Helen Keller wins again

2 Jan

If the first 2 days of 2014 are any indication, this may be a tumultuous year…

I overslept on New Year’s Day and thereby missed ALL THREE of the group rides I had carved out as Totally Viable/Must Do One opportunities to start the year off “right.” I didn’t get out of bed ’til 9:00am. Whoops. So much for Resolution #1 – Do More Group Rides!

An hour later, Av and I headed out for our favorite solo spin, a ~60-mile PV loop, but around mile 42 we got distracted by cake and mimosas at TiMo’s beach house. So much for Resolution #2 (Limit Sugar and Alcohol Intake)! BUT, Resolution #3 (Be More Socially Spontaneous), was nicely fulfilled when TiMo’s crew broke out the Cards Against Humanity game. Always a good time with Team TiMo!

A couple hours later, with a full belly and a happy heart, I remounted Av. We pedaled approximately 0.75 miles along the beach path when she started fishtailing wildly. Was I drunk? I had never experienced this sort of disconcerting disequilibrium from the normally reliable Av. I must be drunk. I slowed to a more prudent pace. She still fishtailed, and whenever there was even the slightest bend in the path she tried her damnedest to buck me off. W.T.F.?! After 4 or 5 near wipeouts, I finally pulled over to see if she had some sort of catastrophic mechanical malfunction. Dagblammit, she did! Her rear tire was flatter than a pancake. This was same damn tire that flatted on me 2 days prior! Grrrrrr-umble!

I expediently changed her tube and carefully aired her up (taking care to cover the CO2 tube this time so as to avoid relearning the painful “freezer burn” lesson from last week). Sadly, the fishtail returned ~1.2 miles later. Except this time, the tire wasn’t flatter than a pancake, it was flatter than piss on a platter. NOT. HAPPY.

I had 14.2 miles ’til home and no more tubes. I thought about calling my coach to have him fetch my dumb, broke-down ass, but then I remembered that I had “fired” him while suffering from a clearly ill-conceived notion that I didn’t need him anymore…

Sigh.

And so commenced the slowest, scariest, most exhausting 14.2-mile ride of my life. It took me nearly 2 hours. Av kept trying to kick us into traffic. Luckily, the roads were mainly devoid of cars and after a few miles I learned that using a slower-than normal cadence (i.e., ~70rpm instead of my normal 90+) and speed (i.e., ~9mph instead of ~20+) and channelling most of my body weight into my hands (thereby keeping it distributed over the still-inflated front tire), Av was less likely to try to buck me.

By the time we got home, I had no feeling in my fingers, my shoulders felt like they’d been relocated into my cervical spinal cord, and my head felt like it had been jackhammered by the ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk, whomping of the rear wheel, but we made it. I was alive. Av was still in one piece. No cars used their HEY-YOU-F*CKING-BIKE-RIDER-I-WANT-TO-RUN-YOU-OVER-AND-KILL-YOU extra-loud/extra-long horn honks. And as soon as I placed Av on her rack and took off my helmet, I literally wept tears of gratitude that we’d survived.

Any ride that ends in you not dying = Best. Bike ride. EVER!

So, Resolution #4 (Remain Grateful and Humblegot lots and lots and lots of use yesterday, even as Resolution #2 took yet another hit … yes, I think I WILL have a beer AND some freshly baked Jen&Joe’s, thankyouverymuch!

Beer & cookies in hand, I hopped on the computer only to find two emails featuring the word “FUNERAL” in their subject line.

The first “Funeral” email was for my mom’s cousin, John Collins, a well-regarded attorney who was formerly the President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA). His funeral would be held at 1:30 on Friday, Jan. 3. Normally, I work on Fridays, but last week I arranged to take this Friday off so that my (ex)coach and I could head down to Anaheim to check out the Police Department’s collection of impounded bikes being offered to us in connection with our efforts to establish a Ride2Recovery program at the New Directions rehabilitation site for homeless veterans. Damn. Well, since I’d be down in the OC anyways, I might as well go to the funeral, right? That’s what you do. When someone in your family dies, you go to their funeral. Even if you’ve only met that person twice in your life, you go to the funeral. OK. I’d tell (ex)coach that we couldn’t carpool to Anaheim. He’d be annoyed, but he’d understand.

But first, let’s read the second “funeral” email…

The second “Funeral” email was about a 23-year-old kid I never met, David Pregerson. He was killed by a hit-and-run driver, but he wasn’t on a bike. He was a pedestrian. This email wasn’t sent to me by one of my “safer roads/infrastructure” friends, however, it was forwarded by someone who knows how much David’s grandfather, Harry, means to me. Indeed, Harry Pregerson has been one of the most influential people in my recent life, for it was Harry who introduced me to the importance of being a tenacious, passionate advocate for veterans and it was Harry who helped me establish Manatt’s pro bono programs for homeless veterans, first at The Haven and later at the aforementioned New Directions, which now, of course, partners with me in connection with my ongoing R2R efforts — the mind spins with all these interlinkages.

And in yet another one of life’s beautiful ironies that continually arise when it comes to me and veterans, Harry and I were recently honored by LACBA (the same organization once headed by my mom’s cousin) for our separate (and joint) pro bono and other advocacy efforts on behalf of veterans. And who were 2 of my guests at the LACBA event that honored me and Harry? Well, none other than my (ex)coach and Ride2Recovery’s President, John Wordin, of course! Here’s a nice picture of the 3 of us at that event:

644037_10152046543131393_314590750_n

The funeral for Harry’s grandson is ALSO tomorrow (Friday, Jan 3), at 1:00pm. in L.A. — there’s no way to attend both of them.

Jeezohman, 2014 is barely 16 hours old and yet I need to make a decision about which funeral I’m going to attend. Good gravy, between that conundrum and Av’s double-flat, this year was getting off to a rough start!

Ah, fuckit, I thought. I took Friday off in order to ogle donated bikes and then play hooky by taking the newly-repaired Av out for a REAL ride. This fun-and-frolick plan was perfectly in tune with Resolution #5, my best, most favorite resolution — Have More Adventures!

Going to a funeral is the exact opposite of that resolution.

Going to a funeral is a drag.

Going to a funeral sucks.

There’s nothing good about going to a funeral.

<pause>

There’s nothing good about going to a funeral FOR WHOM, CZ? I heard my conscience ask.

You don’t need a “Resolution” to guide you into doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is WHAT YOU DO (except maybe this morning, when you bailed on all the group rides, but we can talk about that later…). Resolutions are about making the “grand gestures.” But you know  –perhaps better than anyone– that it’s the small stuff that matters most. Remember the Helen Keller quote that was on your desk when you smashed your head that your sister used when she told the world about your accident?…

Yeah. Ok, conscience, I get it. I’ll go to the funeral.

But which one?

That thought bubble had barely burbled out of my brain when the Voice of Universe resonated back: You will go to David’s funeral. If your mother’s cousin were still alive, HE would go to David’s funeral.

So it shall come to pass.

And if you are so inclined, dear reader, perhaps you can offer some peaceful thoughts for the repose of David and John’s souls, and for the kindling of warm memories in the minds of their loved ones at 1:00pm and 1:30pm PST on Jan 3, 2014, respectively.

Parting Thought: I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. ~Helen Keller

5 Responses to “Helen Keller wins again”

  1. Lenore! January 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Awesome. Well done. All of it.

  2. Tina January 3, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Always an interesting, insightful read… Thanks for sharing. I continue to marvel at your drive and perseverance! Tina

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Never met you/won’t forget you | JustAdventures - January 7, 2014

    […] indicated last week, I never met David, who apparently goes went by “Dave,” or “Prego.” […]

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