Day 46: Assisted
The day was all sun, warm, with fall bursting at the seams. No wind and clear sky. Light smoke but way better than days earlier. Not the fire pit smell and even less the tinge of wispy smoke making the Coburg Hills appear more distant than the few miles away they are.
We started the day at the north bike trailhead on the Willamette River. Brock had organized the day as a roll on e-bikes. The latest rage. A test ride that turns riding into driving. Assisted with electricity. Steering’s the same; pedals moving wheels with spokes; shifting with gears and a derailleur; brake pads now more important. But it’s all different. It’s drive riding. Assisted.
The river trail was in full bloom with people. Walkers and runners, kids on bikes and in strollers. Cyclists. And now us. Drive riding at a slightly different clip. The bell more important given the difference in pace. But the same lazy river going by with bends. And the sun. We drove rode the north side, past Alton Baker Park to Island Park in Springfield. The first time I’ve seen this Island Park from the river. Riverside views of bridges where the real drivers move through towns: Eugene-Glenwood-Springfield. And back. To the UO campus and Hendricks Butte/Park. Assisted up to Pre’s rock where a week earlier Steve narrated compelling stories of Prefontaine. His drive and passion for distance running. Unassisted.
Our assist was compelling though. Increasing speed on an uphill climb. Pedaling but working less. Being more outside than inside which happens normally when grinding up hills. Both equally enjoyable, just different. Which is where you come in. We were assisted when you were in the group, the family. Assisted in small ways of passing the plate, the sentence, the story. Moving so easily across people and time. More outside than inside.
The route continued back to the river loop. Back to the walkers and runners. Back to the uneven pace. Monitoring the difference. Vigilant. Then Skinner’s Butte and the ability to go faster when climbing. So crazy smooth. Enjoyable. Compelling. Summit and view the city. Eugene and the Willamette Valley.
We drove rode in heavy traffic by design to see if we could compete with 11th street. You know, the kind of street in every city. Four lanes. Strip malls. Driveways. Businesses. Signs. Cars. Traffic lights. Compressed. There we were on e-bikes. Assisted and competing which became compelling. There you were. Competing and compelling. Eventually, this cycle of competing with traffic became uneven monitoring of power. Batteries of limited life. Ticking down. Pedaling a heavy bike on its own terms. Back to a grind and more inside than outside.
Learning to have you by our side and assist us seems to be my attention. More present up hills and in traffic. More outside than inside. But with others walking, enjoying, running, loving life, assistance is uneven and moves inside. More difficult. And eventually, the assistance is monitored. So, it comes at a cost.
Forty six days and grief is turning to sadness with you at our side, assisting us. I plan to buy an e-bike. Another way to keep you in our life. We love you much and miss you more.