Snow was on the ground when friends Shelia and Jerry first mentioned organizing a day’s cycling adventure once the weather was nicer. We tried to coordinate a date for May or June, but bad weather and household emergencies got in the way. On a brutally hot day this month they brought up the idea again. “Let’s try the Virginia Creeper Trail in September or October, Pete,” Jerry said. “It’ll be cooler then.”
“And the fall colors will be beautiful,” Shelia added.
“Where is that?” my husband asked.
“Southwest, near Abingdon,” Jerry said. “It’s an easy trail. They take you to the top and you coast down, almost never have to pedal.”
Peter wore his worried face. “I don’t think I can ride a bike anymore.”
Jerry winked at me and Shelia said, “Just think about it, Pete. We’ll set a date later.”
My husband knocked off thousands of cycling miles a year, even while he was still working, more after he retired. He has a custom bike that is the envy of anyone who knows bicycles, but he hasn’t ridden, not even his “junker,” in at least five years. “I’ll get lost,” he always says.
He’s forgotten so much, but he remembers the concussion he got in a bike race years ago. He slid out on wet pavement — no helmet — and hit his head. He blames that on his memory loss, and maybe that’s why he won’t commit to a ride, even on a local trail.
After our friends left, I said I thought he’d be able to ride the Creeper trail. “Why don’t we take our bikes out and ride around the block to see how you — how we — do,” I said.
“I might fall off.”
“Riding a bike is like riding a horse,” I said, twisting the old catchphrase. “You don’t forget, and if you fall off, you get right back on again.”
“You remember the last time I rode a horse, don’t you? The horse died the next day!” His face turned red and his eyes watered, he was laughing so hard. Dementia hasn’t erased that memory.
That poor horse died more than forty years ago. We hadn’t even met when it happened, but we’ve laughed about it for years.
Header: Huckleberry Trail, 2014.