Archive for November, 2011

My newest friend met on the road. He's so far from home!

Crossing one of the county lines in north central Florida I spotted the sign that said “Welcome to Bicycle Friendly Putnam County”. Immediately upon passing that sign, the paved shoulder which had been a noted feature all through our travels in Florida, ended. Talk about a schizophrenic attitude about the identity the county wanted to project!

Not that I was riding that road at the time–no, it was observed from the seat of my car, not the seat of my bicycle. Since Dubuque and the altercation with the vehicle that hit me (see the previous post) I have not been seated on that particular vantage point. Oh how I miss it! But as I told Tom yesterday when he inquired if I’d like to ride the flat, paved shoulder with the 25 mph tailwind for a while, I am simply not in that mode right now.

A month out the arm is mostly healed. All I have to show at this point are a few scabs, an interesting scar and peeling skin. I can bend it fully without pain, though I still can’t rest my elbow on the table without padding. I’m sure my mom is OK with that, having spent years teaching me good table manners. There is only a little discomfort when I make a tight fist with my left hand, so I am pretty sure I could grip my handlebar for several miles. But I just don’t have the heart for it.

My favorite partner...

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not afraid to ride on the road (a claim I have failed to test so far…) I am just disheartened. There is a particular mindset to long distance riding. I had thought and planned for months, settled my mind and purpose to heat, cold, wind, long miles, long smiles. I had 829 miles under my cleats, and was mentally and physically well-prepared for the remaining 1600. Ending the ride because of the accident knocked the stuffing right out of me, and I seem not much interested in day rides at this point. It seems rather pointless after all that “game day” preparation, and it was how I was occasionally feeling after Tom had to give up riding much earlier in the journey. “What am I doing out here on the road alone, when I’d much rather be partnered up with my husband? What really is the point of riding alone if I’m not really alone?”

Perhaps after we arrive at my parents’ home and light for a while I will recover my enthusiasm for cycling “light”. Perhaps my doldrums are mostly the result of being homeless and dependent on the hospitality of friends and relatives for so long. I’m aware that I do get travel weary on long journeys, and for a day or two I just want to go home. Usually I roll through that feeling and continue to enjoy the novelty. This time it has lasted longer, from Memphis down the Mississippi, across four states and two weeks. We have talked about cycling from the tip of the Florida peninsula down through the Keys; Tom could probably manage that without undue stress on his heart, as it is so flat. We still have all our camping gear with us, though I will need a new helmet and a set of front panniers. Hmmm…If we declare “let’s leave tonight!” I will keep you posted.


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