In all my years and miles of bike riding, it was only a matter of time when I would experience my first crash.
I always imagined my first bicycle accident would occur while cornering at a high rate of speed or for me to go down in a peloton in a domino-effect like fashion during a race, but instead, I was taken out during a shake out ride when a cyclist lost control on a gravely descent. I did not expect a bicycle to fly directly into my path and leave me with only microseconds to choose my fate.
Of course, I was left with a few options:
Brake, but lose traction and wobble out of control just like the cyclist who crashed.
Swerve a hard left, but still lose traction and make inevitable contact with the barreling bicycle.
bunny hop over the wheel of the fallen bicycle and hope to clear the frame and ride off unscathed like some sort of magician.
Of course, I chose to believe in magic, but that left me on the gravel road a few seconds late with a disoriented view of the world turned sideways and the wind knocked out of me.
In a state of shock, I slowly got up and was in denial. Honestly thinking it was possible to continue on with the group ride and join the starting line the next morning.
However, I was informed that my helmet was broken. It was in that moment that my dream of experiencing Mid South and put my training to the test was no longer in the cards for me. I was heartbroken.
In a weird cosmic coincidence, the universe has made brain injuries a recent part of my life story. I may not know the reason why but the universe surely has my undivided attention. For me to break my helmet and potentially sustain a concussion after the crash, I was so scared.
Since November of 2021, my family and I have been navigating the unknowns of the traumatic brain injury that my older sister sustained. It is a miracle she is alive and has made great progress so far in her recovery.
I knew that a broken helmet usually calls for medial attention. The best course of action was to get checked out at the Emergency Room to ensure I did not sustain a concussion. I was not going to take any chance so I had to cycle through the stages of grief very quickly.
As fate would have it, I thankfully did not have a concussion and luckily the doctor discovered I had a fractured ankle. Perhaps it was the adrenaline coursing through my body that dulled the pain in my ankle but I am do appreciative we were able to discover the fracture because I would have been walking on it without knowing.
Despite the injury and having to put my season on hold, I am gracefully accepting the negatives and positives which has made me so appreciative of so many things, for instance:
- My able body that can heal itself
- My mind that my athleticism has strengthened
- My remarkable support system: community, friends, and family
- My career path that allows the flexibility to rest and heal
- My inspirational, resilient cycling community
- The ability to cherish and value rest
The above are just a few to mention, but trust that there is so much more to be thankful for.
My friend Elisha told me, “there are many more bike races, but only one you.” Those words stuck with me and helped me to shift my perspective to allow myself to accept help, to slow down, to revel in healing, and to be just as passionate about recovery in the same fashion as I do when training.
As parting words, please wear your helmet! I cannot stress how important it is; truly life saving.
All the love, Vanessa.