About a month ago, my guy wanted to go on a bike ride with me. He loves to bike and is serious about it: He has an expensive lightweight bike, the correct biking attire, and had been in a biking meetup group. He likes to go fast, go up hills, and go long distances. The last time I had been on a bike, 3 years ago, I crashed my boss’s wife’s new bike during our office outing, ending up with a huge bruise on my thigh when I went over the handlebars, and had road rash on my face and neck from scraping the stone wall of the bridge. I landed on my back with my feet in the air and I stayed like that while my boss and colleague ran up, saying, “Is she dead?” I wasn’t, just humiliated and bruised. Prior to this incident, it had been a good 30 years since I had been on a bike. Because I will do anything for this man, I said ok. My mom had given me her old bike (she had fallen off of it and broken her femur a few years before but she and my dad ride their bikes all the time). We loaded up the bikes in my SUV and went to a biking path that was pretty flat. It was also going to be a 19 mile ride. My body started trembling as I saddled up, and I was having a hard time balancing and staying on my side of the bike path. My guy started riding behind me, saying, “You’re leaning to the right! Sit in the middle! Keep your arms straight! Look ahead of you and down, don’t look at other people!” I hadn’t realized there was so much to remember at one time. After about half a mile of me swerving all over the place, he wanted to give up, saying,” It’s not going to work. Let’s go back.” Now, I did not want to disappoint him, and I kept telling myself that it shouldn’t be this hard. Look at all the other people out here who were balancing and going straight, not hitting anything, and seeming to enjoy this. I insisted that we press on.
We eventually made it to a farmer’s market, which I had believed was 10 miles in and our turnaround point. Wow, that seemed to go fast. I had a hot dog and lemonade and was ready to go back. “Oh no,” my guy said, “This is only about 3 miles in. We’re going to bike to the train stop and then we can take the train back. It’ll be fun! Only a few more miles. Let’s go.” Ok. I was game for that. A train ride did sound fun. And I seemed to be doing much better after eating the hot dog. I pretended that I was 10 years old. However, I did crash twice, and for some reason forgot about using my hand brakes and tried to stop with my feet. The second crash was into a bridge rail because I looked at it. Not long after that happened I noticed that my front tire was making a funny shape. I had my guy look at it but he seemed to think it was ok. We made it to the train stop, but it was going to be another 2 hours until the next one. My guy didn’t want to wait that long. “Come on, we’ll ride to Akron and catch that train, but we have to hurry!” Gulp. This one way trip was 19 miles. I had him look at my tire again. This time he said, “Oh my God, you really bent the rim! Did you run over a stick? How did you do this?” I was remembering the bridge crash, which he hadn’t witnessed. (He had been riding in front of me and only heard other bikers asking me if I was ok.) “I didn’t do anything!” He sighed, and said, “Well, let’s get going as best you can. Maybe we can find a bike shop in Akron to look at it.”
And so we took off again. I managed to stay on my side of the lane, not wobble so much, and actually began to relax. We did find a bike shop close to the train stop. The owner laughed when he saw my rim. “This looks like a taco. You could use it as a lawn ornament but not much else.” I thought of my mom, she could make something beautiful out of this, probably. The rim was deemed unfixable and so my guy bought me a new rim. While there we met a woman who was biking across the country by herself, on a journey to experience the kindness of people and blogging about it. This was her way of healing after the death of her young son, from cancer. She said she was astonished at how kind people are, everywhere she traveled. I told her I was inspired by her. She saw my tire and asked if I was ok. She gave me props for getting back on my bike not once, but twice after a crash. My guy just rolled his eyes. We made it in time to catch the train, and it was a nice ride, sitting in a comfortable seat and watching the scenery go by, knowing I couldn’t crash into anything. We haven’t been biking since. But I will go if asked, because I will do anything for my guy, and it’s all about getting back on the bike after a crash.
The obvious parallel to divorce is that even if you crashed and got banged up, get back out there. Even if you are trembling at first, you will eventually find a supportive, kind person to ride through life with, as well as meet some wonderful, inspiring people along the way. And even if you crash again and again, it’s still fun to see where it takes you. The only thing you have to remember is this: It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. It only matters that you get up one more time.