So I've been feeling sorry for myself for awhile....Gina's back surgery in early October kept me on a short trail leash while she was getting back up to speed. In early November my chair broke, and i've been using a one - size - fits - all hospital reject while the frame's being rebuilt on my fearless trail buddy. Hopefully, it'll be ready by early next week - and I'll dash south to pick it up, maybe stop a few times on the way home to get it all dirty again...
Today I took a trip back in history, back to when I first started to discover what could be accomplished outside in a wheelchair. The day was perfect - 50's, clear and sunny. I had just written apiece abouy the East Bay Regional Park District's Iron Horse Regional Trail, a 30 - mile flat, paved winter wonderland.
So I began on a section at Civic Park in Walnut Creek, and headed north. I figured on getting a couple of miles in, as this chair is so ergonomically incorrect it would be drummed out of Engineering School should anyone there have been so inspried to build it. I toodled along, and block after short block soon turned into mile after mile....and all at once here I was, at the end of the trial on the outskirts of Martinez. Following the creek as the Iron Horse does, I communed with herons and egrets and an occasional muskrat while I just kept pushin'.
And I was in pain by now. The chair's design weaknesses had manifested themselves in my shoulders, back, elbows and wrists. Yet I had to go back. I dialed down the pace a bit and rested more often.But I'd come almost 10 miles! I didn't expect the miles to exactly fly past as the cars on the freeway next to me did. I stopped to take in a patch of warm sunlight wherever possible, and stretched to keep the muscles in the middle of my back from pulling my shoulders back as if it were some Dark Ages - style torture rack.
Eventually I got through the burgs of Pacheco, Concord and Pleasant Hill. Back in Walnut Creek, it was only another few hundred yards to the car, but my body was a mess. Every thing that I could feel hurt. Th timid little ramparts onto the bridge crossing the last street seemed like Everest. My wrists made unnatural noises by now, maybe in need of a lube, maybe dislocated or simply rebellious. I reached the apogee of the bridge and coasted down th eother side. Finally managing to make it to my car, I sat in, pulled off the trial gloves and pulled the chair into the back seat.
It was then that I relaized that pain, when righteously administered, could be a wonderful thing. Despite the mutinous murmurs from every muscle group above the waist, I began to chuckle, then finally laugh out loud. I'd taken a compromised piece of equipment on this gorgeous day and done just what I wanted to do. How could there be any regrets?
So I raise my bottle to the first 20 miles of the New Year. I wish all the best for you, and may we cross paths at some point in 2008!