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.