10.27 Far Away

I went too far away.

I’m somewhere in Etobicoke, Lake Ontario on one side and several vast open fields on the other. Sitting in the shade at a picnic table, the water from my miniature bottle of water running out. Trying to write this, but the combination of the heat and hours of non-stop physical exertion have turned my mind a bit mushy.

Taking a break from the writing, I try reading the book that I brought with me. It’s a good book and I have thoroughly been enjoying it. But after reading the same paragraph about five times, I slowly close it up.

And I just sit. Look at the water. Wonder how I will get home. And then I think, what difference does it make?

Every week in the summertime I go for really long bike rides. Going a little bit further with each ride, which allows me to actually get into some form of shape. It took a little more time to get my bike going this year, but I finally got it out and went for a ride. I forgot that the back wheel axel was loose, but what was going to happen? Was my wheel about to fall off? I was moving slow, which might’ve been the out of shapeness, or that realization of knowing that I needed to get my bike tuned up.

This was about the fifth year in a row where I promised myself that I would figure out how to tune up my bike by myself. Each year I break down and end up paying at least fifty bucks to a bike shop. And each year when I get my bike back, I’m so happy at how smooth it’s running. And I make another promise to myself to figure out how to maintain my bike. And I never do. You get it.

I justified going to the bike shop this year with the loose axel. I left the bike at the shop, the tune up was going to cost almost seventy bucks, and could potentially double depending how if that back wheel axel needed an overhaul. Was it time to finally get a new bike?

My bike is old, but in good shape. It’s a little too high for me, so I really have to kick my leg up into the air to get on it. A little clunky, probably much heavier than bikes today. The bike has sentimental value. It was my dad’s bike. When his health was failing, he knew I needed a new bike, and told me to take his. On one level, he wanted me to have it because I needed a new one. On another level, it was upsetting because he just physically couldn’t use it anymore.

My dad loved to go out on long bike rides. I think it’s a big part of why I enjoy them too. I don’t want to let go of this bike just yet. It’s got some miles on it. It’s a good bike, sturdy. Strong.

After getting my bike tuned this year, I rode it home, and almost went over the handlebars when having to stop. My brakes must have been very loose, which required me to squeeze them tight. Now I barely touched them, and the bike came to a screeching stop. The back wheel axel just needed a little tightening.

I packed up my back with some snacks and my miniature bottle of water. And I just kept going. I had a destination in mind, but when I reached it, I wasn’t done yet. So, I kept going. And going. I went as far as I had ever gone. Like, in this first ride, I went as far as my last ride the year previous.

My mind wasn’t mushy because of the heat or the exertion. I put away my notebook and closed the book I was reading. I wasn’t just staring off into the distance out over the water. I was staring at my bike. Sometimes, and you know I think this is normal, I just miss my dad. And it makes me sad. And I just sit in the sadness, it’s okay. And sometimes it does turn into something else, like he is there pushing me along.

I’m not so tired anymore, and I get on my bike. It was tough during a few stretches, fighting against the wind. But, I made it. And I wasn’t so sad anymore.

Paul Dore