In no particular order.

 

A week ago yesterday I took the UTA out for it’s 3rd ride.  The first ride was a bit of an anti-climax.  It had happened without much fanfare on the Thursday before.  I spent the whole ride trying not to puke, and was so distracted by it that I couldn’t get any sense at all of how the bike handled itself.  Wretched feeling.  It didn’t seem at all like appropriate punishment for the 5 or 6 weeks that I had been off a bike because of weather and travel.  It felt as though something was going on besides simply being out of shape.  When I had the same nauseated feeling the next day WITHOUT being on a bike I started to put two and two together.  The amount of narcotics I need to take to keep the pain under control has gone up dramatically.  Enough that my doc has switched me to, or added I guess, a slow release version of the same thing.  A couple of pills a day instead of tons.  Thursday’s ride happened to coincide with my first day on the stuff and after day two, it seemed clear enough that it was the drug making me feel ill.  I discontinued the stuff and went back out on the bike on Saturday and felt just fine.  An amazing relief.  I had been legitimately afraid for a moment there that perhaps my body was really beginning to fail me.  And quickly!  What a depressing thought..  that I had built this amazing bike to ride out my days, but had gotten it done (and the weather had cleared) just a little too late!   Well.  Not so.  Happy to report that I feel just fine.  By Sunday I was right back on top of my game.  Even after a decent ride on Saturday, I had good legs and managed to do a 3 hour ride with a gang of 6 other riders without having to be carried once!

The fact that I didn’t have to be carried is actually significant!  We rode at Blue Mountain Reservation.  We noodled around the interior for a while and then headed out onto a trail called “Monster,” that wanders out around the far perimeter of the park.  At a point precisely as far from the parking lot as it’s possible to be, feeling quite confident on the UTA (a veritable magic carpet), I took a runner at a little rock slab that I’ve never managed to quite get up.  I stalled and rolled backwards.  I put my foot down..  a little funny..  and heard/felt a cute little “pop.”

“Fuck”

“Ez?  You ok?”  The guy behind me asking was Todd Miller.  My good friend the PT from VT.

“Well..  I just ruptured my ACL,” I got back on the bike and started riding.

“Ez?  You need to stop for a sec?”  This time it was my brother, Zach.  (I think).

“Nope.”

I had already done the math.  Took me about 2 seconds.  We were as far away from the cars as we could be.  I was the only person on the ride who knew how to get back to them (not that they wouldn’t have been able to figure it out, but then what?).  Walking wasn’t going to be possible (and would be slower than riding anyway) and if I stopped moving, I was pretty sure that my knee would start to swell.  So off I went.  Zach claims that the pace of the ride actually increased.  FESTINA LENTE!!!!

At some point we paused to let the single speeders catch up and Todd was able to verify the sloppy knee.  I had given Peter N. my camera to carry for the day (By far the most capable rider among us AND, ding ding ding!!, a photographer) and he captured the moment.  Fingers crossed to no avail.

The bike is amazing, though.  I’m in love.  When I think of what I was able to ride on the thing.. and then remember that I BUILT it!!…   I get that same thrill that I got when I first started building bikes.  The fact that mountain bikes are such foreign territory for me, both riding and building, makes it feel new and magic again!  I’ve spent the week limping around, but feel ready to get back out there!! St. George reports that there’s still snow on the trails, though.  Probably just as well to give the knee a little more time and a little more bike tube PT.

At the end of February, Hill and I went to Europe.  Our good friend Glen gave us the most wonderful gift of an expenses paid vacation.  I haven’t talked about Glen too much on here because it feels a bit like name dropping.  He’s quite a talented and successful musician.  There are times, particularly when I see him perform, that I think, “wait a minute..  I KNOW this guy??!!”  But most of the time he’s just Glen.  He bought one of my bikes early on (no 8, I think) and it started a friendship that has grown and deepened over the years.  When he’s in town, typically he comes straight to us for a nice home cooked meal, and after being on the road with him in Europe I get it!  I was reminded of my own brief touring career (dance, not music), and how after a bit you DO just long for ‘home.’   We met up with him in Rome at the tail end of his Europe tour.  (He sang for me from stage..   What a thrill!)

 

The trip was amazing.  Florence.  Milan briefly. Dublin. Prague.  In Florence we stayed in the most amazing hotel I’ve ever been in..  Just blocks from the Duomo.  Lying in the bed looking out the window it blocked the sky.  We went to the president’s house in Dublin.. (I hugged him!!  and thanked him for going after the tea party).  We saw the European premiere of the Once musical.  Pierce Brosnan was there (Hill recognized him by his ass).  So was the president.  He saw me and smiled.. “Michael!  Twice in one day!” I said, and got another hug (I’m not kidding..  This was a big thrill for me).   We talked briefly about the importance of public support of the arts.  Prague was amazing.  I couldn’t stop looking at the ground!  The most beautiful cobbled streets and sidewalks.  Amazing beer.

The trip was exhausting though.  I was forced to recognize that I’m slowing down.  When I asked the doc months ago what I was likely to experience in my decline, fatigue was on the top of the list.  Whether it’s an emotional reaction to dealing with the reality of dying, or a physical reaction to the progress of the disease isn’t clear, to be honest.  The fatigue is real, though!

During a conversation with Glen in the car driving from Rome to Florence, he helped me make an important decision.

I have decided to retire.

I’m not going to build any more customer bikes.  I’m sending back down payments.  I can imagine this being a decision that I go back on..  I can imagine being one of those people who was given 6-8 months and then outlives their doctor.  But, I also FEEL like this disease is progressing, and if it’s true that I don’t have much time left I don’t want to spend it doing jobs.  Working in the shop, maybe..  yes.. if I get the urge, but not filling orders.  There are some things that I’d really like to make, and I don’t want to go out to the shop to work on them and feel as though I’m cheating on paying customers.  I’m also quite sure that I can’t fill enough orders before I go to leave Hill in some wildly different financial situation than I will be.  I’m sure that this sounds sensible enough, but it’s still a pretty tough decision to make.

Yesterday, the EVER patient T-Mac stopped by to pick up his cargo bike.  Still without wood, still without rack attachments, but ready to RIDE.  Perhaps the LAST customer bike to come out of the shop.

A very emotional moment for both of us as he swung his leg over for the bike’s first ride..  and my last delivery..   and then “CRUNCH”

Nothing is ever as simple as you imagine it being.  Maybe that’s how you know it’s truth and not fiction.  After about 45 minutes of fiddling around, we determined that the “crunch” was coming from the 3 x 9 speed hub.  The cassette driver seemed to be slipping.  Faulty hub, I think.  Looks like I’ll have to build him a new rear wheel.  Looks like I’m not retired quite yet!

 

 

 

 

25 Replies to “In no particular order.”

  1. thank you for the update. as always.

    you are lucky to have a friend like Glen, and he you.

    enjoy it all – as I do hearing about it!

  2. Go play pool, then!

    I think I’ve said it before (not sure): I don’t know where you stand when it comes to matters of faith, but I will be (and have been) praying for you.

  3. I’m sorry I’ll never get to buy one of your bikes; but as you say, I can imagine a future where you go back on your word, much more than 6-8 months than now. In either case, hope the ACL heals up soon so you can play for as much time as you want, in every sense.

  4. Retirement is a GREAT idea – huzzah for the trip Glen gave you, but I think his best gift was to help you make that decision.

    I so wish I were able to visit NYC and give you a hug myself… but it’s not on the near horizon. Not sure if mine would measure up to Michael’s anyway. 😉 Live well!!

  5. Good decision. Do what you love doing because you love doing it.

    You (both) are on my thoughts every day. Big huge.

  6. what adventure! it’s good to read your words. so pleased you are in the woods and riding your bike. Glens song and the words he said made me cry. so dear. just happy so happy you and hill went on the European romp. xo.

  7. Hey, I’m a long-time lurking fan of your work. Just want to thank you for your beautiful photographs and video and bikes and the grace with which you’ve shared your journey. Best wishes going forward.

  8. ezra

    vitamin C IV drips can really help with the pain and the fatigue, maybe even extend your life and certainly improve the quality

    conventional doctors won’t know about them and if they do, they won’t admit it

  9. Wonderful trip for you both, what a great friend Glen is!!
    Make the most of every day even though you probably will outlive the doctor!
    I think you made a good decision about not making any more bikes, you’ve achieved something great with this new bike, let that part go now and focus on something else for a while!
    Good luck with everything. donnax

  10. Um.
    I’m still a little thrown by this ACL business. But sure – why not! Throw in a lil’ PT. You bet. In stride, as ever, Ezra. But I’m not taking the speed hub *crunch* as a rains/pours omen. That’s a “Not so fast, fast boy” omen if I’ve ever heard one. Made me giggle. Retire all you want. We’re not done with you yet.

    I studied in Florence for 8 months and walked past the Duomo every day on my way to school – your trip sounds sublime. I also studied Latin in high school for no good reason whatsoever and that is perhaps the best usage of “Festina Lente” I’ve ever heard. “Make Haste Slowly”
    Indeed.
    INDEED.
    I do adore your writing… Thanks for the update.

  11. Hey big bruddah,

    Bummed that you have to retire but you’ve also gotta do what’s best for you. Wish I could have gotten on of your bikes, but I’ve got plenty of great emails to cherish too. : )

    Love you brother! Always rooting for ya.

  12. man, this is just amazing stuff! you deserve every ounce of kindness directed your way. as long as we’re talking fate and karma, the ruptured acl is a bummer, but your decision to focus on your own work seems entirely fair. best part about being a sole proprietor is that you don’t have a boss. i enjoyed that line on your website, ‘your right to micro-manage the project’ =$500. By retiring, you’ve effectively raised the rate on that privilege to an exorbitant level, one that no one can afford. brilliant. you can’t put a price on your choosing your own destiny.

  13. as always, checking in with you via updates, and, as always, i am floored by your honesty when you write. too many decisions on your plate. i am thrilled you were able to get away ~ will you email me your mailing address…i have something for you. or i can leave it with zach when i am in putney next…let me know
    big hugs xoxo

  14. Dear Ezra,

    I admire the bikes you made.
    By pure chance i visited your page and was shocked to learn the situation.
    Makes me really sad.

    Enjoy your retirement and get on the bike soon. I am bed struck with injury. Kinda understand what it feels like to not being able to ride.

    I Wish all the best to you and your wife.
    Respect und auf wiedersehen!

    Sark
    Stuttgart

  15. Dear Ezra,
    I am lucky to have been a small part of your life. Our mothers have been a greater part of our lives for both the obvious reason and the fact they the are still life long friends and as such drag their family members in to their familiarity: and thanks to them both (Laura and Sherry) for doing so. I first touched your life in the early 90s by stealing your bed while your were training to be a dancer: I ate and slept well. However, we were well met in the late 90s when you pitched up to spend a week with me and several students of mine (I had only just become a teacher), on the Isle of Arran, so that the students could complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s award. We spent the week being bitten by midges, eating rubbish food and on the odd occasion swimming in the sea (your idea, not mine) and bouldering (low level climbing on very small holds). On this last matter I considered myself to be a little bit of an expert but you duly kicked my arse… When I think back, the time we spent together was around 15 years ago: I am now a Headteacher of a school in Bristol, I have a wife and two children, how time flies…. I am made of my father and mother’s genes and of the life they have given me and all of the moments which follow. Yet we make our own paths but are lucky to be pushed in to the tread of others as I was to be steered towards you, Ezra via Sherry, your mom and Laura, mine. My lucky time with You: bouldering; being bitten by midges; sharing a tent, is mine and I will guard it preciously. What a human you are and one who has burned so brightly for for far too short a time. When I go back to Scotland with my new students, (they are only 12 years old but have all signed up to complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s award), I will show them the beauty of the land and tell them it’s about a bike maker called Ezra. Stay Gold fella.

  16. Ezra,
    As many others have written you, I must tell you…..you are a truly amazing human! I am in awe of your living life to the fullest! (Your wife must be just as amazing, one must to keep up with you. ) You have touched my life! Hugs to your beautiful puppy? Happy Easter!

  17. I love Glen’s work. His Oscar was well-deserved! How thrilling to see him live in Rome!

    Congrats on the retirement. Good call. Jobs is definitely not the reason you want to be heading down to your shop. Now you can truly make your vocation your vacation.

  18. Awww…, Ezra…. I just came back from the concert. What a wonderful feeling to hear Glen singing for me with dedication from YOU…
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. What a thrill!

    I’m pregnant again, the boy nr 2 is suppose to arrive in the end of February. I think I want to call him Ezra, after You.

    Hugs
    Marta