My good friend, who we will call Mike (because that is his name) came over today so we could ride our hand cycles on the bike trail at the Santa Ana River by my house. He is also in a wheelchair and has a hand cycle. To be honest mine is much better looking than his. Now if only my hand cycle worked better than his today. We left my house around 6:00 pm. We thought we could go out and ride about 8 miles in about an hour. When we left my house I felt very weak because pumping seemed difficult for me. I should have stopped right there and assessed the situation. I didn't and kept going.
We get on the bike trail and we didn't even make it a quarter of a mile when I had to stop and rest. Mike kept saying "C,mon!". His way of "encouraging" me he said. We go a little further and I have to stop again to rest. I am looking like a real wimp at this point so I asked Mike to stay right next to me, talk to me and that would take my mind off of how much my arms hurt. He did and we made it a couple miles while we told each other stories. Any time we would come to a street that we had to go under I would have to take a break and build up the energy to ride down with speed and ride back up without difficulty. The first couple hills I was able to do it. The next few and the remainder of the hills back to my house I needed help from Mike and a good Samaritan passing by.
We made it 4 miles from my house and then we decided to turn around. We looked at the clock and it took us an hour and a half just to go that far. The sun was starting to set and Mike got nervous that we could be out on the bike trail in the pitch black dark. Since I was having problems with my bike, and it was so obvious at this point, Mike told me to call my mom and pick us up. I told him that I am not a quitter and that I would make it back to my house no matter what time it was. We continued on. Mike got a better look at my bike while he was riding behind me and noticed that my wheels that should be cambered in were cambered out. The complete opposite position they should be in. Making my ride as if I was dragging my body and the bike the entire time. I let out a sigh of relief that it wasn't me it was the bike. Lance Armstrong would not be happy to find that it was "all about the bike". His book is great though.
Neither one of us had an allen wrench to fix the problem so we had to continue on our journey. I stopped about every three minutes to rest while Mike continued on in front of me. Saying that he needed to get his heart pumping to make sure this time was a good work out for him. During moments like this where I know there is nothing I can do to fix the situation I have to use the power of distraction by concentrating on other things rather than the problem at hand in order to get me through it. Mike was not picking up on the fact that I kept changing the subject every time he would bring up my broken bike and what needed to get done when we got back to my house. "Thanks for stating the obvious Mike but it isn't helping" I kept saying to myself. I was on the verge of tears, my knee is bleeding from rubbing up against the bike chain, I am sweating, my arms feel like they're going to fall off my body and I have Mike continually telling me what needed to be done when we get back to the house. I snapped. I turned a very unattractive color and yelled "Mike! If you don't shut up I am going to strangle you and push you into the river." I was so shocked that I said that. I don't talk to people like that. This didn't faze Mike at all knowing his personality. Without missing a beat he chimed in with "Yeah, if you could only catch up to me." His sense of humor was just what I needed at that point and I laughed. It calmed me down and I was able to refocus. I would love to say that he stopped telling me what needed to be done when we got back to the house but he didn't. But I changed my attitude and just continually agreed with him rather than getting irritated. My bike got increasingly worse and even in the lightest gear it was very difficult to pump.
Mike was eager to help me out. He kept looking for ways that he could drag me from behind his bike. We even considered using my bra strap as a way to tie our bikes together. Thank goodness for my bra Mike found a long stick. He held one end and I the other. We built up our speed to 4.4 mph all while Mike was pulling me and pumping with one arm. A huge difference from my 1.5 - 2 mph with two arms. Mike wanted to get his heart pumping and get a work out from this ride and that is exactly what he got. You have to be careful what you wish for sometimes. It was very dark and the nats were flying into our eyes and our mouth. We pushed on. Well, Mike pushed on. He is such a stud!
To make a long story even longer we made it back to my house. What should have taken us no longer than an hour and a half turned out to be three and a half hours. I had survived what is now being called "MY SUPER FUN BIKE RIDE" but more importantly...so did Mike. My sweet older brother Robert got right to work on my bike to fix what was wrong. My mother rewarded us with hamburgers and hot dogs. I made it home. Of course with a little help from my friend; but I made it home. This was a true test of enduring to the end. After this experience Mike and I had together I don't think we will be signing up for the "Amazing Race" any time soon.