Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Happy New Year!

Crashing to the ground two days before New Year's Eve left Roger and me in no shape to party. We got ourselves dressed and out to our bridge club on Saturday night (because we hated to miss dinner with our friends) but we were ready by the nine o'clock ball drop in Times Square (12:00 am EST) to call it a night.  (It really is a wonderful thing to live three hours behind New York City, which has allowed us for many years to celebrate the new year and still get to bed at a decent hour.  I wonder if they have any idea what a great thing they do for all of us across the country!) Although we were both taking some pretty serious pain meds, we allowed ourselves a glass of wine with dinner, which was excellent. Speaking of those meds, it was obvious that they had an impact on our play. I'm never much good at keeping track of what has been played, but that night it was impossible. Even Roger was missing tricks and having trouble following the play.

Friends in town were at our home on New Year's Day, bringing black-eyed peas, ham, and sweet potatoes. We had a fine feast, Southern-style, and I, for one, was happy not to be troubled with cooking. I continued to use the crutches to get around for a couple more days, and then began to feel like I could take the weight okay on my own, so I put them away.  Roger fixed us a steak dinner one night about a week into the new year, and we opened a bottle of wine, and things began to feel a bit more normal.

Sleeping was tough, though.  I am still uncomfortable - even four weeks after the accident - and it was particularly bad in that first week or so.  Since both of us had lots of abrasions on our hips, legs and arms, we mostly had to sleep on our backs.  I have gotten used to that, but Roger had a very difficult time.  Turning over was torture for him, with the bruised ribs, fractured shoulder and other wounds.  I would hear him start to roll over and then catch his breath and groan.  (Sneezing was a special kind of hell for him, and is still painful.) For my part, it was two weeks before I could sleep on my side, and then only on my right side. I counted it as a major advance when I was first able to slowly skootch my hips over to one side, roll my knees over and stay on my side for a bit. We were thankful to have some pharmaceutical assistance during this time.  After a couple of days, I wasn't using any of the pain meds during the day, but I still took a tablet before bed.  I tried going to bed without it, but it was no use - I just could not get comfortable enough to sleep. And it's no good lying there without sleeping. Your body needs the sleep in order to heal.

By this point (tomorrow will be four weeks since the crash), Roger seems to be feeling pretty good physically. He is riding his bike again, although he has said several times that he "wasn't enjoying it" after he got home. He reports being nervous riding in the group.  I can totally appreciate that! I won't be riding for a while yet. And I am more than a little concerned about how it will be to sit on a saddle once my pelvis is healed. In the past week or so, as the bone has begun to knit, I am actually having more discomfort than I did before that time. It's like I am sitting on a pebble, or something. I have a bit of a catch in my groin with each step. I figure this is temporary, but who knows? So I am nervous. What if this remains? Am I going to be able to ride without squirming all the time?

Our bruises are finally clearing up, and most of the abrasions are healing pretty well, although some of them are still in the "scab over, fall off, blister, scab over" cycle. We got some Tegaderm patches for some of them, and they really do work great. But others, like on our knees, just are very difficult to keep covered with that film.  So they are taking the longest to heal. And of course, I had just about made it to the end of the cycle with the last tiny little bits of scabs from our first crash - just a wee spot about a quarter of an inch by one half inch in size on my ankle and my knee - when we crashed the second time and ripped them all open again. Geesh! I remember being a kid and having scraped up knees all the time - but they healed in a flash. We are too old for this sort of thing!

Psychologically, as well, we are healing - I guess - but it's harder to gauge that kind of thing. I miss being able to get out and do things like kneel down and pull a few weeds on the way to the mailbox. If I want to shower, wash my hair and dress to go out, it takes twice the time it usually would. Getting into and out of the car requires thought and some specific action. Hell, even getting into and out of bed is a bit of a process now. It's humbling. I have thought quite a bit lately about one of our friends who has MS. She gets around quite a bit, but as she has said, "I have good days and bad days. Some times I'm not too steady." Her balance and coordination affect every action she takes. Going through this period where I have to think about my motions constantly, which I assume will be temporary, I wonder what it would be like to have to deal with something like she does all the time. I appreciate the grace with which she handles it, and wonder if I could do the same.






Friday, January 13, 2017

Going out with a bang!

Some posts are just harder to write than others. This one has been tumbling around in my mind for better than a week. Remember that "tumbling around" phrase.  It will come back later in this post.

Roger and I had a wonderful visit with our daughter's family up at Lake Tahoe over the Christmas holidays. There was a fresh blanket of snow, and everyone was enjoying the food, company and beautiful outdoors. We had a chance to take the snowshoes out for a hike, and really had a good time in the quiet woods above the lake. But, Roger was feeling a bit of cabin fever, and was ready to head for home on Wednesday after Christmas. He was ready to get back to the bike, and get some exercise. (One can only take so much holiday eating and drinking!)

Nice fresh snow!
We headed out with our riding group Thursday morning on what turned out to be a gorgeous day. It was crisp and chilly but not too cold, very clear - the mountains were beautiful all around us as we rode up on the Sunset ridge road and over to Yucaipa. Since we expected a tailwind coming down San Timoteo Canyon, we decided to go all the way to the upper end of the canyon and enjoy the ride home.

It was glorious! There were another eight or ten riders with us, and the tandem was out front, pushing the way through the canyon and just sailing along.  At the upper end of the canyon, where the road is new and the gradient is the steepest, we were probably doing about 43 mph.  Behind us, I could see everyone coasting along, drafting the tandem and only barely touching their own pedals. Up front, Roger and I were pedaling like mad!  Our borrowed bike does not have gears as high as the Silver Queen, so we could still push them around and we were feeling great, so we kept the pace up.

After we passed Alessandro Road, I leaned forward and said to Roger, "I am cooked. When we hit the railroad tracks, we're going to slow it way down." That's usually when we start our cool down, as it's just a few miles from the coffee shop. We were just passing the white wooden fences at Johnny's Nursery when I heard a loud BANG! like a rifle shot. I could see Roger trying to wrestle the front end and straighten it out, and then I knew we were past the point that we could right the bike as we tilted over to the left and I shouted, "Shit!" And then we were down. Damn!
The culprit

There isn't much you can do when you have a front tire blow out at 40 mph. I didn't pay any attention to the bike, but Roger said later the tire was all wrapped up in the wheel. That's sort of what happens. What happens to the riders is that they "tumble around" and get thrown to the pavement. I ended up seated, right next to Roger, who was lying down. I shouted to call 911, and some of our friends got the bike off the road and began directing the cars around us. In a flash, several of the others were with us, helping me keep Roger steady and talking him through it. He looked pretty bad. He kept asking "what happened?" and I would say, "the front tire blew out." Then he'd close his eyes, and open them again, and ask, "what happened?" Thank God we went down when there were no cars approaching us. We ended up on the middle line, so we could have been crushed by an oncoming car.

One family in a car that stopped gave us a fleece jacket to prop Roger's head up. Our friends were great. They stayed with us and took care of the bike when the ambulance came.  I didn't think I had any issues other than the road rash, but I didn't want to leave Roger and I didn't have any other transportation so I rode with him to the ER. They took us to Loma Linda, which is the nearest trauma center. By the time I climbed out of the ambulance, I thought there was something just a bit wonky about my groin so I decided I should also be checked out.

Roger was thoroughly beat up. He had abrasions on both sides, a cut above his eyebrow, and he'd bit his cheek going down so there was blood in his mouth and all over his face when he landed. I remember thinking as we sat there: "is this it? Am I going to lose him? Does it happen like this?" To be honest, that is why I went in the ambulance with him. I did not want to let him out of my sight. They ran all the tests, and did X-rays, and eventually we learned that he had a small fracture in his shoulder, but no broken ribs. His lung was bruised, and he is still having a lot of pain. Most of the abrasions are starting to heal.
This time it was Roger's turn

Meanwhile, I thought, "well - I have already met my deductible for this year so I might as well have them check me out"!  So I hobbled over to the Triage Desk, and filled out the form, and then went into the waiting room - where I almost gasped. It was full to the brim, and I figured I would be waiting there for hours. But it turns out that when you have visible blood on you, you move up the list!  I had only been there a few moments when a woman came out and called three names, and mine was one of them.  Hurrah!

I was taken to one room, and then another, and eventually got my wounds cleaned up and dressed, and had an X-ray of my pelvis. Turns out, I fractured it. It's just a small fracture, stable, will heal on its own. After I got pretty well taken care of, they let me walk over to see Roger. He was a mess. They had stitched up his eyebrow, and were working on his wounds. He was taking fluid and was on the monitors and all that. Yuck. You could be perfectly fit and healthy and if they put you in that gown and stuck you up with tubes and hooked you up to a monitor you would just look and feel awful.

They finally decided he was "stable" and sent him over to Kaiser for the night. He didn't want to go, of course, but this time I really was in no position to do anything for him and I told him he just had to go along with it.  Our neighbors came to pick me up, and fed me, and later took me back to I could take Roger some clothes and his phone. Thank goodness for our friends!  Kevin and Mary were so nice and so helpful and since I had not had my phone with me, theirs was the only number I knew.
Don't want any more of these

The whole community has been great. Our bike was in the backyard, waiting for us when we got home. We had meals delivered for days. People have run errands for us, had us to dinner, We are so blessed to have such loving, caring friends. I don't encourage anyone to do what we did, but if you are going to have a crash, you could not pick a better place to do it!

Right before I got into the ambulance, I gave my friend Robert a hug. I told him, "there are not many things in life that are absolutely certain. But one thing I know for sure:  I will not fall off a bike again in 2016!" And that much has been true. So 2016 finished for us, nearly finishing us. Here's to a better 2017.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Why?

When we stopped to eat or enjoy a local site, we often talked with folks from the area. One of the most common questions that we received was, "why are you doing this?"
Riding with our friends

The simplest answer, and one we occasionally used, was and is: "Because we can." But that sounds a bit flippant, perhaps, and we never wanted to be flippant - at least I did not! Maybe Roger has a bit of that streak in him, because he'd sometimes reply, "why not?" And that's a pretty good answer and a bit flippant as well, when you get right down to it.

People would ask if we were traveling with others. No.  Were we doing it to raise money, or awareness for some cause?  No. We were just riding our bike around the country because we thought it would be a cool thing to do, and because we believed we could do it.
Being on a bike, I really enjoy watching the clouds

We'd typically follow that initial exchange with some kind of explanation about how we arrived at our plan to circle the country on a bicycle. And that's a bit longer response: we first did an extended tour about six years ago when we visited our daughter in Tahoe. That trip convinced us that we could handle a trip of several months, which we thought would be long enough to cross the country. And Roger had always thought it would be cool to ride across the country. But we couldn't just go straight across - if we were going to do something like that, we'd want to stop in and see the people we knew. And so the trip across the country because a trip around the country, because we have friends and family all over the place. There wasn't any way that we could go across the northern part of the country and visit with Roger's sister, without also coming around the southern half of the country to see my family. It just wouldn't be right!

So a couple of months, maybe, became half a year or more. That seemed daunting at first, but pretty soon seemed just fine by us. Because a big part of that "because we can" answer has to do with the fact that we are retired, without huge obligations tying us to our home, and financially fortunate enough to be able to essentially take a six month vacation. Once you have dealt with the logistics of leaving for a short while, you can pretty much stay away as long as you like.

I got a bit tickled by folks who were so amazed at what we were doing. Now, I will acknowledge that I'd be impressed as well if someone told me they were going to go on a six month bike trip. It seems, on the face of it, like such a huge effort to undertake. But in the actual doing of it, I came to see it as quite an indulgence, rather than a big job. After all, we were doing something we love to do, without paying a whole lot of attention to any of the normal stress-inducing factors of modern life, and having a good time every day (at least at some portion of it!)  It really was an excellent adventure, and we loved it.
Pie with friends is sweeter
We missed our pals at the beer stops also!

So yesterday, we spent the day riding our borrowed bicycle, out to Bautista Canyon and home again, enjoying a day with friends in the sunshine, punctuated by pie at noon and beer when we got home. And it's reasonable enough to ask of us once again: "Why? Why spend the day riding 90 miles?" And once again we have to use the answers that we've used over and over again this year:  "why not?" and "because we can"!  They are only the second-best answers, though. The really true, honest-to-God best answer is: "because we love it." We really do.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Man, I needed that!

Last week, I got an email from the Warm Showers network from a traveling cyclist asking to stay a night with us. I will confess, I did not even wait to ask Roger about it before responding "yes" to this traveler! I was so eager to have a chance to spend a little time with someone else who has done what we did that I was delighted to send a note welcoming Daniel to our home.

I made sure the sheets were clean and the guest bathroom in decent shape, and thought about what to cook for our vegetarian guest. I had an event for the Redlands Conservancy on the Sunday coming up, so I was doing a lot of baking and had prepared a big pot of pumpkin soup. But I figured a cyclist might be hungrier than "soup" for supper (based on our own experience) so I decided to offer fettucine alfredo, some roasted vegetables (something we were always hungry for) and salad.

I was in touch with Daniel several times during the day, and rode out to meet him on his way to town. Just riding alongside someone with packs on a bike felt great. I was able to see my own town and the route back home with new eyes, comparing the roads and the scenery to those I'd experienced on my way to other Warm Showers hosts during our tour.
Wishing I were going, too!

We met Roger at Escape Craft Brewery for a beer before heading home, and I enjoyed hearing about Daniel's trip. He's a good bit younger than we are, so he's riding without any end-stop on his trip. He sold his condo, quit his job and doesn't need to worry about a schedule in the least. He's just completed six months on the road, as we had, and was expecting to reach 7000 miles when he rode off on Sunday. It was great fun to be able to talk about places we'd been and ask him about his favorite days.

Sunday morning, he rode off towards Palm Springs and a planned rendezvous with friends in Joshua Tree National Park. He'll spend the holidays there, and then he's thinking he'll go south to Baja California until the weather warms up back home - in Massachusetts.

Vaya com Dios, my friend - may the wind be ever at your back!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

In Thanksgiving

Since we have been home, Roger and I have been trying to get back into the groove of daily life. Of course, we were "living" every day while we were touring, but that experience was so far removed from the stuff of normal day-to-day activities and operations that it remained an adventure, rather than just - life. You know - what you do every day when you don't have something special to do.

So here we are, doing what we did before we left, with the added bonus of recuperating from the accident. I am astounded that the scabs on my knee and ankle are still not healed. While the scrapes on my face were fairly superficial, and I scabbed up and then lost those by the end of a week's time, my leg and ankle sores must be quite a bit more severe. It has been nearly six weeks since the accident, and they are still tender. The skin has appeared to heal several times, then it gets sort of oozy like a blister, and then it scabs up again.  I guess that there must be some underlying trauma to the tissue below the skin that is trying to get itself sorted out. Maybe I bruised the bones, also, because sometimes they just hurt, and there's nothing there that I can see that would cause that.


Roger had an MRI yesterday to take a look at his knee. He is still in quite a lot of pain, particularly when he gets up after being seated a while. Then it takes a bit to get it limbered up. We'll see the orthopedist next week to learn what's up. We expect that his medial collateral ligament was torn. Don't know yet whether that's something that heals on its own, or whether he might require surgery, and if so, what that would entail.



Making pie with Grandpa

Thus, we creak along! We are enjoying our rides on the borrowed tandem, and we particularly enjoyed spending Thanksgiving with our daughter and granddaughters. For many years, Roger and I have enjoyed our own tradition of spending Thanksgiving in one of our National Parks. This was the first Thanksgiving since we've been together that we did not do so. In part, we were pretty worn out with traveling, and I just couldn't quite wrap my head around planning a trip somewhere when we'd only gotten home a few weeks earlier. Plus, we'd been able to visit a good number of National Parks during our tour, and were kind of preparing ourselves to miss our own holiday trip this year. And most importantly, we just really felt like we wanted to spend some time with Dana and the girls when we finished our tour.

Phebee really liked the dressing
So they joined us down here, and we had a grand old time. I was a little bit anxious about the food - I haven't cooked a turkey in years! (It's one of the upsides of being away from home for the holiday.) But everything turned out great. We had all our favorites, plus two pies. Yum! Honestly, I was basking in the glow of satisfaction from that turkey dinner for several days. It's probably a sin for anyone to be so caught up in the outcome of a meal, but I was.

And so, we offer our thanks for our good health, our family, our friends and good fortune. We are so very, very lucky. So often these days, whether I'm getting a coffee at Stell's or running into a friend at a holiday party, I get this greeting: "I'm so glad you're back. I mean, really - it's so good to see you."  And I know what they mean. We had so many people watching our backs. So many people following along, enjoying our trip.  So many people who opened the paper that Wednesday morning and caught their breath when they read about the accident. So we see them now, and they give us a hug, and they say, "I'm so glad you're home." Because really, this could have ended quite differently. I said something like that to Roger the other day. We were moping a bit, feeling a bit blue, and I had to pull myself out of a hole and remind myself that we both made it home. We're sad about what happened, and we're still hurting a bit, and we don't know what's next, but we're here. We're together, and we're okay. That counts for quite a lot, and for that we give thanks.

Let the feast begin!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just like touring . . . except when it isn't

Roger and I were offered the loan of a friend's tandem bicycle, and so we've begun to ride again together. I much prefer the tandem to my own bike, even though this ride is NOT the Silver Queen.

For one thing, I prefer being with Roger, and not worried about whether I am falling behind or holding him up. And my hands get numb so quickly; I am way more comfortable being able to change up my position to keep myself more comfortable. Another issue, which may seem odd given that I have spent six months riding a bicycle lately, is that I actually haven't been responsible for piloting the bike at all in that time. I sat on the back, pedaled, called out hazards and cars coming up from behind, and occasionally used the disk brake. But I never shifted, braked, or steered. Turns out my bike handling skills are really rusty! Never a particularly adept cyclist, I am at this point like a complete novice. When we have gone out with our friends, I am extremely nervous in the group. A nervous cyclist is a plague on the pelaton! You don't want to be riding near someone who is nervous.

Mostly, since getting back to Redlands, I have ridden on a few short rides with Roger. I spent one week going out with Marsha, another of our friends that was coming back from some down time and wanted to take it slow. That works for me, usually. But Roger wanted me to join the group again, and so we took off last Tuesday on Harro's tandem - a nice white Burley. As I said, it's not the same ride, but the bike is comfortable and it fits pretty well. The frame is smaller, so our seat posts are up higher, which gives me a different perspective on the road. I've found that I can't stand comfortably to pedal because my legs hit my handlebars, but that's not too big a deal. Our first outing, I felt like the bike was real "twitchy" but in truth, that was probably more a factor of losing the weight of the packs than the difference in the bikes. The stoker position does not have drop handlebars, and I have found myself reaching down for them several times - so that tells me our next bike will need drops like I had before! (We were on the way down San Tim Canyon yesterday with a great tailwind, and I took both hands off the handlebars, intending to settle into the drops. I almost fell forward onto Roger's back as I realized quickly there was no place for my hands to go!)

I miss my bell.  I may have to ask Roger to move it over to Harro's bike so I can have it while we are riding it. It's funny how many times I have moved to ring it - but there's nothing there. I also have found that I really, really want to have my disk brake - even though I don't typically apply any pressure to it.  I tap it from time to time just to give myself a feeling like I have some control. I'm afraid there is no remedy for this.

On our first outing with the new bike, we headed over to Riverside. Roger was feeling something "odd" in his pedals, and finally figured out what was going on. He had apparently not tightened them well enough when he put our pedals on the cranks, and his right pedal was working itself out. We stopped and he tried fixing it by putting the bolt in from the back side, hoping to straighten out the threads. This seemed to take care of the problem for a while, but on the way back home, we had to stop again when, all of a sudden, his foot - with the pedal attached - came loose from the crank arm!
Roger is just a passenger for now!

This time there was no remedy. The threads were all munged up at this point, so we determined that we'd just ride back home on my power.  This is the "just like touring" part of the post. So many times on our trip, we had to improvise a fix for some little (or rather large) problem. Most of these problems caused me anxiety at first, and then relief and sometimes amusement as we figured out what to do to address them (We'll zip-tie the rack to the frame! but of course!) This little problem was not worth any anxiety at all!  By the time it occurred, we were over by the warehouses, with nothing but flat riding to get home. We'd planned to take a portion of the Orange Blossom Trail, and that worked out well as we didn't even have to contend with auto traffic for most of the trip. We even had one of our buddies doing "traffic duty" like the motorcycle cops do for a funeral procession! Clay would ride ahead to the street crossing, then stop in the road so we could ride through without having to stop.  He'd then come up from behind, catch us, and do it again. I felt like a minor celebrity in a motorcade!

And then, when is it NOT like touring? Well, that's easy. We'd planned to do a long ride yesterday, out to Bautista Canyon. This is about 90 miles - one of our favorite long days that goes out towards the mountain southeast of here, and then up a lovely canyon. This time of year, the sycamores and other plants are really beautiful, and we were thinking it would make a good head-clearing trip for us. And then, before bed Monday night, we checked the weather. Ooops! Thirty mph headwinds all the way home were projected for Tuesday, beginning about 11:00 am and strengthening through the afternoon. So . . . no. We decided not to do the ride. We can do it anytime - there's no reason to battle wind like that if you don't have to. And that's the part of this post that's NOT like touring. When we were on the road, I think we only took one day off due to weather. That was in Tucumcari, New Mexico, where we were facing similar winds and were able to see that the next day would be much better for us. Other than that, we rode. You pretty much have to, unless you really have no schedule at all. Since we wanted to get around the loop in something approaching six months, we could not just sit around and wait for better weather. I remember the most drastic example of this was our passage through Oregon. Rain on eight out of ten days. Had we waited for clear skies, perhaps we would be waiting there still!

And then yesterday, having decided that we would not fight the winds but instead look to ride them home, we elected to go over to Beaumont and return home down San Tim Canyon. This is one of our favorite routes when the winds are strong. One of our friends that came along was happy to join us as he'd been off the bike for a bit and wanted something "not too taxing."  Well, the ride back down the canyon was splendid - right up to the point when it was not. We had a good time all the way to Live Oak Canyon, coasting along for much of the way and enjoying the fall colors. But wouldn't you know it? Someone had hit a utility pole adjacent to the road, and the pole was down with live wires between Live Oak and Alessandro. So instead of being a few minutes from the end of our ride, we were faced with a climb up Live Oak Canyon and over Sunset. Our "fast and breezy" ride home turned into another hour on the road. And guess what?  That's just like touring!  You never know what you are going to run into when you're touring, because you haven't ridden the roads before. You hope that Google Maps is giving you good information, but you never really know 'til you get there. "Bonus miles" are a common occurrence on a tour, as you find your way, retrace your route from a wrong turn, or learn the restaurant you hoped to dine at has gone out of business.

So we will continue our excellent adventures both on and off the bike - just like touring.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mourning what is lost

We've been contacted by the insurance company about the accident, and so far, all the conversations have gone well. Their representative has to say what she has to say, so for now, it's all, "once we determine fault for the accident" and "we will certainly need to look into that" and other code for "I am not promising you anything." But we have the police report, and it is clear:  this guy ran into us from behind, he was ticketed, and he is at fault. Once the insurance company gets the police report, we will be asked to provide information on our losses, and we'll go from there.

So that's on my mind. What have we lost? I have put together a list of the clothing and gear we were wearing that was damaged or destroyed. It's surprising how quickly that list adds up! Helmets, clothing, gloves, shoes - all of it "times two" since we were both scraping the pavement.  Our packs were damaged enough that they really cannot be used again.  Of course, we have some medical expenses (and more to come, as we evaluate Roger's knee injury and find out what has to happen there to make him whole again). And then there is the bike.

Ah, the bike. Turns out probably the bike is NOT okay. At least, that's what the guys down at the bike store have said. They "totaled it." Like a car. I was surprised how hard this piece of news was for me.
Together on the tandem


Leading the way on our departure. 

The Silver Queen was my graduation gift from Roger when I completed my MBA eleven years ago. We've probably ridden 50,000 miles on her - 10,000 of them this year. She has borne us through rain, and snow, and sleet; sailed along through deserts, mountains and everything in between.  We packed her up and took her to Texas. We've toted her up and down California, to Oregon, to Arizona, to Colorado, to Texas. We have spent so many, many miles on her, under fair skies as well as stormy weather, zooming along on a flat or descending San Tim Canyon or sweating and grunting to climb up a hill. TOGETHER. That's the thing.  We have ridden her together. It's ridiculous to say it, but I really love that bike.  I love riding that bike with my husband. And it is hard thinking that I am going to have to put her out to pasture now. It is really hard to realize that I was riding that bike with my husband when someone hit us from behind, and ended all that.  Equally difficult, in a different way, is recognizing that it's possible the bicycle saved our lives. Had either of us been hit while riding a single bike, we might have been much more seriously injured. The bike and our packs absorbed a lot of the impact, certainly. Our combined weight kept us from being propelled as far when we were hit. It's just physics, but if feels like she took a bullet for us.

Also hard to deal with is the sudden, abrupt end to our trip. Just like that, it was over. We were trying to imagine what it would be like to be back home, to be done with this endeavor. We'd been discussing it for the last week or more of our trip. And then - boom! Here we are, back home, trying to remember what we do with our lives day to day. Flopping around a bit, to be honest. That will get better, is getting better, but it's still sort of weird to be home, with nothing specific to do, after so long on the road.
Two cyclists, one shadow

We will certainly get another tandem. Roger is already out on the web sites, perusing models and doing some research. The bike shop did an initial assessment for us on replacement cost; if we replace the Silver Queen with another bike of like kind, our next bike could cost almost as much as our car. And we will certainly ride her all over the place, just like we have this one. But you never forget your first love. And I really, really loved that bike.

I loved the way it fit us, I love how it handled. I loved that Roger got it for me, and what that meant about our relationship and what he wanted for us. I love that we rode it together, and that we have had so many wonderful adventures on it, together. I love that I cannot get lost when we are on the tandem; Roger cannot ride away from me or take the wrong turn! We arrive together on the tandem. I place my life in his hands when we are on that bike. That's a pretty powerful thing, and so it's not just a bicycle for me. It represents quite a bit more. It says something about us, and about our relationship, that we choose to ride a tandem.

So - I know those things won't change, even though we'll be on a different bike. So - I'll get over my loss, because what matters will endure. But symbols are important, and they endure. So as a symbol of our love and trust, the Silver Queen will always have a place in my heart.