Monday, September 13

Season of Busy: or, Wear a Bike Helmet

Happy Monday! Happy September! I hope this day finds you rested and content after a lovely weekend with some cooler weather (and a good balance of rain and sunshine). Personally I'm feeling refreshed and recovered at the start of this work week, as it is a turning point of sorts after a hectic and eventful month.

Seeing as I am employed by a scholarly book warehouse and we send many many books to university students, August and January are what we lovingly refer to as "Busy Season" at work. "Busy Season" roughly translates to an extraordinary amount of orders, lots and lots of part-time help, extended work hours, late-night dinners and general mayhem. While at the core these are all fun and exciting things to do, several weeks of this kind of stress and activity quickly becomes draining and exhausting.

And yet inexplicably- as though Busy Season weren't enough to keep me occupied for a while- I was convinced [by very convincing friends] to train for and [consequently] participate in a relay triathlon. We dubbed ourselves "Team Purple Haze": Becca donned the purple swim suit, Kate the purple running jersey, and I the purple biking jersey. We were also fortunate to have a small fan club consisting of a variety of parents, spouses, good friends and offspring.

Now, I am no sports writer, so please bear with me as I "relay" (haha, get it?) the events of that fateful morning. Becca's swimming leg of the race was the first. She was understandably nervous for the swim. The university pool where she planned to train was closed for scheduled cleaning a few weeks prior to the triathlon, making it impossible for her to get in any regular training. She set very modest goals and hoped that her days of swimming glory from high-school would manifest themselves in her muscle memory. Which they did. She swam the .75 miles in exactly 20:00:00 minutes, easily placing her in the top ten of the swim, and setting me up nicely for the biking leg.

I was INCREDIBLY nervous. I have never competed athletically in anything outside of gym class. Ever. And there were a lot of people there (friends and family alike) who were very supportive and eager to see how our team would do. As I pedaled up the first hill I set myself at a very high gear and just steadily pumped up the hill. This is how Luke has always coached me to approach hills: steadily, slowly and with a nice cadence that I can maintain the whole way up. I was tired and out of breath at the top, had been passed by at least 4 women, but I also was at the top and that felt nice. Then I turned onto the next road. There lay an incredibly steep quarter mile climb. I gulped back the dread and set my gears again. It was a tough climb, and I had to walk a bit of it, but I got to the top again, knowing that 3 miles in I had just completed the toughest climb and could resituate for the rest of the course. I adjusted myself in my seat, set the gears lower and got ready for a nice down hill. That's all I remember of my race.

I woke up on my back and all I could see was sky, leaves and the sun pouring down through the trees. I heard two male voices saying something like "can you stand up?". For some reason I felt like I should be compliant and helpful, and I was said "yes" very quickly and they helped me to the side of the road. I was in and out of consciousness until the ambulance came and I was taken to the hospital. These are my memories and recollections of the event which ended my first tri race. Later I was able to contact some of the witnesses and get more details to fill in my cloudy memory. I even found the blog of one guy who described the event thus:

I saw [another cyclist] passing a woman, and as he was going by she turned to look and took the bike with her and clipped him. He tumbled but came up quickly on the chip seal, she face planted. In the time it took me to stop he had already moved his bike and was next to her. There was blood everywhere, and my first thought was to figure out what was bleeding. The good news was it was just a small gash on her eyebrow and nothing else cut up (no idea how that happened), bad news was that meant she hit her head pretty hard. The other guy was ok for the most part (just some road rash), so i started talking to her and asking questions, very very quickly became apparent that she probably had a concussion at the least. She kept repeating questions, very randomly changing topics, and then asking the same thing again. As soon as i heard/saw this there was no chance i was going to keep going and leave them here. Some other racers went on and alerted the people at the next intersection and the park rangers were there within a few minutes, and the EMTs within a few after that.

What I can gather from this account is that: a) I have bad balance and b) I am a chatty, chatty woman. In all seriousness though, I am so grateful to know what happened, and how I might avoid another such incident. Yes, I need to be more stable and secure on my bike, and it's equally true that another cyclist shouldn't have been passing so closely to me in a race that disallows "drafting".

Ultimately I am fine. I had 14 stitches and some serious road rash, but 2 weeks on all of these have healed very nicely. Now I just have 2 nice scars that make me look intimidating and legitimate. I've also come out the experience realizing how fortunate I was to have no further injuries, and how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such a loving and caring community. I feel beyond grateful.

We went to the bike shop on Saturday and I picked up my new helmet (complete with adorable little birds!), so I'm ready to get back in the saddle again. Maybe not a race, but at least a nice ride through some nearby farmland with Luke.

1 comment:

  1. Nice looking helmet! Undertaking the challenge of entering the race shows bravery and your training shows tenacity and dedication. Facing a big competitive event like that is daunting, especially for the first time, and I'm impressed. Enjoy the beautiful fall weather, it's perfect for scenic rides around PA.