Sunday, November 9, 2014

Goodbye to all that

"You drove on the freeway!"

That was Danny's reaction when I got home from the Mount Hamilton loop. Nothing about spending all day on the bike, riding a hilly, satisfying, remote, self-supported century. That's nothing new. Nothing about finishing comfortably before dark, in the second week of November no small feat.

Getting up early on a Saturday morning. Like most full-time workers, now I want to spend the weekend recovering from the week.

Managing to eat gluten-free the whole day, even at the Junction, where meat sandwiches (and beer) are their specialty.

He knows that the real accomplishment, the real victory is being able to drive to and from the start of the ride in San Jose. Only 22 minutes.

But after the accident for some reason I could not drive on the freeway, not even to and from work. Everything was moving so fast.

I'd get on the freeway like my old self, and then get terrified and disoriented and not know what to focus on. The car felt like a foreign, runaway being. It freaked me out. It did not feel safe. Nothing about the process was reassuring and I couldn't think my way out of it. At the same time, I felt ashamed of losing this essential piece of function.

The 8-minute freeway leg of my old commute became a nightmare. Often I'd pull off at an exit and take surface streets. Sometimes I forced myself to stay on the freeway and my terror would ramp up to almost intolerable levels. That was ~3 years ago.

We live in one of those rare places in California where it is possible to not own a car. Luckily, bike and public transport work for most trips, and are often more efficient. But early in the morning to the start of this particular ride, you have to drive. On the freeway. And now I can do it.

The car felt solid and reliable in my hands. (I think) I was as attentive and skilled as other drivers on the road. Not enough, but at least it's par. It doesn't feel like I'm about to crash the car or explode from terror.

The main reason is gluten, and the tricks it played on my brain. After the neurological havoc it created, and the follow-on physical effects, a large amount of caffeine was needed to keep functioning. Hopped up on espresso, cognitively impaired. Not a great combo. As a driver or a passenger of a car, I was basically a terrified, wounded animal caught in a trap.

Now I can be just another idiot on the road, in denial about the laws of physics (and what can go wrong). Yay for progress!


  1. I feel funny saying congratulations... but congratulations! On the ride, too, because it sounds fantastic.

  2. Thanks Rachel! It was a perfect day...