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Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Turning Point

I kinda lost myself (physical animal-wise) after my knee surgery. It didn’t help matters none that my entire life fell apart at pretty much the same time.

I tried to embrace cycling as an alternative to distance running. After all, I had been an avid cyclist in my youth. In fact, I was in my mid-thirties when I hand built a road racing bicycle sized to fit my peculiar geometry. I explored great lengths of asphalt in those days.

With marriage and a move back to a crowded urban environment, I lost my zest for cycling (a near fatal motorcycle accident cooled my ardor for two-wheeled locomotion in general). I became a distance runner. The road bike gathered dust. Lots of dust.

Fast forward two decades.

Marriage and knees shattered, I moved back to the land of corn and beans. It was the opportune time and place to saddle up. I tried. The road bike was a bit too much to handle, so I purchased a mild-mannered hybrid bike (yep, the one pictured). It’s admirably well-suited for my purposes. Unfortunately, my body no longer is.

While it’s true that one never forgets how to ride a bike, I can attest that one can certainly forget how to ride competently and safely. I had lost the knack. I was a terror to unsuspecting motorists and a mortal threat to myself. It didn’t help any that my hip is so corroded that mounting/dismounting that cleated-pedal bike constitutes a never-ending dramedy (ending, often enough, with me sprawled on pavement). In short, my forays on back roads weren’t exactly the serene life-enriching experiences I had hoped they’d be. And my butt hurt.

But what choice do we have as we age, except to ignore the suckage and forge ahead regardless?

And I came to discover (about one hour into my ride yesterday afternoon) that I had come to love these haphazard road adventures. It was a slow dawning.

My jaunts had been growing in time and distance. My pace has quickened. I sport the curious suntan of a cyclist (and, yes, I revel in my dark-bronze knees). My bike handling skills have improved to “barely competent,” a big step up from “WATCH OUT!”

Yesterday’s ride was the longest of the summer. I’m not exactly sure when I passed the point of no return and fell in love with the sport (again). I’m pretty sure it wasn’t moments after I inhaled that bug. But then there was the lemon-drop flash of a goldfinch. And I fell into a fugue about how satisfying the “plop” of a plump bullfrog flopping into one fulgent world from another. Then there was that pale yellow butterfly that danced in the back draft inches from my right shoulder. He/she/it kept me company for nearly half a mile. It was good for me. Was it good for the butterfly?

Well, to get back on point, I came home eager to ride again and again.

* * *


Blogger lu said...

Back in the saddle again! I love rediscovery. It always comes before some sort of recovery. Welcome Back!

Sat Aug 28, 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Even with a bad knee and hip you get stronger and better ride by ride; it would also be true if you were on a camel or a flying trapeze -- then when you've really with it the butterflies and bull frogs are in sync with you. Life has it's crap but it also has zap! I enjoyed that vicarious ride with you.

Sat Aug 28, 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

Jonas, do you remember the movie "Breaking Away"? I fell in love with cycling then. Tried to learn Italian, bought the gear, took long rides. Yes, it fell away, and now, as you and I lose mobility and agility in disappointing stages...I am drawn back. Me, my bike, my camera, my notebook. I welcome alone and wild and free...all that a bi-pedal vehicle provide. I am proud of you Jonas, for your perseverance! Never, NEVER stop moving!

Sat Aug 28, 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

I love cycling too. I have a slightly recumbent Grandma bike and a great mountain bike. I have religious adoration for them and the experiences they give me.

Good for you for getting back into the Schwinn of things (I know your bike isn't a Schwinn, but I couldn't resist the pun).

Sat Aug 28, 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith said...

Kairos time.

Sat Aug 28, 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

I'm thrilled for you! Enjoy and please stay safe.

Sat Aug 28, 11:51:00 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Believe me, I understand. I've been pretty fit for most of my life. Less so in recent years. Cycling was always a sport that I had to "build up to" to be any good. My hat is off to you in your endeavor. It sounds like you're making great headway.

Send well wishes my way with my newfound "Chi-running". Fingers crossed, my IT bands will take more of a liking to this brand of long distance running. :)

Stay safe out there.

Sun Aug 29, 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

Pedal on Garth...

Mon Aug 30, 08:53:00 PM  
OpenID said...

Good for you Jon!

Tue Aug 31, 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

Great that you are enjoying cycling once again!

Glad that you did not give up!! well done.


Wed Sep 01, 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you all for the encouraging words.

Funny things happen to body and mind when aerobic activity lasts longer than one hour per foray. The changes are coming faster now.

Thanks, lu. I've no doubt you understand these matters well.

Thanks, June. The hip burns long after each ride ends. But so do the good feelings.

"Breaking Away" is one of my all-time favorite movies (it's even listed on my Profile page). It's all about living with a fierce joy (and Italian serenades).

I had to smile, Kass. Every now and then, a fellow on a recumbent bike swooshes past me on my favorite back roads. I get a kick out of that.

Kairos time! Oh, I do like that, Lilith. Here I've been, whapping Kronos, and you remind me of Kairos. Most excellent!

I'm pretty safety conscious when cycling. Sad to say, I inevitably think of my cousin (killed by a motorist while cycling), and my own motorcycle accident, whenever I ride. Life's a crapshoot.

Thanks, Stephanie. I hope you resolve your IT band issues...and soon!

Gonna, Scott!

And thanks much, Buddha and Gabi, for the "high-fives."

Thu Sep 02, 10:57:00 AM  

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