05 July 2020

I Will Survive: I Ride Again

Gloria Gaynor is most famous for I Will Survive.

I could have sung that to myself yesterday.

For my birthday, I simply had to end my longest spell without cycling in eleven years.  

In 2009, I didn’t ride through most of the summer and fall. I was recovering from my gender-affirmation surgery. Although I missed riding, my doctor, therapist, friends and others helped me to prepare for my “vacation” from it.  Also, I gave up those few months in the saddle for something I’d wanted for a very long time.

On the other hand, my latest spell without riding was induced by something that I did not foresee when I slung my leg over my bike.  Most of us are aware that a crash or some    other mishap can befall us, but I suspect that few, if any, of us ponder that possibility as we put our feet to the pedals.

The seeming randomness of my situation could explain why I felt more anxiety—and, perhaps paradoxically, urgency—about going for a ride.  

Oddly enough, I was more worried about having lost strength and endurance during my latest period of healing than I was after the much longer period without riding that followed my surgery.  Of course, my memory of walking up climbs no steeper than highway ramps in those days colored my perception of what my latest return to cycling would be like.

That fear, thankfully, was unfounded.  Then again, I rode maybe 10 kilometers, so my legs weren’t challenged.  I also didn’t notice any change in my balance or anything else.

I have to admit, though, I had an “oh no, not again moment when a delivery guy on an electric bike whipped around a turn and directly into my path.  

We could have collided head-on. We didn’t.  He could have side-swiped me and caused me to crash.  He didn’t. I could have cursed him out, in English or Spanish. I didn’t.  

Neither of us knew what the other had experienced a moment, a day or a month prior—or would experience.  There were only our roads ahead of us, whether or not they would intersect again.

His next delivery, my next ride.  Fate brought us to that moment.  For now, at least, I know I can ride again because I rode yesterday and many days before.  I have survived;
I hope I will continue to survive, and ride.

04 July 2020

My Age

Je suis le soleil.

I am the law.

Believe it or not, Donald Trump didn't utter the first of the above declarations, mainly because he doesn't speak French. (He barely speaks English.)  But if he could--or if he had any flair for figurative language--he would. "I am the sun" would sum up the way he sees himself.

He probably wishes he could make the second statement.  Sometimes I think he hired Rudy Giulani for the express purpose of finding a loophole in the Constitution that would allow him to appropriate such power unto himself.

Now I am going to say something just as audacious and ridiculous--and something El Cheeto Grande has fever-dreams about saying:  I am this country.

How is that?, you ask.  Well, today is Independence Day here in the US. Or, as some people like to say, it's this nation's birthday.

It's also my birthday.  And I am identifying myself with this American nation because, for the first time, I feel as old.

My wounds are healing and I have to go for another MRI in a week.  Hopefully, it won't tell me I'm not as well as I feel because, well, I'm used to feeling better than I feel now.

Fourth of July Bike Ride, 1934

I might get on my bike today.  If it doesn't leave me in more pain--and if I don't crash--I'm sure I'll feel younger, or at least better.

If only a "cure" for this country, or this world, were so simple!

I'm sorry for whining.

01 July 2020

On The Mend

I'm still on the mend, but I hope to be on my  bike soon.

Meantime, I've been taking some walks.  My energy level is still low:  Simple tasks tire me out.  Perhaps the worst part of this is the pain I'm still feeling in my shoulders and down the sides of my neck.  The doctor says it's muscle strains and pulls; there isn't much I can do but to "let them heal."

Only Marlee is happy about the situation:  She loves to cuddle, and I'm more available than usual!

We want to thank you for your support!   Once again, here is my GoFundMe page.

22 June 2020

This Isn't An Experiment

Some people simply cannot abide any toe-clip overlap.  Me, I can stand a little, depending on the bike and how I'm riding it.  But this is, shall we say, a bit out of my range.

What's worse is the way it was achieved, if you will:

I'm thinking now of Rigi bikes from about 40 years ago. Its creators made the wheelbase shorter by splitting the seat tube in two--rather like the top tube on a mixte frame--and running the wheel between the smaller tubes:

rigi corta rare bike campagnolo | eBay | Bicycle, Bike, Giro d'italia

I've heard of a bike that does the same thing with the down tube:  The front wheel runs through it.  I don't know how one steer such a machine.  The only possible use I can see for it is a motor-paced time trial.

Now I'll dispense with the levity:  As you probably have surmised, I didn't try to alter Arielle's geometry. Rather, it happened--in front of a nondescript tenement on Bonnefoy Avenue in New Rochelle.

I was pedaling, at a pretty good pace, home from Connecticut.  Well, I thought I was going home:  I hit something and, the next thing I knew, I was getting stitched up.   Then someone in the New Rochelle hospital decided I should be observed in a trauma unit, to which I was sent. 

Poor Arielle.  As for me, I still feel pain on the sides of my neck down to my shoulders.  Oh, and I have a headache and have been tired.  A trip to the drugstore felt like a century or a marathon.

When I got home, my face looked as if someone had superimposed a railroad map over a satellite image of the Martian surface.  It's a little better now, but I don't think I'll be modeling for Raphia any time soon.

I hate asking for money, but I think the real pain will begin when I see what my insurance doesn't cover.  So, I've set up a GoFundMe page.

I hope, more than anything, to be back in the saddle soon.  Until then, I'm going to catch up on some reading, writing and a project.  And Marlee is going to catch up with, well, the cuddles she misses when I'm out of the house!

Thank you!

03 June 2020

Cycling In A Time Of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor And Others

I suppose that most of us can say we are privileged in some ways but not in others.

If you are reading this blog, you have the privilege of my unparalleled adventures, timeless insights and deathless prose.  All right, I'm kidding.  The privilege you have, though, is the time for, and choice of spending time with me.  You could be doing other things, after all.

On the other hand, even if you love my blog more than anything else in the world, you probably have other things tugging at your sleeve, so to speak.  In short, you don't have all day to read this.  

Also, I suspect that most of you who are reading this are cyclists by choice.  That is a privilege, certainly.  If you are cycling because you have no other choice but your unaided feet, I feel extremely honored by your presence.

I have long had awareness of who has privilege and choice, and to what degree.  But I may not have ever been so cognizant of my own privilege as I was the day took a bike trip into the Cambodian countryside with You Sert, who lives in that milieu.  During that ride, I spent some time with a farmer who is a traditional healer and played with her children, who didn't speak any language I speak but who understood, perhaps better than I ever will, the ways we communicate through motion, through touch and toward the heart.  Also, I went with You Sert to a market, where we picked up the ingredients for a lunch we shared with a family.  And, before the end of that ride, a woman showed me how she weaves her grass roof and led me through weaving a row of it.  (I hope she stayed dry through the rainy season!)

I mention that day because, as rewarding as it was (I've stayed in touch with You Sert as well as other people I met there), at the end of it, I returned to my room in the inn which, although it wasn't the Ritz, was nonetheless palatial--with its air conditioning and cable channels beamed in from France, England and Australia--compared to the conditions I only glimpsed.

That day, as it turned out, was emblematic of my understanding of  being black, or anyone not white, in America.  While riding my bike, I have been stopped and frisked for no discernible reason--other than, perhaps, my gender identity or the fact that I am cycling in a car-centric culture.  One incident in particular was scary:  One of the officers who stopped me was clearly afflicted with "'roid rage."  Still, even then--on a hot day early in my gender transition, when I was riding home from work in the skirt and blouse I wore on the job--I felt at least somewhat certain that I would soon be home and riding my bike the next day.  

I didn't think, then, that I would meet the same fate as George Floyd.  Or Breonna Taylor.  Or Sandra Bland.  Or Tamir Rice.  Or Eric Garner.  Or Freddie Gray.  Or Amadou Diallo.  I didn't even expect that I would be stopped, again, by some other police officer for "riding while trans" or whatever they call it in legal lexicon or cop argot.  And, so far, I haven't.

Unfortunately, though, I have met a few riders who were stopped for no apparent reason other than "cycling while Black" or Hispanic or fill-in-the-blank.  And even if they managed not to get summonsed, or worse, I could understand if they felt even more anxiety than I did about having to deal with the police.  After all, the only people who have a greater chance of being murdered, by police officers or anyone else, than transgenders are African-Americans, particularly the young.

And, let's face it, as a white woman, I can be seen, at least by some, as an educated creative person and educator who likes to ride her bike.  It seems that my professional pursuits and passions--or even being an honest, law-abiding person trying to make a living and help others--are enough to for folks like Ms. Bland to escape whatever biases accrue to them on account of the color of their skin.

In short, even as a member of one "minority", going for a bike ride or a walk is something I can do, on most days, without thinking.  That is a privilege Ms. Bland, George Floyd and others did not have.  I try not to forget that.