A closet full of stories

A logging truck pulled out in front of me. I laid my bike down, glanced off the the rear wheels, spun behind the tractor, and came to rest looking up at the front bumper of an SUV as it stopped with a lurch. I was in the left hand turn lane on the opposite side of the road. Thankfully, the trailer was empty, piggy-backed onto the tractor rather than being pulled. Otherwise, I might have been crushed underneath it!

Jenny was riding behind me. She’d seen the whole thing unfold and was shaking uncontrollably as I stood and examined the damage to myself and the bike.

It was 2006. Jenny and I were training for our first Ironman Triathlon. It was a Wednesday morning, and I’d taken a vacation day for long training ride with her. We’d just come down the ramp from Highway 95 into Coeur d’Alene. The right hand lane was backed up; the left was clear. So, riding nearly thirty miles per hour with a slight downhill and a bit of tail wind, I moved into the left lane and Jenny followed.

A semi truck was making a right hand turn. The right lane traffic was backed up behind it. Hidden from my view was the logging truck. Assuming there was no traffic coming, the driver made a left turn, appearing suddenly directly in front of me. I had no time to stop. All I could do was lay it down and try to avoid going under the big, moving wheels.

The damage was minor, though. It was a cool spring morning. I was wearing a short sleeved cycling jersey over a thin, long sleeved Under Armor top. I slid on my left forearm, shredding the sleeve of the undershirt and scraping a large patch of skin off beneath it. I damaged a pair of cycling shoes, and scuffed up the bike some. But otherwise, I and the bike were unharmed. In fact, after dealing with the police, we finished our ride and even attended the regular Wednesday evening Humpday Ride afterwards.

I had two Under Armor shirts like that one, and decided to take scissors to the damaged one to make it short-sleeved. Somehow, I managed to cut the sleeves off the wrong shirt!

I’ve worn both many times since. Often, when wearing the long sleeve shirt, shredded at the forearm, I’m asked, “What happened to your shirt?” And I retell this story.

Today, cleaning out the closet, I discarded both shirts. But I’ll preserve the memories.

I recently started a project. Sometimes I call it de-hoarding. Sometimes, simplifying. In any case, I’m seriously culling the mass of possessions I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m betting I can throw away, recycle, donate, or gift something every day I’m not traveling — and even some of those days — for a year. For years, I’ve told Jenny, “If it doesn’t fit in panniers, we don’t need it.” Now, I’m acting on that sentiment.

My good friend Dave Trimmer suggested I keep a journal detailing the things I part with. “There might be a good story in there.”

Indeed. I have a closet full of stories. A basement and garage full, too. And several dresser drawers and shelves. Bike rides. Runs. Triathlons. Weddings. Funerals. Graduations. Vacations. Jobs. And even a collision with a logging truck.

I’ll share some of these stories as I go.

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