We’ve got a guest post today, and while my relationship with the author makes me a bit biased, I think it fucking rules.
I Rode my Bike Today
I know that most of the readers of DruckCyclist will read the above statement and go “Huh? so what?” For you riding your bike on any day is like drinking beer, an almost mandatory activity. For me it was an event, and therein lies the tale.
First allow me to introduce myself, you can call me Poppa 40 Hands. I have the honor of being the father of 40 Hands. That means I am old enough to be your father, or grandfather. While 40 Hands is primarily a mountain biker I am strictly a pavement pounder. In New Jersey that means potholes, broken pavement, road debris and sharing the road with cars that do not want you on their crappy road.
In the past 5 years my miles went to almost zero. There were a number of reasons, a heart attack, putting weight back on after said heart attack but mainly pain in my knees. I tried everything from gel injections to cortisone shots to arthroscopic surgery, nothing really helped. So I finally decided to have both knees replaced and the one thing I told my surgeon was that I wanted to be able to ride my bike after the operation. He of course said “no problem”. So in April of 2015 I had them replaced…and promptly fell into the rabbit hole.
The next 12 months were a tour of bad medical outcomes: reaction to the anesthesia, a post-op infection, IV antibiotics (41 days) to fix the infection, dehydration & hospitalization, C-Diff bacterial infection and another two more hospitalizations. While all of this was happening I kept saying “I just want to ride my bike”. My favorite rehab activity was the stationary bike. Each time I would try to spin harder, or longer, or with the saddle at a proper height. I was in training to ride the real thing. I tried a couple of times but I couldn’t get the balance right. Each fall off the bike would result in another minor injury and more time off the bike. Then in February my kidneys said “No Mas” and stopped working permanently. I looked like the Michelin Man from the nipples south. Every space that could hold water did hold water. When I went into the ICU I weighed in at 275 pounds. When I left the hospital two weeks later and thanks to daily dialysis, I weighed 195 pounds. I hadn’t weighed so little since I was a sophomore in college over four decades ago. I now had a new body where my knees finally had some real mobility, they didn’t have to fight bloated, from fluid retention, quads. However, my sense of balance was way off. My center of mass had moved way up to my chest..not my belly.
This (ed. note: Monday) afternoon was a beautiful day. I got out my old Cannondale, which has a beautiful fillet-brazed aluminum frame and Grip Shift bar end shifters and put on a pair of 40’s old soccer shin guards, knee pads, and my helmet, and walked my bike up to the cul-de-sac at the end of the street. I had some issues getting up on the bike, but I managed not to fall. I started out slowly going to the right, then doing a figure 8, then going to the left. Most of you probably do not remember the details of learning to ride your bike but that is what I was doing. I’m sure that the neighbors where wondering why this overly protected 65 year old man was riding around in the cul-de-sac with this HUGE shit-eating grin on his face! After I conquered the cul-de-sac I moved on to a nearby parking lot, and finally the local streets. I made myself go fast and slow. I made sure I could stop and start. The one thing I could not do was stand up, the down stroke put too much pressure on my knees. I toured the neighborhood from the unique perspective you only get moving around on your own power.
I rode my bike today…I am a happy man.