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So many lawyers, so little time...

"The prospect of hanging focuses the mind wonderfully"--Samuel Johnson

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Location: Louisville, KY, United States

Gastroenterologist, cyclist, cellist, Christian, husband, father, grandfather.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

About that death wish

Yesterday was a fine day, of a sort: 20 degrees F, 3 inches of snow on the ground, and gray, overcast skies. After struggling to get my morning rounds performed, I took my son's bike out to the local trail for my first ever snow ride. My wife had lobbied vigorously against this endeavor: "You'll kill yourself out there", she said matter of factly, and reminded me that the Fate of Western Civilization rested on whether I was able to emerge from the trails unscathed.

Taking my son's bike was a good idea. His has disc brakes, and besides looking cooler than V brakes, they work well regardless of how much ice and grunge builds up on the wheel rims. Yesterday there was a lot of ice and grunge, and salt, and even mud, I'm embarrassed to say. More about that soon.

Riding at noontime in overcast skies, I was surprised at the abrupt changes of trail conditions I would encounter. I loved the "frozen tundra", where the snow was hard-packed and made crunchy Rice Krispy sounds as you rode over it. The grip was firm and reliable, except for one spot were there was some mud just below the surface. Down I went, but it wasn't painful; it just left a huge mess on my clothes.

The trail would then change into the "snow-mosquito infested swamplands" which are the bane of all responsible mountain bikers. Riding in mud is irresponsible because it tears up the trails and accelerates erosion, and everytime someone does it, God kills a kitten out of frustration. I'd find my way to the nearest road as quickly as possible. I was not going to have some innocent kitten's death on my conscience.

Riding on a snowy trail is a rush. Riding on an icy road is not. Losing control on a mountain trail and plummeting hundreds of feet to my demise would be cool in it's own way. Falling on icy pavement and breaking a hip would only be very painful and very stupid. I'm riding the icy road trying to save the life of a kitten and I'm fearful of my own life the entire time. My fear is accentuated as I hear a sickening metallic crunch behind me. A van has skidded out of control on the icy road and taken out a road sign. Was it the sign that said "Road freezes because of global warming, and its Bush's fault"? I was too frightened to go back and check it out. That metallic crunch could have been my bike.

I got back on the trail and spent more time alternating between frozen tundra and swampland. I was able to work my way back to my starting place without rutting up the trail in too many places, although my bike (or rather, my son's) is now covered with multiple layers of snow, mud, and salt. It looks nasty. Did a kitten die at the hands of an Angry God on my account? I don't know. I do know that I felt great for the rest of the day, and fell into an Ambien-less sleep in a matter of minutes. I felt more alive this day than I had in a long time.

I will feel even more alive when my son sees what a mess I've left his bike in. At that moment I will face death, especially if I by chance messed up the rotors to his disc brakes. Pray for me, now and at the hour of my death.

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