Being on the precipice of being a father has made me somewhat introspective. Dorothy was backing up some photos this week and ran across pictures from my bike accident. Looking at those pictures got me to thinking about the 3 years since my crash, the 1.5 years since I rode my bike and the 15 pounds I have gained since then.

March 2007: the start of what would be my last bike racing season. I was in an early season race in Seattle. Driving rain, cold, suffering, that was the order of the day. This was the season that I was going to graduate into Category 3 to a higher level of racing, but also a safer level of racing. I trained hard over the winter leading up to this, spending 4 hours on my bike every weekend day often watching movies in my basement in Boise because it was just too cold on the ground. I had spent a lot of time working the hills and I was my lightest weight since high school. I was ready. Forty miles into the race I’m, in fact, optimally positioned and going into the last .5 mile I was in the top 6-10 and as the final sprint is where I excel I was probably looking at a top 5+ easily.
We are now in the full sprint 100 yards from the finish, out of the saddle, 35+ MPH. Then… the guy in front of me lays his bike down.

Needless to say, in those wet conditions, in full sprint I hit the deck. I had been in very mild “skid-out” type crashes or “into the bushes” type crashes before, but nothing like this. I broke my helmet, tore up my bike, destroyed a racing jersey, separated my left AC joint, contused my ribs, and had a terrible amount of road rash. The pictures (for the strong of stomach) are below which show that since changing into my jeans (1-2 hours before) I bled through them from the one wound you can’t see in the pictures (on my left hip).

Dorothy was standing about 10 feet away when the crash occurred. She heard me cursing the pain and the other rider. There were about 5 others that hit the dirt. One of the other guys ended up with surgery to repair a tendon in his hand which was lacerated by the gears of another rider’s bike. A few other guys I knew came over and wanted me to sit down because I must have looked a mess and they were worried I was more hurt then I thought I was. Which later it turned out I was. On the way home I called the sports medicine fellow in my residency and she offered to call in some pain medication. I initially refused but about 15 minutes later when the pain started I called her back and requested some.

That was the worst pain I’ve had in my life. Showering when I got home was awful, trying to clean road rash like that on such a wide spread area of my body was excruciating. The worst pain though was my shoulder and ribs that first night when I awoke in the night and needed to use the restroom. I almost couldn’t get out of bed from the pain. It faded quickly over several days and I ended up only using about 10 of the pain pills. The damage was done though, I was racing bikes within 2 weeks but I was never the same. I was scared. You can’t be scared when you race bikes because to do well in the sprint you have to be willing to take risks. I finished out that season and had a few good results, but never had the fearlessness I had previously had. I remember one race in particular that we hit the last half mile, I was in the front, I was feeling strong and when the sprint started I just sat up because I got too afraid.

So I quit bike racing after that, but not because of the fear. Because I was about to graduate from residency, thinking about having a baby with my new wife, and knew that if I had been the guy with the lacerated tendon I wouldn’t be able to work to the full extent of my profession and I would lose money.

I think that had I trained biking over the next winter I would have been fine, from a fear stand-point, that next year. But this was the first time that I was forced to really face my mortality and I had to make the adult decision that a broken arm and loss of income probably wasn’t going to be worth the pleasure I got out of riding bikes. This is, however, part of what being an adult is. Besides maybe marrying Dorothy or going to medical school this was probably one of the first really adult decisions I ever made. I sacrificed what I wanted for what I needed to do to take care of my family. I foresee, of course, similar decisions to be made in the near term as we begin to raise our daughter.

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Curiosity and Fear

We live on two acres. Approximately 1 acre is watered green grass, a tree line, an orchard and house. The other acre makes me think of the Prologue to book five of one of my favorite fiction series “The Dark Tower Series”.

Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes.

-Wolves of Calla, Steven King

He goes on to describe the tract of land called Son of a Bitch in more detail in the book and it’s a thankless stretch of land that is actually dangerous to work because of the dangerous terrain. I have felt like that at times about the other acre of our property here. In this part of the lawn there’s no established watering system and it’s mostly cheat grass, goatheads (nasty plants which dry out and make terrible thorns) and rugged terrain pockmarked by field mice dens. Out of part of this patch of land I have scratched a garden that’s about 45×25 feet.

An interesting observation I have made during my work on this garden: I get a crowd. Almost any time I’m down there working on it I gather a large crowd of cows. The pictures below show me in the garden with a typical crowd and the second after I went up to the house to take a picture after gathering my biggest crowd of cows ever.

You can get a sense in the first picture how intensely they cows are interested in me. They show an amazing degree of curiosity that perhaps I’m not giving them credit, becuase it my mind I think of them being such passive, grass chewing domesticated animals.

The more fascinating thing for me is how similar in behavior they are to my cats actually. Our cats are intensively curious about our activities. Any little move or noise however and they bolt. It’s like for these animals, the cows and cats, fear and curiosity are intertwined. Which does make sense to me. If you are so interested in what I’m doing why do you run if I step toward you? A common thing in the garden is that I’ll be down on the ground pulling weeds and if I stand up, about half the cows run. Or I’ll be working the hoe with my back to the cows and if I turn toward them, they run again. Within a few minutes they usually come back to continue to stare in abject fascination.

It dawned on me however that we are not too dissimilar in our relationship with God. Almost all mankind feels the need to search for God. Almost everyone at a point in their life searches for meaning and relationship with God. Often however as we draw close and discover some bit of truth the consequences of that discovery make us run away. The curiosity and the fear intertwined. When we are confronted by our sin, and our helplessness to combat it without giving in to God, we often reject that because of our pride. I know I lived like that for quite some time.

For a time in my life I thought I was actually more moral then my friends and some of them were Christian. As I got more curious about Christianity I began to be afraid of the implication that my morals were not a ticket to any kind of heaven. There was only one “Way, the Truth, and the Life”. It wasn’t me. Scary stuff! The horror…! I kept finding myself come back though. The curiosity is to innate. Eventually the Truth was more than my fear could ward off.

Published in: on May 18, 2010 at 5:46 am  Comments (1)  


I remembered this post idea I had awhile back after going to Rudy’s twice in a week. Rudy’s is the local cooking/wine shop and first we went the wine tasting “First Friday” even last friday and then cooking class this week. The class was taught by a fairly well known chef name John Ash. He knew Julia Childs (if you haven’t seen Julie and Julia yet go to netflix and move it to the top, best movie I’ve seen in awhile), had a show on the early Food Network, has award winning cook books, and a top restaurant in California and somehow teaching a class in Twin Falls to 30 Idahoins. We had a wonderful time and Rudy’s is a great place, good wine selection especially given our local, see more here:

So anyway, being immersed in foodie/wine culture twice in a week made me remember the hazards of being a discriminating palate. Anyone that knows my mother knows that I was raised in a food/wine culture. A comment I made at the age of six or so was “My mother doesn’t cook she makes recipes”. Which at the time was basically an insult to my mother’s complicated cooking, but now as an adult the fact that the list of foods I don’t like is limited to like 2 things (which I can’t think of right now) speaks to the diversity of exposure in my youth. My mother can tell you about the time I ordered the $30 Pheasant (again probably age eight) meal at a restaurant because it said “half off any entree under age 12”. The margin on fresh caught pheasant is presumably fairly tight and the restaurant could not honor the previously stated arrangement for the pheasant. And no they had not every run into that problem before.

I also have a very good sense of smell. This delicate nose of mine can be quite a problem in my profession as we are frequently dealing with the smell of rotten butt abscesses or various other discharges of the nether regions which are unpleasant to the olfactory system of any person. With wine however it makes me quite astute as picking up subtleties that others perhaps don’t appreciate. I admit that my wife is somewhat better at brainstorming what she smells and we make a very good pair to taste wine. It’s the thing I miss the most about pre-pregnancy is drinking wine with my wife. The result of this wine enjoyment has been that I have built up a fairly impressive collection of expensive wine and I’ve tasted or drank some amazing wine as a result of this passion.

So I have a refined palate, broad food enjoyment potential and oenophelia. This however comes with it’s draw backs. The main drawback and the one that I’ll finish this small discussion is a degree of snootiness that borders on the wasteful or absurd. I originally thought of posting something about this when I found myself getting ready to throw away a piece of fruit at work. I don’t now remember the type of fruit, but the details were essentially this: the fruit was not spoiled, it did not taste bad, it was not bruised, it had no mold, is just simply was not very good. So I was going to throw it away.

I’m a little horrified at myself even now. I caught myself and finished eating the fruit as I should have in the first place. But the simple fact was that for a brief second I knew I had had better fruit before and I was not interested in finishing that piece of fruit despite being hungry and globally needing more fruit in the diet. This is my concern. It’s easy to do this with wine also. Have a few sips of less than delicious wine at a party and think “I’m not drinking freaking Merlot” (Sideways reference…if you haven’t seen that go and put that at #2 on Netflix), despite the fact that you are having fun at the party and the wine does not have poison in it.

It’s the rich stockbroker forgetting that they came from poverty and not associating with “common folk” anymore. Similar idea. In fact it was after that fruit incident that I decided I would use my wife’s pregnancy as an opportunity to revisit cheap wine (I went through a stretch where the average price of wine I was drinking was around $30!) and do what I did when I first really got into wine.

My wine turning point for me was an expensive bottle of wine ($60) I bought at the Co-op in Boise, which my mother still talks about to this day. I decided to splurge for my own birthday and on 5/26/2006 we drank a bottle of 2001 Elderton Shiraz, which had received like 96-98 points from one of the wine magazines. This wine was amazing, the quote of the night was “this is the best shiraz I have every had” –Susan Kern. I liked wine before that, but not like this. It totally changed my view on what was possible with taste. We had an amazing meal and it was after that that I really, really started getting into wine. I started buying about one good bottle per month to save away (which I’m still basically doing) and drinking a lot of cheaper wines to learn about the various tastes, sites, smells, etc. Overtime as I had more money available I stopped drinking as much of the cheap stuff. After the fruit incident and after my wife became pregnant however I have been going back to the $7.50-10 price range to re-hone my palate and prepare myself for enjoying wine again.

So it’s important to remember what not so good wine and not so good fruit tastes like so when the really amazing stuff comes along we appreciate it even more. I think this has broader applications in life, but I’ll leave it to you to decide on that since this post has already gotten pretty long…

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 1:22 am  Leave a Comment