I was riding an old mountain bike around the neighborhood just three weeks out, off of pain meds and feeling a bit of my old sass. Road biking worried me, though. I was good for a short jaunt on an upright, but the limited range of motion in my neck made me too vulnerable to ride on the roads safely.
I decided to sell. I have never been able to master the concept of losing with grace. An incredible sense of loss and longing enveloped me as the last bike rolled out the door. I turned my focus away from cycling almost completely, surely making at least tentative headway in creating the next chapter of my life. Cruising in the truck, though, I would find myself automatically plotting bike trips and assessing roads, once a favorite pastime.
Later, when a good friend offered me a free cross-bike, all of my resistance and vehement excuses didn’t keep it from mocking me on the trip home. Every time I glanced in the rear view mirror, the straight bars peered back from the bed of the truck, eerily resembling the solid antlers of some strange, alien beast.
So I started to ride again. Even with a carbon fork, I felt every jarring bump through that stiff aluminum frame. The upright geometry stubbornly resisted supporting me on lengthy explorations, but sensing a steady echo of the old joy sifting through was strong enough that the fear of pushing my neck too far slowly gave way to trust as the mileage gradually increased.