I hopped on a bike the other day for a quick spin through the suburbs.
Actually…”hopped” is a bit too optimistic.
I got dressed, hydrated, found my helmet and key pouch, and pulled my bike into the landing in front of my door.
Looks like I had a flat.
In all of the great “I really should get back on the bike and ride at least one more Texas road,” I had not counted on a flat tire.
Or the spontaneous forgetting how to pump up my presta-valve tires.
Or that my blood sugar spontaneously tanked.
Or that I’d be afraid to ride…my bike.
But once an idea gets rolling these days, I try to go with it – past the fear of failure, looking foolish, or ending up drying out as roadkill in the hot humid Houston sun.
An hour hotter and later, I finally carried my bike down the stairs and onto the pavement outside and off I went on almost-inflated tires and the wobbly after-effects of frustration.
I’m glad I did.
Though later, I realized I’d been so pleased with my instructive courtesy to pedestrians when yelling “bike on your right” that I’d failed to realize that I was always passing people on the left. Texas is not the British Isles by-the-way.
And then there is – to cyclists – the obvious fact that I am a cycling wannabe. I do not – nay – CANNOT use cycling shoe clips. I use the cages that help maximize my pedaling much like they did when I was six years old.
The few times that I’ve attempted to “clip in” have ended in shouts of “TIMBER!” and scrapes to my person. What keeps real clippy cyclist upright at stop – focus and coordination – I do not have on the bike.
Ask, Rhonda, my Kansas cycling partner; there is too much to see when out whipping through the world and those stop signs come up too quick. (I even forgot to stop during my first triathlon and ended up somersaulting over the orange snow fence at the end of the ride when the normal forces of my bike brake interacted with the bike’s forward momentum.)
On my Friday ride, I did see dragonflies (I call them “Evenrudes” – a call out to an old Disney movie which now escapes me.)
I saw families in motion.
Women laughing as they powered on.
And an older gentleman in a pointy woven seagrass hat. He was wearing a “Vote for Pedro” shirt. I laughed and laughed and laughed. So did he.
Reflecting on the ride, it seems the “just like riding a bike” phrase is too easily uttered and feels somewhat dismissive.
There is a lot which goes into riding a bike. More than my wheelies in the parking lot, “no hands” riding, and courage to try something new after a too long hiatus.
Much like the other things we relearn to do: apply for jobs, ask a friend over for coffee, return to grocery shopping in the U.S. after a long trip…driving once familiar roads, “new again” can be overwhelming.
Yeah yeah yeah. Many of the mechanics will prove the same, but we will be changed. And these tasks ahead can prove daunting.
This is when we ask for help.
Kenan, my collegiate son, called right as I was fretting about the bike. He called me when I needed to call someone to sheepishly ask for a presta-valve tutorial. His call was great. Laughter is relaxing. As we talked, I realized without even mentioning the tire to him that I could call up YouTube for help with the tire.
We remember how much fun or joy or satisfaction (or rent money) the thing before us has brought in the past.
I remembered riding with Rhonda and Johanna and how much fun it was to make them freak out by my inattention to the road ahead. How I’ve been called out by a race director who had seen me riding without my helmet and threatened to DQ me on the next race. How I look forward to riding with my aMayesing pals soon.
How the wind feels on my face and save skiing or jumping out of an airplane, riding a bike – even for a few miles in the sweltering sun – feels like freedom.
It is a time for due diligence and hope.
For a brief moment, I was tempted to ride on “flatting” tires. No bueno for the bike nor for me. I wanted to GET OUT THE DOOR and all of the unforeseen delays were wearing down my resolve. It was getting really hot and humid.
I ended up praying for wisdom as I spiffed the tires with my super duper Specialized hand pump. It wore me out, but by then, we – me and my attempt at courage – were almost out the door.
So why not follow through?
And though there are no guarantees, there was a pretty good chance the day would be better served by a sweaty spin around the ‘burbs than folding my hands in defeat.
So glad hope won out.
Though it took me over an hour to stop perspiring like an uncapped fire hydrant and the distance covered was short, the chance to ride was worth the effort.
Because I will remember this rolling lesson which began with an idea and became desire followed by decision, action, challenge, prayer, help, and follow-through.
It will be in my catalog of hope and adventure.
Just like riding a bike.