So, time to get back on the blog. I have been tied up with training for the Pan Mass Challenge, and more, but I miss this space, so I’m back.
I also missed the past week on NECN with a broken nose and some other cuts after an unfortunate biking accident (I hit a car during a training ride) – but now with a new front fork and a week of rest, I am climbing back on the bike. And as I get back on the bike, I am seeing a lot of similarities between the way I have reacted to my bike crash and other times when I have had an unfortunate result from something I have been doing. And I’m realizing I took away more than a few injuries from my bike crash – I was reminded of some lessons that apply in my work as much as they do on the road.
1. Failure is expected.
No one wants to crash a bike. But crashes happen. They hurt. But the only way to be perfectly safe with a bike is never to touch it. That means you won’t get any of the benefits of the riding, either. Anything you do comes with a risk of failure/pain/suffering. But if you don’t do anything, you won’t get anywhere, either.
2. Be prepared.
A couple of weeks before my crash, I got a flat while on a group ride – and needed help from my ridemates to get me back on the road. I didn’t have a tube for my tire. I didn’t have my pump. Considering the likelihood that a “failure” (flat tire) will occur – I was woefully unprepared.
That said, when my crash happened, I had the one biggest piece of preparation I could have – I had a helmet. It took the brunt of a blow that would have probably given me a concussion or worse. I still took a good whack to the nose, but this little bit of preparation saved me a far worse fate. Doing what you can to protect yourself matters.
3. Keep your focus on the tasks at hand.
So what happened? Plain and simple. I was riding with my head down and sailed into a car. I had a good reason – I was checking my form as I rode, because I was putting some strain on my knee by riding with poor form during long training rides. But I lost focus on my immediate task, which was to propel myself at 18 mph without hitting anything. There are plenty of supplemental tasks that come with any work. But if you lose your focus on what’s immediately most important – there’s a car up ahead you won’t see.
4. Look for the damage you don’t immediately see – and seek expert advice.
Somehow, I walked away from the crash. And other than my nose and some quality bruises on my arms and torso, I was unhurt and damn lucky. My bike even appeared to be OK – the wheels spun true, the brakes still worked. But just in case, I went to the ER (no concussion) and the bike shop. I’d had three other people look at the bike, but it took the bike mechanic to say, “Dude, you bent the hell out of the front fork”, which I had. The telltale sign? Cracked paint on both sides of the fork. The metal bent, but the paint didn’t. Riding with a bent fork is a big problem waiting to happen. But without going to an expert who knew better than I the signs to look for, I wouldn’t have known.
5. Learn from your mistakes – but don’t get overly cautious.
I admit it. A part of me is not excited to get back on the bike. It hurt. And I don’t want to hit another car. But if I get extremely tentative on my next ride, I could be creating a larger risk than I am avoiding, especially as I ride in a large group on Pan Mass Challenge weekend. I am trying to remind myself that having a crash doesn’t change the overall (small) odds of crashing. And if I am vigilant, rather than cautious, I actually reduce those odds. Learning from mistakes is good – but retreating from what you want to do over the fear of making mistakes may make it even more likely you will fail.
6. Keep your eyes on the prize.
In all of this – I need to remember why I started riding this summer. It wasn’t to get from Point A to Point B, although it’s a nice side benefit. It wasn’t solely to get in shape. It was to raise money. To fight cancer. And that is the ultimate prize. That’s why I started this.
And as I write these reminders for myself, I realize how often these same lessons can apply to other things I am trying to do with social media, technology and more. If you try something – there is always a chance you will fail at it. Or something bad will happen. All you can do is minimize your risks, take as many precautions as you can, learn from your past, and remember why you wanted to try in the first place.
Time to get back in the saddle.