On April 10th, I managed to force myself and my old bike through the short course at the Eroica California vintage bike ride in the hills above Paso Robles. http://www.eroicacalifornia.com/ It had been three weeks of constant challenge against the odds (check earlier posts), even right to the starting gate. Waiting next in line to get my ride book stamped and take off, I noticed that my old front Panaracer tire had blown out a sidewall. A big aneurysym just cleared the forks on the left side with the broken tire sidewall threads wacking the fork on each revolution. Repairs from last night had yet to be road tested: the problematic axle nuts, the crank cotter pins, the weak seat post, and now this. Nausea, spinning head from my morning drugs -- I felt the least healthiest I have ever been in my life, like a train wreck without even yet leaving the station. Looking back at the photos, I look like a wreck.
So I figured I would get my ride card stamped, ride under the starting banner, maybe make a mile and come back. I had given this gig all the energy and time I had left and I was OK just calling it good. Mentally and physically I was numb as a stone. But after a mile the tire didn't blow. After the first long hill, the crank held. So I figured the worst case scenario, a tire blowing on a long downhill and me hitting the pavement at 30 mph, and I realized that it still wouldn't be as bad as open heart surgery or three rounds of chemotherapy, so I said to hell with it and rode until something disintegrated. And nothing did, other than my legs.
The ride itself was beautiful; steeply rolling hills through olive orchards and vineyards, classic pastoral stuff. Glorious and meticulously maintained vintage machines stretched out in lines in front and behind me. The odd rider's group on the roadside every mile making repairs. (I never did!) I cannot imagine trying any harder to get to and through this event, making this dream come true. It was an inspiration to be part of it in any sense, much less finishing a route.
Thank you to all family and friends who helped fix, patch, and cajole my bicycle and my body through this thing. If I still didn't feel so sick I would be walking in the clouds right now, so forgive me for this brief post about an incredibly important and epic event from my bucket list.
And tomorrow morning it is back to the doctor, and I will never tell him a thing.