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James Huang blog: On the road to recovery - literally!

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How fast was I going? What place did I come in? Is all of my gear current? Ultimately, who cares? Tough to complain when you consider every ride to be a joyous occasion in and of itself. Stop and look around a bit every now and then. And dammit, yes, eat that cupcake.

How fast was I going? What place did I come in? Is all of my gear current? Ultimately, who cares? Tough to complain when you consider every ride to be a joyous occasion in and of itself. Stop and look around a bit every now and then. And dammit, yes, eat that cupcake. (Image credit: Marty Caivano)
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The Bridges of the Butte fundraiser in Crested Butte, Colorado was one of the slowest bike rides I'd ever done - and also one of the most enjoyable.

The Bridges of the Butte fundraiser in Crested Butte, Colorado was one of the slowest bike rides I'd ever done - and also one of the most enjoyable. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Moments like these are why I ride bikes: the places, the people, the experiences, the feelings. Don't take any of them for granted!

Moments like these are why I ride bikes: the places, the people, the experiences, the feelings. Don't take any of them for granted! (Image credit: James Huang)
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I was doing this just a few weeks ago… and then I wasn't. I'll be back, though, and if you're ever injured, so will you.

I was doing this just a few weeks ago… and then I wasn't. I'll be back, though, and if you're ever injured, so will you. (Image credit: Jason Sumner)

"You never know what you've got until it's gone."

So the saying goes and after more than two decades of serious bike riding - virtually all of which I'd taken for granted - it wasn't until I broke my hand that I truly appreciated the earthbound flying that is rolling along gracefully on two wheels.

All told, things could have been much worse. The fancy cast I'd been fitted with was removable for showers and whatnot, I had full use of my thumb and first two fingers, and I was otherwise fully mobile. As such, my doctor had given me permission to do other activities such as sit on a stationary trainer or run.

I definitely had lofty aspirations for both (Sprint to the top of Sanitas! Top-10 finish at the state 'cross championships upon my return! Hot dog eating champion!!!) yet I admittedly did very little of either, mostly because neither of those activities came remotely close to replicating that feeling of gliding effortlessly along the ground - whether paved or otherwise.

And so I mostly sat around, busied myself with work (thankfully I could still type), got caught up in a few cycling advocacy issues, and enjoyed more than my fair share of pie.

Exactly four weeks after that fateful sand pit, I cautiously got back on a road bike and headed out to watch my girlfriend compete in a local cyclo-cross race about an hour away. It was cold, windy and grey, the route was irrefutably flat and boring, there was more vehicular traffic than I would have usually preferred, and after more than a month of couch surfing, I was embarrassingly slow (surprisingly, my weight hasn't changed much at all but the volume and density variables in that equation definitely have not stayed constant).

And yet it was one of the best rides in recent memory simply because I wasn't able to do it at all just a few days prior.

The next day: a grin-inducing spin downtown on my speed-averse commuter. And then a few days later, 3,000 feet of climbing with a local road club - where I was unceremoniously dropped more than once.

Just this morning I had my first follow-up X-ray and thanks to some good healing progress, my doctor has given me the green light to ditch the fancy removable cast I'd been wearing and tells me to start rebuilding strength in my atrophied right hand. The bone still isn't near full-strength yet, though, so mountain biking is still out and at this point in the season, there's no sense in jumping into another 'cross race. But good signs nonetheless and hopefully the near end of what ended up being a not-so-bad chapter in my cycling life.

Lessons learned? Well, 'eyes up' for one.

The forced time off has also injected some newfound enthusiasm not just for a sport I've enjoyed for more than half of my life but also just the simple act of being on a bike, regardless of what kind it is, how up-to-date the components are, or how fast (or slow) I'm going.

I obviously enjoy shiny new stuff as much as anyone but chances are if someone on your next group ride is teasing you for still riding your eight-speed down tube shifters, they're probably not having nearly as much fun as you are.

'Run what you brung' as that other saying goes, and enjoy every second of it because chances are they'll be days when you won't have the luxury. Everything else is just gravy. But damn, do I love gravy.