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.