Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Me vs.The Bike

On Saturday, Lor finally found her bike.

It is really about that simple. She has been looking at Cruiser (or "Beach") Bikes for months now, wanting something simple, without complicated shifters and brakes, that we could use around our neighborhood. I have been...less enthusiastic, as the last bike I owned I ended up having to give to my brother because my ass wouldn't fit on the seat. But, no harm in letting her look, right?

A well-meaning person on one of our bariatric surgery boards posted a picture of a bike that was currently on sale at Sam's Club. It was a single speed cruiser, it had a basket and a luggage rack, and it was on sale for half of its retail price. Oh, and it was the exact color of Lor's new Ford Escape:

I don't need to explain what happened next, do I?

It was a little more complicated than "we went and bought it". Turns out not all Sam's Club's carry bicycles. I spent half an hour checking web sites until I found a local outlet that had this particular bike. Then I had to check store hours - the impulse to buy had overcome Lor at 7 pm. Then came the next problem - we are not Sam's Club members. I called my ever-reliable parents, who gave up their evening of Olympic viewing so they could drive down and meet us at the local Sam's Club to help us procure the bike. My Dad was even gracious enough to load the bike into the back of his truck, reminding me that I was not supposed to be lifting anything over 10 pounds yet, then delivered the box to our home.

Assembly was supposed to take under 15 minutes. 2 hours later, we finally had a bicycle whose seat pointed straight up in the air, and whose front tire rubbed against the fender. Discouraged and prepared to return the bike the next day, we gave up and went to bed.

Daybreak brought some insight - the fender had come out of the box bent. I contacted the manufacturer, and they were happy to send us a new one. In the meantime, the bicycle worked perfectly well without a front fender. A seat adjustment and Lor was ready to go.

But, by now, the fever had overcome me. I now had visions of doubling or tripling the range of our daily walks. Bicycles made everything faster and easier, right? I needed to get one too, so that we could ride together, right? $80 dollars later, I had a Huffy of my very own - cleverly pre-assembled at Wal-Mart. I spent several curse-worthy moments in the parking lot figuring out how to load it into our SUV, then we drove it home.

At last, we each had our own bikes - situated at the top of our downward-sloping driveway. We put on bike helmets, hopped aboard our bikes, and then argued back and forth for a few minutes about who was going to ride first. I finally lost the argument, and shakily pedaled down the driveway into the street.

Now, the problem arose. I have never owned a bike with "coaster brakes" before. I don't know how they work. I frantically grabbed the handlebars looking for my invisible brake handles. They never appeared, and I ran into the curb across from our house at about 5 miles an hour, dumping the bike (and me) into the street.

After Lor coaxed me back to my feet and convinced me not to just throw the bike into our trash can, we decided to take a short ride, just down the road and back. We know from our walking routes that this works out to about a quarter of a mile. Easy peasy, yes?

As it turns out, no. Downhill was great. But once we turned around and came back uphill, things got bad quickly. My legs wobbled. My breath wheezed. I could not see for the red fog engulfing my eyes. And, worst of all, I could now suddenly feel 5 sharp, burning pokers in my abdomen - right at the sites of my incisions from 3 weeks ago.

This was a Cruiser bike - not a ten-speed. There was no way to shift into a lower gear. I proceeded back up the hill at a pace slower than walking, forcing each leg down by gravity, powered only by pride and determination. Lor, of course, was already back at the house waiting for me.

So, it turns out that biking is a great exercise because it engages all your core muscles - not just your legs. Who knew? After staggering back into the house, I immediately took my first pain meds since leaving the hospital, then lay down in front of a fan and waited for the pretty lights to go away. 

So, the bike is now sitting in the garage, plotting nefariously against me and my next ride attempt. I am faced with the reality that I may have to institute an exercise program in order to become strong enough to use the bike that I bought to exercise with. De-pressing.

My Kingdom For Shimano Shifters And Brakes That Work,

- Hawkwind

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