I'll be back at the old 24/7 on-call drag soon so I took the chance to make a trip to my friendly cyclery to pick up my birthday bike. It's only the second new bicycle I've ever had so I was pretty itchy to get my hands on it before the weather closed in. Unfortunately, my medical adventures of late put a damper on things pretty hard so it was a somewhat longer delay getting it home than I expected. Nothing ever goes quite as planned around here, but what else is new? It was certainly well worth the wait though when I very gingerly tried it out for the first time on a short, easy loop. It sure rides like a trail killer, especially when compared to my old standby (the one I've beaten into near-destruction on the fire roads). I knew the new one would be great but I didn't expect HOW sweet it would handle. Even though I wasn't quite up to anything resembling a thrashing yet, I can already see myself getting in some serious trouble with it. Once all of my internal parts fall back into place so I can dig without hurting and I get this baby tuned up and settled in...I've got some hills in mind that have beat me into walking in the past. Steep or slick, they aren't going to win the next round. My riding partners are really in for it now too.
For all that though, the most amazing thing about the new Trek is how I wound up having it home by now at all. Playthings are kind of a low priority for me so I had no plans for any such item as a new mountain bike anytime soon. I was half looking on Craigslist for a used one but out-of-the-box was out-of-the-question. Then along comes my half-century. The local cast of characters ganged up to chip in on it for my over-the-hill event in lieu of the traditional old-guy gags. Very nice guys, I didn't need anything on my shelf gathering dust to remind me that I'm on the slippery slope to AARP. That in itself says a lot about my family and friends to think that way in the first place, and the effort put a sizable down-payment on the bike. The rub was; since I got forcibly put out of commission, there was a drastic cut in my income. Say down around zero. That meant I couldn't finish paying it off until I got back to work for a while and recovered some lost ground on the bills. The toys have to wait if you want to keep the lights lit and the kids fed right? Not the end of the world but it was looking like there'd be snow on the ground before I got the new wheels.
Now along comes a trio of friends. They dreamed up a plan to chip in yet again on the balance so I could get the bike out of the shop almost as soon as I got home from the hospital. I was presented with an owners manual and a paid-in-full receipt about the first day I could actually move from a chair. All I had to do was go pick it up.
There's only been a few times in my day when I was without words and that was one of them. I still don't really know what to say except "Thank You" and "Thank You" again. What happened to me wasn't life-threatening or even really life-changing except temporarily, yet they still found a way to turn it into something wonderful.
There's a circle of family, friends and even some folks we never expected who helped with the bike in the first place, who came out of the woodwork when I was in the hospital, who hung out and kept me company when I got home, who drove us around, who helped my wife whenever she needed it, who called just to check in and then to top it off, the Gang Of Three who finished off the bike. They were all there and did without asking and I'm more than grateful to every one of them. The only way I can think of to tell you guys how much it meant to me is to someday remember and somehow pay it forward or back. When you or someone else is in a fix and could use a hand, I'll remember.
You hear so little about the good still to be found in people amid the trials and troubles of the world yet it's there and in no small way, I'm in awe.
And to all of you...I will remember.