When I woke up at 4:30 am last Saturday it wasn’t my intention to end the day sweaty, tired, and in disbelief from learning that I can bike 36 miles per hour.
It all started off when Nick and I packed up our bikes and drove to Nashville for some fun with friends. I’ve always had a soft spot for Music City, but I really fell hard this time around. We spent the whole day on bikes: in Centennial Park, seeking out food, cruising the Art Crawl, and then finally attending the Saturday Night Sprints.
I’m pretty much the least competitive person I know, but after seeing my friends and peers consistently bike upwards of 30mph, I just couldn’t leave without testing my own limits. So I signed up and soon found myself perched on a bicycle trainer, waiting to pedal as fast as I could to go absolutely nowhere.
As I waited for the sprint to start, I thought about where I was this time last year: bruised up and hobbling around the house after being hit by a truck while cycling.
That was when my anxiety about biking fast had started. I was always a cautious cyclist, but after that collision, well, let’s just say I rarely biked hard enough to even break a sweat. For the last year I have cruised around town as the slowest cyclist I know— continuously alert and perpetually trying to anticipate every terrible driver’s unpredictable move.
But here I was: alive, healthy, happy, and far away from any moving cars. I was surrounded by my best friends and finally prepared to face my fears. The countdown started and 3. . . 2. . 1! I was off! I have never moved so fast in my life! My legs burned. My chest tightened. My body was covered in sweat. But I was alive. And I was biking. And that’s all that mattered during those 18 seconds.I didn’t think about how I sat on the pavement the night I was hit, screaming about the fact that I couldn’t move my leg. Or how angry I was at the driver who turned left into me. I just looked down at my legs— amazed with each rapid pedal stroke at how many miles they have carried me the last year. Amazed by how freeing it is to be able to depend on your body to get you where you’re going. I just pedaled my heart out, amazed by the fact that I was even alive.
After high-fiving all my friends and drinking about a gallon of water, I climbed on my own bike and headed towards the car. I reveled in the nearly empty city streets and let the evening air cool my face as I pedaled through Nashville as fast as I wanted.
Cycling through Music City that day revived my love for bikes. I let go of my fear of going as fast as I wanted, my automatic grudge against every driver, and my resentment towards each road that wasn’t paved with bikes in mind. It all weighed too much and it was literally slowing me down. I cycled happily through the brisk night and envisioned myself actually living in Nashville someday: learning the streets by bike and navigating on my own. I fell asleep that night with a sense of peace and woke up the next day with a mega crush on Music City and a desire to just pick up and move.