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The Long Ride Home

by Ron Shedd
(Alpena, MI)

I had been lifting weights since a teen, but rarely engaged in good aerobic activity. I tried jogging but my well-used joints protested loudly (I was 50 at the time).

So my mid-life mind thought it would be a good idea to buy a bicycle and ride it long distances.

I didn't like the fat-tired mountain variety and the road bike's skinny tires were prone to flats, according to bicycling friends. So I settled on a hybrid or "cross" bike, the in-betweener of bikes.

I ordered the Haro from a shop 26 miles from my home. When they called that it had arrived, I told my wife, "How about you drive me to the shop and I will ride the new bike home".

She just looked at me, as only someone you have been married to for 30 years can look at you. "You do that?" she said with a heaping portion of sarcasm.

The man at the shop, hearing that I was planning to ride my shiny new toy home, looked very concerned. I think maybe it was my gray hair and fair complexion.

He made sure the seat was at the right height and checked the tire pressure. It was like he was the guy packing my parachute for the first sky dive.

My wife asked if she should follow me. I was insulted and let out a manly grunt, "I'll be fine...I might beat you home". She didn't laugh.

I also stopped laughing when I reached the first very tall hill, a hill one does not notice when driving an SUV.

I was busy learning the gear shifter and sweating. Did I mention it was around 90 with high humidity?

There are gear selections that make it easier to climb hills, they are called "Grannie gears". So, this Grannie huffed, puffed, dodged traffic and prayed that I would make it up the next hill (seems there are many hills previously unnoticed between my home and this shop.)

I was determined I would not get off the bike at any time until I made it home...a masochistic right of passage...or something.

The level of exhilaration and relief from coasting down those many hills can only be matched by the level of pain in my nether-regions. Who designs these bike seats, the Marquis de Sade?

So, as I made my way, inching closer to home, I was planning in just what manner I would soon pick up and throw this new instrument of torture into a dumpster.

As I arrived in my driveway, I literally fell off the bike, ignoring the kickstand. Laying it down in the grass, I stood over it, staring at it with hatred like I have never known.

I walked slowly, with burning butt, into the house where my wife, with her back to me, was doing dishes at the kitchen sink.

I collapsed on the tile floor and felt the cold rise up into my hot, sweaty body, attempting to slow down my abused heart. I lay there moaning, until I heard my wife ask, "Have a nice ride"?

Sometimes I really dislike that woman.

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