Much is said about adventure these days. It usually seems to carry with it the word “awesome” or “epic”. However, if one studies the definition of the word, adventure, it is not always as positive as it sounds.
My touring buddy, Chris Johnson, a.k.a. Pondero, and his son-in-law, Carey Jones, recently rode a four day/three night bike tour of the Great Algheny Passage from Pittsburg, Pa. to Cumberland, Md. My memories of the actual tour will always be one of beautiful weather and scenery. Around every bend of the trail was like looking at another post care photo. Also, Chris and Carey are both fine gentlemen who make the touring experience most enjoyable. Chris is quite gregarious and was able to arrange a couple of meet-ups with internet friends who have a similar affinity for bike touring. I found the time spent with these new friends to be very pleasant. I’ll always be grateful to Chris for taking the time to arrange the tour. Yes, a most positive experience!
There, however, seems to be a “black cloud” hovering over my touring experiences. I’ve done a few other tours in the past few years. On two previous occasions, I became ill during the tour (food poisoning one year and acute vertigo the next) and had to drop out whilst the others finished. This year, it was, unfortunately, my wife who was dealt the illness.
Cindy and I had traveled in our van to Pittsburgh to meet up with the guys and to begin our tour. Cindy drove our van on down to Arlington, Va. to spend a few days with her sister and brother-in-law there. On the day before our tour was to be completed, I received a phone call from my wife stating “I think I’m having a gall bladder attack; what should I do?” With sketchy cell service in rural Pennsylvania, I was able to get through to her and obtain some history and provide her with some advice. After finishing the call, I had the sinking feeling her symptoms sounded like acute pancreatitis. Well, to make a long story short; it was acute pancreatitis and she was admitted to the hospital in Arlington, Virginia. Fortunately, her family was there to be with her until we finished the tour the next day. Brother-in-law, Dave, made the drive to Cumberland to transport my bike and me on down to Arlington. The next few days were very difficult for Cindy however, Praise God, she was discharged six days after admission. She and I decided she would spend a few days with her family to gain strength before flying home this coming week. She has been very weak from this serious illness and will require a prolonged period of recovery. Strange thing is, her physicians could not identify the cause of her pancreatitis. She does not drink alcohol, has near normal triglycerides, has no gall stones, and is on no medications known to cause pancreatitis.
I tend to be a pragmatist and don’t usually view life through rose colored glasses. However, I’m also a dreamer and am want to envision myself on long tours through beautiful bucolic vistas without a care in the world. After three episodes of illness coinciding with bike touring, I’m beginning to think I need to re-evaluate my goals and dreams. For the time being, I intend to keep my rides much closer to home. A lot will hinge on how my wife’s health returns over the next months. This is not intended to be some kind of “pity party”, though, and I’m not trying to be superstitious thinking this is “bad karma”, I’m just not up to any more “adventures” of this kind for a while.
To get a very good report of our bike tour, wonder on over to the website, pawndero.wordpress.com. Chris is masterful at documenting in word and image.