Saturday, July 15, 2017
Can't Help Falling. Again.
While vacationing in Key West a few weeks ago, I decided to join the younger set for an afternoon of calm, easy-going cycling out to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. I mean, I can ride a bike, right? The only thing concerning me was that I might not be able to keep up with the rest of the group (I am getting on in years).
Turns out, keeping up was a problem, but not in the way you might think. The problem wasn't keeping up horizontally moving forward; the problem was keeping up vertically when coming to a stop. It was as if I'd lost total muscle memory when it came to braking, putting my feet down on the pavement, and keeping myself and the bike upright. See? I know how it's done, but my legs and feet weren't getting the message from my head.
Now, I didn't fall every time. A bike lane with a curb to step on to was a big help. That extra 5-7 inches made a difference, I reckon. But without the benefit of something easy to help brace my stop, I just couldn't manage it without some kind of calamity.
It just got crazier and crazier. Once I decided (it was a decision, right?) that old-fashioned muscle memory wasn't working for me, I tried everything I could to forestall the inevitable. I tried not thinking about the stopping process (hoping my body would do the right thing - er, no). I tried repeating the steps in my head before approaching a stop (push down on pedals, get feet to pavement, hold bike and myself upright). Nope.
So I'm wondering, is this what getting old is like? Disappearing muscle memory? The body forgetting how to do simple things that have always come naturally? Or maybe not. Maybe I just had a bad bicyle day. Maybe the bike was too heavy or too big for me. Maybe I needed hand-brakes, not the old fashioned pedal-brakes. Time will tell.
Do I rush out and get back on a bike as quickly as possible, or admit my biking days are behind me? I'm pretty spooked about it. I love riding a bike. Let's face it, it's the first feeling of flying and freedom that you have as a kid. But the pain and embarrassment are still fresh in my mind, just as the bruises are still fresh on my knees.
What would you do if it were your knees?