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- October 30, 2019 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 185: Janelle Hartman, Final Finisher of the 2018 New York City Marathon
This weekend had all the makings of being fantastic.
Sunday was Brian’s birthday, so I made all kinds of plans.
First, I cooked dinner. This was all the way back on Friday. I made chicken and baked potatoes and spinach (November dish complete!) and whipped up a little chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. NBD.
Then, on Saturday, I did a little planned kidnapping.
I told Brian to pack a bag and a bike, I rented a car and we drove to various mystery locations. First stop, to make him “feel young again,” was to a place where the floor is trampolines.
One of us was awesome at jumping and doing flips.
One of us…not so much.
After an exhausting session of bouncing around (which, by the way, did not have the desired “feel young” effect I was going for because we were the oldest people there by about 15 years), we continued driving north to our next hotspot.
The destination for the weekend was Fishkill, NY, a lovely little town upstate.
We had a fantastic dinner Saturday night and got to bed early because Brian had just one request for his birthday: “Go for a long bike ride.”
Long = 100 miles, to be exact.
So that was the plan.
We were going to ride a “recreational century” and apparently I was part of this. Nothing to it, right? Just start pedaling…
But I figured the timing was good. I’ve been resting my body plenty, I’m recovered from the marathon, I don’t have any races coming up and why not ride 100 miles for “fun” (though at this point in my life I’m starting to think “fun” and “torture” are interchangeable terms)?
We woke up Sunday morning and the day seemed a little disastrous for a long ride.
Brian was over-thinking the weather and the coldness factor and the timing of it all, and I was using my typical approach to cycling which is, “just go do it or whatever.”
As always, my goal for the day was “don’t die.”
In a scarier-than-ever turn of events, I came way too close to my “don’t die” goal than I ever would have liked.
The ride was tough from the start. My gears were being funky and it was so cold. My feet went numb almost immediately and there wasn’t a glimpse of sunshine to be found.
The route we followed was gorgeous. Huge houses, Hudson River views, farmland…
…and even a very cool overpass crossing the river.
The weather sucked and my legs and butt were hurting by mile 30 (pathetic), but the scenery almost made up for it.
At one point during the ride — probably on a downhill — I was like, “Cycling is such a blast! But I also love running! OMG I should totally do an Ironman!” (Because obviously, why not try a duathlon or even a sprint tri — jump right into the big guy, you fool.) I had a really tough time on the ascents, which wasn’t too surprising, but overall I wasn’t cursing my little Trek too much. We were getting along just fine. (I was cursing Brian a bit, though — why couldn’t his birthday wish have been something far more relaxing, like “spend the day in a hot tub” or “eat all the foods?”)
Because we got a later start than we’d hoped or planned, and because it wasn’t a sunny day to begin with, it started to get dark much earlier than we’d anticipated. Also because I was riding so slowly and because we did 4,300 feet of climbing.
We hit 87 miles after a long series of uphills. I was so happy to finally be flying downhill! It had gotten dark out, though, and I was freezing. I was riding behind Brian, maybe a few hundred feet back, as we cruised along a 4-lane main road. (Not ideal, but we had to be on it to get onto the bridge to cross the river…to grandmother’s house we rode.)
Then it happened.
Dun dun dunnnnn.
My wheel hit a grate (at least I think that’s what happened) and it wiggled out of control. I don’t know if I tried to straighten it out or if I just went with it, but the next thing I knew I was skidding across the street underneath my bike.
I remember feeling panicked and I remember my bike coming down on top of me. I remember hitting my head against the pavement and I remember feeling immediate pain in my right arm and shoulder.
I stopped skidding and I was in the middle of the busy road. I remember laying there, watching my water bottle roll across the street, and thinking, “I need to go get my water bottle.”
I was in shock. I knew immediately that nothing was broken. I sort of crawled out of the road onto the sidewalk and saw Brian racing back toward me. Apparently he heard me yell and heard my bike skid and fall, and then turned around and saw me all mangled in the middle of the road.
Notes from Brian: “I got back to you before you got to the sidewalk. I helped you to the sidewalk, then got your bike.” (Thanks, Birthday Hero.) “I also flagged off traffic to go around your bike.”
So Brian saved my life and my stupid bike.
I sat on the sidewalk and immediately started crying.
I remember Brian yelling, “You’re OK, you’re OK” and I just believed him. I was nervous I might’ve had a concussion or something (never had one, so I have no idea what that feels like) since I knew I hit my head, but it’s been a few hours and I haven’t toppled over or passed out or anything, so I’m probably good to go.
The first big bruise that formed was on my ego. I felt badly knowing Brian wanted to ride 100 miles and we only made it to 87. I tried to convince him I could keep going, but he wasn’t having it.
As soon as I registered what had happened — still sitting on that sidewalk while cars stopped (Brian says: “one car stopped”) to make sure I wasn’t dead — everything else started to hurt.
It was dark and I was cold and cars were speeding by, and then I kind of realized: “Holy shit, I could have just died.”
So dramatic, right?
But it’s true, and I had a “super best case scenario bike crash.” We were on a busy road and there were cars going at 45 MPH in both directions. If a car had been closer behind me, it would have run me over. If a car had been coming in the opposite direction, we would have had a head-on scenario.
Imagine how much that would’ve ruined Brian’s birthday!
But instead, I’m fine. Luckily, I’m fine. My right hip, where I must’ve taken the brunt of the fall, is swollen, tender and sore. There’s a pretty hot bruise on my left leg, too, where I think my leg slammed against the bike frame as I fell. I managed to rip through both my long-sleeved shirt and my jacket, and there are multiple shreds in my pants. And my head is pounding. (Mom, relax. It’s not a concussion. It’s a headache. I will wake up in the morning.)
I’m a bit bruised, a bit bloodied, a bit mangled…
I never ever ever thought I’d have a serious bike fall. The other times I’ve fallen it’s been because I’m too uncoordinated to manage the whole “clipping in and out” function of the bike.
And now, I’d like to retire from this Dumb As Shit Sport.
Do you want to buy a bike?
I’ll give it to you. I never want to get back on my little Lexa. She failed me today and I’m so mad at her.
But ultimately, I’m feeling incredibly fortunate. I fell off my bike — into a busy road — while going fast. And I’m here to tell about it…with a bit of sarcasm, even.
PSA of the Day: Wear a bike helmet, for the love of Cadbury Mini Eggs. Don’t be stupid.
Also, this is really important: I Heart Sweat shirts will NOT be going on sale Monday at 12 PM as promised. Sorry. I was too busy crashing and burning to get that all together.
The new plan: I Heart Sweat shirts will be on sale here Tuesday, December 4, at 12 PM. Same deal as before. All the colors! All the sizes! All the variety of sweating combinations!
Also something very important of note: I’m too busy tending to my tragic wounds to pick a giveaway winner. So you get an extra day to enter the I Heart Sweat shirt giveaway. I’ll pick a winner Tuesday at 9 AM.