What was the greatest invention in mankind? Was it the airplane, the rocket to breach our earthly bonds, harnessing electricity, the telephone, iPhone? The answers are endless. I choose the wheel simply because civilizations were built upon it, carts, chariots, wagons, stagecoaches, automobiles, etc., you name it and, somewhere in the equation, the wheel would probably be a part of it.
To a great extent, it was the wheel that saved me. I’d always enjoyed being in motion and as a child, riding my bike was my first taste of “freedom”. It was one of my favorite activities as my heartbeat would slowly rise, peddling the steel frame faster and faster, my legs moving like a piston in an engine. Sounds and smells, like my eye’s view, constantly changing as I moved.
With a bicycle, restricted destinations that I couldn’t hike to, now vanished underneath my wheels and the Pittsburg steel.
One could go slow or fast but regardless of the speed, it was pure ecstasy. Sweat would form and drip from my body but it was the wind against my face that I felt total freedom that made me smile, the type that every child on a bike feels when they venture beyond the use of safety wheels for the first time or the confines of their yard and neighborhood into the unknown. It becomes the first “great escape”. Little did I know then that over 50 years of living I would return to riding bicycles only by freak accident.
I was half asleep in the early morning hours when a nurse came into my room to change my dressing. Nothing had not been touched in the three days after having undergone a total right knee replacement, a by-product of being a runner for most of my adult life, suddenly ended by a misstep while on my daily six mile early morning run.
Her screaming brought me out of my sleep. I looked down, my leg black, blue, red with blood and heavily blistered around my knee, my leg turning a slightly dark blue halfway down my shin. One look and I wanted to vomit but nothing came up and the screaming faded as the nurse ran out of the room. I just stared at my leg, parts of the skin having peeled off and clinging to gauze, blood and other fluids from the broken blisters oozing down my leg. My mind began to whirl around, my head falling back onto the pillow and I passed out.