Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Humility is Healthy

I went with Kenbob down to the garbage transfer station today, where I got some firsthand experience with dumping garbage

and compressing it as it explodes.

Then I was sent to haul rocks, which I did the rest of the work day. It was an amazingly hard workout, which I'm glad I got, because while my lower body is fine with the biking, these kinds of jobs are currently my only way to exercise my upper body.


Then Kenbob put me on a motorcycle. Having had experience with both bikes and stick shifts, it wasn't too bad. Starting it was the biggest pain—the 1984 Honda had to be kick-started, and I would have to try over and over and over again, often breaking a sweat before the engine would actually get going. It was also easy to accidentally flood it while you tried to start it, which in turn would make it even harder to start, causing a vicious cycle.

For the first few minutes, I went through a "jerky" phase, staying in first gear and learning to apply the gas smoothly while dodging trees. I'm glad to say I didn't hit any. I found that Kenbob was exactly right when he told me engine braking was the way to go. I got more comfortable and started shifting gears and got out onto the road.

Pretty quickly, I was flying around among the cornfields and soybean fields, taking sharp turns over loose gravel without worrying about wiping out. I would still occasionally see a bump ahead and brace myself as I would on my bike, and feel momentarily stunned when I wouldn't even feel it.

At Kenbob's suggestion, I veered off the road and shot along a tiny path, with corn on my right and a stream on my left. I zipped through mud and slid down a steep slope. I was loving it. I got sassy.

At one point, flying down a path between corn and trees, shooting mud backward from the rear wheel, I realized I was about to hit a wooden power line pole. Without even bothering to go for the clutch, I tried to hit the rear brake (which is a pedal). I missed it. I had about a tenth of a second left. There wasn't time to poke around for it. I slammed on the front brake (on the handlebar like on a bike).

The motorcycle wiped out, turning left side forward, and stalled. I felt myself get thrown and let go of the handlebars. My head hit the ground, but thanks to the helmet (motorcycle helmets are amazing), I didn't feel that at all. Then my hands came down. I felt my left wrist get twisted sideways and my left thumb get pushed back. Then I felt my right knee smash into the mud. Before I could blink, I felt the entire weight of the motorcycle come down onto my left foot.

All this happened within about a quarter of a second. For the next 30 seconds or so, I just lay on the ground, quietly whimpering to myself. The words that came out were "It's all fine, I can feel it. Just lie here for a bit and the pain will go away." Then I moved on to "Oh, God. Oh, f__k. Make it stop."

After a while, I successfully got up and hobbled back and forth a bit. I managed to stand up straight. I started to laugh and realized my mouth was full of dirt. In a classic move I had seen many times but never understood before, I removed the helmet with my left hand, turned my face to the right and spit on the ground.

It took me a while before I managed to lift the motorcycle and place it back on its wheels. It was much heavier than my bike, even when my bike was loaded with all the luggage. It took me forever to kick-start it because I didn't realize that in the confusion as I got thrown, my hand brushed and flipped the emergency kill switch. Finally, I started it back up and rode back.

Feeling much better, I told Kenbob I didn't want to stop, so he briefed me on a more difficult (or, in his words, "fun") route to take.

One thing I love about Kenbob is his belief in personal responsibility. No matter how stupid I decide to be, it's my decision and my responsibility. I took the route he suggested, right through a cornfield, with very sharp and muddy turns. I got whacked in the helmet with corn, but otherwise emerged fine.


I went back and took a shower. Everything was better except the foot on which the motorcycle had landed, which hurt a lot when moved in certain ways. I tried relaxing the muscles and moving it around with my hands, and the pain went away, so I knew there were no fractures and it was all muscle stress. I further determined which muscle was stressed, and will try to massage it and get it to work better again. If it doesn't get better quickly, I may have to skip work tomorrow, which would be seriously annoying. Thursday, I have every intention to get on my bike and keep pedaling. I'm pretty sure I can do that even if my foot still hurts.

I'm not taking any pain killers, though. I want to make sure I learn everything possible from today.

"A humbling fall is the best thing you can get the first day you ride," said Kenbob.

1 comment:

  1. you got sassy! haha! I love this story!