I have a confession, something that I have confided only to close family. It is a fear that has kept me back and has caused me to avoid participating in the activities I love. Since my amputation, I have developed a paralyzing, irrational fear of falling off a bicycle.
I have always loved to ride my bike. I have fond memories of the carefree rides I took as a little girl, with my hair in pigtails listening to "Leader of the Pack" on the cassette player I had positioned in my white plastic basket with pink daisies. I never had a fear of falling although I did take my share of spills.
My fear is silly when I look at it logically. Currently I am riding my Trek bike positioned onto a Tacx indoor trainer. The trainer simulates the terrain to provide the most realistic experience. I have no problem getting onto and off my bike, nor have I become unstable. The bike is, however, on a stand. When I first started training after the amputation, I was only able to ride for only 15 minutes. Now I am able to ride 35 miles a session, with an average speed of 22 mph. Not too shabby!
I know that I have the strength to ride. I am also fairly confident in my ability to maintain my balance. My fear? I am afraid that, should the bike become unstable, I would put down my prosthetic leg to steady. I am fearful that the prosthetic will slip off, causing me to lose my balance and fall. I also worry about falling hard onto my prosthetic side, resulting in cuts or breaks in my residual limb.
I am frustrated because I have been successful conquering numerous fears. I am able to walk, run, skip and jump with my prosthetic leg. I am very proud that I am now doing things with my prosthetic that I never dreamed about doing when I had both limbs. The fear of falling off my bike is paralyzing, and it gets me angry.
I had the opportunity last year to participate in a bike ride with Floyd Landis, the Tour de France winner 3 years ago. I love professional cycling and he is a hero of mine. Riding with him would have been a dream. I am ashamed to admit it, but I just couldn't get over my fear.
It is time for me to face the bicycle outside. Logically, I know that I have all the prerequisite skills and that I will be okay. I know that if I do fall, I will probably sustain only a few bumps and bruises. I've certainly endured more than that! I know that I can do this.
Scott is going to take the bicycle off the trainer today. I am going to put on my helmet, take a deep breath and pedal. Wish me luck.