Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On the Road ... Again

Yesterday morning (Wednesday, March 19) I rode my bicycle for the first time this spring. Well, it was sort of the second time. The evening before, after supper, I'd hopped on and ridden around the funeral home parking lot right next door--just to make sure the gears and brakes were working all right. (They were.) A couple of circles of the lot, that's all ... not really a ride, you know?

During the winters my bike lives in the basement, where I entrust its care to the spiders and mice. I carry it down late each fall when the long-range weather reports confirm that there ain't gonna be much good riding in the foreseeable future (i.e., November-December-January-February). Last fall, it was somewhat emotional for me, taking that bike downstairs. My last ride had been on October 28--to Starbucks in Hudson (a routine route for me)--and when I got home, I was not sure I'd ever ride that bike--or any bike--again.

As regular readers here know, I've been wrestling with prostate cancer (and its insistent returns) since June 2005 when I underwent a prostatectomy (removal). Then the cancer returned. Radiation in 2009. The cancer returned. In late July 2013 I received my first injection of Lupron, a drug which effectively killed my testosterone (food for prostate cancer) and, of course, killed my libido, as well. (One day I'll write about that.) I was also getting bad numbers on my liver tests.

So ... when I took that bike to the basement in late October, I was not at all sure I'd ever again be hauling it back upstairs in mid-March for its annual trip to Eddy's Bicycle Shop in Stow for its spring tune-up. Tears that late October day ... lots of them.

I learned to ride a bike in Amarillo, Texas, 1952 or so (when I was seven), and I've been a casual rider ever since. I quit riding a bike in high school (not a cool thing to do, ride a bike), but not long after I married in 1969, I got a new bike--Joyce still had her Schwinn from girlhood--and we did some riding--and I also rode around with our infant son in the child seat after he was born in 1972. He liked to go to Stoddard's in Kent--where they have some of the best soft ice cream in the galaxy. I still like to go there, but my cholesterol numbers say No! so Joyce and I go only once a year ... tradition.

Joyce bought my current bike--a Schwinn--when we were living in Aurora--oh, around 1992 or so? She offers now and then to buy me a new one, but I kind of like the Old Fellow, and (darkly, darkly) I'm hesitant
to spend money on something which I may not be able to use much longer. I use it, as I said, casually. But when I was teaching at nearby Western Reserve Academy (a few blocks north), I rode it whenever I could, back and forth several times a day during my ten-year stint there (2001-2011). Post-retirement,  I ride to the coffee shop in the morning (when the weather cooperates), to Starbucks, to the barbershop ... a few other errands. I like to hop on when grandsons Logan and Carson are visiting. They seem to get a kick out of seeing their "Silly Papa" on a bike. (You have to admit: There is something a little funny about seeing an Old Guy in a helmet on a bike.)

Well, I somehow survived the winter. The Lupron took my PSA back to zero (it will rise again--that is certain--but I'm hoping not soon). My liver numbers went back to normal, too. And a week ago I realized it was about that time again. Eddy's Time. I went to the basement, thanked the vermin for their service, and struggled with it back up the stairs and out into the back of the car. And Joyce and I drove it off to Eddy's for its annual physical. Which it passed splendidly. (Thanks again, vermin!)

I got the bike back on Saturday, March 15, and put it back on the side porch, where it will live until snow fly next fall. But, as I said, I didn't ride it until Wednesday morning. And as I rolled out onto Church Street, heading for Bruegger's Bagels and my morning caffeine hit, I felt, once again, that surge of joy I'd first felt back in Amarillo in 1952. I'm riding! I'm riding a bike!

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