Friday, February 13, 2015

Frostbite Cripples Velo Vortmax

For the few readers who have endured my madness over the years, I have suffered through a personal disaster befitting a person of my insignificant stature. Caught outdoors in a down slope windstorm with gusts of eighty miles an hour, my fingers froze, died on the vine, and all four digits on each hand were amputated at the University of Utah burn center by two very capable surgeons, Dr. Amalia Cochran and Dr. Kate Smiley.  I am typing this missive with my thumbs, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am capable of doing something of value, and that I have not been rendered completely useless. This is an important lesson for people who have an interest in defining cripples as able bodied human beings, in an attempt to deny benefits to said persons, in the interest of saving money for the state.

I have for many years been an advocate for cyclists who in many instances claimed innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence against them.  In reviewing the arguments I made against what I considered a corrupt system, I feel ashamed at some of my logic, which reads like fantastically overblown, stupid bullshit.  But, perhaps, not in every instance was I mistaken in my assumptions.

I had a premonition of disaster, one fine day I was asleep thinking of a large wind storm that I survived years ago, wondering if such a storm would happen again.  Now, in the aftermath, I feel sick at heart, like a prisoner trapped in a cell helplessly staring through the bars wondering whether I will survive a hideous ordeal.  There were only two things I loved in this world: riding my bicycle and maintaining my state of self independence free from debt or obligation to others.  Sadly, there was so much amputated from my fingers that I may never be able to ride my road bike again.  It is unfortunate that disasters in life have a tendency to deprive a person of the few things in this world that generate a sense of happiness and well being.  Nothing tops the sensation one feels when descending down a ten percent switchback on a good road bike where you are in complete control and confident that nothing will go wrong.  Then, suddenly you realize that those days have past forever.  Then, one fine day you look out the window of an automobile, and see a local team out on a training ride, the tears flow like rain, and you realize that there is no one to communicate your thoughts to. Precious cycling memories most people scoff at.

Through my misery I have to laugh at the thought that so many people thought it necessary to save my life.  I wandered the streets of Salt Lake City in a frenzy trying to fend off the inevitable like a madman.  People gazed at my dead fingers aghast in horror, some mentioned the consequences of gangrene.  Finally the wife of a doctor who is a specialist in infectious diseases, Polly, insisted that I ride in her car to a free clinic, where Dr. Tanya Williams instantly faxed photographs of my hands to the University of Utah burn center, where two surgeons, Dr. Amalia Cochran and Dr. Kate Smiley, suggested an immediate admission into the hospital. During the tramp of madness my weight had dropped from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and twenty seven pounds.

I spent three weeks in an intensive care unit.  The hospital bill would add another trillion to the national debt.  I will never be able to pay for the fine care I received.  I have been reduced to the status of a circus cripple with eight fingers amputated, disabled for life, sickened to death, dependent on others, and uncertain of the future.  I want to run to some mountain hide away and vanish forever like some old beaten dog.

People sneered at some of my stupid conclusions, but all I wanted to do was to generate some discussion about the abysmal levels of dope that seems to be necessary to ride at the highest level in our sport.  The malady did not start with Lance Armstrong or end with Lance Armstrong.  People need to realize that if you require men to ride bicycles over successive mountain passes in a single stage that may extend for over a hundred brutal miles, that these extreme conditions raced at top speed might provide the riders an incentive to use performance enhancing drugs.  To think otherwise requires a thought process that is not based in reality.  Riders will continue to take risks as long as the riders agree that the certainty of never being caught exists, that the methods of the doctors defeat the methods employed by the labs, or that the possibility exists that the governing bodies are willing to look the other way.  Indeed, everybody thinks they are bullet proof until they fuck up and make a stupid miscalculation.  There is no excuse for these types of stupid miscalculations, and when you face the consequences, you have no one but yourself to blame.

Ask me, I am a living example of a stupid miscalculation. I knew better and still fucked up. I have no one but myself to blame.  I was an experienced outdoors man.  I made a foolish blunder and was caught unprepared.  Without modern medicine and surgery I would be dead.

I will recover.  I used to haunt a library all day reading books, forever in search of that quintessential writing style.  I was despised by some people who frequented that library, and I am sure that they are rejoicing at my absence. I may be back, still adorned in rags, sans my fingers, to destroy your serenity.  So enjoy my hiatus while you can.