Winter bicycle ride

Though I am not athletic, I have always taken pleasure in fresh air and moderate stimulation. Bicycling is my preferred exercise. In addition to being a long-standing habit cycling is no doubt an expiation of perpetual psychological accountability. Yesterday however we went for a very short walk instead in Insmill Park in Kanata. As we begin to bury ourselves deeper in snow I reasoned that walking was an appropriate alternative though I have always hated walking. As anticipated the exertion was painful for me because of my deteriorating spinal discs. So this morning I proposed to renew my preference for cycling.

My hardy revival began with an instantaneous fall. Ironically it wasn’t on an ice slick on the road. Rather I fell in the garage when turning about to make a speedy exit up the heated ramp. I hit my head on the smooth cement of the garage floor. The impact was cushioned by my helmet. It wasn’t until we were outside and preparing to put on gloves and zip up jackets that I noticed a stream of blood on the knuckle of my right hand into the joint between my ring finger and pinky. I initially tolerated the red badge of courage in hopes that the wound would congeal. I did not. So not far along the road I stopped to smother the bloody damage in snow.  The cold snow and subsequent freezing water succeeded briefly to stop the continuous flow of blood and to clean my hand. But I soon had to compose a compress of Kleenex then stuff it onto my hand while putting on a glove.

It thrills me to report that I have a history of falls from my bike – a trauma I gleefully fashion not uncommon to many other committed athletes. Though the occasions of catastrophe are few in number over of my fifty year history of exertion, the three that spring to mind are notable. I count today’s adventure among them because it happened on a winter’s day and at my advanced age. I recognize naturally that the transcript of today’s event hasn’t any outstanding characteristic other than its singularity of time and place but what thrives in particular is that my head was protected by my helmet. I haven’t always worn a helmet throughout my long history of bicycling.  It is frankly only a convention I recently adopted in answer to the public embarrassment of not doing so. There are still those who  distance themselves from wearing a helmet under the mistaken belief that nothing of consequence can possibly arise in the context of amateur, residential bicycling. I learned otherwise today.

The other two more distinguished falls were far apart in time.  The first of them in 1970 was a twenty-five yard slide along a wet and muddy path adjacent the Ottawa River. I ended having to wear cut-off pants on my right side for months while the wounds healed. It was a memorable endurance because I was working at the office of the Judge Advocate General for a summer job.

The second incident was in 2017 when my heart stopped on Daytona Beach. I had passed out face down for about a half-hour before someone saw me and called an ambulance. I was subsequently hospitalized in Florida for about a month.  To this day my broken ribs have either not properly healed or they suffer congenital arthritis.

Like those other warriors I mentioned, I strangely derive considerable elation from these so-called misfortunes. The experience proves that pain is seldom the lasting consequence of injury. At least the memorable parts. Instead, like the brave hearts of battle, it is the recounting of the event which affords the chemical stimulation. It is certainly the closest I shall ever come to conflict memory – apart that is from the few legal encounters I had of a similar toxic nature over my forty year career.