Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park

Friday, May 24, 2013


The zigzag path toward a goal is littered with obstacles and enemies, no doubt about it. But who wants to think about that, when in hot pursuit of your dream?

Chuck’s RAGBRAI goal, to ride tandem this summer, has gotten bumpy. Chuck shared some of his setbacks with me, and the repercussions keep him from writing a timely post, so I’m giving it a try.

Chuck outside the gym.

First Setback

Cheryl, Chuck’s first choice for Captain, and the person who introduced him to RAGBRAI, has had to withdraw, due to her own cascade of setbacks that make it impossible to safely ride the Captain position on the tandem bike in RAGBRAI. Tears were shed and Cheryl will be missed.

This first setback has left Chuck without a Captain, so he tried to cajole me into the position. Sorry, dude, I know my limitations, and they include not wanting to add to my list of injuries, not to mention yours. (See setback number three.)

Second Setback

The tandem bike promised to Chuck by the Veteran’s Administration may not get to him in time to train and ride in RAGBRAI. Game over?

Chuck: “I’m going to wait until next year’s RAGBRAI.”
Ann: “No you’re not. Not after listening to you talk about it and getting excited about it these last few weeks. Contact the people in charge and get that bike delivered. Find another Captain.” (I knew he didn’t really mean what he said, because he had no conviction in his voice. He just wanted to let off steam and regroup.)

Chuck rebounded quickly. He hounded the woman in charge at the VA. He wrote a letter to his Congress-person! The Congress person responded!
Chuck’s determination and independence led to success: The bike would be delivered by June, giving Chuck time to train on his own bike.

Chuck also learned, through his tenacious persistence with phone calls, that RAGBRAI could provide him with a seasoned Captain for the week-long ride. He plans to take them up on that offer (which I highly encouraged in a very nice way.)

Third Setback

Have you ever consistently ridden a bike, logging many miles, and not fallen off? I didn’t think so. I clearly remember one particularly painful incident, when I was a kid, testing the speed limit of my 10-speed bike. I spun out on some stray gravel and flew ass-over-tea-kettle past the racer-handle bars and into the street. Bloodied up arms and legs did not keep me from remounting my pony, however. It wasn’t the pony’s fault. It’s good to be a kid. Helmet? We didn’t have helmets in the dark ages. And barely any brain damage at all…xosentiljvseothlueog23780s….

Now imagine falling off a bike going 30 miles an hour as a fully grown, six-foot-two, 200-some pound adult. Ouch!

Chuck’s luck took a sabbatical the day he and his friend Pam road the Hawthorne Trail. A rogue pole jumped out into the middle of the paved trail, and they slammed into it. The jagged edges of the pole ripped a hole in Chuck’s leg.

But that was not the worst of the story. After remounting the tandem bike, the busy weekend bike traffic somehow forced Pam off the paved path and into the rough so fast, that as she aimed the bike back onto the paved path, the tires caught on the asphalt “lip.” Down they went again. Chuck hit hard, testing the safety of his bike helmet.

And then, the bike broke down. It seemed they might have to walk the 10 miles back to base. This was bad news, because Chuck’s bloodied leg was swelling up to the size of a grapefruit.  

But luck felt sorry for the two battered riders, and returned.

Janice, a spin-class buddy, happened to be out riding with her family. Her husband had all the tools and repaired the tandem. Chuck and Pam rode back to base, bleeding and in pain, but not defeated.

Retired Army officer Chuck shook it off. Instead of heading for surgery, he spent the next day chaperoning his son’s class visit to the Tampa Zoo. That involved many steps on an injured limb.

Needless to say, an infection began brewing. Pain levels elevated. When was your last tetanus shot?

Chuck finally succumbed and saw the doctor. The doctor kept Chuck most of the day, treating Chuck’s injury. Strong medications surged into Chuck’s system, knocking him down for the next several days.

About two weeks later, Chuck resumed his training at the gym, more determined than ever to attain his goal.

Chuck embodies Winston Churchill’s attitude, evident in his affirmations:

“Never, never, never give up.”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

And on of my favorites: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Keep going, Chuck, keep going…