June 8, 2014
So, I’m flying down the bike trail on my ONE HOUR old road racing bike, this combination of space age aluminum and carbon that cost more than my first two cars combined, blissing out on life and oxygen, riding faster than I ever thought a bike could ride when this three toed sloth cuts in front of me. Sloths, it should be noted, only come down from their trees to poop once a week and this one timed his potty break just right; just barely making it across the bike path in front of me. Phew, I said out loud. And then my shadow spooked him and he panicked, spun around, and ran right back at me, attaching himself to my leg. (Sloths, in my experience,are not used to the speeding shadow of fat guys on carbon and aluminum racing bikes that cost more than the retail value of a 1963 Volkswagen and a 1966 Chevy Impala.)
Now I am flying down the bike trail on a one hour old aluminum and carbon racing bike with a sloth gripping my leg, all three toes digging in. I say what anyone would naturally say in this situation:
“Get off Sloth!”
and kick him away, barely keeping my balance as I look up and realize that the bike trail has a stop sign and the crossing road, currently being used by a speeding dump truck, does not. It was my turn to do what the sloth came down the tree to do.
Thinking quickly and like an immortal, I steered to the right to parallel the big ole truck, a plan that always worked on my Schwinn when I was 12, but I was no longer 12, I was 58 and I no longer lived in rocky New England, I now lived in Florida and… I hit sand, (weird huh? sand, Florida?) and over this old boy went slamming his head, hands, elbows, knees, and aluminum and carbon racing bike; landing with such violence that the dump truck driver stopped to see if I was okay. (Seriously, have you ever seen a dump truck driver screech to a halt? Pretty damn impressive.) We both heard sloth laughter in the distance and smelled something that smelled like sloth poop…
Was I okay?
Yup. I was.
In fact, I was more than okay, I was great!
Despite the blood, and damaged pride, I was freaking great! I was living, out in the real world, away from a screen, not on a cell phone, and not watching a game that someone else was playing. I wasn’t reading company reports, meditating, or suffering through sports talk radio. No, I was bruised, bloodied, and off the bench. My knees were even skinned. Confession: I spent all of my childhood with skinned knees, the first baseball game and the first slide into second of the season led to skinned knees that got even more skinned with each subsequent slide, never healing until winter set in.
(Okay, as long as I’m confessing, it was really a squirrel. Sloths are not indigenous to Central Florida unless they are released to the wild by disappointed sloth owners who sadly realize that they hide in tress all week and only come down to poop on the carpet when their owners are out riding their bikes. Besides, Sloth Mills are so inhumaine!).
At that moment it also occurred to me that I’d been riding a bike since the Kennedy administration and I can’t remember ever wearing a bike helmet until this very day, and sure enough: I landed on my head when I fell. (Just goes to show, bike helmets are dangerous!) Seriously, I could have been in big trouble without my headgear, instead, I rode off laughing like a fool at my own joke, leaving a confused dump truck driver to deliver his severely shifted load of sand.
I recovered and finished my ride, the adrenaline flowing, realizing that it was about time I re-joined life. You know what? I’ve been riding ever since, logged my first 110 mile week soon after, and I began to think of myself as an athlete again: losing weight, watching my diet and jumping out of bed without an alarm at first light on the mornings I get to ride. Starting your day with a couple thousand calories in the bank and an endorphin rush is quite a charge, life is exciting again.
Now if I could just learn to avoid those damned sloths.