ho hum.

A few days ago, when my friend Christopher was in town for a while, I got on my touring bike to head out with him for the beginning of his day’s adventuring in NYC.  After just 5 miles or so, I had to acknowledge to myself what I’ve been trying to deny for quite a while now.  I am simply not comfortable on a bike these days.  Sometimes when I get in the saddle I’m surprised at how NOT awful it feels.  But the truth is that I don’t seek out opportunities to ride.  I sort of dread riding, in fact.  I’ve been telling myself that it’s just because I’m really out of shape.  That I just need to spend a little time riding regularly, and that it will come back.  The truth is, though, that my anatomy has changed!  Where most people have an ass crack and a rather useful hole, I’ve just got a big long scar.  Scar tissue is not as flexible as the original stuff, and can be pretty sensitive.

I did a 40 mile ride with my friend Sam some weekends ago.  It was fun to take the touring bike out for its first real ride.  It was fun to ride a bike with gears for the first time in 15 years!  It was fun to spend time with Sam.  BUT, being in the saddle for several hours wasn’t such fun.

Yesterday morning I went in to see my doc for a heparin refill and some blood work.  He made it pretty clear that he thinks my original recurrence was caused by my return to riding bikes.  And that he also thinks riding a bike may have caused the recent spike in CEA levels.  AND that IF, just if, the area of inflammation that we’re tracking is, in fact, a tumor and not just leftover healing from surgery (a year later?), that riding a bike could exacerbate the spread of cancer.

This is an opinion that he has made known off and on at different times for quite a while now.  Starting with his demand the very first day I met with him that I stop riding bikes until after surgery was finished and healed from (and maybe longer!).  For the most part I think this is bogus, first because I don’t ride a bike nearly as much as he supposes; I don’t ride bikes for exercise typically.. I work at home and have no commute.. etc.  And second, because his understanding of anatomy as it relates to sitting on a bike saddle is clearly, well..  imaginative.  BUT, just the nagging thought that riding a bike could speed me back into illness and the treatment that goes with it, piled on top of an already present, if repressed, dread of bicycles leaves me feeling pretty rotten.

While it’s not a GREAT living, building bikes IS how I put food on the table at the moment.  It’s a cruel irony.

In other news.  Handsome Dan at the bike shop showed me that just 3 weeks after I made my nose bike post, Soma fabrications announced on their blog that they will be producing their own version commercially soon.  A commenter on their blog pointed out that Ahearne cycles has been making a cycle truck for quite a while! There are a few other builders who have produced such a bike (mike flannigan, for instance, was the first I was aware of), and probably a great many others who have at least made them as one offs.  I wasn’t aware until yesterday, though, that any bigger companies were thinking of producing them overseas and making it truly accessible to a wider audience.  I thought I’d had a pretty good idea.  Turns out, that a bunch of other folks had the SAME idea, and some of them long before me (hell.. schwinn was doing it in the 40s!! and I imagine that the Dutch beat THEM to it!).  Not a surprise, when we’re all reacting to the same movement.  It’s a good sign.  People ARE looking for viable alternatives to cars, and a rising tide gets the dock wet, or something.  So I think I’ll continue working on it through a process of denial and error, and see if I can’t produce something that uniquely answers the particular needs of urban life!

Came out of my doc appointment yesterday morning, and someone had left their own nose bike unlocked right next to mine.  They were hangin’ out.

12 Responses to “ho hum.”

  1. megan

    maybe your nose bike can come with a donkey included? i like donkeys.

  2. Seth Vidal

    so – Have you ever thought of building a recumbent? Maybe see how it makes you feel when riding it? There’s no ‘saddle’ so sitting on it is very different.

    it might not be your main wheelhouse but… you already have experience building bikes with different sized wheels.

  3. demimismo

    +1 recumbent.

    Ant not because I’ll love looking at one built by you, ofcourse ;-)

  4. Jenny

    Yeah, a recumbent’s an interesting idea! I guess it all depends on how you feel about ‘compromising’ your original goals – or even just how you’re feeling about riding at all at the moment. I for one think it’d be a pretty cool project though…

    For what it’s worth, I would sure as hell be sore in the arse after 40 miles!

  5. ashley

    +2 recumbent

    Why not explore all of the different ways a bike can be ridden? It’ll get you there faster than walking and you will be totally unique:)

    I have to say – I was wondering about scar tissue discomfort. I have a massive scar from my neck across my shoulder blade and I am shocked at how easily that scar gets truly painful with just a light massage – I Cannot. Imagine. what it would be like to ride a bike for 40 freaking miles on a massive scar. Big, big flaming ouch.

    But I think what I really wanted to say is this – Your bikes are Art. You are an artist. You create a sculpture and send it away — same as artists everything. You. Are. An. Artist. I’m not sure you have to ride a bike to make a bike.

  6. todd

    maybe it’s your destiny to make recumbents cool(er). just don’t grow a beard or try to conceal shitbag by propping a bag of cheetos on it.

  7. mochuelin

    Dear Ez: It’s so hard recover the life after have a hard experience like you, but you have this capacity, I’m at hospital again, I need a new surgery soon, I feel a little sad today, but tomorrow the sun will shine one time again, and i think about you all time giving me hopes

  8. Cyclin' Missy

    Do you still have your saddle-less bike? I wonder what your doctor would think of riding that. Anyway, it sucks that even a doubt has to enter your mind about doing something you love.

  9. Linnea Duff

    Ezra, I find it hard to imagine that riding your bike could and or would cause your cancer to recur. I mean, there are some who think surgery might ‘spread’ cancerous cells, and I know that inflammation is generally not a good thing, but I have to think that getting exercise (any way you can) is rather anti cancer. I’d be more concerned about your comfort–if it hurts, it might not be such a good idea. But I wouldn’t trouble your pretty little head with any (crazy?) ideas about having contributed to your recurrence by riding your bike (all due respect to your doc).

  10. Naz

    Nose/cargo bikes have been popular amongst messengers for a while now and here in SF, there’s been a huge uptick in messengers and courier services that use various forms of cargo bikes — many custom-made but in a more down n’ dirty manner — pure utility, no beauty, unless you appreciate that sort of thing.

    As for riding: how about exploring other styles of saddles? I’ve seen those weird butt-pad ones around, where there’s no nose, just the rear part. Additionally, would a good pair of bibs/shorts with chamois help on rides, to take the pressure off?

    Regardless, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do. Life’s only worth living that way.

    Much love,
    N.

  11. Laurie

    My mom, while recovering from brain tumor surgery, was very disappointed and frustrated to find that being on disability and not working did not offer her the opportunity to pursue her creative passions as she’d hoped. Her tumor, or the surgery, or all of it combined, caused her to lose the ability to think in a straight line, if that makes sense. She could no longer come up with an idea and see it to fruition. Cognitive thinking just wasn’t the same. She never said it, but I know that had to be one of the worst times in her recovery.

    Thank god you still have the ability to make beautiful things and enjoy the pleasure they bring to your customers. Stupid ass-cancer!!!!

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