A warm light
from within, contrasts the cool air spilling from the open
refrigerator door. I stand dumbfounded, surrounded by a soft glow.
All is quiet except for the hum of my father's giant clock across
the room. Years ago it hung above the door of his restaurant ? simply
called The Truck Stop. Now its neon glow of red, green and
white spreads out from the 1930's dial and fills the room like
Christmas. I am hovering on a strange and uneasy feeling. Something
significant has happened. I can't quite put my finger on it.
I had merely
reached down into the bottom drawer and pulled out an apple. Why so
strange? What was wrong? I reviewed the scene.
An open door.
A quiet room and suffused light. A quick reach down, then an apple
in my hand.
In a rush it
comes to me!
What is so
wildly odd about this event is the mere fact that I could so easily
reach down and pluck up an apple. It has been two years or more
since I have been able to do that without having to first strategize
I always have
to decide where my left hand will rest, the exact spot to place my
left then my right foot, then negotiate a careful and slight lean
over to the right to make a final plunge into the sharp pain of my
lower back in order to snare the apple in my right hand and
immediately bolt upright, back out of the pain. Each detail of the
movement has been developed slowly over time, almost unknowingly, piece
by piece. One strategic detail added to another until the full dance
is performed without so much as a thought.
Now all of a
sudden the pain is gone, and its absence is overwhelming.
For the last
year the pain has become increasingly routine and subliminal.
Eventually I was standing like a scribbled "C," until my wife
finally pointed the situation out and made me get some help.
A little over a week ago I was on
Dr. Art's chiropractic couch.
After careful consideration of my
complaint and looking at my posture, he made some careful, feathery
light preliminary adjustments.
Then he gently placed my knee in a
precise location over my chest, made a quick push resulting in a
small crunch of release. After that a slightly stronger bounce and...
sacral joint popped open like a clamshell. The pain drained out of my
back just like that.
not quite a week later, with the help of stretching exercises and
another adjustment; the results were slowly becoming firm and
Now I could reach over and snag things, close the car door
with my foot holding an arm full of bike supplies, movement
unencumbered by the necessity of logistics.
On getting out of bed
every morning, my standard half hour "warm-up," to bring me past
what I'd assumed was an early arriving sign of arthritic old age,
was already down to a few minutes and disappearing.
It was as if Dr.
Art had snuck into my house (playing White Rabbit to my Alice) and
caused everything to grow taller by a few inches.
significant bends and painful reaches the week before were now laughable parities.
A few days
later I'm back in Dr. Art's office, waiting for my wife.
After what I'd experienced, I knew just where to take her in hopes of solving
aches resulting from standing over her artist's palette for hours on
I'm reading... now get this, Bicycling Magazine's 2002 Buyers Guide.
Tell me another waiting room (except maybe Handago's) where you can
find a biking magazine!
This is a place you'll never have to explain
why spending four hours on a bike is your common practice.
(The Black Widow) is out of sight explaining to Dr. Art how she
stands and performs sweeping gestures with her watercolor brushes
hour after hour, day after day, I'm in the waiting room poring over
an article about bicycle fitting (pp. 16-17).
It's all about using
logical calculations and goniometry to size a custom bike based on
your specific flexibility and measurements.
from Vince (Suitcase) Herlihy, Jimmy (Sissy Boy) Calandrillo, Mary
Ellen (Slider) Calandrillo, Don (The Starkmeister) Stark,
(Shiftless) John Handago and others, that Paul (Serotta) Levine has
some experience with bike fitting, I was thinking, "Hmm...this is the
most logical system I've ever seen. I should take this article over
to Paul and show it to him. I'm sure this back pain is from too much
computing and piano playing, but just in case it is the biking..."
I'm over at Paul's. Mary and I just witnessed the lecture Paul uses
in his seminars at the Serotta factory. Turns out he trains bicycle
dealers in the use of the Serrota Size Cycle in conjunction
with a seven step process that diverges only slightly from what I
read about in the article. In fact the fitting process Paul showed
us is somewhat more rigorously definitive than what the article
is just what I've been looking for ? for over 5 years now. Why didn't
somebody tell me about this before?"
Well I guess I had been told. I
just wasn't listening. Plus Paul himself keeps a pretty low profile
Paul has even
developed his own unique use of a particular tool, taken from
another discipline, to bring a whole new level of excellence to the
I'll let him tell you about that. Preferably ask
him about it at the bottom of Ridgebury prefaced by something like,
"Just let Bob go on ahead. Tell me about that tool!"
I was also
stunned, and more profoundly sold, when Paul showed us a quick
demonstration about how the human arm can most efficiently generate
strength of movement. I was stunned because it is an almost
identical demonstration that I myself gave to music students for
years, about how fingers work better when they are curved and
As an aside,
before something gets started: NO. I won't give you, your kids or
your grand-kids music lessons. After the parents of one of my best
ever young students told me they had to stop that student from playing so
much, because it was interfering with their other kids watching
television, I lost interest. I'm a biker now. And NO, I won't give
you, your kids or your grand-kids biking lessons either. Well, ok
just one biking lesson.
lesson: Get your butt immediately over to Dr. Art, then to Paul (or
vice versa). Don't waste your time on needless pain and/or training
the wrong muscles in the wrong way.
Get yourself set up correctly
right from the git-go and save your energy for more useful pain on
The Hump, or the Saturday B Ride, Wednesday Hump day with R&R, Tuesday's Poker Night, Monday's (What you call this a) Recovery Ride
(complete with Irish Maniacs), etc.
In any case,
The Black Widow and I were eventually standing around Paul's kitchen
table and looking over samples of painted tubes, decals and
had taken about two hours each. The hardest part was picking components, but now the full process was
We had picked from this, that and other things and told
Paul what we absolutely had to have.
He handed us the total
bill for the bikes?
CRACK! My wallet popped open like
a clamshell. The money drained out of my bank
account just like that.