Our own Carol Lucking had the unfortunate experience of being hit by a car several years ago... Carol was actually the first of Megan's cycling clients, and the way the wonderful universe works, they now work together at Hottman Law Office, passionate about bike advocacy, commuting, and getting more women on bikes.
Below, Carol recounts her experience and the challenge of not just the physical, but mental and emotional recovery, and the courage it takes to learn to trust traffic again:
"In 2009 I was doing VO2 max intervals. On the seventh of eight intervals I was hit by a car.
I never finished that set of intervals. In fact, I never did VO2 max intervals at the same level again. I tried, halfheartedly, for a season, but I never got back to the same wattage or intensity.
Yet, I believe that I fully recovered from that accident, both physically and mentally. I was out riding my bike a week and a half after the accident. My collarbone was broken - but just the end. So as long as it didn't hurt I could use it. My foot was broken, but we didn't figure that out for another six weeks. So I kept using it.
After the accident I was very angry. How did that driver not see me?! Why did he only get a two point ticket for failure to yield? But I had to move on. My anger would only hurt me. I had to focus on the small victories. The week I took off of work to recover was the last week of the Tour de France - 4 hours of great television every day! I got hit by a car and I walked (limped) out of the hospital! My head was bruised, but I didn't have any brain damage! I got a fair settlement from the driver's insurance company!
How did I recover mentally? I am not really sure. My brain protected me - I don't actually remember the accident. My husband told me what happened (he was about 40 feet behind me).
I started riding again because I had to. I met my husband working at a bike shop. Most of my friends are (or were) racers. My whole family rides. Without cycling, what would I do? My social life would be gone. I did buy a mountain bike so I could ride more without cars. I love it. It has challenged my skill set and mental capability in ways I never imagined. And I commute by bike weekly through downtown Denver.
I guess it comes down to trust - I trust that drivers are going to (generally) behave responsibly and I trust my ability to get myself through tough situations. No, it doesn't always work out. But I wouldn't be happy staying inside. We all take risks every day, and cycling is a worthwhile risk for me.
I am a different rider than I was before the accident, but in many ways I am now a better rider. I still ride on the road in traffic, but I don't take it for granted that a car turning left is slowing down because he sees me. I was hit on a road that I deemed "safe" - low traffic, low speed limit, lots of cyclists and pedestrians. Now I am more alert; "safe" roads can be the most dangerous!
Ultimately, focusing on the joy of cycling and movement got me back on the bike."
Thanks for sharing Carol! (And as a side-note, not only has she embraced the mountain bike but she just completed her first ever SOLO 18 hours of Fruita Mountain Bike race last weekend!!!).