Today I am grateful that I am a person who believes that accidents happen despite the best of intentions.
I am now back using my windtrainer at home and getting closer to wanting to ride my bike again. In the last six months I have had a lot of time to go over the accident in my head and to think about whether I want to ever ride my bike on the road again. Part of this process has been to analyize whether the accident was my fault. I was the only one involved in my accident so it is a fair question.
I have been challenged by not only my husband but also my psychologist. David has suggested I was the one in charge of my bike so it is my fault. My psychologist suggested that I was so anxious that my anxiety produced chemicals that caused my hands to cramp which in turn meant the accident was my fault. I like to ride in a peleton and I do not want to put myself or my fellow riders at risk if I am an unsafe rider so I needed to examine these statements.
The following is a list of all the thoughts I had.
1. I was anxious coming down the hill.
2. My anxiety was increased by the gradient of the hill, the fact I could not get down on the drops and the two unknown riders who were initially in front of me.
3. I was a good enough and skilled enough rider to negotiate the hill.
4. My hands cramped. My anxiety may have contributed to this but it was not the entire reason. My hands have felt like this before on very steep hills. My hands are small, the hill was steep, it was so steep that it was dangerous to have too much speed therefore I was braking hard.
5. I released my brakes momentarily to put them on more firmly. I should not have released my brakes but it was an accident.
6. I worry that I am not a competent rider and that I should not have tried to ride down this particular hill. It was not proof that I am a hopeless rider. The fact that I rode other big rides and hills safely in the past shows that I am an extremely competent rider.
7. I have done big rides, I have done skills development, hill climbing and descending. I am always very aware of other riders and very considerate of my ability and theirs. This day was no different.
8. Other people enjoy riding with me because I am a safe and skilled rider. In other areas of my life I work hard to not have crisis. For example be very well prepared. I have dealt with crisis e.g. cardiac arrests, sick kids, other people in bike accidents.
9. I do get anxious doing things but I have never got so anxious that I have panicked .
10. I do not want to dissect this too much because I do not want to blame anyone – it was a series of factors that contributed to the event.
11. I have felt very worried in the past about events. For example doing the Noosa 160km ride I said goodbye to my children – I was worried I would get so tired I would fall off my bike and have an accident. I was not worried about my skills it was the distance that was a concern. I actually wrote an email to one of my fellow riders letting them know I was capable and prepared to do the ride and if I wasn’t I had scaffolding in place so I would be ok.
12. This ride was a training ride for the Peaks ride at the Gold Coast. I was preparing for the Peaks ride and so I was training hard and this particular ride was hard in preparation for what I was to encounter in the Gold Coast ride. We rode in a group. We had vehicle support. I rode with other competent riders.
13. I was doing the ride to have a goal. I was not doing it to prove I was a competent rider. I am definitely competitive and that is always a driving force behind events and ways I push myself.
14. In relation to The Peaks ride – it was close to Brisbane so if I decided not to do the ride there was no extra cost of accommodation etc, if I wasn’t up to a certain standard prior to the event I wouldn’t have done it, we were planning on practicing each of the hills prior to the event, I was doing altitude and a training program to prepare. I was doing all the training. I was becoming as prepared as anyone to do the event.
15. I was riding with one Level 2 coach, one Level One coach, my husband and my regular ride captain. None of them advised me that this hill was above my ability. They all believed I was capable of riding it.
The result of all the thoughts I have put down above is that I am a competent rider, I like to have goals, the accident was an accident and no one is to blame including myself.
This was an important process for me to work through because I want to get back on my bike, I want to be safe and I want to continue to ride in a way that is safe for my fellow riders.
I am grateful that I have taken the time to think about the accident in this way.
I am grateful that I believe accidents do happen. I have worked very hard to ensure the way I ride my bike is as as safe as possible – I have done skills development, I choose to ride with other safe riders, I keep my bike in good working order and I have it serviced regularly, I choose rides that are challenging but not beyond my capability and I am careful not to ride if I am sick or tired. Despite all these elements it is still possible to have bad things happen. This happens all the time in life too. No matter how prepared or how many ways I make myself and my family safe, accidents can happen and things can go wrong. I was doing the best I could on June 10th. I do the best I can in life in general. I think most people do. This has been a challenging process – I will continue to work hard to try and prevent yucky things happening in my life and my families life but I know that life is unpredictable, we all do our best at the time but sometimes our best just is not enough and that is ok.