Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 6: Over the top

I've been going (or trying to go) to Bikram recently and I want it to be my strength/cross-training go-to as I train for the marathon. I have mixed feelings about patroning Bikram studios, because Bikram himself is apparently a misogynistic jerk but that is probably a discussion for another post.

My feelings about Bikram Choudhury aside, I do enjoy the practice. For those of you that don't know, Bikram yoga is a set series of 26 poses, performed in a room at a minimum of 105 degrees and 40% humidity. I find Bikram to be pretty polarizing - either people love it or hate it, and there's all sorts of discussions over if the heat makes you over extend yourself leading to injury etc. etc.  When I tried it for the second time a few years ago I thought I was going to hate it because I hate working out in the heat. However, I found that I liked the precise series of poses - no matter who your teacher is, the routine is the same every class so the how much you like the teacher matters less. You can also track your improvement easily over time which is good reinforcement. The hardest part is starting out - you are encouraged to simply stay in the room and to sit down as you need to if the heat becomes too much and you feel a bit woozy.

Anyway - I like it and signed up for a one-month intro pass for January to see if I can work it into my schedule. Of course everyone and their mother is doing the same thing it being January, and the studio is the only one on the West side, class has been both really crowded and there's parking issues. I tried to go Monday, and the parking lot was a disaster with people coming and going, and I trolled around the block 3 times looking for street parking before saying screw it and heading home.

So today my idea was to go home, change and bike over. Traffic was a beast today, and I left a little late so I didn't get to my house until 6:10, and class is at 6:30. I quickly changed and threw some water, my yoga towel and clothes to change into later into a little bag, grabbed my bike and started charging towards the studio. I muttered under my breath "watch today be the day I get into a bike accident trying to get to yoga on time" as I zoomed passed cars and pedestrians.

As I crossed an intersection and my bag slipped off my shoulder. Swearing, I tried to jerk it back up my arm but I have a lovely old mens road bike, not a cruiser, and it is not suited to biking with a bag over one shoulder unless its a cross-body so it did not cooperate and I needed to pull over.

As I slowed down the bag slipped further down my arm and got caught between the fork and the wheel which of course abruptly stopped spinning. All was slow motion as I looked down, realized what had happened and realized the momentum was going to carry me over the handlebars and my last thought was "oh. shit." as I felt the back of the bike rising into the air. Of all my years riding a bike in New York, I was going to break my face in bike-friendly Venice Beach and it was completely my own fault.

I don't know if it was adrenaline or what but the next thing I knew I was getting up off the ground. I still have no memory of the fall itself but I landed without really a scrape. An italian couple saw the fall, and they rushed over, helping me grab the bike, and not speaking a word of english but plenty of hand moments chastised me for not wearing a helmet or long pants. The gent helped decouple my bag - which was jammed really well between the fork and the wheel - from my bike, tied the handles of my bag up tight and insisted on helping me get the chain back on the bike despite my protests. After a hundred "grazie mille"s to them, I got back on the bike and feeling that my front wheel was slightly rubbing against the breaks, slowly slowly made my way back home.

Its kind of miraculous that aside from a banged up right shoulder and hip - clearly I somehow rolled as I fell - I didn't hurt myself and because of that I've been mostly laughing about the whole experience at this point. But yes yes...I'll try to be better about wearing my helmet from here on in.

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