It’s my favorite part of my usual bike loop; a quaint little road that winds through an alley of weeping willows where I can leisurely coast downhill right after conquering the last brutal hill before home. My grip loosens, my quads stop screaming, and the cool breeze in the shade soothes my sweaty face as I close my eyes for half a second to soak in the moment.
But not anymore.
I don’t think I’ll be able to even blink when I ride that alley now.
Having a traumatic experience in a place has that effect.
One gorgeous morning, I was weaving through the second bend of Sanctuary Lane about to indulge in that half-second eye close, when suddenly Bambi and a few buds burst from the trees right in front of me! (Full-grown buck Bambi, not baby Bambi.)
I slammed on my breaks.
Somehow I managed to miss them and even stay upright—barely. As I came to a wobbly stop, my heart raced like I’d just climbed the brutal hill all over again. I stabilized myself on the side of the road then slumped over my handlebars to catch my breath.
The emergency chemicals of the body’s natural fight-or-flight reaction were still pulsing through my body. The adrenalin gave my legs the shakes and the burst of cortisol in my brain produced morbid images of what could have happened. Antlers piercing my eyeballs, hoofs trampling my limp body sprawled across the pavement, limbs tangled around a bike frame, fangs piercing my neck. (Cortisol is potent stuff!) Luckily none of that happened, but it could have, except for the fang part—unless the deer were on the run because they were being chased by vampires who humanely hunt venison instead of people like the Cullen coven.
Though I survived unscathed physically, this experience created yet another psychological “What if” in my life.
I hate those.
They can be crippling if you let them.
They can become a disease if you let them.
They can ruin a special biking place if you let them.
I try not to let them because I hate living in fear. I’ve lived in fear before and it’s a bad neighborhood.
The fact is everyone is subject to danger or harm at any given moment and though it’s good to be aware and careful, it’s not good to live afraid. I’ve biked that road hundreds of times and that’s the first time I’ve ever even seen deer there.
Will there be deer there again?
Will they burst out of the trees right in front of me on my bike again?
Probably not, but deer aren’t as scientific as lightening so there is a rare possibility that they could strike twice in the same place so I’ll always be a little wary when I bike through that alley. While I am going to be more cautious and probably refrain from blinking, I’m going to try really hard to not be afraid because that part of my usual loop is still my favorite. I don’t want to be “once bitten, twice shy” when I bike—unless next time there are deer and vampires.