Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ponytails and Dirty Nails

That's what little biker girls are made of.

So I fell on the bike yesterday.

Relax, I'm fine. The side I landed on is sore today. The biggest bruise I have is from my armor. And oddly, the only thing that I actually injured is the thumb on the side opposite to which I fell. I have no explanation for that. Did ruin a perfectly good pair of jeans, though.

I went riding yesterday with Garth and Ginny. I did a little work on the bike first - added mirror extenders, fixed my tire pressure. Felt all proud of myself. I rode over to Garth's, met up with them, and then we went to a local wine tasting. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, actually. I'm already anxious enough on the bike; at no point did I expect to consume more than half a glass of wine, and I have the alcohol tolerance of a horse, so I didn't logically expect that it would impair me. Logically. Which is rarely what rules me. I ended up pouring most of my pours into Ginny's glass, because I was worried about getting on the bike with any alcohol in my system. And I doubt it was a factor in the fall, but I guess, who knows.

We left there, and Garth suggested we go for a ride. I was down, of course. But, here's the rub: Garth is a much more experienced rider than I am. And naturally he rides very differently. He also rides a sport bike, where mine is more of a cruiser, so they handle differently. And I've only put about 100 miles on my bike; I'm still not really used to it. I'm still not a very experienced rider. But I dutifully tried to keep up with Garth. And early in our ride, we came to a stoplight about five minutes from my house. It turned green; Garth took off. I tried to follow. Just into the intersection I tried to shift into second gear. I think I gave it a little too much throttle with the clutch in, and I think I let the clutch out too fast. There may have been some sand on the road (accidents are always a confluence of things). The bike flailed. I just lost control. And down I went.

I'm fine. Really. I got up. I pulled the bike up. A very nice police officer was behind me in seconds. I got back on the bike, rode into a parking lot, waited for Garth and Ginny to come back, which they did (Ginny saw me go down, apparently). I rode home, Garth gave my bike a more thorough look-over, and I went in to change out of the jeans that were now ripped over my entire right thigh. I was going to get back into the ride, but then I put on my clean pair of jeans and the button promptly fell off. My thumb hurt. I didn't have a clean pair of pants to wear. I took it as an omen and sent them on their way. I put on some sweats, got in the car, and went to buy new jeans and a new helmet. I was very cool until I got into the car. I texted a friend to talk me down, but he never responded. Which could be because I was like, "Uh, hey, when you have a minute, if you're not too busy, I just want to process this, blah, blah, blah." Which doesn't really convey, "So I'm sitting in my car in my driveway, and I'm only crying a little, but I could sure use a comforting word..."

I'm so bad at asking for help.

But the whole incident really drove home one particular point. When I was taking my MSF course, my instructor said over and over, "You need to ride your own ride." And I heard this, of course, and nodded, but I didn't really know what it meant until yesterday. This is exactly how I got myself into trouble. I needed to be riding at my skill level, not trying to keep up with Garth's. If he got too far ahead of me, then, as the group leader and the more experienced rider, I should have let it be his responsibility not to lose me. I should have ridden my ride, not his. I should've stayed at the level where I needed to be. I should've thought more about what *I* needed.

What particularly struck me, though, was the metaphor of that. In my life as a whole, I can't say I've been riding my own ride. I react to things, I respond, I wait for others to let me know - or try to anticipate what they would want me - to do next. Not respecting my skill level, not factoring in my needs (not even identifying them most of the time), taking what I can get instead of creating a space where I want what I've got. And so what happens? Down I go.

And the idea of letting other people be responsible for their own needs is foreign enough, but to think that they have a responsibility for mine, and to mine? Totally alien. Outlandish. But sometimes? That's exactly what needs to happen.

And so as we move into the second decade of the millennium, this year I'm going to try harder to ride my own ride, in life as on my motorcycle. Which is not to say it's all about me - working in the metaphor I'm totally up to group riding - but says that I'm going to have more respect for what I need. A good friend asked me the other day what I was doing to take care of myself these days...I was hard pressed to give him a solid answer. So this year, I'm going to do better.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get back on the (iron) horse.


penguinshrink said...

Um, yes! And also I'm glad the bike's ok.

And you, too... :)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year and your stories, events, activites need a name.

From this day forth:

Kateassters! ! ! !

Bad for you---but in some ways funny for your 'readers"!

Lesson learned---BE CAREFUL----and to be sure take your OWN RIDE ON THE BIKE AND IN LIFE!

Loved it and enjoy Carol

LG said...

well, if THAT is not a metaphor for life as a whole, I do not know what is.

I lurk. Nice post. Very deep, but you might not have meant it that way.