Everybody’s Got a Plan

by NAA

… until they get punched in the face.

It’s one of my favorite Mike Tyson quotes of all time.

I had a plan, until during a pre-race training ride, I landed on the pavement of a highway outside of Doha in Qatar. It was a stupid crash, one from which I would normally jump up, brush off and keep moving. But, like a really bad joke, I couldn’t get up.

Fast forward through a few hours in the ER. My team had gone (at my insistence — they had only one vehicle and needed to get my teammate Kat back to the hotel, not to mention all the prep required for the following day’s race), and I was lying on a gurney awaiting CT results. The head of the Qatar Cycling Federation stayed by my side, cheering me up with stories of how he discovered cycling and his own personal joy in being able to share his country with others through the Tour of Qatar. Then came the curt summary of CT results — fracture to the pelvis.

Punched. In. The. Face.

I thought of the countless winter days I had suffered through sleet, snow and in some cases, temps down to -4 C. Hours and hours in nasty, exhausting cold, inspired only by the promise of the first races, of feeling fit and strong and prepared to throw the first punch. But for this?

Emotions arise spontaneously, but we also have a degree of control over them. It’s a delicate balance, between being authentic — feeling what we need to feel — and not letting those emotions get the best of us.

Laying on the gurney, then, thinking of those long winter hours, disappointment settled heavily in my gut. I had earned a right to be disappointed, and I needed to allow myself this moment, to embrace my disappointment. It washed through me like a wave — overwhelming — then gone. I gave it  its due, and was able to truly let it go.

This happened. There is no looking back, and since those moments on the gurney, I really haven’t.

But I also had help. Our team at Qatar rose to a tough challenge — managing a stage race at the same time as tending to me in the hospital. I am pretty sure our mechanic, Rob Love, never slept, but you would never have known it for his undaunted enthusiasm. The girls raced better and better with each stage, which I got to watch on Qatar TV, and our staff stepped up in a big way to take care of all of us.

I also had my Blackberry, through which I had countless FB messages and e-mails to read each day. Every one of those messages made me smile, and there were so many, I quite literally filled my days reading all those overwhelmingly positive notes and wishes. You guys kept me laughing and smiling the whole time. Within a day I was able to stand and walk slowly with the help of a walker, and I’m pretty sure that rapid progress correlates directly with all the time I spent giggling in my hospital bed.

Thank you.

I may have been halfway around the world from my home and my home country, but I never for a moment felt alone. To have your support during that time meant a great deal to me, and a simple thank you seems ridiculously insufficient. However, it is the best I can do without getting unpleasantly sappy in a public forum.

So, I’ll say it again: Thank you!

Of course- this leaves out the whole circus adventure of visiting three different hospitals and getting back to Austria from the Persian Gulf in a wheelchair. There are so many stories within the story, that most will have to wait for subsequent posts.

For now, I’ll leave you with a quick update. I’m home, and loving being home. I actually sustained two fractures — one to the pelvis and one to the sacrum, neither of which required surgery. I can get around well with crutches, and the physical therapy is going well. This little bump in the road will soon be past, and in the meantime, all of this “recovery” time is just stoking the fire. I can’t wait to race. In the words of a famous Styrian badass, “I’ll be back.”


(images by me)