The First Unexpected Adventure! Or: The Art of Falling. Or: One handed blogging

Today is the day for wheel-dipping and departing, so says my kitchen calendar in big blue letters; now there’s a big purple SIKE! written below that.

Two days ago I was rushing about on my new Surly Troll doing last-minute errands in preparation for Bike Odyssey. I was also practicing the art of clipping and un-clipping my cycling shoes without toppling over: initial success. Very good, thought I. Soon, though, came a dance with gravity wherein I measured a critical moment…the amount of time it would take to unclip my foot was greater than the amount of time it would take to hit the ground.

Thus began Unexpected Adventure Number One!

There were tears and lots of oh fuck fuck fucks I’m fucked I fucked the Odyssey, Bike Odyssey is fucked I’ve failed I’m fucked. That happened. But I have the great fortune of living with two wilderness first responders, aka first-aiders extraordinaire. I called them, they rescued me. We assessed the damage: a very bruised and swollen left wrist, extent of injury unknown, and an almost assured adventure delay.

This first item is now beyond my control, aside from obsessive RICEing (and believe me I am RICEing like a pro. Also: arnica, both topical and pellets, Advil and quite literally speaking words of encouragement to my wrist. The swelling’s gone down; I blame the talking to myself.) The second piece of damage, however, IS in my control. The adventure need not delay. I have declared it begun!

If travel is about seeing the world from new vantage points, then unexpected injury is most certainly a form of epic travel. Everything changes. And my oh my it is quite a ride. Disappointment, doubt and demons unnamed roam the periphery of the traveller’s mind, looking for any excuse to pounce. Look! The dog peed on your gear! That is the final straw you are fucked you are not supposed to go on an adventure; you are a crazy woman how did you ever come up with this ridonkulous scheme anyway? Are you NUTS? And the demons say yes yes you are you talk big but really you’re just a fragile little thing. Stay home and mind your own business, dearie.

But what might that be? My business? Who the hell knows. I think it might have something to do with living.

So I told the demons to fuck off and continued packing with one hand, the other dutifully elevated in the air above my head. Next morning I woke early for a field trip to the community clinic. All my clothes are in boxes (boxes that take two hands to open) save my cycling gear and a pair of pajamas, so I wandered out into the world in my PJs and tussled hair (I have yet to perfect the art of one-handed hair-doing) in search of mondo pronto healing.

Here’s the thing about being in obvious distress in public, especially early in the morning: people are puzzled into wanting to help.  “Hey lady, why you raising your hand in the air? You got a question or you want me to tickle you?”  Or: “why are you in such a hurry? And why aren’t you cranky, you gotta be in pain.” And sometimes: “When was the last time you saw a hair brush? Do they have a word for ‘bra’ on your planet?”

And then there’s the kindness: upon boarding the bus the driver commanded me to sit, seeing my elevated ace-bandaged arm. “I can see you’re gonna have trouble hangin on. Rest yourself.”

I got to the community clinic and took a seat in the lobby. Another patient sauntered in--a grizzled survivor of the sixties with a cowboy strut.  His stride said: I know how this place rolls, little fella, you’re a wee cowboy but I can teach you the ropes…maybe. He took a look at me: small anxious lady in PJs, one hand mysteriously suspended in the air. He looked me up and down, gauging my likelihood for rodeo success.

“Well,” he said, “at least you’re young and beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I said, and meant it.

Another clinic cowboy sauntered in; this was clearly not her first rodeo either. A seventy-five year old tomboy with neon pink running shoes and white pixie hair, her eyes said she’d seen a lot and my it was interesting and sad but crying about it was just less fun than doing other things about it.  She sat beside me.

            “Do you need something?” She asked.

            “No, I’m just elevating,” I said.

Grizzled Sixties chimed in, “She’s takin care of that hand.”

            “I see,” she said. “What did you do?”

            “I fell.”



A truly helpful and compassionate advice nurse came out to the lobby to take a look at my wrist. He took my hand gingerly in his and gazed through a pair of long badgery eyebrows to the blue bump on my palm. His forehead tweaked in a wrinkle of concern.

            “You’re planning to do what now?”

            …um, bike across North America…?

            Pause. “Let’s see if we can get you a brace.“

The rest of day one of The First Unexpected Adventure was a scrambling and grasping toward seeing and accepting my new adventure starting-place.  It felt like being home sick from elementary school for the first time, and getting to see home during the quiet weekday morning while everyone’s at work…seeing the week from the inside out. Or like flying through the air to see a forest canopy from above...and then plunging unexpectedly to the forest floor...and seeing the leaves from the under-side...which is an interesting and beautiful side to see them from. 

On day two of The First Unexpected Adventure, X-rays were rayed at me--I am now radioactive--not really. The first thing that was cool about this was that my mom was the x-ray tech x-raying me, so she sure x-rayed me well. Plus it was fun because I got to hang out with my mom.

The second cool thing about this was that the x-rays showed no broken bones. Here’s the catch--and it’s a funny catch because nature just seems to roll like that--I landed on a patch of my palm where lives a little bone called the scaphoid bone. If this is broken It’s bad news. But! And this is nature fucking with us all--a fracture line doesn’t show up on an x-ray until after it has begun to heal…after about a week.

It is unlikely that I have a fracture, but there will be more x-rays next week just to be sure (I will be a super-tastic-radio-active-x-ray-beast soon--not really.) These will yield more information about what shape the Next Unexpected Adventure might take. For now: a week of more unexpected adventures here on the forest floor, checking out the underside of this gorgeous canopy.