Of Wheels & Motion & Things That Go Round

I’ve had wheels on the brain a lot lately. The back tire of my bicycle, specifically, that needs a little pump-up before I can continue the journey I half-started last year of reacquainting myself with bike-riding after falling off my skinny-tire ten-speed as a teen. I left those two wheels behind soon after for four wheels and an engine.

I loved that bike. It was a gunpowder blue and had black curly handlebars that made me feel “like, so adult” when I cruised downtown to work and back or to the park to hangout with friends. I saved up for it, bought it myself, and went all over on it for several summers back when I was in lifeguard-shape, often sitting up and riding “no-hands” because that’s what all the cool-kids did.

Understand, I was not a cool kid. I just wanted to be one.

I also hated backpacks back then (still don’t care much for ’em, honestly). So I carried a bag over one shoulder. Not cross-body, because…I never have understood how people can do that comfortably, but just slung over one shoulder with a wide, preferably padded strap.

When you have skinny tires and gravel on the road and you think you’re so cool you can adjust the strap of a bag heavy with wet towels while balancing on a bike…well, gravity has a way of keeping you humble. Half a mile from home I found myself tangled up in my bike and bag on the street, and unable to use my right wrist for anything, including balancing said bag or getting back on my bike. I tried.

I walked the bike home (no cell phones back then, we just…dealt with stuff), told my mom I’d fallen and couldn’t move my wrist. My mom’s a practical, resourceful sort who doesn’t tend to panic (thank goodness), and she splinted my wrist with a wooden spoon and towel and off to the hospital we went. After she finished what she’d been in the middle of, of course.

Several hours later, I came out with a bright purple cast that started at the very tip of my upturned thumb, and covered not only my wrist and forearm, but also a few inches above my bent elbow. I could not unbend my arm, or twist my wrist. It was nearly impossible to deal with my waist-length hair, and I had to write with my left hand because you can’t really grip a pen without your thumb.

As it turns out, I’d broken the bone at the bottom of your thumb, shattered the back of my hand and put hairline fractures up into my wrist. To this day, I feel the weather in that hand/arm, and the doc said it was going to be like that forever.

Eight weeks I was in that huge, unweildy cast, and then a smaller one that allowed movement of my thumb and ended just below my elbow for another four. Three months in a cast will atrophy some muscles, I tell you what, and it took awhile and some really annoying stretching/lifting to get the movement and strength back in that arm/hand.

The itching. OMG…the itching!

By the time it was healed up, it was the dead of winter and my bike was safely in the garage while I took driver’s ed that following spring. I may have ridden it a couple of times the following summer just for kicks, but cars were cooler

Last May was the first time I’d been back on a bicycle since. And when I stood in the parking lot of the local bike shop and prepared to push off, I really wasn’t sure I’d remember how to ride a bike, much less keep my balance. But as everyone says, muscle memory took over, and I was fine.

The road bike I bought that day (there’s a pic of it here somewhere – probably last May’s blog posts) is mint green and white, and the frame and tires are at least twice the size of that old 10 speed. It’s stable and strong and comfortable to ride for the most part, though I wouldn’t say no to more seat padding. I’ve been itching to get back on it this spring, and start cruisin’ around the neighborhood, building up those leg muscles again, not to mention some stamina.

Yesterday was payday, and after I got home, I went on a bike-accessory shopping spree (gotta love Amazon). By Thursday, I’ll have a new basket for the front, a new big tire pump with a pressure gauge attached, a mini-tire pump that attaches to the frame, some patches, a bike-specific multi-tool and front and rear USB rechargeable lights. Weather-willing, this weekend I’ll be cruisin’ around town, making my legs and heart actually work in a way they haven’t for quite a long while. It’ll be fun.

My plan is to incorporate a good bike ride 2-3 times per week. Good for metabolism and muscle, good for clearing the head and just getting out for a bit after the nightly dog walk. Maybe a good way to run small errands on the weekend too, depending on where I need to go.

If that goes well, who knows what’s next? I have been thinking it would be fun to have a pair of roller skates again (not inline, just regular quad skates)…hmm.


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