New England Bike Trip

Pragmatism Yet Again

John refueling by the side of the road in Portland, Maine

I had just read an email from a friend who, having not seen a blog post in the last few days, questioned whether we’d become road kill on a narrow highway or had been holed up in the swimming pool of a posh hotel. Neither came close to fact.

When I last posted, I had inherited Mike’s flu, but was suffering through. I had been able to overcome inertia each day to complete the day’s mileage, but at night the blog suffered. We were well into Maine, and I figured I’d catch up at my son Chris’s house. I kept wishing for my situation to improve, but there was little if any movement.

Then came September 17th. We were headed from Bath to Rockland, a 45 miles stretch, which was another segment I had been looking forward to. Both Mike and I had been in the area for a family reunion 50 years ago, and both of had happy memories. Besides, you’d think having less than a hundred miles to go (95 to be exact), would provide a formidable argument against pulling the plug. But deep down I felt like hell.

Just after leaving Bath, my cough got worse, the output from the hack was greener, and my energy level waned dramatically. Shortly we hit a long, shallow hill, with Mike in the lead. He usually led on the level stretches, and I’d catch up on the hills.  This time when I pulled abreast of him, my deep breathing hurt all the way down into my chest. Our fate was becoming unavoidable, it was time to call the doctor.

* * *

Sitting on a side road far enough off the highway to escape the road noise, I called my physician in California, left my tail of woe on the answering machine, and then sat down in the grass. Moments later, a multi-colored group of four hen turkeys followed by a large white tom, began migrating towards us from a nearby farmhouse. We’d heard them before we saw them, initially assuming the noise was from small dogs.

They surrounded us, and one hen got close enough to peck my leg and draw blood. In a heartbeat the tom was beside her diverting her attention to more Darwinian matters. Resplendent in his mating plumage, he began a dance with the hen, bumping her first on one side and then the other. Shortly the two were one, and Mike and I discovered yet another lesson about the birds and bees. We thought we knew all about chickens, turkeys, and eggs.

* * *

And then the doctor called. Basically I told him the story, that both Mike and I had already taken one course of antibiotics which had done it for him, but not for me, and that I was dead in the water. His advice: A bigger hammer prescription, along with the advice to “take it easy.”

The way I felt, I didn’t need that last bit of advice.  With our destination less than two days away, I was ready to call it a ride. Later that afternoon, with the first dose of prescription in my stomach, bikes in the back of a second truck, Mike was reading the side effects to me of the new bigger hammer. “May cause diarrhea for up to 4 months after dosage is completed.” Bigger hammer, indeed, the way I felt, “Bring it on”.

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