Thursday, May 04, 2006

Freewheeling

Last Sunday I went on a bike tour through some beautiful Massachusetts towns not very far from Boston. I joined a cycling club recently, and for the past two or three months I’ve been riding with them every weekend. I have to say when you’re out there pedaling away in the fresh air and sunshine, you really do kind of pack up your troubles and stow them off in a nice, safe corner where they’ll keep for you until you’re done. And riding with a group of people from all walks of life reminds me oddly of when we were all innocent children, before each of us had a chance to register professional successes or disappointments, or be pegged into specific socio-economic classes. Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, beggar man, or thief, everybody looks the same out there on a bike, just like we all had matching desks, chairs, rulers, and eight-packs of fat crayons on the first day of kindergarten. On these rides, we’re just a bunch of big kids making the bicycle wheels go around and around. It’s wonderful that way. And on top of the good feeling that gets me, last Sunday the weather was beautiful and I was trying out out my new, official bike-riding sunglasses and footwear for the first time. I was stylin’, man. I was like the Fonz out there.

During the tour, I caught up to this guy who was riding an older road bike, the kind with the shifters on the frame instead of on the handlebars. He was wearing ordinary sneakers in toe clips, just like what I wore until that very day (I still use toe clips, but my new shoes are quite an advance over ordinary sneakers — stiffer soles, better leverage, all that stuff). I noticed as I continued to approach from the back that he rode sort of slumped over on the handlebars. Then I saw the hand he used to do the shifting was one of those prosthetic, double-hooked hands, and a further examination revealed his entire right arm was a prothesis. And then a few seconds after that, I realized both of his arms were.

I had a nice chat with him while studiously not alluding to his handicap during the entire conversation. I saw he had a funky handlebar that curved up with big rubber knobs on each side to help him with his grip. There was a brake lever near the hub of his rear wheel which he worked with the heel of his shoe to slow his bike down. His helmet was kind of old-fashioned looking and a bit beat up, and he used an old Gatorade bottle as a water bottle. If we were counting style points, I suppose I looked like Lance Armstrong compared to him. But, let’s face it, the one to admire was this guy. I felt a little humbled afterward.

7 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

Nobody is calling him a quitter. Good for him. Makes me feel a bit foolish for complaining about a torn knee tendon. Interesting, this must be when you were biking in my town, huh?

10:24 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

I'm determined to start biking more this summer. I need to lose this secretary butt. Of course, now I won't be able to gripe about being out of shape, what with my two arms being mine and all. *sigh*

12:57 PM  
Blogger LL said...

I hate it when Schprock metes out a dose of perspective too...

That would have been interesting to see, however. I'm always curious about how people adapt things to fit their needs.

2:52 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Interesting, this must be when you were biking in my town, huh?"

Yes, this was last Sunday. Remember the outstanding weather we had that day?


"I'm determined to start biking more this summer."

I think with gas prices the way they are, how can you afford not to?


"That would have been interesting to see, however. I'm always curious about how people adapt things to fit their needs."

I know what you mean. He acted like he was born in those arms. Very impressive.

4:06 PM  
Blogger boo said...

i dunno how to ride a bike

8:27 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"i dunno how to ride a bike"

Well, hop on a plane and fly on out here! I'll teach you.

Actually, my wife doesn't know how to ride a bike either, so we bought a tandem bicycle. During the good weather we ride to various places in the city on it. Good clean fun.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I used to ride all the time as I didn't get my license until I was almost 20, but now I don't even own one. I do walk everywhere I can, though, not so much to save gas but as I think I'm lazy if I drive somewhere only a few blocks away.

6:34 AM  

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