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May 31, 2007

"What do you do with yourself," the orthopedist asked me, "other than riding bikes?"

I sat on the exam table. My legs dangled out of my gown.

"I cook a little," I said. I bit my bottom lip and wondered. I looked toward the ceiling for an answer. "In the winter I lift weights."

It was my first meeting with a specialist since the accident. All week, more experienced cyclists had shared stories of their own broken collarbones and welcomed me to the club. Two told stories of doctors re-breaking the bones to help them set correctly. The tellings made me woozy.

I wasn't very nervous about the prognosis. Indeed, I'd already written off the entire year. I was surprisingly fine with it. And if I could have peace with losing an entire season, losing anything less would be a gift. Thus, the orthopedist could only have good news for me.

Turns out the news was about as good as I could hope for. The fracture was severe but it would not need to be re-broken. Surgery shouldn't be necessary. One of my shoulders would never be quite like the other, but it will soon start healing and feeling better. I can be on the bike in five weeks, and start exercising as soon as I'm comfortable.

Racing by July?

I can sit unharnessed. I should still wear the immobilization truss when I sleep and a sling when I'm walking around, but that's not a problem. I've found them useful for getting seats on crowded buses.

There's still pain, but it's getting better. (In the emergency room the nurse had asked me to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most pain I've ever experienced in my life. "It's a 7," I said, "but I've also had a very charmed life.") This morning I put on a T-shirt with only minimal agony, which is progress.

This was scheduled to be a rest week anyhow.

I've been extremely grateful for all the good wishes and offers of help. Ellen in particular has been an angel, scolding me if I so much as attempt to wash some dishes or dry myself unassisted after a shower.

I'm a little chagrined, however, by all the people who have assumed I crashed on Sunday's Bike the Drive. Are my bike handling skills so suspect that people would think I'd bite it on a charity ride?