So as some of you know, a car hit me last week, while finishing a routine bicycle ride. I had ridden 18 miles on the trail, and was heading home on the road for the last 2 miles when it happened.
First, I was incredibly fortunate-while my bike and I were both shaken, bruised and scratched, I could easily have landed in the hospital, or worse-several in my biking circles have not been as fortunate, which is why I no longer ride much on roads, inconvenient as that sometimes is.
Second, it was really an opportunity-to walk my talk on resilience. I had another bike/car collision 15 years ago, so it was easy to compare and contrast my reactions and recovery now vs. then.
Last, it has been the door to a bit of semi-accidental activism around bicycle safety given the fairly spectacular bruises and the questions that arise as a result; the day after I was telling a neighbor about my accident, her child fell, and because he was wearing a helmet after hearing my story, he was OK.
My key takeaways from the accident relative to resilience:
1) Adapt; don’t hang on when it no longer serves you.
My initial reaction, seeing my shiny new bicycle completely under the hood of the car, was to hold on tighter to save it. That could have gotten me seriously hurt; fortunately I recognized fight/flight/freeze response in the moment, and overrode it.
2) Be grateful; things could be a lot worse.
Even while I was shaking with adrenaline, I was already grateful that I wasn’t in the hospital, that I was close to home, and it wasn’t a hit and run (my son was hit 2 weeks before on the same road-that was a hit and run; he’s OK too).
3) Be compassionate, towards others and self.
While I wasn’t thrilled about the driver’s error, I understood it. I clearly had the right of way, but he did apologize. While I could have beat myself up for not stopping longer to make sure we made eye contact, I didn't; sometimes you do your best and life just happens. I have had a few close calls while driving and admit it’s easy to pay attention to the cars and miss the cyclist. We all have blind spots, in driving and in life.
One of my favorite definitions of resilience is seeing opportunity within the obstacles. My opportunity here was to reframe and learn from this experience, in contrast to my last bike/car accident, where I felt angry and victimized afterward.
Mission accomplished, I’m happy to say; not only that, my bike is fixed and I’m riding again. Happy trails!