Second Opinion: Converted to the mixed joys of cycling

Dr. April Sanders finds she is drawn somewhat reluctantly into her husband's favourite sport

Road biking is a popular sport but few are more enamored than my husband. As I write, he is off with his buddies, pedals furiously windmilling for hours on end. He will arrive home exhausted, shrouded in a cadaverous hue, only to inform me that he has had the best time ever. A man with a passion is a dangerous thing, dangerous because he feels compelled to share it with those he loves. In my case, that means I have been persuaded onto a bicycle.

Handling a lightweight road bicycle can be tricky. High speeds, thin wheels pumped up to impossible pressures, shoes locked into the pedals, twitchy low-rise handlebars, front wheels that love to turn sideways with the slightest imbalance, back wheels that are prone to skid out on corners, these features of a road bike all require mastery, and that skill comes from practice. It is a simple fact that the more you ride the more proficient you become, the less you ride the more time you spend falling off. As I seldom ride, I know what it is like to hit the ground.

When a human body protected by onion-thin lycra is launched from a moving bicycle, there is a predictable soft tissue outcome. In the lingo of cyclists the resulting damage is referred to as a scuff, or even more endearingly as road rash. Whatever it is called, hitting the pavement is not a benign experience and a few crashes are enough to provide the memory bank with instant recall of the sights and sounds of sharp elbows, knees, hips and shoulders grinding along the highway. Nor is one likely to forget the subsequent date with a stiff brush where raw flesh is scrubbed clean to prevent the asphalt-impregnated road tattoo. Once that remarkable experience is over it is a small matter of two weeks of stiff muscles and oozing sticky wounds.

I have not fallen off the bike this year and that is a milestone.  Nevertheless, there are days when I wish my husband’s passion was more pedestrian, one that didn’t involve road tattoo — perhaps fly fishing or golf.

Dr. April Sanders writes on a variety of topics for The Morning Star. She is a physician at Sanders Medical Inc. Vein and Laser in Vernon, B.C.