Friday, August 21, 2009


My poor bike has been under involuntary house arrest for the nine months that my cancer ordeal has been unfolding.

I used to ride my blue Felt road bike daily to work, and go on longer rides on weekends. But when I got my G-tube, cycling seemed to be too risky, so I switched to my car for all of my transportation.

Getting my trach the following month just made cycling even more problematic.

Well, a week ago my car began to get a bit wheezy every time I turned the ignition and on Thursday morning it wouldn't start at all. I thought about taking the bus to the office —actually, I need to board three buses to get to my workplace— or take a vacation day to deal with getting the car to the shop.

But I went back to my apartment, saw my bike leaning against my filing cabinet and decided to go for it.

It took a while to get into gear for riding. Both of the bike's tires were completely deflated; I had to tear apart my closet to find my cycling shoes; and the chin strap of my helmet felt strange on my partially numb face. The last time I wore any kind of head gear was in March when I donned my ThermaSplint mask for my final radiation treatment.

The first hundred yards or so in the saddle were a little wobbly, as I reacquainted myself with clipping my feet into the pedals, and staying upright with a heavy backpack weighing me down. But in no time at all I was cruising like a champ. It felt as if I had never stopped riding.

None of the cycling disasters that had spooked me over the past nine months spoiled my ride into work. My G-tube didn't fall out of my shirt and get tangled in my spokes. No Canadian geese flew inside my trach and forced me to dive into the L.A. river. I didn't get creamed by any inattentive motorists because I couldn't scream to prevent a collision.

And the ride home was just as calamity-free.

Once I rolled my bike back into my apartment, I asked a neighbor to phone the Auto Club for me so I could get my car into the shop. It turned out that I just had a bum battery. (There's a reason Die Hard batteries were not instead named "Immortal.")

My car starts right up now. But now that I know that having a G-tube and trach and not having a voice are no reasons to quit cycling, it's going to be hard to leave my bike behind at home every morning when I go to work.

If it's OK with Gene Autry, I'm going to co-opt his theme song as my own. Whoopi-ty-aye-oh! I'm back in the saddle again.

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