that was keeping me from biking it would be even worse!
It’s hard to feel helpless, especially after waiting so long to get going — and the pressure/expectations you might perceive of your audience. Does it help to think of how you’ll tell this story next year, in 5 years, 10 years?
Jimmy May 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Are you doing any exercises to strengthen the muscles and tendons? to keep them limber while they heal?
I would be doing some if I were you.
Tenzin May 31, 2011 at 11:11 am
I stumble upon your blog few weeks ago.Love the poster of Aung San Suu Kyi. Perfect way to find inspiration on these down times. Wish you the best.
Mike June 3, 2011 at 12:50 am
Hey Laura, sorry about the ankle. in college i sprained the HELL out of my ankle right before a ski trip. 1 week in the rigid ski boot with constant exercise and probably the cold also and my ankle was perfect! maybe you can replicate this somehow. hope this helps.
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Hope you feel better soon. All I can offer is my own experience. After being unable to ride for weeks, and unable to ride far for months due to a crash, I think I finally learned what it was that I needed to. That is the future, and the goals I placed in it, were not what needed my focus. Now was what needed my focus. Best of luck.