Climbed back on a motorcycle for the first time in five months — the first time since my left leg collapsed when I stopped at the intersection of Oxford and Locust Street and left the bike on its side and me lying in the street.

After five months of back procedures, therapy and strengthening exercises, I had some doubts as Amy took me over to New River Valley Harley Davidson, where the bike was waiting after some warranty work.

Nervous? Damn right. I felt a small twinge in my lower back as I swung my right leg over the bike and settled into the seat. A dull pain still exists in my lower legs and the experts are starting to suspect that my cobbled together knees may be more responsible for those pains but I had no problem easing the bike up off the kickstand.  I flipped the switch, punched the starter button and the Super Glide fired up easily.  I eased up the clutch and moved out of the dealership’s service entrance — a little tentative at first but then the old familiarity came back as I leaned the bike into a left, then right turn out of the parking lot and down the entrance road to U.S. 460.

At the stop sign, I put my left leg — the one that collapsed in November — down and the old ease and feeling returned. A quick left to the next stop sign and then a right turn and I was on my way through Christiansburg. I found an empty parking lot and put the bike through some practice drills: tight turns, panic stops, quick weaves. No balance problems. At each stop the leg proved strong enough.

A quick stop for gas ($3.69 a gallon for premium) and I was clear of Christiansburg and headed for Floyd on Rte. 8.  The euphoria of riding set in as I leaned through the turns south of Riner and I was completely relaxed by the time I rolled into Floyd for lunch at the Country Store.

Then I headed South on 8 to the Blue Ridge Parkway down to Shooting Creek Road and over to U.S. 221 and on towards home.

Not a long ride but long enough for the first day back. A felt the same twinge in my back when I for off the bike after pulling into the garage but 30 minutes in the hot tub took care of it.

As I sat and watched darkness fall, I realized how good life can be. Regular readers know we’ve gone through some hard times in the last year, starting with my mother’s fall 11 months ago, another fall which resulted in a broken hip and her move to assisted living. Then my back problems surfaced.

But things are looking up. My mother is well cared for by professionals and I see her several times a week. We’ve come through a less harsh winter than the last one and I’ve had some wonderful things happen in my personal life.

Life is good. I’m back and 2011 is looking better.

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