5 Jun

There are loads of reasons to pick up cycling, but the one that’s had a most profound effect on me has been ‘loosing shame’, from the numerous times I’ve fallen off the bike.

 Being a cyclist who wears protective gear draws some attention, and being a chic draws more. You become a sort of spectacle not to mention target of lewd commentaries, occasionally. I’m one of those introverted types – just want to stay below the radar and avoid drawing too much attention. So cycling was extremely uncomfortable, though the freedom of movement outweighed the discomfort.
The unease I had, reduced greatly every time I fell. The first time I fell, was during my first week as a cyclist, and it happened smack in the middle of the road, in front of a matatu (Public Service transport Vehicle). Some guys came out to find out if I was okay. Others came rushing from across the road. I was not hurt. It was just so embarrassing. I felt ashamed to have worried these good people, when it was just a silly fall. Got back on the bike, all dirty, and rode home. Bike Snob NYC, light-heartedly tells us how to take it with a pinch of salt while VeloGirls give a more technical approach to it.
Thereafter I tried really hard to avoid falling. Which is unavoidable really, it’s kinda like ‘it comes with cycling’, and these tips for falling like a pro can come in handy. Kenyan drivers do not see cyclists, and a passenger can open the door of a moving car to get off, right in the middle of slow traffic!!
The next time I fell, I was less embarrassed. The last time I fell, last month, the shame aspect was pretty much non-existent. When this fear of embarrassing yourself dies, you find that you become more confident. You can push the boundaries, you get to know your limits: how fast/far you can go, which spaces are too small to maneuver through, which climbs are falsely steep, and which flats are unrelenting ascends.
This pushing boundaries has had a profound effect on my work and personal life. After the bangs and scrapes, I find that I take more risks. Because in pushing the boundaries, do you know what lies beyond?. As a result, one grows and has more experience avenues to draw from, which comes in handy while making decisions.
I suppose, accepting that falling happens, and of those times, you got up and going again, slowly becomes ingrained in your psyche. Ultimately changing who you are, such that, the things you want to be/do, become things you can try to do, without the shame of failure seeming so contemptible, that it holds you back from making any attempts.
Author: FindingCalm

Happy Cycling in Nairobi and beyond! ❤ Nairobi! ❤ Cycling!

2 Responses to “SheFallsOff…”

  1. mmnjug June 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    I still recall the time I fell in 2009, at a mkt/bus station on a wet Wednesday morning……just so happened that a Landcruiser passed me and the rear part touched my right handlebar……..! The shame, the disgust, the pain and thereafter the laughter……..still have a mark on my left palm……..! Hahaha!!

    Someone told me that falling off a bike is the licence to become a better cyclist……….not sure about that, but when pushing boundaries of abilities to take cycling risks is concerned, I couldn’t agree more…!!

    • shecyclesnairobi June 6, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      Hehe. FindingCalm has had a good share of “getting better” it appears.

      mmnjug, sounds like you got tarmac burn on your palm. I hope you went out and got hand guard gloves after that? My falls so far have been minor and somehow I manage to remain upright by letting go of the bike. Falling on a wet Nairobi road can leave you looking like you fell in the middle of Wakulima Market courtyard in the rain. The dust un-swept by the City Council or at least swept into non-existent drains turns to a custard-like sludge…Pole sana.

      My inexperience of falling also has to do with the fact that my first bike weighed a third of my own weight at 18-20kgs. The thought of falling off it and it landing on me mortified me enough to make me extra careful.

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