Sunday, May 6, 2012
After a week of endless rain, I scanned the skies for any sign things might be looking up. At this time of year the Taiwanese weather is so unpredictable there is really no point in following the forecast. Everyday should be labelled sunny with a chance of torrential thunder showers.
Still, as I scanned the heavens for a sign that the weather might clear up enough for a weekend ride, I saw my chance on Sunday.
As a husband and father I did my time working all week and doing all the fatherly things father types do. I spent three days cleaning the house (houses get really nasty with a baby around) as we are expecting guests.
I spent Saturday outside lavishing attention on my little girl, all for the mere reward of looking into her gigantic, black dewy eyes and seeing them smile back.
On Saturday night my wife went out to spend the evening with friends having fun.
The promise of a full day on the bike was etched in stone. This was a check I could cash.
I set my sights on a loop through Gukeng. I figured some flats and hills in an area that might offer various points of shelter should a menacingly dark cloud appear over the mountains.
I was ready to put pavement behind me.
As I rolled out onto the Highway 3, I felt sluggish, but expected the feeling to wear off once I started to push myself. There was a bit of a breeze and too much haze, but nothing too severe.
I could just imagine stopping at Gukeng for a little local coffee before busting back over Bagua Shan, parched and aching.
Then, in Caotun, I received a text message from my wife saying that out little girl was coughing and needed to go to the doctor. She was hoping I could cut things short and make it home.
Without a moment of hesitation I squeezed hard on the brakes and came to a squealing stop like a locomotive headed for a damsel in distress.
I was soon passing the all too familiar landmarks that have become so routine I hardly even notice them. I was going to get back to my poor little girl and make sure she had medicine. I imagined a race against time like some kind of Taiwanese Iditarod; mushing through gargantuan trials to bring medicine to a community in need. My return home took on heroic proportions in the Walter Mittiest recesses of my mind.
Then, as I came to a stop in Wuer, just a couple kilometers from home, I checked my phone.
There, in the message box, was a short text from my wife that read, "Kit is ok now. She is sleeping sound so just continue your ride."
It was too late. I was mentally finished with my ride for the day.
That is the thing about being a cyclist and a father. The call of the road is loud. The call of the family is louder. We make our sacrifices and happily do so. We happily set everything aside for our families.
The roads will always be there.