I had the last paragraph written before the rest.
I crashed Sunday, last Sunday, in a wet corner when a rider went down in front of me. I slid a little, got up, asked Kim if she was okay, picked my bike up, told all the people asking that I was okay, and it turned out that I was. I can’t really walk that well. But I can ride.
Last night I spun over with Andrew to the race. When we left the parking lot, the sun was bright and hot on us, then over the hill on Sauerkraut Road we got rained on, then we rode back into sunshine and dry roads, and finally, just before we got to the race, into rain again. The race had been cancelled before we got there. I thought it had been a pretty great ride, one I’ll remember for a long time, maybe as long as I ever remember anything.
The longer I test bikes—since about 1992 now—the less I feel like I’m writing wine reviews and the more I feel like I’m writing love stories. This is awkward for an adult. I am aware that by most accounts I should have outgrown this all by now.
A few months ago, an important person with a top job at our parent company told me I was missing the bigger picture because I was caught in “a trap” — the trap, as much as I can figure, being a life dedicated to, full of, and in large manner deriving direction and meaning from riding a bicycle. I also sat in a meeting at about the same time and told a bunch of executives who easily could get me fired for belligerence or anything else that I thought cyclists were, simply, better than other people.
Sometimes I forget to roll the cuff of my right pants leg down, and I walk around half the day like that. I pee more than the guys on my floor who don’t ride. I show up to work wet. Sweaty. I show up to work in a rapture.
I saw Jason out riding a couple days ago, and after a year or so, for the first time I thought he looked okay on a bike. He was over later on that day, and we were sitting around and talking about my crash and I asked him why everyone posts pictures of their road rash, and he said he didn’t know. I didn’t know, either, so we spent some time telling each other all the different ways we didn’t know. The next morning I was limping up the stairs to my office on the third floor, and I noticed the people who bring the spreadsheets and stuff to meetings noticing my gait and my bandaged arm, and I felt this strange pride. I wasn’t them. I was us. I guess I understand the pictures, after all, and why I’ll remember a rainy ride on which nothing really happened, and why I might someday get fired for my rapture and all the rest.
The love story is this: Jason looked okay on a bike. Just okay, I mean, just sort of almost there, but I know what that takes, and where that might take him, and how far there is still to go and how long and beautiful and worthwhile the journey is, how lucky he is to be on it.
Originally published in The Selection, August 23, 2013