I am on fire today. My running pants are tucked into black socks, which makes me look really goofy. I started tucking in two months ago after the lower edges of my trouser became occasionally entangled in my bike’s pedals while I was cycling. The first time this happened, I almost fell of the bike which left my heart racing faster than it had during cycling.
I am not on fire today because of this tucked in look. Rather, am on fire because I am cycling on a new route. I feel like am the first person ever on this route, which puts me in the same league with Christopher Columbus, who discovered America even though American Indians had lived there for centuries.
I didn’t even know that this cycling trail existed until fifteen minutes earlier. Although I was going up a rather steep hill, I was still on my bike determined to keep going for as long as I could. On my right was a dense thicket and a smattering of trees. On my left was a wall beyond which was a residential estate. A few meters ahead of me, I saw a rocky patch of the footpath.
My legs are also on fire now. And not the fire of enthusiasm that was still coursing through my veins because of this cycling trail’s discovery. No, my legs are on fire because for nearly one hundred meters, I have been cycling up the hill. It feels as if I am totally spent, with every energy reserve in my body almost gone. But I can’t stop now. I have to soldier on until am done with this ascent.
Should I get off and walk along that rocky patch though? Just the rocky patch then I continue cycling. Nope. That would mean that I didn’t cycle for the entire uphill stretch without getting off the bike. Then I would not be able to brag to her. As these thoughts race through my mind, I step harder on the pedals. Harder, but not faster. This is when I reach the rocky patch. Harder. Thump! One moment I was high, up on the bike. The next minute I was low down, kissing the ground after my bike skid on the smooth rock and fell. Pain instantly bit every inch of my body.
Bwak the Bantu poet once said of ego, ‘like thunder, it is constantly striking the hearts of men.’ Ego struck me even when I was right in the midst of pain and I shot to my feet instantly. I couldn’t imagine cyclists or joggers finding both me and my bike lying on the ground.
Are you ok? Is there anything we can do? Did you trip or something? It happened to me too.
Such are the comments that I want to avoid completely. So as soon am on my feet, I also lift the bike upright, on the edge of the trail. At that point I feel the pain slicing through my left knee so I sit on a rock besides the bike. If someone comes along at this time, they will think that am just taking a short break, not recovering from a heavy fall.
It occurred to me during those few seconds that was down on the ground that in life, we fall many times and often decide to remain down for extended periods of time. What we should do is to stand up, dust ourselves, learn from our mistakes and keep living.