7.05.2008,4:43 PM
First Ride, Breakfast and Planes
Oh my!


The last physical therapy session was encouraging. I limped in with an awkward gait on a cane and walked out nearly normal. Nearly. It was my first session without the Big Hot Black Booty (TM). When Ross saw the cane and a bandaged foot without the boot, a smirk and glimmering eyes accompanied "No boot! You know what that means, don't you?"

I knew. I nodded, submitting to his torturous ministrations, knowing that I had to push, to hurt, to stress the tissue in order to improve and regain motion in the joint. I felt like Yoda when he stood with staff, nodding, surrendering to annihilation, acquiesce to the Dark Side's power to prompt the emergence of the good.

Let the torture begin.

At the end of twenty minutes of slow deliberate leg presses and heel raises, waking up atrophied muscles and ripping apart stiff contracted connective tissue, I then practiced walking with my right foot and leg under my hip in front of a mirror. With concentrated and deliberate effort, I had to erase reflexive patterns of walking with my foot, leg and hip swung out to the side and imprint upon my nervous system a normal gait pattern.

It's a good thing I know enough muscle and nerve physiology to understand what I have to do. It makes me an 'easy' patient. My plantar flexion motion has increased significantly, but dorsiflexion, the most important motion, needs lots of work yet. Still, it was an encouraging session. Enough that I suspected I could go for a short ride on the Sherpa.

The Sherpa is light compared to the Whee-strom and I only need one foot and leg to steady the bike. It would be the obvious choice to get my road legs back. So I planned a short ride for Saturday morning.

Good friend Ryan readily agreed to be my escort for the inaugural ride and we decided to join other riders for breakfast at the Blue Hanger Cafe, a small place next to the single airstrip at the Northwest Regional Airport in Denton. The breakfast meet is a regular Saturday morning event, but I haven't attended before. Neither had Ryan. We both thought it would be perfect for a Saturday morning jaunt.

I gathered all my summer gear the night before and gingerly stuck my right foot in my summer boot. It fit, after I removed the inner sole. This morning I put a compression bandage on the foot to reduce swelling and it was a bit of a tight fit inside the boot, but nothing inhibitory. The Sherpa fired up and, as usual, took five minutes to warm up. Ryan waited patiently on his Aprilla sport bike. Swinging a leg over the saddle, we departed down the gravel and I led the way.

I decided to ride the highways to avoid stop-and-go traffic and putting my feet down constantly. The Sherpa cruised comfortably at 65 mph despite the gear ratio change back in February. At 7:50 am the temperature was still cool, enabling us to enjoy the ride before it climbed into the 90's later. Nearly 45 minutes later, we exited I-35W onto FM 1171 and down a narrow road towards the small airport.

The cafe sits on the east side of the runway; we could see a line of bikes parked in front of the blue building. Now, entering traffic shares the access roads with the small aircraft, so caution is imperative. We checked to make sure no planes were taxiing, landing or preparing to take off down the runway before crossing the entry and access road to the airstrip.

I pulled up to the line of bikes behind Ryan and realized I neglected to consider parking the bike. That would require both feet and legs pushing the bike backwards into place. That was not going to happen. Sheepishly, I accepted Ryan's offer to park the bike for me.


I looked around to see several familiar faces, riders that I often meet at other events close to home, and others I see only occasionally. Many I had never met, and didn't meet this morning. Art walked up and said "I wondered if that was who I thought it was and thought; no, she can't be.....". Well, it was me after all.

Although several riders sat inside to eat, I filled my breakfast plate from the buffet and joined others sitting outside in front of the cafe and in the shade. After all, it was a ringside seat next to the airstrip! I wanted to watch the planes!

After visiting with rider friends, a small group of us sat and watched planes take off and land.....and repeat. Three small planes taxied in front of the cafe, their pilots disembarked and went inside to eat. Two gentlemen that sat with us store and fly their own planes there and provided us with details on the planes: kinds, years, models, sizes, etc. And their fliers: one a young man aged 82 flew a shiny beautiful aluminum plane, two small planes were a father and son team that built their own from kits, one plane was dated from the 1940's and lovingly restored, and so many stories!


It was an entirely different and new community to me, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I felt the excitement in Scott's voice (he rides a BMW 650GS), a longing, as he reminisced with stories of when he had a plane and flew up until only a few years ago.


We learned that a new license, called a 'sport flying class', has allowed people to own and fly their own planes without some of the requirements of other classes. One of these planes reminded of a sport bike.


I especially like the silver and red plane, called a 'Swift'. And it did look like a swift bird, a sparrow in flight.


The plane with pontoons intrigued me greatly. Given the repeated landings and take-offs, the pilot was obviously practicing. I relayed what I would do if I had one of those: stow the 250 in the belly of the plane, pack in all my camping gear and fly from lake to lake in the mountains. Skipping lakes and traveling by water, air and ground. Now, that would be a grand life.


Riders and bikes thinned out as a small group of us lingered, sitting in the shade and enjoying the cool breeze and the air 'show' in front of us.



I could see the boys were languishing into deep thoughts, or sleep, so I initiated the first move to head back. It would soon be high noon, and high heat.


Putting my foot back into a sock and the boot, I donned the rest of my gear, put camera and sandals in the tail bag and discussed the ride back with Ryan. I assured him I would be fine returning home alone and he agreed to follow me to the split in I-30 to head east and south. I would continue west to an exit and road that traverses over the high prairies, a road that always instills peace as I ride along and down the the wide expanses of open prairie and farm land to the creek bottoms near my rural five acres.

I left the main highway to ride the last six miles on the frontage road and alongside the creeks and pastures. I could cruise at a comfortable 50-55 mph without the vibrations and open the helmet visor to enjoy the breezes. I was surprised at how much cooler it was on this route than on the highway; and with no traffic, it was a perfect ending to the morning's ride.

Ah, it was good to be back on in the saddle and on the road. A couple miles at a time now. Progress will happen. In a few weeks time, I will be back on the Whee, hopefully before the end of this month. A TWT Pie Run is scheduled northeast of the DFW area and near a large lake. I might just take that opportunity to camp alongside the lake that Saturday night after the meet.

A return to what I love.

Click on the link for a slideshow with more photos of planes, riders and bikes.

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posted by Macrobe
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