18 July 2006

The Fall…and it ain’t the house of Usher

Falling from a bike is a right of passage. We’ve all fallen, from that tricycle, deluded as always from the false safety of extra wheels, then later just from riding that normal afternoon ride over that pot-hole we didn’t see; that gravel on the curve. The more advanced riders fall, too, as seen in this year’s Tour de France.

In fact, there is NO NOT FALLING from our two-wheeled horses.

Getting back up is part of that passage from no fear, to panic, to respect for speed and road.


When my 8-year-old son fell HARD a few days ago going down a rocky slope for the first time, twisting his bike out of shape, tearing the breaks out of his handlebar and holding his right elbow in tears as though he had broken it made me reflect on these “dangers” for awhile.

It was difficult to get my son back on his bike; nothing happened to his elbow (or his head, thanks to the helmet). Only lovely black and blues added to his beginner’s scar collection. Still he isn’t riding the same as before. He’s afraid. He’s tasted fear and pain – for the first time on a bike. How to make him overcome?

When I was zooming down at 58.3 km down-hill yesterday, my bike swerving in a cross-wind, – that taste of speed-fear on my lips – I thought of my boy: his fear in me.


the old bag said...

How to overcome? Patience...knowing the mental hurdles and helping him to understand it's all normal that our brains and bodies have to work through the memory once back on the bicycle...helping him to understand he'll be a smart, wise cyclist because he'll now recognize similar situations before they occur.

Just like running across the lawn -- at some point he's fallen and scraped, but that doesn't stop him from ever running again...he just runs smarter now.


A.R.B. said...

Such good and kind advise. Thank you, OB. It isn’t easy to encourage without going over the line. I’ve let him take it easy for a while and he’s gotten back on the bike but he isn’t the same, you know. I think reality got a good part of him but we’re working on it. Thanks.

Ruby said...

As you know I recently had a very serious and potentially fatal crash. I haven't been the same since. I think that your son's reaction is normal, and he is too young to have developed the highly tuned reasoning skills that I have. But he is back on his bike. And that's a good thing. I think that you'd be more concerned if he hopped back on and and threw caution to the wind by not showing any indication that he'd learned from his experience. And that's all I've got to say about that. I'm glad that he's ok. How are you though?

A.R.B. said...

I know, Ruby, and you were very lucky. Mother experience is a harsh teacher. I think my boy now knows exactly what I meant – like a broken record – about being careful on the bike. (Have to hear my own words, too, as lately I’ve been speeding down hills with a bit of abandon.) One fall has taught him more than all my babbling for the last six months. And how very much I wish it didn’t have to be like that. In retrospect I believe I was partly at fault because the trail I took him on had its little complications and I asked too much of him. Interestingly, it was when he had become much more comfortable on the trail and he was whistling along (“looking up at the sea-gulls”, he later confessed) that some trail-stones got in his way. Lessons. Thank you for caring.

Shawn Kielty said...

We want our children to listen to us and thereby not suffer the same pains that we have.

But they don't. They dawdle and gawk -- and watch the seagulls in the wind and learn the same hard lessons that we did.

They really do as we do -- not we say.

A.R.B. said...

That’s right, Shawn. The good news is that we’ve been out a couple of times since THE FALL and he seems to enjoy the bike again, though his downhill speed has decreased to crawling speed. But that’s okay. I know he’s up to something. I think he saw a little road bike for children in some catalogue and he’s been talking about it.

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