Internal Detours
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
  many months later
Not much to report, cycling-wise, but much has happened in my life. I pretty much stopped riding anywhere but to work and back in early August, so I could help take care of young Eli. As we hit the last stages of Ana's pregnancy, I really couldn't go too far from home. So I rode Julius the Mercian fixed-gear to work and back each day and that was it.

Our daughter Claire was born in early December. It was a difficult labor, and Ana's recovery was long, slow and painful. Everyone is doing quite nicely now, but there was no time for anything other than babies and work. During the weekends and the long Christmas holidays I got a better understanding of what Ana does all day. With both a toddler AND a newborn, you get a break when both of them are asleep. What to do? Instead of Tom Ritchey's cycling choice - light, cheap or strong, choose two - you get the multiple babies choice - eat, sleep or shower, choose ONE. But be quick about it, because the babies are gonna wake up any minute now.

Then one day it's Spring Break, and you're home with the family ... and the weather's nice ... and your wonderful, loving, gracious spouse says, "Go ride."

So I did. Last Friday it was a short hop, my first pleasure ride in seven months. I wiped the dust off Belle the Rivendell and lubed the chain and pumped up the tires and headed out, taking the rail trail to Wisewood, then looping around to 225 and riding Florida Avenue end to end before working my way home past Sunnyside on Dargan Street. It was a whopping 12.9 miles at a blistering 13.8 mph, but it beats nothing anyday. I had mixed feelings - yeah, I'm slow and out of shape, but it still felt really good to be on a bike again.

Later that afternoon we took the kids to Cambridge Park, where I encountered Tom Austin and his family. He was busy helping his daughters with the swingset, but he took time to talk with me about bikes gathering dust while us aging guys with babies need to stay young. We agreed that they don't get any lighter as they get older, either. It was good to see him again, and reflect back on his concern over my mountain biking when I first started riding again after the heart attack.

Saturday the babies were spending the day with their grandmother and Ana was going out of town to go shopping. I wanted to ride, but not by myself - Ana had the cell in the car with her. A few emails later I learned there was a benefit ride leaving the hospital at 11:00. Violating my rule of always riding to the ride, I drove down to Food Lion and bought some canned goods for the food drive, then ferried them and my bike to Self Regional's parking lot.

I had time to chill out and socialize some with folks I used to ride with all the time - Donnis, Jim Cox, Tom, Jeff "Pepe" Ronan, Dieter, John Lake, Mark the Engineer ... even good old Ernest, astride his magnificent old Polchlopek. I raved about it as always - an Italianate racing bike in its original stars and stripes paint job built in France by a Polish emigre is not something you see everyday. especially in South Carolina. Jackie showed up astride the '69 Mercian Olympic that Mike Melton rebuilt back in '72 or so, before I got it and had CyclArt powdercoat it and fitted it with good, retro parts.

Finally, it was time to take off. It was a leisurely, sociable ride, so we rolled out of the lot and went down Spring Street. We had police officers wave us through a couple of intersections before we turned off onto the rail trail. I rode briefly with a couple of different groups before settling in with the bunch that included Jackie and Donnis.

There was a loud report ahead of me. A second later, Ernest was slowing and pulling off with a blowout. I slowed long enough to learn he and his companions had all they needed to make repairs and headed on to catch back up with the others.

I didn't realize it at the time, but in hindsight something told me to go on up. I told Jackie I was on her left and accelerated. I want to say a couple of other riders were behind me, but I'm not sure, now. Anyway, a moment later I was about 30 to 50 yards ahead of that bunch when I heard the unmistakable sounds of people and bikes colliding and hitting the ground.

I turned and headed back. The first thing I saw was the distinctive forks of the old Mercian Olympic, holding up a dramatically taco'ed front wheel. Jackie was down on the left side of the trail in a near fetal position, while a lady I would later learn was named Amy was down with what emerged to be a couple of broken ribs. My understanding was that a rider in front and to the right of Jackie had merged inward on the trail, striking her front wheel and putting her down, whereupon Amy slammed into her.

Jim by this point was winging his way back to the crash site. After a moment, he headed back to fetch a car, while John Lake escorted the wounded to the trail head. I rode with a bunch of folks up to the end of the trail, where we waited for everyone to arrive. The ride leader (who I never got around to meeting) announced that he would take everyone back on in, as the ride was pretty much over. I told Dieter I would be riding on, and he volunteered to join me. Jim and Caroline Dennis, who had been well back of the action, caught up to us, and there was some discussion of different routes. It was decided that John would do a short ride with the Dennises, and Dieter and I would do a variant of the old Wednesday evening ride.

We waited until Jim had returned, all bikes were loaded up, and both Amy and Jackie were seated and en route to the emergency room before we set off. We wound up doing a slow little ride along the lines of 18 miles or so at 13 mph average speed, about what I expected. The route was a version of the old Wednesday night ride, I struggled up Scotch Cross road, thanked Dieter for the ride and loaded up and went home.

Sunday afternoon I snuck out for a sub-one-hour ride, taking Belle the Rivendell out the length of the trail before working in a loop that got me home in time to get cleaned up and take the whole family out to the park again. All in all, a good day.

See you out there on the road, with any kinda luck at all.
cycling through life is more than the cycling life

Location: Greenwood, South Carolina, United States
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