Cleanliness is Next to Felinity

As amateur athletes, we often struggle to find the balancing point where hobby and the rest of our lives overlap — and that overlap can be both time and financial. Being an endurance athlete isn’t cheap in hours or dollars, and often we get so caught-up in that we miss the bigger picture.

Yesterday my cat/”BFF”, who has been a constant source of happiness in a fairly tumultuous last decade, jumped up on the bed, breathing heavily and acting a little weird. She’s an odd cat, and I associated her behavior with playing with one of the other cats. Fairly soon, it was obvious that this was not the case.

Almost immediately, we were in the car and on the way to the emergency vet. (And I cannot say enough positive about the emergency services at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Clinic.) Over the course of the day, I wiped out my personal savings that I had set aside for my new mountain bike — and it didn’t even occur to me until about 5pm, and when it did, I didn’t care.

For over a year now, I’ve wanted a new Gunnar Ruffian 29’er frame. I’ve been stockpiling parts, sweating over the colors (loving and wanting that Bright White Pearl), and have been saving money toward ordering the frame. Next Friday, the 12th, I would have been ready to make the order. But there was never a thought of not going to the emergency vet. Cost be damned, because a bike can’t give you back the love that a friend/pet can.

So, hours and hundreds of dollars later, it’s been determined that she’s got a blood clot in her leg, and she’s being treated with aspirin and painkillers. There’s still the matter of determining what the source of the clot was, and whether or not she’ll regain use of the limb — more money in diagnostics. The important thing right now, though, is that my best friend is still with me. (And dammit, I’m tearing up while writing this. I thought I was all cried-out.)

She’s my baby girl. Doing what I’m doing at the cost of a new bike isn’t even something that I’m going to sweat. When the day comes that I do buy a new Ruffian frame, it will make the first ride even more special knowing that the wait — whether it’s a year or five years — was worth it. The time with my friend is more a far more valuable thing.

The lesson here is that your family and friends should always come before the bike. There’s no point in being the fastest, the most technically capable, or the strongest, if you don’t have the people you love to come home to afterwards. Never forget that.

(And when I do, someday, get around to buying that Gunnar, I’m going to get it in black, and a decal for the top tube that describes Mooch — “Happy-Go-Lucky”. Call it a tribute bike.)

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