While on a ride after he stopped racing, Tris told me he was asked, “how does it feel to be a normal person again?” I don’t think it quite works that way. I still refer to him as “my teammate” even though he doesn’t race anymore.
Once you get sucked into this sport, it’s not something you do casually, and then it has a way of hanging on to you. Normal people don’t fully understand this — confirmed by the questions I was getting from the medical staff before and after surgery:
“So you were riding your bike and you fell off?”
“Does your bike have those skinny tires?”
“Did you ever do the Pedal to the Point ride?”
By strange coincidence, one of the RN’s on my floor at the hospital was Nick, a triathlete I know from the Thursday night Leroy time trial. He said the other nurses told him there was “a cyclist” on the floor. When he realized it was me, he told them, “that’s not just a cyclist”.
“They don’t get it”, he said, when he came in to talk with me. “I asked one of the nurses, you love to read, right? Well what if someone told you that you weren’t allowed to read a thing for the next 3 months? You’d go crazy.”
I’ve not gotten to the “going crazy” point yet. I think the severity of the injury has prevented that. When you can barely move your leg, it’s hard to imagine being on a bike. In that respect a broken collar bone was worse. My legs were OK and I could sit on a trainer, and it was maddening not to be able to ride outside.
I expect that at some point the “crazy to ride” feeling will arrive, and I will try to take that as another step in the recovery process.