Everyone one is recovering from something. Booze, drugs, illness, injury, relationships, work, yesterday’s beatdown ride, the past, the present, and of course the future. Nothing is harder to recover from than the future. Today we celebrated a whole bunch of recovery. Nominally it was the recovery of my friend Deb Banks, who exactly three years ago on the last Friday in January got hit by a drunk and almost lost her right foot. And her life.
Deb started her recovery the minute after she was hit, and she has been riding for over a year now, regaining fitness and strength as only tough people can. In August she flies to Japan to do a randonneuring ride in Hokkaido, 720 miles in three days. Most people would say she has recovered.
But one of the funny things about catastrophic injuries collected while riding your bicycle is that you never fully recover. Some part of the hit and the injury stays with you forever, no matter how completely your body heals. When you think about it, this isn’t any different from any of the other things we recover from. Those of us in the drunk recovery world may be sober, and our bodies may not bear any outward signs of the previous abuse, but our minds carry it along, like baggage that never seems to get mistakenly delivered to Shanghai and lost forever.
Today’s crew was a true recovery crew. Along with me and Deb, there was Yasuko, Mark, Drew and Tuesday, Vlad, Darrel the EV Guy, and my buddy from junior high-high school-college days, Robert Doty. We drove to Davis and stopped at Konditorei, an Austrian bakery that our pals from the Slovak restaurant the day before had sworn we must visit. “It is the best Austrian bakery in a thirty-mile radius,” our Viennese friend promised.
We started with a walnut pastry thingy, which tasted great, and washed it down with a cappuccino. If you are going to call yourself an Austrian cafe you had better serve lights out coffee. It was.
Preparing for the wintry ride in Winters
The weather app forecast low 40’s warming up the high 50’s and scattered sun showers. We rendezvoused in the small town of Winters, bundled up, and set off ’round the Mountain. Drew and Tuesday had stashed our lunch in their garage-sized pannier, and although I had billed the ride as pancake flat we immediately hit a giant 3-mile climb up to a damn dam. The sun showers poured down on our heads from the moment we left until, by mile five, we were all soaked to the bone in sunshine, which continued the entire day.
Mark was riding a 1985 Oldie McOldschool frame with chromed fork and stays, Campy Nuovo Record, and a very trick five-speed freewheel on a non-compact (bloated?) 52 x 42. He had toeclips and soft leather lace-up riding slippers, and I couldn’t ride behind him because the glare on his burnished bike was so bright it blinded me. Mark is recovering from carbon. It has been a long a painful way back, but now that he owns fifteen steel vintage frames (“I always get a good deal!”) the worst side effects of his former carbon affliction have subsided.
Vlad had a hand-made steel Ellis frame with SRAM e-tap and a leather saddle, evincing deep internal conflicts about the clash of modernity and history. A recovering communist, Vlad emigrated to the U.S when he was fourteen, where he learned that Americans were even more ignorant about the Soviet Union that Russians were about the U.S. Vlad long ago was cured of communism and he engages in regular capitalist therapy working as a lawyer. We talked for a long time about Russian history as he politely listened to me mouth a great mountain of nonsense. Best of all, we communistically rode together for several miles sharing the work for the betterment of our small four-person soviet, freeing ourselves from bourgeois oppression as we took over the means of cycling production and distributed it fairly to the peasants behind us.
With us, Darrel embarked on his longest ride in well over a year. Despite his daily bike commute, a series of ailments including chronic neck pain and arthritis have ended his former lifestyle of day-long and multi-day trips on the bike. It was so much fun to watch him pound joyously up the hills; it was the look of a person who has been starving for cycling for a long time and finally been given a big chaw of cycling to eat. Darrel is also a recovering internal combustion engine user and we got listen to another lively lecture about the benefits if electric vehicles. He approved of my Chevy Volt as a “most excellent EV gateway drug.”
Drew and Tuesday weren’t recovering from anything specific until the chain on their tandem decided to flop off one of the twelve chainrings and devour one of the seven derailleurs. Thankfully they were able to turn the rudder sufficiently to get the giant ship turned around and headed back to port in Winters, where the dockworkers scraped the barnacles off, replaced the chain, and made everything happy and new again.
Unlike Mark, who was recovering from carbon, Robert was recovering from steel. After more than thirty years of faithful abuse he finally relegated his steel Colnago (“The Blue ‘Nag”) to the basement as a trainer bike, and now pedaled happily about on a full carbon Colnago made of 100% carbon and which was all carbon, entirely. Bob is also on the cusp of kicking his child habit, as the final Doty offspring is about to get sprung off to collage, where many disparate parts will be turned into one cohesive picture. Childrearing recovery is going to be tough, he just doesn’t know it yet. We reminisced about getting chased by dogs the times we rode from Austin to San Marcos with nothing to light our way but a Comanche moon. Amazing times …
Deb of course is recovering from her collision. She is our lodestar, our hero, our leader, our inspiration, and the person who picks up the tab when all of our credit cards get declined. She brings us together, keeps us together, and reminds us that the hardest journey is so much finer than never having journeyed at all.
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About SouthBayCycling.com: This the all-things-cycling blog about cycling in the South Bay and cycling in Los Angeles, maintained and authored by me, Seth Davidson, Torrance-based bicycle lawyer, bike racer, and personal injury attorney.