03 May 2022

Ready, Aim, Tire

I was sailing down a pretty nice little incline, exactly 3.01 miles into my second solo (without Lizard) bicycle ride of the year (and decade), fully expecting another 18-miler. I had my camera and two spare batteries, and the sky was beginning to turn the most gorgeous shade of peach, although I wish wildfires weren't contributing to the dazzling sunrise. I would be able to capture spectacular sunrise reflection photos just around the next bend. Suddenly a very loud and obnoxious "pft" was followed by an even louder descending glissando whistle, a most unwelcome noise I've not heard in many years, thanks to Kevlar strips in my tires back in the days when I rode on a more regular basis.

I'd popped a tire.

Yes, I had a tube, and yes, I had tools. It takes me two hours to change a bicycle tire. Lizard always did it for me when we rode together because... because he's my hero. Because he's awesome. Because he had hand dexterity back then. Because he knew it would take me too long to do by myself.

As I walked my bike back home, watching the horizon turn orange, then gold, then yellow, I kept seeing the amber hues reflecting off the ground. Broken glass. Everywhere. I'd ridden home this very same path just one week earlier. There hadn't been as much glass then. Lots of rocks, but not glass. Along an entire mile stretch! Almost as bad as all the improperly discarded masks that now litter the landscape. But masks won't pop a bicycle tire.

Just prior to my blowout, my ride partner and I had been chatting about this year's Triple Bypass. Her husband had registered to participate, and I had asked her if he might be able to ride with Lizard the first few miles. ("Absolutely!") Lizard might not be able to get any further than about ten miles. I've promised I will pick him up wherever he hits his wall, which varies right now between three and six miles.

The first climb of the Triple typically is closed to vehicular traffic, enabling me to feel comfortable with Lizard taking on the challenge. And yet having someone to ride along with him might give Lizard confidence, as well as companionship.

My riding partner noted she'd been training for the Triple a few years earlier when, during a descent of Mount Evans, she heard a voice telling her it was time to get off the roads. She thought about the message for a while, then bought a gravel bike, which she was riding alongside me on my trusty old 2002 road bike when my tire popped. She sold both her road bike and her mountain bike. The only roads she rides now (which are on her way to and from work) are via her gravel bike. Gravel bikes can do gravel, pavement and trails.

I finally purchased Lizard's gravel bike, which he should be receiving in the next month, a few weeks ago. He will have to partially assemble it, and that's one of the reasons I bought it for him. He is so excited to build this baby, and I think the project will be very good for him. It will give him something to do, something he loves doing but doesn't get to do much anymore. He recently spent a day tuning a bike for a neighbor, the first time he's done that in years, and even though it takes him a lot longer these days, I'm not sure anything makes him happier than working on bikes. I wish I could find a local bike shop that wouldn't mind a slow and sometimes forgetful employee...

All the glass fragments on the road made me wonder if my flat tire was a message to me to get off the roads. I'd realized two years ago I can't take chances anymore because I'm a caregiver now. If anything happens to me, who will take care of Lizard? I didn't really consider an 18-mile ride near home before working from home as risky. I must confess, the trucks that passed me as I walked my bike home brought back unpleasant reminders of unruly traffic during Ride the Rockies and the MS-150. There were no close calls as I walked my bike home, and no drivers were rude. But just like the broken glass on the road, there is risk. And that risk could be significant.

I got home in time to make breakfast for Lizard, whom I'd called with the update when the tire popped. I got home with plenty of time to relax before beginning my workday. Plenty of time to ponder. Plenty of time to put priorities back into perspective.

I was beginning to feel selfish for riding without Lizard. I realized I feel much safer when I - or we - ride where there is no danger of traffic. Such as Waterton Canyon. I love Waterton Canyon. It is never boring. I could do without the biting flies of summer, but I love to ride Waterton every chance I get. I love to ride my bike. But I do not love to ride in traffic, and my bike-handling skills are rusty these days. It's just been too long.

I threw some frozen peach slices in the blender, then added them to plain yogurt with ginger, cinnamon and just a pinch of cloves. I devoured about four spoonfuls, then mixed in Lizard's powdered supplements and handed him the bowl. He took two spoonfuls and fell asleep during the third.

It was the first time I know of Lizard has fallen asleep while eating. He had fallen asleep during conversations, while watching television and while doing his stretching routine. I've never minded him falling asleep because I'm thankful for every ounce of sleep he can get. But this is a sign of Parkinson's progression. No matter how much effort we put into trying to slow the disease, it marches onward, stealing more and more of my favorite cyclist month by month.

Stage Four of Parkinson's includes falling asleep during inappropriate times. The previous week, Lizard had accidentally left the hot water running after washing his hands, the second time that had happened. His medication recently got bumped up because his rigidity had become so debilitating. His breathing is sometimes labored. His Parkinson's shuffle and gait are becoming more and more pronounced. There are days when fighting Parkinson's takes everything we've got, and then some.

I miss our weekend warrior adventures. But I am so grateful for everything we were able to do before Parkinson's changed our path. We've been forced to let go of and abandon many dreams. But I will never stop building new goals and dreaming up new adventures. Parkinson's may not be a destination we chose, but it's an adventure we can work through together. I will never give up, and I will never give up hope.

I can't say I'm going to invest in another gravel bike for me, but I see no reason why I can't ride my mountain bike (which is one of Lizard's retired mountain bikes!!!) right alongside him as we continue on this unexpected and unpredictable journey. There will be bumps and curves along the way, along with splinters of sharp glass from time to time. Today's unexpected detour didn't deter me, and no future flats are going to prevent me from making the best life I can for us.

1 comment :

  1. Ugh! Your tire going flat is never a good thing! I am glad you had someone with you. I am so sorry to hear of the progressions of Lizards disease. My grandfathers both had it, and as a kid , it was a earning experience. As you the caregiver -I bet you are learning a ton. I am so glad you are there for and with him.. Hugs


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