Can’t bicycle? Tri something

It all comes together. Somehow, most days- no, all days, it all comes together. If some part didn’t come together, well it wasn’t meant to be. The parts that matter, the people and places, things and events that are important always come together, it’s meant to be.

I want to skydive. I need to run to skydive (can’t land faster than you can run.) I need to be able to run. Makes sense, right.

I want to be able to run. However, I need to be able to move my hip, knee, and ankle fluidly to run, yet I can’t actually run or even jog without falling down after the first step or two (depending which foot I start on.) So I can’t ‘practice’ to get better. All the stretches in world haven’t been able to loosen the knots of muscles in my legs. I have gotten the leg to relax a lot more over the last year, yet from the spasticity, the entire leg will clench down forming my ‘wooden peg leg’, which, works to keep me upright at a slow pace and also causes the most pain in my ankle as it turns inward with the clench as it’s opposing muscle is dead to my brain. A stiff peg leg landing each step on the outside edge of my foot as it curls inward and stiffens more to take the impact.

I had really been looking forward to riding my bike this spring after walking through the desert all winter. I’ve never really been a walker, or at least not a hiker. I have hiked (before this year,) usually though, my idea of walking would be the mile there and back to Frosty boy, or decades ago, going to see my Grandparents at the Paka Plaza. Heck I remember walking with them when they’d hold my hand as we crossed the parking lot to Sears, remember when it wasn’t connected?

Walking just doesn’t deliver the experience per minute, the speed and rapidity of stimulation per energy output (especially now!) to keep me entertained for long. Even when I jogged- and let’s analyze that for a moment, I was not a hobby jogger, I jogged for a purpose. I wanted to run a triathlon, so I trained for six months and (swam, biked and) ran that triathlon, two thousand and ten I think, I’d have to go check the old Facebook to be sure, maybe eleven, but I’m pretty sure it was ten. After the triathlon, I jogged one mile four years later- when my youngest asked me to jog with him back on Lansing Ave. I’m not a jogger (unless there is a tiger, lion, or bear.)

Riding a bicycle has always been my thing. I can’t remember when I got my first bike– hmm, thinking about this, I’m getting a glimpse of memory of being pushed or pushing off from the front porch on Perrin Street and going straight across the street and tumbling over the other side… I’ve always had a bike, twenty inchers until I got too tall, then I made the jump to twenty six inch bikes for distance riding, versus most other people I knew kept the smaller bikes and did jumps, tricks, and street riding.

In Cement City, I was not allowed to leave the village limits during the summer.  When my father would leave for work, I would wait ten minutes or so to make sure he wasn’t coming back for a forgotten coffee or extra pack of cigarettes, then get on my bike. My favorite ride was to Portage Lake and back. Google says it’s a two hour ride, twenty three a half miles. I must have taken it slow (dawdling to look at this or that and take a few breaks sounds likely) because I remember getting there by lunch time and having the sandwich I’d packed as I sat on the grass on the hill going down to the beach area. I didn’t waste time and got right back on my bike- he usually worked past five or so, but sometimes came home as early as four- I had to get back.

I suppose into adulthood, after I was emancipated, I didn’t have a bike- and didn’t buy one for myself again until after I’d had the boys- and that they got big enough I couldn’t keep up walking behind anymore. That’s when I got my current bike: just a standard twenty six inch from Meijer or Walmart- not the bike you want for road race, but that’s what I had, so it worked. After the tri I didn’t ride much, yet a few years later, that two wheels transport came in handy again when I parked my truck in two thousand and twelve for eighteen months and finally (at that time, after a decade) fixed my drivers license issues.

I remember thinking before that decision- how will I go places? how will I go get groceries to feed my family? I then miles outside of the city- yet, from my first big family home, to brand new modular, to a small city apartment- less than a half mile or so from Kroger and I had a bike. You always have what you need and if you don’t have it, you didn’t need it as much as you thought you did. I had an odometer. Two thousand four hundred sixteen point something miles. Once the bike was parked, it didn’t move again for a long time.

In sixteen, I bought this house and of course the bike came over into the basement. I think it was the next spring, my son and I got our bikes out for a ride (the first in four years,) and it was nice to ride again, yet maybe once or twice was it and it’s sat in the basement or on the porch for the six years since then.  Maybe this is why I don’t like getting rid of things- I have few things and I might need them later. All this winter, I was thinking of the bike. Really, when you think of the two things it combines, a bike is really kind of awesome: exercise and sitting down, coupled with a fast change of scenery, it hits the sweet spot for me.

Like I said, I’ve really been looking forward to riding again, just as soon as I could. Once back in Michigan for a couple weeks, I finally got it out and tried a week ago. That didn’t go so well and I almost fell just trying to get onto it. So with that out, I started looking around. Trike’s are nice, but also expensive- new ones can be five to eight hundred dollars (or Chinese budget options for three hundred on Amazon with six week shipping.)

Side note: Holler out to to China! Watching the stats is one of the parts I like about my website and I’ve noticed quite a contingent reading regularly, I’ve got an idea who might have shared my site over there (click into the photo albums if you want to take a guess,) but I’m curious- can anyone tell me, has this site been shared on Weibo?

So, to Facebook Marketplace. The used ones (and many in good shape with light usage) were going for beween three and five hundred- or more! Some of the recumbent trikes are close to two grand (yet, if I ever do another triathlon, that is the bike I want.) Looking and looking, online and even in person. It was good to get over and chat at Barbers bike shop, he’s got two in stock too- yet neither quite right for me.

Of course, the budget doesn’t help. Having been down to my new low (well, this decade or so,) a few weeks ago with just two dollars and twenty eight cents in my checking account, I had decided to sell my skydiving videography helmet to my younger son (himself quickly coming up to that level himself.) I was going to give it to him for less (or in other circumstances just given it to him,) yet when I named a price- oh, such a sweet child- he said “maybe we should look online and see what other people are selling them for”, then gave me an extra hundred for it. Up to three hundred and two dollars.

Side note two: Some might think “I can’t believe he’s saying that”. I just happen to know how good it’s going to make me feel about how far I’ve come (again) when I read this back in a year or two, or ten?

Of course, in a no income situation, budgeting is different- this could be the last three hundred bucks I ever see. Well, twenty five went for an ounce of pot (most undesirable pot I’ve ever smoke, yet tested and certified by the state for safety) shake, a whole ounce of just shake. Gladly at my age and experience level, it doesn’t take much for the spasms in my leg to stop, so I can easily take puff or two to calm it down, and still have more than enough mentality for anything that’s come across my desk lately.

I should probably pick up a giant twenty four pack of TP to be safe for a while too, yet I’ve started to get used to not having money. Really, what do I need it for? I wake, I exercise, I play/work with my computer or my radios, and I’ve got boxes full of spare parts and abandoned projects to keep me tinkering all day, not to mention you know, the Internet- there is a source of content to be scrolled, ad nauseam.

Okay, food. Yep, that’s what you need money for. Well, except you don’t. Thank God in our civilized society we do have social safety nets. For the years when I was up, I paid my taxes in, and years later now that I’m down, I’ll pulling those taxes back out courtesy of a Bridge Card, the EBT program, Food Stamps, and of course, the generosity of every tax paying person.

When I was young, I remember feeling bad about food stamps. I certainly didn’t want anyone to know my family had them. Why the shame? Poverty? The most common human affliction in the modern world? Yeah none of that here. Ha. Yeah, there was lots of poverty in parts of my upbringing- really, I’ll have to stop here, way to big of topic for this deep into the post, my family has many parts- and some of those parts are very different from others.

However, today I was thinking of this and I thought- especially after my ‘off-grid’ experience this year, where I tested that I could (and will if need be) live without a house- about it. Why? Well, it’s a long story, one I’ll probably tell tomorrow morning, yet today I think someone tried to shame me for Food Stamps.  I think- actually, I think that person ASSumed I was on disability, which I still haven’t filed for, even though I’ve been eligible for almost a year now. That person, publicly on Facebook declared that she was supporting me. Granted, this is family, yet we all know (well, maybe I’ve got more stories to type) what happened to my family over the last six years: politics.

So, where is the shame in receiving food stamps. Last year, I most certainly didn’t have a choice- in a coma for four days, five more weeks stuck in a bed, months in a wheelchair.  I suppose if a person thinks I (or my child, then still at home) should not have had food, then I would have starved to death. (Only three weeks with no food.) Maybe that is that person’s point of view- they think I deserve to be dead.

Well, I’ve learned plenty enough of what I can eat and what I can’t, add in google and I started to think today: how would I eat as a poor white city republican if there wasn’t a social program like food stamps.  Honestly, not a problem. I’ve got my twenty two and plenty of parks in town. Have to be careful with the aim, yet cooked right, squirrel meat is just fine. Finding some decent veggies might be harder, yet there are few community gardens and certainly I’d plant my own as well. Past that it’d be a bartering system to trade what I can find for what I need. Might be time consuming, yet I’m guessing the balance is just right- spend all day walking around looking for food, eat, sleep, repeat.

Of course, we know that is illegal- I couldn’t hunt in the city or have a dairy cow (though, thanks in part to myself, I think I could have a pig or chickens!) So where is the trade off with the government taking away my ability to derive my sustenance from the earth? The social programs. Why? So I can eat without spending all day to search for food. With remaining portions of said day, I can do shit to improve my situation. Aren’t we a great group of Americans (or was it just FDR and the alphabet soup days,) for enacting such program.

It’s sad that someone would try to shame a disabled person eating. I don’t feel shame though. (Except sometimes when it just looks like I have too much junk food, I feel better when I buy the salads and healthy foods. – Wait, is that just from eating better food, nothing to do with shame? In fact, I keep just feeling really sad for that person.  Can you imagine? Wanting disabled people to die instead of providing “State” food until they’re able to work again? That is sad, at least it makes me sad.

So (looking back up, where was I…) having food as a ‘given’, money becomes optional. Except when you can’t ride a bike and need a bike so that you can exercise your legs, to be able to run, to be able to work. So, a bike became my next priority.

Searching and searching, I expanded the perimeter and found one in Indiana – only two hundred dollars, and the time and gas to go get it.  Just a long five hour drive.  Once got in the car though, it was a different experience than years past, I pulled onto the highway, merged in and just smiled all the way down the westbound lanes. I knew this wasn’t a ‘real’ roadtrip, yet a flood of memories and experiences and emotions ran all over me.  Over the winter I had removed the commercial radio from my car, so driving is pretty quiet and contemplative.

And today, I’ve glad I had five hours of quiet time to think and pray. When I’d gotten there, the gentleman was very nice and friendly, we had talked a bit and I had already told him I was glad this bike was ‘rehab’ quality (from a manufacturer geared toward rehabilitation equipment,) and he saw my walk.  After a while (we’d walked back to his shed to look at a second bike) he asked me what happened. Telling the story again (so much quicker with so much practice,) a new detail sprang into it.

One that shocked me even when I heard it. As I’ve said before, words just fall from my mouth, sometimes I see them coming, sometimes I don’t. This time- maybe it was someone else in me.  I said:

“Actually, I’m kinda of glad it happened, I needed something to change me out from where I was.”

I heard the words and I paused, had I said that- to a complete stranger? I’m not sure how long the pause actually was, yet internally I went through an entire truth analysis on my statement, where did that come from? What caused that statement? What was…

Yet, it passed. I’m kinda glad I was injured. I was stuck in zero sum game, ad infinitum. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t stop and I loved it, oh did I love the dream. Oh, do I love the dream.  Yet, the place I was in, the dream was corrupting. Maybe is the contemplation time. I’ve never sat in the quiet for so long. I’ve never appreciated the things that can’t be taken away so much. A kind gesture from a friend, a phone call from a family member, a visitor to brighten your day. I’ve never appreciated me, so much. Just me. I’ve been stuck with myself for a long time, yet in the last year or so, I think I’ve become better company.

So today, after an interesting morning (more on that tomorrow) and a long drive, I got home and went for a bike ride. Or, a trike ride at least. Tomorrow is gonna have some miles in it.

Time to rest.


1 thought on “Can’t bicycle? Tri something

Leave a Reply