heatray5d: (gandalf)
Bruce is 56. Twelve years ago, he had a stroke. It began with an irregular heartbeat, which first struck him during the last 100 miles of a 200-mile bicycle ride. A few days later he was partially paralyzed and struggling to speak. Words he knew the sound of, motions he could feel the memory of in his muscles, became a struggle.

Last September, Bruce had an experimental surgery performed on his brain that repaired the stroke. This April, I met him about halfway through the same ride he'd almost died on 12 years ago.Read more... )

And that was the end of my brevet season. Two weeks later I pulled Bruce and some other guys into the 50 mile checkpoint in New Boston, New Hampshire at 23 mph, got off my bike, and spent a sunny day sitting on the porch of the New Boston general store waiting for Tegin to come get me. Even after 50 miles, my knee hurt bad enough that I thought about maybe never getting on a bike again.

My osteopath tells me it was probably a persistent tendonitis that is likely gone now that I've taken the last month off. Next season, I guess.
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heatray5d: (gandalf)
Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] cris and I rode the first brevet of the season – 200km in two loops, each starting at New Horizons Sports in Westfield and heading south, then north through the Berkshire foothills.

For my American readers, "km" is an abbreviation that stands for "Kanadian Miles" (Canadians are notoriously bad spellers). Kanadian Miles are much smaller than regular miles, though in recent years the difference between a mile and a km has become much smaller as the mile has diminished in value.

The weather was chilly but dry – a lucky turn given that the forecast called for snow. I managed to dress more or less perfectly for the temperature, except for my feet to which sensation is only now returning.

We arrived fifteen minutes late for the start, and just barely caught the organizer as he was leaving to ride out with his group. After check-in and getting our bikes set to ride, we were 45 minutes behind. The route involved a good deal of climbing, with the first loop focusing on long, shallow inclines, and the back 100 including a few monster hills that could only have been less pleasant if we had been chased up them by gibbering clowns who had filed their teeth to points, all the better to rend our flesh.

Still, the route was mostly beautiful, through farmland and lightly wooded hill country. Very little of it was in truly urban or even suburban environments. Snow in western Massachusetts is still piled high along the sides of the roads, and still bodies of water still have an ice cap thick enough to walk on. Streams and rivers are swollen with melt. A very few patches of road along the route were almost washed out – cratered landscape like an artillery barrage struck just before we arrived.

The cue sheet was good (though off a bit on the mileage), and we only took one wrong turn. The wrong turn turned out to be a pretty neat side trip though, because we ended up next to a corral where a pair of donkeys was humping.

I also saw a group of wild turkeys and a vulture. Cris spotted llamas. At one point, we rode past a waterlogged field beset with hundreds upon hundreds of geese. As we rode, the entire flock launched into the air and flew low over the road, their wings thundering and honking like a New York cab convention. It was actually sort of intimidating.
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