Dante’s Nose and Railroad Tracks


He looked in the mirror, but was disappointed at the result. The surgeon had assured him that his nose would be beautiful following the procedure. “It’s just a temporary swelling….give it a few days”. Three weeks later he returns ecstatic at his new face and pays the surgeon in full.

As a child, I moved several times usually every nine months due to my father’s job. My mother assured me each time that after a few weeks a new place would feel like home….and to to worry about friends… family was more important. The word “house” or “apartment” in fact, was replaced at about 21 days with the more comfortable “ home”.
Most amputees at about three weeks, develop a new body image and begin to adapt. College students feel more comfortable away at about 21 days. A new habit takes about three weeks to become entrenched.
Repeatedly, three weeks has been shown to be a magic number for any transition in self image or circumstances.
Today as I begin my ride, I approach the 21st day of this trip. I marvel at the change in the way it feels to ride. It’s easier, more fluid, and even rollers in the hills offer little in the way of a challenge.

Suddenly I recall the magic number of three weeks. I have transitioned from someone in training, someone starting a ride, to actually being a long distance cyclist.
The past three weeks have not been easy for me. I think I’ve had more emotional and mental distress than in any of my previous 11 rides. The Pathos at times has been overwhelming.
As a child I was often on a bowling team and learned to draw railroad tracks after a few bad frames… a starting over point…
I begin my ride today mentally drawing railroad tracks and saying I now leave the pain and suffering behind and go forward for beauty, challenge, adventure and fun.
As a sign I pass over parallel interstate lanes leading to my home.

Not much further along I cross the Amtrak line which leads north to my son and south to my home.

Today we intersect with the trans American route which goes from Yorktown to San Francisco. I stand and look at the sign and remember my previous rides and move North towards Maine to repeat the fun.

Just south of Fredericksburg ,my night’s stay , I cross the Amtrak line again and lo and behold see my usual train going home.

Angel and Flossie appear and watch it disappear down the tracks, turn to smile at me and say yes, leave the Pathos behind.