Breaking Away. Bike Rides.

When I think about going for a bike ride, sometimes I remember the dirt track in our yard. The path running tight around the skirt of our two story house was worn down. Roots stuck up like varicose veins. On a dry summer day dirt and dust flipped off our tires as we negotiated the corners. My brother and I and some neighborhood boys raced like Mario Karts with the perimeter as close to the house as possible. Stationary objects flew by us as we peddled on the straightaways and leaned on the imaginary banked turns like we saw on Roller Derby.

When I think about going for a bike ride, the time I lost control on our tricycle on our front hill bumps into view. I went from grass to curb to an asphalt body skid. The blood burned through the embedded tar bits and pebbles on my skin. Palms, knees, forearms all became brake pads and I came to rest face down in shock. The first responders, a few of my siblings, stood over me while one was sent to fetch Mom. Mom’s bed settled my crying as I tried to lay still and wait for scabs to form. Her Big Ben wind-up alarm clock beat like a heart in the recovery room.

When I think about going for a bike ride, I remember when I was in the best shape of my life. At the end of high school into summer and fall beyond I saddled up if I wanted to go anywhere. My coccyx had calluses back then. That was when I worked for two weeks at the best paying worst job of my life. A friend had gotten me into Checker Motors loading parts on a assembly line. I rode to work as the sun set behind my downhill coast to drudgery. Then around midnight, relieved of duty, I hopped back on the red fifteen speed to peddle up hill home.

When I think about going for a bike ride, my brother John’s recumbent cycle rides along side me. We entered the Wurst Half Century tour in Ohio thirty years ago. The bratwurst festival got our dogs pedaling. It was the furthest I rode in one day. We rode twenty seven miles from John’s house to the tour, finished the fifty mile tour, and rode back to his house. I imagined being in the movie Breaking Away and tried to talk in an Italian accent all day. If you haven’t seen the movie and you’re a cyclist, find it. The story will encourage you to push through saddle soreness.

When I think about going for a bike ride, my therapist tells me to warm up on the stationary bike right next to Bucky the life size skeleton. She tells me to ride for ten minutes to get my blood flowing. One day I rode at a faster pace thinking I would hit ten minutes sooner. Without coffee my brain cells don’t rub together too nicely. When I closed my eyes I could be riding anywhere. I rode the Tour De France, Kal-Haven Trail, or round and round my childhood house.

I like thinking about going for a bike ride.