The Biker and the Flamingo Pose; Overcoming Gravity

There we were at the intersection waiting for the walk signal when everything began to slowly shift to the left. My right leg was over my bike resting on the pedal and my left foot acted as our kickstand.

Well, the angle of the kickstand became a tiny bit too small to support the downward force of the bike and my own body weight. I tried to scoot or hop my left foot outward to gain better physical advantage to stay upright, but…I wasn’t fast enough to overcome the building momentum and force of gravity.

Everything went toppling and I unceremoniously landed on the ground. Fortunately, nothing was hurt other than my ego.

Rob was scared and rushed to help me up. “Give me a moment,” I said. “I’m fine.”

One minor advantage to living with MS, sometimes you learn how to fall. The ‘best’ falls are the ones where you don’t struggle too much and end up breaking or spraining something. For example, reaching out with hands to brace a fall can result in a sprain or broken wrist. Ouch!

Many of the MS-related falls I’ve experienced were unpredictable, at least at the time. Tripping up the stairs because I didn’t realize I wasn’t lifting my foot high enough was a learning experience. Tripping on a sidewalk because my shoe seemed to suddenly grow a ‘toe pick’ was both jarring and enlightening.

Falling over with my bike was initially confusing. I didn’t see it coming and wasn’t sure why it happened. But a couple of weeks later when Rob and I were biking on a new trail that had some steep climbs, I experienced a similar accident.

The trail at Four Mile Run had some exciting downhill slopes and intense uphill climbs. Midway up the first climb, Rob stopped because he wasn’t sure that we would want to continue. I stopped behind him, but once I did I had to walk up the slope to the turn in the switchback.

I prepared to remount my bike, but as I was talking with Rob about what we really wanted to do -- and being an increasingly adventurous biker gaining confidence I wanted to continue -- I felt that familiar shift of weight to the left. This time it was a little scarier because to my left was also the downhill slope.

Fortunately, neither bike nor rider tumbled and we only ended up in a slightly tangled heap. A week later, I still have a pretty nasty bruise on my left leg where something on the bike landed on it.

The cause of the fall was somewhat more obvious when I thought about the physics of the situation. Here I was standing on a slope, essentially on one foot with the other leg lifted over the bike, and a body that was angled in anticipation of shifting forces onto my right foot to get going again.

Hello, Lisa!! Standing on one foot was something we practiced in physical therapy. It hadn’t even dawned on me that each time I’m waiting to get started on my bike, I’m practicing that flamingo pose. This explains so much about why I feel uncomfortable waiting for a light to change before I can get started moving once again.

But now that I know what may have contributed to both falls, I can compensate. For starters, if I’m not moving I should stand with both feet on the ground and only lift a foot to the pedal when we’re ready to take off. Once again, MS has helped to teach me an important lesson. It takes awareness and thoughtfulness to overcome physics.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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