Leaving the Garden

I’m flying to Santa Rosa today, but my body wants to be home. As a form of protest, it spent the last 5 days plaguing me with intermittent fever and fatigue. I stayed in bed for a few days and ate nothing, woke up hot from the inside and cold from the outside. Things are out of balance. I lost 6 pounds in a heartbeat. I could only stare at food I normally love.

When I got home from Tuscany, the house was perfect: clean and orderly and rearranged. In the garden, Sal had spent time edging and building little stone walls, arrangements of pots and lanterns and little things we’ve collected over time. Rocks from here or there. Shells. Wildflowers were blooming in the back beds – unexpected orange among the morose dark greens of the shade plants. The fern transplant looked exuberant, the hosta has polished up the lime green edges of its leaves for me.

The main beds were flush with baby greens and fledgling tomato pants – only five this year, he tells me. “You’re going to be gone all summer.”

I’m going to be gone all summer. And I’ve already been gone all spring. What will happen in the fall? Road World Championships in the Netherlands. Another trip to Europe. Just now as I’m writing this I’ve remembered that I have to head to Philly in two weeks for a gig.

The most interesting thing about building my life around so many monuments (Flanders! Tuscany! the tour! The tour!) is that I’ve realized how monumental orange wildflowers in geometric flowerbeds can be. Add to that a gut check from my body, the very real limitations of my entire system. Here I was worried about the strength of my legs and I’ve forgotten that fatigue is a cumulative force that weighs heavy on organs and the nervous system and all those little intricate parts of my body that need to be respected.

When I get to France my pedaling will be faith-based, underpinned with a solid run of training. Who knows what will happen to my body under so much stress, the pressure of riding and surviving and transferring and re-packing bags each day. Will it be fun? Probably sometimes.

Mostly though I see it now as a really pronounced line in the sand of my life. And what happens after our ride in France will be far more interesting than what happens during.





8 Responses to “Leaving the Garden”

  1. Doug M. says:

    “When I get to France my pedaling will be faith-based, underpinned with a solid run of training.” I love this sentence.

  2. Rachel says:

    What is the gig in Philly? I would live to see you if you’re appearing somewhere?

    • snarkypants says:

      Oh boy, I’m not sure where I’ll be yet, but I’ll find out soon. I’m there doing some work around the Women’s Liberty Classic. 95% sure I”ll be hanging out a bit at the Specialized tent at the Expo area on Saturday with some of the Specialized-Lululemon riders.

  3. jj says:

    that sal, he’s a keeper.

  4. Pete I says:

    I’ve been reading your pieces in Peloton with great enjoyment.

    I love the way you have traveled down the road of discovery from elation and excitement to fear and trepidation. Your writing is engaging and illustrative. You write from the heart with an honesty and forthrightness that connects you with your reader.

    You and your fellow teammates have taken on something that few would dare. You inspire me.

    Know that regardless of what transpires at the end of the day those who love and admire you will feel the same.

    Needless to say I am rooting for you and personally think you will be riding down the Champs Élysées a day before the men tired but smiling.

    God speed.

    Ride safe.


  5. Jason says:

    I’m with Peter. This post and your recent Peloton pieces are some of your best writing since that Sal on a tandem incident. I have to be honest, I love seeing the breakdown and suffering, but only because I can’t wait to see the rebuilding.