The Long Road Back Part Six
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,Healthy, free, the world before me,The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,Strong and content I travel the open road. –Walt Whitman
“So I can ride on the road now?”
My second visit to the doctor was going well. Even though wading through the mass of people in the waiting room is a circus: there is a lady wearing a mask with a slit cut through the middle so that she can talk on her phone, another man has the same kind of slit and standing just outside the hospital door smoking through the opening, one man’s mask is on upside down, the waiting room chairs are spaced out but not wiped down as people come and go, and so on.
“Yes, that is correct.” He paused. “What we want is for you to do your hard work on the inside bike and easy spinning on the road.”
I nodded. The thought of riding on the road had not been on my radar in such a long time. My pulse increased just thinking about it. The whole meeting did not take long. The doctor said that my x-rays are looking great, and after my next visit, I would probably be released with no restrictions.
On the way home, I called my wife who quickly informed me that I could not ride by myself on busy roads. I understood her fears. She had been traumatized by all of this. I felt horrible every time I thought of how scared she was when it happened. It puts things in perspective. I am not a professional. I do not get paid for riding. It is something that I enjoy, nothing more, and it is certainly not something for which I am willing to trade my life.
I pulled into the driveway and had a decision to make: Ride hard on my trainer or ride easy on the road. I had to take the road. The decision was not even close, nor take me long to decide. I put on my kit and picked my “old school” (1995) Colnago Masters for a cruise. Side note: it is my favorite bike. I happened to walk in my local bike shop a couple of years ago when a colonel from Ft. Benning had just left, dropping the bike off for sale. He had it built in Italy from the steel frame up (a limited edition UFO paint scheme). The transmission was full Campagnolo Chorus. It is a work of art.
I tried to seem nonchalant. “How much?”
The shop owner said, “I think he’ll take $500 for it.”
I sprinted to my truck. I actually bought the bike as art. I was going to hang it in my den and ride it rarely, but then I actually rode it. Like an old Ferrari, it still moves and responds like it was designed to do. There are four things that I know for certain the Italians do well: cars, bicycles, food, and shotguns. This bike was love at first ride.
So after changing into a comfortable kit, I pulled the Colnago from the wall and rolled out of my driveway. Sunshine, wind, pavement moving under me, the sound of my rear hub . . . need I go on? It was an incredible ride. I had to keep the reins tight. I wanted to explode out of the saddle, but I wanted to be grateful and respectful to the healing process. Many of you may not understand that craving, but it is there. I was hungry for the push. I know that I will have to train my way back, but I could literally feel my legs wanting to stomp the pedals. Alas, I did not. It will come. Maybe. I could easily go back home and get on the trainer. I had been given permission, but oh . . . the road was calling and I had to answer.