When I began this blog, I was just starting breast radiation, a grim and very real procedure following surgery (which was bad enough), and what was left of my denial was running on fumes. Waiting rooms of neon light, whose rock music mocked hairless patients with searing radiation burns; sessions on the gurney bombarded by the mechanical whip-sawing sounds of medical equipment – all of these were hammering home the fact that no matter what I did, I was from hereon in an eternal member of the Pink Ribbon Club.
My mother had died just weeks before. Time off the gurney was spent grieving, shutting down the bureaucracies of her life, planning a memorial (amid thoughts of my own), and sorting through a history of acquisitions precious to her after years of decline.
So the sight of two people joyfully carrying their Bromptons down the steps of a Mexican restaurant on a Spring evening startled me, long in a deficit of hope. I was primed for anything that held promise of life. I saw them and touched with an imaginary finger, the filmy membrane of memory - bike rides of my youth, speeding along sandy streets between tall dunes, surging with independence and optimism, the sense of having life ahead of me, of freedom and possibility. I felt something within me spring alive I had not felt in years. On the strength of that vision, I brought Lucille home the next day, and never looked back. Until now.
What would I have said to my then-self in that moment if I had known the future? If I could have foreseen a fractured wrist, or 5 months stranded away from home healing from a knee fracture; if I could have understood the physical - and worse mental - pain of learning how to walk again. Would I take back any of the rides I’ve gone on - through Manhattan, over its magnificent bridges, through the five boroughs? Would I prefer never to have ridden in France? In Ireland? In short, would I have thought the risks worth the experience?
Cyclists, when discussing these things, usually answer “Oh, it’s just a part of it. You heal and keep riding.” As if these things were never permanent (I've learned sometimes they are). And my circumstances have changed. The results of a recent bone scan show the stakes for falling are much higher for me now. So the question arises: is there a point to keeping a biking blog if at any moment a sudden injury could put an end to it? And more importantly - should I be riding at all? Wrestling with these questions explains – if anyone is interested – my silence lo these many months.
The thing is, hindsight isn’t always 20/20. Given the warnings I’m now aware of, given my own personal experience, I still find myself attracted to riding. And I ask myself all the time why, since I'm not a daredevil by nature. To be sure, I ride for exercise. I also ride for transportation. I ride to experience my city in a different way, to see more of it, to rejoice in it. I ride for the sense of empowerment I don’t always have in other areas of my life. And of course, I ride for joy. In the end though, I think I ride because I ride. I don’t know if I can explain it any better. I ride because there’s just nothing else like it.
And so I have decided to continue this blog. Because there's still so much I don't know, and riding for me is the best way to discover it.