What is it like to ride a bike with Parkinson’s disease? Doug paints the picture in a poetic essay.
My Left Foot
By Doug Bahniuk
How do you describe a body part? My left foot is a rumba dancer: wiggling, twisting, curling to its own syncopated beat. It is a rebel. While its right partner happily spins away pedaling a bike, the left refuses to be caught in the boring trap of spinning round and round.
Instead it twists out of the pedal clip trying, one might think, to bring me down; make me fall.
It is strong-willed. I can almost hear it say, “No stinking medicine is going to stop me!” And so as if to prove the point it flexes up and down at its ankle, refusing to be still.
It is a troublemaker. Sometimes I catch it encouraging other body parts to join the revolution: “Twist brothers and sisters! Twist Away! Jump, thrash about! Break the chains of tyranny and join the revolution! You do not have to be controlled by the brain!”
The neck and shoulders seem most inclined to follow the call. Sometimes they follow and beginning thrashing. My neck jerks my head down, while the shoulders move up and down like a teeter-totter. Then the neck flops side to side, throwing the head about as if trying to shake it off. My abdomen tries to resist the call, but even for it the lure of freedom can be too great and it begins doing crunches, as if it were back in some hellish high-school gym class.
The right foot is my greatest ally. When riding, while the lazy left twists out of the pedal, the right bravely soldiers on, doing double duty. The brave and magnificent right pulls up on the pedal to compensate for its lazy brother. The right foot is my hero, my buddy, my stalwart supporter, the friend I can always trust.
I do not begrudge the left foot. It’s simply a rebel. I try to bring it in line, and it tries to break away.
It’s our dance of life.
Doug is a veteran long distance rider. However, prior to RTR 2012 he toured solo and unsupported. Doug was reluctant to embrace sag support and luggage transportation. He completed RTR 2012 on a heavy touring bike complete with a panniers.
He has since purchased a feather light carbon frame bike. I persuaded him to break down and buy arm warmers in order to give up carrying an insulated jacket (we will have lightweight raincoats). This year would be pannier free.
Doug is stubborn to say the least. After a shopping trip at his favorite bike shop last week, he came home with a special rear rack and extra-large trunk bag for Ride The Rockies. I can at least say that he has made progress.