Nearly every morning for at least the past four years, I have put on my padded riding shorts and headed into the musty abyss of my downstairs rec room. I put on the television, fire up the computer and step onto my bike. I've learned to always keep the phone handy because, regardless of the fact that I ride every day at about the same time, it never fails that Scott or my sister will call.
When I started riding I was able to complete only half of a mile before becoming winded and sweaty. I can now ride 35 to 40 miles in one stretch. Now I am limited by the patience of my little boy versus my strength and stamina.
Despite the fact that I can pedal for hours on my virtual simulator, I have been hesitant about riding my bike outside. Okay, hesitant is probably not being totally honest. I've been downright terrified! I find my fear frustrating because I was never scared before my amputation. Although I'm perfectly comfortable with most activities, using a prosthetic on a bike makes me feel unsafe.
In a moment of bravery and in an attempt to break down my own fears, a few years ago I took my bike off its stand and went out for a ride. Scott dutifully took videos and I proudly proclaimed my "victory" in a blog. What I didn't write, and what most of my readers don't realize, is that my bike promptly went back onto the trainer stand and has not seen the pavement since.
I became embarrassed by my bike riding anxiety. The fear of falling and breaking one (or several) bones became paralyzing. I had a lot of excuses, but no motivation to take my bike off the stand and conquer the road.
This year, I have found my motivation. Robby loves riding his CARS bike through the neighborhood. It occurred to me that it would be easier and more fun to ride with him instead of jogging behind him. Apparently my hatred of running is greater than my fear of riding a bike!
On Sunday my Mom came down to visit because she had a surprise for me. She bought me another bicycle. My reason for avoiding biking outside ( my bike being on the trainer and too difficult to disconnect) was swiftly eliminated. I had the motivation, and she removed my excuse.
Robby was so excited when he saw Momom's pink and purple bicycle. He pleaded with me to get on and go for a ride. I knew I wasn't going to be able to avoid my fear any longer. He gave me a kiss and then pushed me in the bum to get moving. I pedaled and, to my delight, I didn't fall!
Yesterday morning Robby began asking to go for a bike ride with me at 6:30 am. I convinced him that we weren't allowed to ride until at least 9:00. At about 9:30 Robby and I headed outside for our first ride. (I have to admit that I tucked my insurance card into my pocket and kissed my cat Sophie goodbye- just in case.)
We went for two rides yesterday, each one becoming easier and less angst filled. Robby seems to love riding his bike with me. He proudly told three neighbors, the mail lady and the neighbor's air conditioner repairman that "Momom is riding a bicycle with me and we haven't fallen on our heads yet."
It's strange how, for a few brief moments, our roles were reversed. Robby became my biggest cheerleader, encouraging me to conquer my fears and reassuring me that I was going to be okay. He was so sweet as he kept repeating, "You're doing good Momom. Just keep pedaling like this (envision him pedaling). Don't forget to use your brake and steer away from the sticks and nuts on the road." Apparently he does listen to me because I'm fairly confident those were the same instructions I offered a few weeks ago as he was learning to ride.
I am not yet over my fear completely, but I know that I'm making progress. I'm going to get comfortable riding again. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, my fear will be a memory!