Sometimes the biggest obstacles to riding are in the brain, and the biggest difference between a pleasant and unpleasant experience is all in the interpretation.
Last week, with a touch of freezing rain, I was riding home, taking the lane on a busy 4 lane street during rush hour. Traffic slowed ahead of me. I lightly braked and went sideways, just like that, flat ass on 82 St. I was using due caution, proper equipment, the best technique, yet I found myself in the nightmare situation of going down in the middle of a slippery street in moving traffic with vehicles rapidly approaching from the rear. Luckily, the woman driving behind me was attentive and courteous, and there wasn’t a real danger of her hitting me. If I hadn’t been asserting myself and taking the whole lane though, it could have been much uglier.
I wasn’t physically injured (OK, a little sore for a couple of days), but it shook me up, even scared me, as I’ve had more “incidents” in 2 weeks than I did all of last winter. This week my riding started out as tense, stiff, tentative, white knuckled leaning on brakes too much and too hard (which reads like a list of “how not to ride in winter”). It took a few days to find my comfort zone again and trust my bike, to break the self perpetuating tension that comes from fear of injury.
Rolling over the small but ubiquitous snow bumps on the High Level Bridge this morning, I relaxed my grip on the handlebars as the gentle vibration massaged the last bit of apprehension out of my body, ready to enjoy the ride again. Yesterday these bumps stressed me out. Today, hardly anything is more comforting.