So long, sidekick.

22 Sep

Dexter is dead. I just retrieved his carcass from my bike shop. He’s now lying in cracked and contorted repose in my dining room. I’m staring at him, swaddled in my arm sling, with total incredulity. Dexter is dead. How is this possible?

We got hit by an passenger transport bus last Saturday. The hit-and-run collision sent me to the UCLA trauma center where I received the relatively wonderful news that (a) my head and neck scans came back clear (YAY! No brain surgery this time!) and (b) my broken clavicle (distal third, non-displaced) did not warrant surgery. Sure, the broken clavicle hurt like a b*tch (and still does, and still *will* for several more weeks to come), but at least I would not have to repeat the terrifying horrors of last summer. A broken collarbone is a nuisance, but it’s not a life-threatening brain injury. With a few weeks of immobilization and a few more weeks of joint/bone babying, I will be fine. No doubt about that.

Although Dexter and I would miss our next scheduled 100+mi ride/race event (Levi’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa next week … if you want my registration spot, let me know!), we’d be back in action before Thanksgiving, for sure.

Or not.

I got the call yesterday: My meticulous, marvelous mechanic delivered the unfathomable news that Dexter was, indeed, dead. He survived the June 11, 2011 accident that nearly killed me with only a nick on his saddle, but last week’s collision was too much for him.

Before they knew about Dexter’s demise, many members of my friends-and-family posse engaged in various efforts this week to convince me that I should “take a hint” and “just give up the bike.” I mollified some of them by saying, “If Dexter is declared dead, I will consider it.

This was a blatant lie, of course. It was a calculated stall tactic.

There was no way I’d give up “the bike” – I might have to give up Dexter, but there was/is no way I’d give up the joy and freedom and power and strength and peace and challenge and triumph that I get from “the bike.” There’s nothing like it on earth.

The time I spend clipped-in and riding is, without doubt or competition, THE most uniformly happy time in my life. Even when I’m cursing the monstrous hills that my coach makes me ride. Every moment that I spent with Dexter (and Rachel, before him, and Bruce who replaces him when I’m on the East Coast) was infused with happiness.

Dex and I logged 15,000+ miles together over the past 20 or so months. We’ve ridden with the pros and we’ve helped newbies discover how wonderful Los Angeles can be when it’s experienced on two wheels. He’s carried me over several 10,000’+ mountain peaks. He’s traveled with me to San Francisco, San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Belgium and Luxembourg. We rode a portion of Stage 2 of the Tour de France together, just 1 year and 2 weeks after my brain surgery (and, yes, I know I still “owe” y’all that story along with the other inspiring tales gleaned from my experience with the valiant veterans of Ride2Recovery and I’ll get to it, I promise … having ~6 more weeks of “No Riding Allowed” = guaranteed more time for writing!).

Dexter waited patiently as I recovered from last year’s accident, and, in fact (as my forthcoming Ph.D studies will be designed to demonstrate), he was the main factor in enabling my recovery to happen so quickly and successfully. He helped me drop 20 pounds and discover the wonders of jeans that fit both my middle and my bootie simultaneously.

I am fitter, healthier, stronger, calmer, and happier because of him.

Even the most vociferous “No More Bike!” chanters admit that the prior statement is unarguably true.

Dexter’s death does not extinguish the love that I have for the bike and the resulting love that I have with life as a whole. I will mourn his loss. I will take my time to heal properly – both physically and emotionally. And I will honor his spirit by continuing to live a life that is infused, as much as possible, with joy.

To ask me to do otherwise does no one any favors.

RIP, Dexter. You taught me how to truly live and I will carry on your legacy.

3 Responses to “So long, sidekick.”


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