We stopped in Escondido for a short break to give my aching wrist a rest. My fibromyalgia flared up last night and when I woke this morning, I had extreme numbness in my right hand. I had no feeling except for the throbbing for over an hour. I've often thought about sleeping with a brace so I don't curl my wrists under when I sleep, which aggravates the morning numbness, but I usually blow it off. Tonight I will be sleeping with the brace. I've been seeing a chiropractor and she adjusts my wrists and suggests I wear wrist braces when I ride, but vanity has gotten the better of me.
It had to be my right wrist. The hand I need most when riding had the be the one that throbbed all day. By the time I got to my bike, which we had left in Menifee last night, my hand was feeling better. But it was only a matter of a few minutes on that throttle and my fingertips were completely numb. After 15 minutes, flying south on Interstate 15, my entire hand was numb and throbbed. I realized that I can pull in on the clutch as I release the throttle going downhill and I lose little to no speed. I have just a few seconds to bang my hand against my tank to bring feeling back again and regain my grip on the throttle.
I tried time and again to get some circulation, but to no avail. I had to stop our ride early and pull off the Interstate after only 40 minutes of riding. I felt like a failure, a wet blanket, but I simply couldn't take the pain.
"It hurts so bad," I cried to Highway as he pulled up beside me.
He took my glove off of me and rubbed my wrist, well acquainted with my pain and my needs. He had seen me shaking and banging my hand on the tank and knew what was wrong before I said a word. He lovingly massaged my wrist, hand, each finger and told me it was OK, and we didn't have to ride anymore. I felt terrible because I wanted to ride! My struggles with pain anger me, but they are a reality that we have both come to live with.
We decided to take a break, sit with our laptops, and give the medicine I had just taken a chance to work. I spotted a coffee shop across the parking lot and we headed over there and pulled into a spot, right in front, just in time to see the owner locking up. We remembered a Starbucks a few exits away, so we started the bikes back up and headed back to the Interstate.
The parking lot was incredibly crowded and we both cruised slowly in first gear, dragging our feet, ready to stop immediately. I followed Highway as he came around a corner to the parking lot exit. Before me was a very steep hill with 3 cars perched on it. I knew I would have to shoot the hill, even though I've had very little experience with them.
Highway had taught me in the past to use my back brake to hold the bike steady as I accelerated and let out the clutch. As the cars moved out ahead of us, he effortlessly climbed the hill and I stalled my bike. I started her back up in first gear, clutch pulled tight, back brake pressed, then accelerated, letting out the clutch. I heard her rev up, struggle, lurch, and then I remembered. . . let off the brake.
I started to shoot up the hill, still weeping from the pain in my hand, barely avoiding the gray-haired-lady-driver who didn't understand I only needed a little extra space. She had swung around me just in time to be in my way once I shot forward. I slipped around her and hit the top of the hill just as Highway pulled onto the street. I didn't stop, but just took a quick peek up the street and followed his lead.
We pulled up to a stop light and I realized I was laughing. Somewhere through the tears, the frustration and the pain, I was laughing at myself.
"I made it up that hill and I didn't drop her, Goddammit!! I took that fucking hill!" I shouted at Highway with glee.
Every day I ride I seem to meet another new challenge. Each challenge I can complete without hurting myself or my bike is a success. Today, I took that hill. And even though we didn't ride as far as I would have liked, today was a good day riding.
Photo credit: Bryan Giardinelli, Hire The Stache.