Cycling, Ribs, and Yoga

Today was the first time back on my bike since my crash 6 weeks ago. After breaking 4 of my ribs and collapsing a lung, I was a bit anxious as I approached the 1st hill (deep breaths).

Up to this point I was reminding myself of all the basics: ‘pull up on the back stroke, push down over the top, use the gears and save the legs‘ etc. That was on fairly flat roads. Quickly, the ‘mental’ messages gave way to familiar muscle memory.  Shortly after starting the 1st hill, I thought: “okay, here comes the test“.

But, I remembered the breathing technique I learned in a Yoga class, “ujjayi“, where you use your diaphragm to inhale and exhale. I had no discomfort!  It’s like the ribs get bypassed and the diaphragm does all the hard work. It was a relief and empowering.

It is amazing how in just 6 short weeks the techniques, which had been automatic, reverted to a deliberate, mental process. I had been practicing ujjayi breathing before my accident and was relieved this AM when I remembered it on my first ascent.

Truth be known: THIS time, as I began the big descent, I actually touched my brakes.   Well, “touched” is not correct. I used them for nearly half of the crest down, where I normally love to fly.  Now I understand, a little more clearly, why seasoned riders always go so much slower down steep hills than I do, er, DID.

So, am I chicken or more wise?

 

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