Once upon a time there was a fat man who didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. He turned 40, lost a lot of weight, and purchased a bulky upright bike to learn how to ride. After he did, he bought a flat bar road bike, named it Roark after the hero of The Fountainhead, and then put thousands of miles on it.
But just like this attempt to write about myself in the third person, all such fairy tales must end. I had surgery to replace my diseased and deformed knees in 2012, and one side effect was that I got two inches taller. Aside from the problem of replacing my trousers, all of a sudden my bike was too small for me. I was cramped riding it. It hurt my back. Roark felt slow and heavy. It was time. I resolved to sell Roark that spring, but I took him for one last ride. Knowing I was going to be in Maryland in April for a rocketry event, I planned on taking Roark with me.
On the second day of Red Glare I left Chris standing in the field photographing rockets and rolled out. Price is on the Eastern Shore, and the riding is flattish and rural. I’d passed within ten miles of my route when I rolled through Delmarva in 2009 on a two week bike tour, so I knew what to expect from the terrain. In retrospect I was too confident. I left my maps back at the car.
And the inevitable happened. My goal was Tuckahoe State Park, ten miles distant, but I turned the wrong way. I don’t regret the roads I took, however. For instance, I came across this lovely little graveyard. If you look closely you can see Roark waiting patiently for his owner, as he did hundreds of times before.
My guydar allowed me to figure out the way back to the launch site without a map. I had some help from the rocketry event – at one point I followed the smoke trails. I stopped at the only rise of any kind on the route to get a photo of Roark. This will be how I remember my first ‘real’ ride – a sunny, breezy day in rural Maryland, my blood flowing, legs moving, and all the world belonging to Roark and me.
This was our last ride. Two weeks later Roark was sold to my local bike shop.