Over the past weeks I have been busy at work, have been working a lot of extra hours devoting the time to catching up and staying caught up on more routine matters. My work has taken me to a lot of interesting places and promises to continue doing so. In one of the semi-rural county-seats where I conduct some of my work, during a recent lunch-hour I went on walkabout, exploring the old streets of the only partially tenanted downtown district. Some miles of abandoned track that runs clear across town appear to be ready for Rails to Trails greenway transformation.
In another county, I saw purple Jesus statue guarding the corner of someone’s property near a notorious “subdivision” that once billed itself as a “restricted community,” but because the developer back in the Sixties or Seventies failed to arrange for water service to the several-hundred acres “neighborhood,” now more closely resembles a zombie-compound or hippy-camper criminal colony.
By the time I get home, I’m often pretty tired, but I cannot always plug in to Netflix and watch Swedish police shows that have subtitles or tune-out and read for pleasure to relax. Mowing season demands more of me; my human body demands fitness activities and my growing son demands a father who will play outside with him. We’ve become involved in an organized sport with our son? That takes up a lot of time, too. He alternately enjoys the games and wants to go home, sometimes in the same five minutes. All this is to say that the Busy Wheel again is turning, and this year it’s started a lot earlier than its usual late-Fall holiday season advent.
I am still recovering from plantar fasciitis. My regular physician, an old-school surgeon, when referring me to a local podiatrist instructed me on no account to allow the man or his associates to perform surgery or to inject the foot as the needle poke will invariably weaken the tendon causing further attenuating likelihood of recovery. He also prescribed a ninety-day course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication – Mobic. A Facebook friend, one of those people I’ve never met face to face but would very much like to, strongly recommended massaging the foot to facilitate recovery. The podiatrist affirmed that massage is likely to help because it gets the blood moving and reduces swelling/inflammation. What the specialist prescribed was orthotics and a night-splint, which immediately produced about 30 to 40 percent reduction in pain. Massage, when I take the time to do it, is also a real help. Wearing cycling shoes does help reduce the problem when I ride the Miyata, which has pedals with smaller surface area, but is not usually necessary when I ride the Razesa with its MKS Lambda pedals.
Last year, I joined a local cycling club and since then have participated in a couple of club activities – the 50 mile portion of a century ride and a highway cleanup. A lot of the activities are scheduled at times that conflict with other commitments, and it seems many of the riders enjoy racing or otherwise take cycling more “seriously” than I do. Their rides are at a pace I have trouble maintaining – it’s not just that I ride antique bikes, it’s that I have trouble riding them at the fast pace cyclists rode them when they were new. Not a big deal to me – like my kayaks, I use my bikes for fitness and exploration; that is, getting fit while exploring my environment.
Last weekend, however, the club participated in a ride organized by our small city’s mayor in an effort to encourage local residents to “get off the couch and get outside.” I rode over to the event’s starting point, an elementary school across town, and rode with about 20 others for maybe four and a half miles through that neighborhood at an extremely slow pace – possibly nine miles an hour or less most of the way. This slow pace seemed comfortable, however, for a number of the riders. My normal pace is probably somewhere on the low end of a category between neighborhood cyclist and elite cyclist.
I enjoyed talking with some of the others during the ride. The mayor, who said he was embarrassed that he does not own a bicycle, borrowed one of the police department’s Trek police bikes, sans radio and battery pack to power the blue and white lights on the handlebars. I saw people riding bikes older than mine, some comfort and some hybrid bicycles. A little girl, maybe eight years of age, from the neighborhood had ridden over to the school by herself, played on the playground while waiting for the event to start, and then rode the entire way at the head of the pack, all on a pink and purple girl’s bike. Most of the way, I rode next to a retired engineer who moved to this area from inland California – Riverside. He rode an REI house-brand hybrid bicycle and talked about having ridden Natchez Trace from Franklin to, I think it was, Tupelo, with his brothers.
After the mayor’s ride, I pedaled over to my mom’s house in a nearby neighborhood and imposed upon her for lunch and visited for I don’t recall how long. Then I rode back across town to my own house.
Sunday, I rode my bike to our congregation’s worship service. I teach, if that is the right word for it, a Sunday School class for adults and younger people. My wife has started teaching a class for children aged three to five, so she drove over with our son in one of the cars. Our pastor is teaching a class for children in primary through about eighth grades. The congregational meeting place, a storefront, is not far from the house and takes 10 to 20 minutes to ride, depending on the one traffic light between here and there, whether there’s a headwind, and how fast I feel like riding.
My class is just starting to read through and discuss Paul’s first letter to Timothy, and I’ve been using John Calvin’s commentary on the epistle for reference. Calvin seems to have applied his mind to the text and what he has written contains a lot of sense. He does exhibit in his writing a good deal of antipathy for the Roman Catholic church, but given the manner in which that organization persecuted their “separated brethren” at the time, that bias is understandable and, possibly, commendable. Our pastor’s sermon from First Samuel was excellent. In the evening, I rode back over for a Bible-study dealing Jesus’ commission to the church as told by John in the 20th chapter of his gospel; that bit about forgiving and retaining sins. The discussion was fantastic – for me, this is the sort of thing I love to show up for.
On Monday (Memorial Day in the U.S.), I thought about the men and women who died serving in the armed forces of the United States military. My wife, son, and I grilled out with my mom at her house. I overcooked the hamburgers, but they were edible. My cousin, Allen, joined us and it was good to see him. Allen lives at Nashville and we only get to see him about five or six times a year.
In the evening, back at the house, I hooked up the trailer bike to my wife’s Electra Townie single-speed and rode with my son around the neighborhood. On Saturday, my wife, son, and I rode from our house to a local middle school and back again on neighborhood streets and a bike path. A couple of times our son failed to exercise caution and one time nearly came to grief, so we told him he could no longer “be the front-leader.” He was very unhappy about the perceived humiliation, but we’d rather have a living, healthy, unhappy preschool age child than one who is maimed or dead. Sunday afternoon, the boy said he wanted me to remove the training wheels from his bicycle, and I did. He pronounced the result “too tippy” and asked to have them reinstalled. We’ll see. He’s a pretty independent little guy and seems to master skills without too much trouble. Maybe this coming weekend, he’ll get on the bike a little more.