The little issues – missing a workout or rain stopping play – fretted about over the years are brought into perspective when you experience real catastrophe on two wheels on a foreign road. I learned this lesson abruptly during my ongoing recovery from a horrific bike accident that nearly took my life last summer.
I read that around 50 percent of people with the brain injuries I sustained don’t even make hospital. And the high majority of the remaining half don’t leave a hospital bed or feed themselves again. Those stats are just from one of my many injuries, but if there were ever a set of odds to beat, they’d be a good start. And if reason were needed to put a lack of sleep or back pain or how to get back into a size small Gabba next month into perspective, the beating of those odds would be a contender. I currently seem in what feels like a living nightmare, but when things feel desperate, I think, ‘You’re not in a helicopter ambulance or 10 week coma or intensive care now’. Being relieved those things are past tense helps create hope for what comes next in this script. And hope is everything in this hospital.
I think if I were to reflect on this experience and have a chance to use it for good, I would simply try and explain to a younger me not to sweat the small stuff.
Perspective is to be watched out for, accepted and respected, but crucially also understood. It has been my savior in this experience and would likely be the one area of self-awareness I would share for a smoother cycling journey to middle age and beyond.
That and I would give my younger self a larger credit card limit for the bike shop in Cambridge, Massachussetts, that I still remember was selling off the old stock of local Yo Eddy frames cheap in the mid – ‘90s.
Originally published in Bicycling Magazine 2019.