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I’m Okay, I’m Okay

Jim Goodin’s Story

Today’s article is by Jim Goodin, a cyclist at, co-incidentally, the same age as me. 58.

Jim has a story that might be familiar to you. Hitting the pavement. It’s happened to most of us, including me, before.

And his story doesn’t stop there.

I’ll let Jim take it away:

Well it happened again.  Last night coming home from a 50 mile ride with only 3 miles to go getting home a car in the oncoming lane turned in front of me.  I attempted to brake but next thing I remember was my front wheel meeting the passenger side of the car, then I and the bike went down.

Thankfully neither of us were going fast and I was not hurt, only stunned and silly worried if my bike was okay.  The car driver and passenger stopped to see if I was okay and ironically two police officers were near enough to come over to see what had happened.

The pulse was a blur and all kept asking if I was okay and once satisfied I was, was my bike okay?

Forty years ago in a sense the same thing happened only worse with injury though that accident only involved me and the pavement.  It was an over the handlebars face plant and much dental work to follow.

The other difference and purpose of this writing, in the former I ‘fell off the horse’ meaning I was traumatized by the incident and washed my hands of cycling.  Last night after calming myself and checking out my bike after all had left, I straightened my handlebars and rode the 3 miles home largely in the dark by street light by this time.

Anxiety was high but I kept saying ‘I’m okay, I’m okay…’.

jim goodin

Jim Goodin

With this blog running under the moniker of cycling for the over 40 crowd it is with that I lead in with the two scenarios.  The first took riding away from my youth, the time when it should be carefree and world by the tail, no worries and the second when life is fragile, fear ramped and common sense is supposed to be abundant.  Perhaps the difference is passion, perhaps it’s the realization of time is limited and seize the moment.

In my case both are true I think plus a couple of others.

One a cause, a charity, a hope, a personal connection with a chronic disease.  My daughter has type 1 diabetes.  For the 10 years she has lived with the condition, our family has each year participated in an event and fund raising for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (henceforth JDRF) an organization based in the States spearheading the research and goal of finding a cure for type 1 juvenile diabetes.

For 9 of those years we have participated every fall in the New York City JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes whose purpose is to bring together families affected by type 1 diabetes raising support and awareness and send a message of hope in finding a cure.

Around the time of last year’s event I learned the organization had a ride program challenging cyclists to participate in 7 national courses riding up to a 100 miles in their chosen location.  In addition to the ‘Century’ ride day each cyclist is challenged with doing fund raising for a period prior to the event.

I felt it was a time that I wanted to do something new for the organization and for diabetes research.  On a personal level I felt the desire to return to distance biking, a desire I had left behind 40 years ago, now feeling it was time to get back on the saddle for the good things and get beyond the fears which had held me at bay.

This past spring I registered for the ride program choosing the course in Tucson, Arizona, the El Tour de Tucson, a huge charity event shared by JDRF taking place on November 22nd.  In fact I’m proud to say my wife Ann, an avid runner and new cyclist in her own right, also registered to ride in the event with me.

Each JDRF affiliate chapter participating in the ride program has a training group led by certified coaches with extensive cycling experience.  I began participating in weekend rides with the New York Chapter cycling group affectionally called the ‘Crankees’, doing local park loops initially and increasing over the season to city and open road riding trips to build up distance and endurance as well as building confidence in riding in groups and open traffic.

Since May I have been throughout and beyond the New York area in distances up to 85 miles.  What was initially a daunting experience for me of riding in open traffic has grown in confidence though as I was reminded last night it’s never to be taken for granted.

Though my experience was scary from the standpoint of colliding with a car the reality was thankfully minor in that I was not hurt and though only in silly vanity my bike was not damaged.

I got a scare, a blow to my confidence and the reality that regardless of how careful I am or was I am vulnerable and to a degree it’s a luck of the draw, chance which for me is the hardest part to deal with.  That here is a variable in something that I have returned to enjoy that I can’t control the outcome, I can only be in the moment or as a phrase one of my JDRF coaches, ‘take it as it comes’.

It’s a paradox as many are drawn to cycling and I would say for me as well part of the draw is a certain freedom that we get in riding.  We are in the open air, passing people, places and things at a slower pace that gives us altogether different experience than from the blur of an automobile, train or plane.

Some say this experience is at times a zen state or a muse and even therapy as the physical activity can have a profound effect on the mind.  I heard Bicycling Magazine editor Bill Strickland say it best on a recent podcast interview when he said something to the degree of ‘I think everyone who has come to cycling has something they are trying to work out in pedaling’.

For me Strickland’s thoughts echo strongly.  For most of my adult years I’ve battled a fair amount of anxiety.  Coming in to riding the last few months and particularly with developing a structure of pedaling a minimum of 4 miles daily I have felt an improved balance in my anxiety and patience as well as more positive spirit.  Some of that has come from the community of riders sharing a common connection and some of it has been the time of being alone with the bike, with oneself and in the spirit of the moment.

The fine line for me now is to focus on the positive aspects of what I have come to enjoy in cycling as well as the confidence gains in what is now over a 1,000 miles of riding experience this training season and not to get caught up in the fear factor that I was reminded of in last evening’s accident.  I’m fighting with that now but as I reminded myself on the ride home last night, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay…’.

By Jim Goodin

Thanks for sharing Jim and good luck with your daughter.

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