It looks and sounds much worse than it actually is.
Yesterday I was hit by a bus:
There's so much else I want to share, though, that this has to take the back seat for a moment.
My week started off with a difficult but amazing day - because we got a little lost heading out of Dayton, I wound up biking 88 miles, the first twenty-five of which were in the rain. It was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying - it's been a long time since I've played in the rain, and it was certainly nice not to be sweating in the heat, but it is definitely a little scary to bike in the rain. The redeeming factor of this extra-long ride was our stay at the Columbus JCC - after the Graeters ice cream welcoming us and a little time in the hot tub with my fellow lady riders, I felt like a whole new person.
Columbus to Zanesville was another great ride - I never thought I'd think of 66 miles as short, but after Sunday's ride, it felt like a piece of cake. I stopped with several riders at a cafe along the way for a latte (my first cup of coffee on the ride - what a luxury!) and what may have been the best cream puff I have ever eaten. We camped out in Zanesville at an RV campground, and because it was a clear night I was able to sleep in my tent without the rain fly, and fell asleep watching the stars.
Tuesday we rode from Zanesville, OH to Wheeling, WV. This was without a doubt the most difficult day of riding - over 86 miles, we climbed more than 6,000 feet - that is a huge quantity of hills, in case you weren't sure. By the time we got to the synagogue, I thought my legs might have turned to jelly. Our amazing burrito dinner and air-conditioned sleeping room did a lot to make up for the tough day.
Ride days are like camp days - each one seems to last for a week - so I feel like I've been here for months already, and am undergoing big changes. In the twelve days I've been here, I think my entire relationship to food has shifted. I eat so much more than I ever have before - we eat five or six times each day, depending on the length of the ride - and my cravings seem to change as the day goes on, letting me know when I need more salt, sugar, or protein. The best part, though, is the moment when I get what I need - taking a bite of egg salad or avocado, it feels like my whole body is happy to get the fuel that it wants.
Sleep is also an increasingly precious commodity. I get around seven hours per night, but can easily sleep for eleven or twelve given the opportunity. Carpeted floors seem infinitely more luxurious than hardwood, beds with real pillows are an occasional dream. I'm constantly reminding hosts that my standards are fairly low - no need to apologize for the freshly cooked eggs and fruit salad for breakfast; yesterday I ate cold cereal out of a mug with a fork while standing around waiting for the sun to rise (to be fair, this has only happened once).
Then there's the question of quality of roads and paths. I've become a little bit of a connoisseur - paved, shady paths through the woods are the best, followed by pavement in the sun. Freshly paved roads are an indulgence; crushed gravel paths are to be tolerated. And then there are the cities - which brings us to yesterday, and the aforementioned bus incident. Empty suburban streets are the best, but we can't always ride through them. And sometimes our directions to the bike paths are a little unclear, and we get hopelessly lost on our way into a city like Pittsburgh.
I was riding with Shira yesterday - we had made it safely through about 60 miles of trail riding, when we lost our way in Pittsburgh. After a few back and forths, we finally crossed over the Birmingham Bridge into Oakland, and started biking up Forbes avenue towards the JCC. We were somewhere between 2-4 miles away when we hit a red light. I stopped at an intersection in front of a bus. The light turned green, the bus and I both started moving forward. I noticed the bus trying to speed past me, and moved over to the right to get out of the way - unfortunately for me, the bus driver misjudged the distance between the side of his vehicle and the sidewalk. I could see my options disappearing in front of me; and then boom! The side of the bus hit the side of my hand and my upper arm, and that was that.
I can't lie, it hurt quite a lot. A Good Samaritan grabbed some ice; an EMT stopped to check me out, and then the emergency vehicles started arriving. Four police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance later, I declined an ambulance ride and had Garth, my friend and Hazon staffer, drive me to the closest hospital to get checked out. 6 x-rays show almost no damage - there's a possible fracture at the base of my left ring finger, but the probability of that is very low. I've got a pretty big bruise\road rash combo on my upper arm, as pictured above. I'm on a regimen of ice and ibuprofen for both, and instructions to wait it out for a few days and see how I feel. I'm taking tomorrow off from riding, and will hopefully be able to get back on my bike on Sunday or Monday.
I don't really know what the lesson is here. I was riding safely, and I seem to have come out of things in pretty good shape. Pittsburgh may have fallen off of my list of places to live, but that's not such a tragedy. I already knew that I had an incredible community here, but it has been proven to me yet again how lovely they are.
So I think I'll end the way I began: