Sunday, March 05, 2006

Crepe Myrtles and Bicycles

Today is the three-month anniversary of my cancer surgery, December 5. I celebrated by pruning the crepe myrtle and riding my bicycle for the first time.
When you're a cancer survivor, you celebrate in different ways. You celebrate the little things.

I don't particularly enjoy trimming shrubs.
I am pretty good at it, especially with a freshly-sharpened set of electric cutters. With the mild winter along the Texas Gulf Coast this year, it was way past time to prune the crepe myrtles.

In my neighborhood, azaleas are in bloom in some yards with south- or west- exposures. Mine have a few weeks to go yet, but the crepes were pushing out their first bud-nobs (I'm sure that's an acceptable technical term any nurseryman will recognize).

Two trash cans await our sanitation crew in the morning, full of chopped limbs and twigs from six crepe myrtles, two rose plants of unknown lineage, and the most unruly shoots from my hyper-active azaleas (which face East). I worked up an honorable sweat with that chore.

Next was the ceremonial lifting from the storage rack of my bicycle, which had been hanging dormant in the garage since before my operation. Both tires were inflated to the max PSI, and I cleaned and lubed the chain and gear cranks, and dusted the frame with a clean towel. There is a respectful ritual cyclists perform on their beloved steeds.

I frankly didn't know what to expect when I got into my bicycle.
It's a recumbent, which you don't get "on," you get "into."

It's a tricky bike to ride for the first time, even for experienced cyclists, because the center of gravity is lower, and my feet extend forward of the front wheel to reach the pedals. The handlebars emerge from the frame between my knees.

My kids make fun of me on this bike.
They say all I need is a red nose, a wig, and a bowler hat, and my future with the circus is secured. I used to think these bikes were a little extreme, too.
Little did I know.

They're extremly light.
They're extremely nimble.
They're extremely fast.

After not having been on a bike for a while, and still a little sore at times, way down deep in side, I wasn't too sure how my first outting on a bike was going to be. I'd tried a display bike in a sporting goods store a few weeks ago. That was not a good idea, for obvious reasons. Still very sore in my "transmission," sitting on a regular bike seat was a poor call on my part. So I was a little curious how this new frontier, post-op, would work out.

It worked well for over 40-minutes.
I got on, clicked-in (the pedals latch to the underside of my shoes so I can pull as well as push on the crank) and took off with no noticeable discomfort. Just tooled around the neighborhood, not really trying to break any land-speed records. Today's agenda was to get rolling and stay upright.

I succeeded.

I can't wait for the next ride.

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