You know how when you first get sober, you try to replace all the bad things you did with good things? I once had a psychiatrist tell me, “Replace alcohol with good addictions,” and to this day I resent it. I don’t know why it rubbed me the wrong way, but it did. Butterfly catching? Hounding my children? It seemed insensitive to me, like I could throw down the bottle and pick up a fishing rod without a hitch…
Anyway, one of the things I tried to do to keep from drinking was ride a bike. Suffice to say it did not work for me. I was inclined to ride too fast for too long and there is not a bike made that feels comfortable to me (other than the type Angela Lansbury rode on Murder She Wrote or the Wicked Witch and those were not looks I was going for…). I had a 10-speed and a beach cruiser. There are three incidents I remember early in my recovery on a bike:
- On my maiden voyage, I packed a healthy snack and water and rode to Mickler’s Landing – about 12 miles from my house. When I arrived, I got off my bike and my legs (I guess they had fallen asleep or were too tired) gave out. I collapsed outside the port-a-potty and my bicycle fell on top of me. My water bottle rolled into the dirt. People came running.
- I was biking in Marsh Landing, riding like I was being chased and my tire caught the sculpted edge between the lawn and the sidewalk and I actually flew over the handlebars and landed at the base of a driveway where a guy was putting the finishing touches on a house paint job. He looked shocked (it is not every day you see a woman flying low, with arms outstretched past your job site) and when I landed, he ran over and said, “Are you okay?” It is the only time I can remember, when I was embarrassed by a fall (I did that a lot and even if the bone was poking out of my skin I’d say I was fine), that I just laid there and said, “I’m not sure…”. I eventually got up and wobbled off, but I could tell he was laughing.
- I took the beach cruiser to the beach. With the tide coming in and the wind at my back. Anyone who knows the Jacksonville beaches will groan about now. I was like a grounded angel for the first part of the ride – fleet of leg, hair blowing behind me like gossamer. Then I turned around. The tide had come in, the wind had picked up and it was like I was riding through wet cement in a wind tunnel. I actually considered abandoning the bike and calling an Uber.
Biking is not for me. Terra firma and a brisk hike is more my speed. But as much as I disliked the therapist’s suggestion to become addicted to the “good things”, I do agree that supplanting the dead time that used to be filled with drinking or using with something else. The day is long.