What do you do when it all comes crashing down? Check out these lessons learned by an avid cyclist’s fall

By Kim Brundage

My personal philosophy is that 96% of the time it is going to be alright!  But life happens … and we have very little control of it. I experienced this truth HEAD-ON when I was being taken by ambulance to the emergency room in the summer of 2020.

My husband and I tried a new type of cycling called bike packing. We packed and carried our tent, food, and clothing on our bikes. We rode 36 miles to a campsite, spent the night, and then proceeded to bike back to our car the next morning. It was a great trip and I was feeling ecstatic that I survived a night in a tent. (I’m more used to glamping 😃).

As I was biking, an oncoming cyclist lost control of his bike and went down right in front of me causing me to hit him, land on my chin, then my left side, and roll in poison ivy. My last thought was “Oh no, he is going to fall.” An ambulance ride brought me to VCU ER where I was cleared with 3 stitches in my mouth after 8 hours.

It was a fluke accident and it was a beautiful exchange. Carlos felt horrible for causing my accident. He held my hand while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. He apologized and I apologized for being two people in the wrong place at the exact wrong time. My husband and Carlos hugged each other and wished each other well. Carlos had to seek medical attention too.

I mention this exchange because some folks would cast blame and sought retribution. It could have been a totally different experience for both of us. The cyclists who were with Carlos would have had to take sides and report what they saw. We know from research that eyewitness accounts can be inaccurate. I could have harbored anger which would have affected my healing process. Instead, I made a new friend.

I knew the exchange was not intentional. It was simply an accident.

The other gift that came through this experience was I finally flipped my switch…in my brain. You know, that gremlin switch that makes you second guess and makes life harder on yourself?

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Here’s how I did that:

I had a long, slow recovery of four weeks.  My ribs were very bruised and sore. It affected everything I did. About 3 weeks into my recovery, I needed to move and I wanted to hop on my beloved road bike again. I knew my body was worried about the road bumps and expanding my lungs which would impact my tender ribs.

I started talking to myself like I would a frightened child. I acknowledged every win even if it was the tiniest win with a ‘good job.’ It felt surprisingly good.

Then I found myself starting to do this when I wasn’t on my bike. It felt good to acknowledge my successes, my hard work, my resilience. I was giving myself validation instead of waiting for external validation.

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Some people have been surprised that I got back on my bike in the first place.

I know this bike accident would have deterred some people but I grew up riding my horse. I realized I’ve been following this motto since I was a little girl: If you fall off your horse, immediately get back on and ride again.

Life is all about perspective! I am finding more and more that my quality of life is profoundly determined more by my perspective than any dollar amount.

What one shift in your perspective can you give yourself? Try it for a week—you might find you become a fan of this new perspective.

I have to say that 2020 was shaping up to be a weird year for all of us and then this “extra” happened taking me out of my beloved biking and photography for a good three weeks.

Life happens and we have very little control of it.

I’m proud of myself for trying something new. I’m proud of myself for getting back on my bike. And I feel very lucky that I didn’t break any bones.

Yes, we all experience misfortune and it sucks!

I chose to focus that I get to experience a whole lot of fortune!

I get to live my life with purpose and the way I want to live my life.

The same is true for our work. Misfortune is inevitable. But for me, not trying and not striving is the greatest misfortune.

Get to know Kim!