I’ve been in LA since early February. I came for some Vitamin D and to get on the track at the ADT Center. I’ve never been so happy to miss a rough winter back East. The days here are predictably sunny & warm. I think it’s rained twice.
So I was out on the Santa Ana bike path the other day. I had an easy ride with drills in the mix. I parked, got my kit on and soon learned I was SOL with no CO2 cartridge.
Now, I have a system for such things. I have a place for everything, and everything in its’ place. I went uber minimalist recently, though, and the tank sprang loose.
I haven’t had a flat in months, so I figured . . . what’s are the chances? The path crosses a vein or main artery every quarter mile or so; so I won’t be far from civilization no matter what.
Sure enough. There is no better way to guarantee you’ll get a flat than to ride without a pump or CO2 cartridge. Twenty minutes in, my steering went. I looked down to find my rim cutting into the front tire, which was flopping around like a deflated balloon.
Within minutes, a guy on a recumbent came along and stopped to see if I was alright. (He didn’t have a choice, really. The path is kinda narrow). I wasn’t, of course. So I charmed him into lending me his pump and interrupting his ride while I fixed my flat.
His name was Derek and as he went digging in his bag I sat down and got to work. I don’t know many guys who roll the recumbent, so I asked why it was his ride of choice. ‘Bad back,’ is what I expected to hear. Then he said, ‘I have MS.’ Whoa, I thought. Then he told me he’s training for SoCal’s BikeMS160.
Now I was in awe. The recumbent helps him with his balance. Prior to his diagnosis in 2003, Derek worked as a chef at (what I presumed) a 5-star restaurant in London. Then one morning, after pulling yet another late-night shift, he woke up and couldn’t feel his legs. Days later, he was paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
That said, I was surprised to see him get up to stretch while I fumbled with my tire. He moves with a limp–traces of the impact MS has had on his body. Riding keeps his muscles firing. He mentioned how good the move to SoCal was for him. The warm weather and sunshine seems to have slowed the progression of his disease.
To raise money for their fight against MS, they sell Derek’s homemade jam online. No pun intended, but hearing how he manages MS and how they came up with the idea to sell jam to entice people to donate was one of the sweetest stories I’ve ever heard.