Head and Shoulders

People often ask how far I ride to work.  It’s 15 miles give or take a mile because sometimes, like during the warm summer months, I ride closer to 16 miles by taking the scenic route. If it’s raining or cold I cut all corners and pare it down to 14.

When they hear me say this, they usually go “Wow!” that’s so far.  Let’s think about that for a moment. I am essentially sitting on my ass for a little over an hour. Once I get warmed up I go on auto pilot, pretty much like most people do when they drive. I only go about 12 – 13 miles per hour. I would hate to fail a test for performance enhancing drugs. (Is shredded wheat illegal?)

Today I was in my trance, cruising north on the Mount Vernon Trail about 4 miles from home when I cyclists began to pass me and said, “Hello, Rootchopper.”  At least one person in Mount Vernon reads this blog!  Fame is fleeting and so was he. He left me in the dust. I went back into my trance.  As I made my way north from the airport, I was passed by another cyclist. This one was dressed in a white jersey with big red polka dots, the king of the mountains colors from the Tour de France.  He had off white tires. He was going about twice my speed and he buzzed within inches of me so as to avoid a cyclists coming from the opposite direction.  In technical terms, cyclists like this are known as “Assholes” (with or without the quotes).  I learned later in the day that several others had seen him buzz cyclists and smile while doing so. I hope you are reading this blog Mr. Asshole. The only person you are impressing is yourself. Cut the crap or get off the trail.

I feel better now.

Later in the morning, I met Mrs. Rootchopper at her surgeon’s office. Mrs. Rootchopper recently had surgery to remove a growth from her parotid (salivary) gland in her cheek.  After three weeks of review by a passel of pathologists, the surgeon broke the news.  It is cancer, onocytic carcinoma to be more precise. Parotid tumors are rare. Only one percent of them are this particular type. My wife appears to have been sucked into the rare cancer vortex on my side of the family. One of my father’s brothers contracted bile duct cancer. It was fatal. Bile duct cancer is rare. It is not thought to be genetic in nature. A few years after he died, my father contracted bike duct cancer. It was fatal. The odds of this happening are right up there with getting struck by lightning.

The doctor explained that parotid tumors tend not to fall into nice clean classifications so that calling this one malignant while technically correct is probably not very descriptive.  (It is considered malignant because it was wrapped around facial nerves.  Nastier malignancy invade nerves and tissues but this one didn’t.)  The surgeon is confident that he got the entire tumor but she needs to have a PET scan to rule out involvement with her lymph nodes. If so, another surgery is needed. Once that is out of the way, she will begin radiotherapy treatments.

The doctor described the situation pretty succinctly, “It is what it is.”  This is the medical equivalent of the golfing expression, “Play it where it lays.” 

Need less to say, the rest of the day was relatively uneventful.

The ride home was another 16 mile trance. Thankfully, the “Hello Rootchopper” guy passed me again. We both laughed as he called my name and blew by me. Just before I left the trail I came upon a little gift from the National Park Service.  They beefed up the shoulders of a 100-yard stretch of the trail. On days like today, little things mean a lot.

Work was done. Gracias, NPS.

One thought on “Head and Shoulders

  1. Hey….. I'm the "Hello Rootchopper" guy! It was cool running into you both directions today. Sorry for interrupting your trance. 🙂 Hope I gave you more room than "polka dot jersey" guy. I've been noticing a lot of bad passes on the MVT lately.

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