Mar. 13th, 2016

bikingandbaking: Photo of my road bike leaned against a gazebo (you must face the gazebo alone)
BANG! went my rear tire.

THUD! went the rest of me into the pavement.

Ow. I peeled myself off the ground; nothing hurt any more than it already did, and took stock. Some of the contents of my handlebar bag were spread across the street; my left contact was somehow stuck in my eyelashes. The road was quiet and empty; I had enough time to pull off a glove and stick my contact back in my eye before dragging everything off the side of the road.

The road rash was starting to sting; I found a decent place to prop the bike up and started pulling out the things I'd need to change a tire and extracted the wheel. Then I went looking for what had blown the tire as I pushed the bead down into the well (stupid tubeless-ready rims!). It wasn't hard to find; a two-inch-long rift down the center of the rubber. Well, shit. That wasn't a tube change, that was a phone call. My triumphant return; my journey out of Purgatory; my bookend to what has possibly been the shittiest chapter of my life to date; it was abruptly over.

Time to back up. I was riding home from Purgatory chasm; [livejournal.com profile] dphilli1 goes down there for his volunteer SAR team meetings on a regular basis. I've tagged along before; the last time was in November, trying to hang onto some fitness over the winter before the holidays. That was a nice ride; the only annoyance was the same as many recent rides; nagging pain and sweating off bandaids on a cracked left thumbnail.

All three of you or so who read this regularly know where that went -- it wasn't an infection on that nail, it was the big scary C - cancer, and instead of riding in this irregularly warm winter, I was recovering from multiple surgeries and the emotional rollercoaster of being diagnosed and operated on and then cleared to go back to life as normal, minus the last joint of my left thumb and eight perfectly healthy lymph nodes. So this ride was a symbol. I'd gotten back in the saddle with a gentle cruise on my spin bike first. Then a friendly ride with C.; then hitting the spin bike for sprints and multimodal commuting with the Brompton; then finally a harder ride with David. But I hadn't ridden my road bike on my own yet.

It was a good ride, for 42 miles.

The emotional rollercoaster echoed the terrain; at one point I was tearing up, and not due to the wind. At others, I was grinning like I hadn't in months. I was writing my joyous blog post, filled with ever-more-ambitious plans for the season, in my head with each turn homeward, as the miles flew by. The hills felt pretty good; the downhills better, and for the first time doing this route I didn't miss the turn up Candy Hill Road in Sudbury. I celebrated by standing and powering up it and then flying down it, a little too fast when there was a curve and a stop sign at the bottom. I started braking, my back tire started to squirm, and we're back to the beginning of the post.

It was a good ride, period.

I'm a little battered, a little bruised, but I'm OK. I'm a little slower, having lost a bunch of fitness, and I'll probably be a little overly-cautious on descents for a while, but I'll get it back. I can change a tire with one and a half thumbs, as long as the tire is worth changing. I can ride. I will ride.

And now I should go prop my left arm up because I landed on it funny, not because it's recovering from surgery, and get some sleep. I'll do the season-goals post later. For now, it's enough that I am picking myself up, dusting myself off, and getting back on the bike.

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