Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1327 – On the road again


I gave my bicycle away today. It would have been unthinkable a few years ago, unless I was feeling very generous and wanted to justify the purchase of another model during this year’s Tour de France. But today, it just made good sense…and, after all, it was a gift to my son.

Bicycling has been a significant part of my life since those days when I delivered newspapers in Barrie, Ontario – The Globe & Mail in the mornings and the Toronto Telegram in the late afternoons. As an adult I continued to ride recreationally, enjoying the solitary nature of both trail and road cycling, not to mention the toys and gadgets one could purchase. Probably my favourite add-on in recent years was my gel seat, something which helped fight the dead-tushie syndrome from riding for two or three hours on the back country roads of Waterloo Region.

Friends often warned me that my hobby could lead to prostate disease, so I made sure to get an annual rectal exam from my family physician. I’ve never had prostate cancer, but after diagnosis of colorectal cancer in November 2005, the occasional thought has crossed my mind about a correlation with that disease and the frequency with which I rode my bicycle over the years.

I don’t believe there is any correlation. In fact, in my unwanted journey with the disease, the one physical activity I thought I might take up again would be bicycle riding. But it never happened, not only because my buttocks have been the source of virtually unending discomfort and pain, but because my wife has vetoed any initiative to try it out again.

Still, the bicycle, the gadgets, the expensive bicycle stand – they’ve all remained in our garage awaiting “better days”. But now that I’m in palliative home care and my son needs inexpensive transportation, I’ve given the bicycle to him.

He seems quite keen on getting started. Today, he and my wife took the bicycle in for a recommended cleaning and tune up. He’ll be buying a helmet and gloves right away too. And then, if he’s anything like me (and he is) the gadgets will start beckoning.  In addition, he’ll be finding the best routes to take to the university in the fall, the best trails to explore, and roads which lead to simple physical bliss.

And what about me? My unwanted journey will continue without the bicycle. Next week, I’ll get the results of my CT scan and blood tests. I’ll proceed with Isaac Asimov’s Robot series after having just finished the Foundation series. I’ll receive more visitors in my home and in the backyard. I’ll get my wife to take me for car rides and maybe even a trip to a mall with the portable wheel chair. In other words, I’ll enjoy my forms of transportation – real and imagined – and watch my son’s enthusiasm for bicycling grow.

1 comment:

ken coe said...

The bicycle. Sometimes we don’t realize that society is divided between les bicylettes et les autres. Moi, I belong to the latter.

Since early times, 50 years ago, I found riding a bicycle on a road that was shared with anything other than nothing presented challenges that a “pedestrian” personality could not deal with. I mean, screaming along at 20 kph and being suspended 3 feet in the air, with only about .005 cm. of road contact presented a gravitational issue that challenges the physics in terms of rubber and road and suggests that really success needs no serious contact between the two. And being hated by all the hunters driving the carbon expulsion machinery…well can I say more?

I seriously respect those who mount these vehicles, my spouse included, as she is presently competing with logging trucks and SUVs on Manitoulin back roads, but there is something to be said about just walking away from the brawl. Us pedestrian personalities can meander cautiously and avoid the "madding crowd’s ignoble strife".

And gadgets. Well I am sure that we pedestrians will soon have access to navigational equipment that will fit into our newly required helmets and flashing lights, and sirens when we back up but at least we have “two feet on the ground”. Just the way we proceeded several million years ago. Tradition dictates that we stomp and not peddle.

I think your son is now the beneficiary of a device, or contrivance that you so much enjoyed; and that makes its worth its weight in gold. Or titanium or uranium, whatever is the current flavour of the bikers.

Our best to you, as always, Don, and your family.