E-mail #3, sent 6/23/98:

I got the Davidson fixed.

Toga Bicycle shop, where I took it, really pulled a number. I got a bid for $232 and was told to pick up the bike in a week. I called on the day I was to pick it up and after much waiting was told the fork hadn’t been ordered and it would be another week. Then shortly later I got a call back saying that I’d be getting a Kinesis aluminum fork and because the frame has longer dimensions than contemporary bikes, the price would jump by $50. Go ahead I told them. A week later they call me to say that the fork is installed but the brake won’t work with it. After some confusing back and forth I find that they didn’t get a longer fork. But not to worry, they would put on a cheap Galli brake and keep my Campagnolo. I wasn’t happy, told them so, but told them to go ahead and I would come look at it. Next day at the shop I see the bike. The mechanic has altered my Campagnolo brake with this ugly riser so that it will work with the fork. I expressed dissatisfaction to the clerk, who brought over the manager who was sympathetic. Mechanics appeared to say that quality longer forks can not be had, and the shorter fork will ride just fine. I decided to accept it and the manager knocked the bill down to $200. I bought a helmet.

Last Saturday I set out to ride on Long Island. I’d ridden no more than 10 blocks when the front wheel started making a whup-whup noise. Stopping I found that the tube had forced the bead of the tire away from the rim. Amazed, I deflated it. The mechanic when putting the tire and tube on the new wheel had seated the bead of the tire on the tube! And I had trouble getting the wheel off the bike and discovered the reason for that was one of the two springs of the quick release of the hub is missing! I set the front wheel right and set out again.

Passing through Queens I noted sensitivity on the inside of my left knee. Out on Long Island I decided to play it safe, curtail the ride, and very gently ride home. 15 miles from home the knee went painful. This is the same problem experienced on the Montauk Century that has recurred each time I’ve been on the bike. Three weeks off the bicycle hadn’t gotten rid of it. If anything it seemed worse. I stopped and rested before pushing on to limp home and determined that if I really focused on spinning carefully, not stopping, I could bear to keep going.

A short distance down the road I saw a lump in the road which as I passed, I recognized as a turtle. I coasted further but the plight of a turtle out in the road stopped me. I turned and scooted back. The turtle retracted his head as I picked him up and I spent many minutes admiring his black shiny shell and then the bright yellow edges of the lower shell. The skin of his neck and head was dark brown with yellow stripes and I marveled at how the stripes continued from the skin around his eyes on into the irises of his eyes. It was such a beautiful face. The turtle relaxed and extended his head. I then contemplated what had brought this mature turtle out in to the road. Where was it headed? Across the road was a fence, the other side of which is the Long Island Expressway. The nearer curb also had a fence just beyond it. There was really nowhere to go and maybe that is why the turtle was just sitting there with his arms and legs pulled in. I couldn’t put him on the side of the road for he would likely just end up back in the road at some point. And sooner or later the wheel of a car would squash him. I hate to think of it. I decided to walk him further back down the road and set him loose in the woods.

There was a well shaded pond not far off and I picked my way down through the brush to a soggy bed of old wet leaves leading to the waters edge. The leaves were black and the whole pond seemed dark and noisome. It didn’t seem like an inviting place to leave the turtle. I put him down however and was amazed that he just disappeared. I could make him out, but the color of the turtles shell was the exact color of his surroundings. He sat there and I nudged him. No movement. I placed him near the waters edge and with another nudge he scrambled in. In a moment he completely disappeared, snuggling in amongst the leaves and debris on the bottom. All was silent as ripples dissipated and it was as if he’d never been out there on the road. I’m sure the episode is forgotten by the turtle. Me, I thought of this wild creature, immersed in the ooze of a cool pond while I was turning the cranks over on my way home. Some how the injury didn’t seem so bad. I may not be able to go the distance on the Death Ride but the process of getting to it, turtles and all, seems so cool.