On Rediscovering My Love of Bike Riding

jefzila (Creative Commons)

 

Over this past summer I rediscovered my love of riding a bike. As a teenager, I went everywhere on a bike with my brother Kevin and our friends Don and John Nelson who lived just down the street from us. The four of us could be seen miles from home riding contentedly as a unit – Lake Accotink, Springfield Mall, St. Bernadette’s, West Springfield High School. We went everywhere together.

Getting reacquainted with my bike took some time. I hadn’t ridden in quite awhile – a few decades even, and those early days of riding again hurt! Padded pants helped, as did pre-medicating with some acetaminophen!  I found out it takes time to make friends with your bike when you haven’t been communicating with each other for a while. Eventually time blesses both the bike and our bodies, and we become one again. If you are giving it a try again, it takes time, so be patient.

Fast forward to today – this afternoon I drove to the State Park at Lake Anna to bike the trails there. When I went to put on my helmet, which I always wear, I discovered I had accidentally left my helmet, gloves and glasses at home. I said a quick prayer that God would keep me safe. I was intent on riding, and, I reasoned, what could happen?  After all, I see bikers every day without helmets, gloves or glasses.

Within the first mile I heard a turkey buzzard flapping just above my head. I had startled it as it was about to land in a tree off to my right. When I turned in his direction, I saw the trees filled with a dozen or so buzzards. This close to Halloween, I imagined what a sight that would make in someone’s front yard as kids arrive for Trick-or-Treating!

Oh, what a day to be on a bike. The cool breezes of early Fall … sunshine all around … a beautiful clear view of the lake. Not another soul in sight since it’s the middle of the week. Solitude chosen – what a gift. Perhaps a little glimpse of heaven.

I decided to ride on two trails I had not been on before. One led to some cabins and the other to a camp ground. The first trail was a quick mile and half or so straight downhill. As I was descending I was simultaneously cringing knowing I would have to pedal that same route straight back up …ugh! The trail to the camp ground was easy by comparison.  When I got to the far end of the trail, I went to straighten out my shorts and realized within a split second that I was about to fall. On my way down, I remembered the lack of helmet and quickly lifted my head so I wouldn’t hit my head on the ground. I am happy to say, although it was close, my head didn’t hit at all. Instead, my hands took the brunt of the fall.  I lunged forward and then ultimately on top of my handlebars which rested in my diaphragm. I rolled over on my back and slowly began to take inventory. I seemed to be alone. Didn’t see or hear anyone react to my spill. I slowly lifted my ungloved hands into view and saw that I had cut them in about ten different places, each with gravel stuck in them. My right knee also hurt so I looked at it and it seemed to have fared very well, praise God. I sat up, brushed my hands on my shirt so the gravel would come loose and then looked at my bike which had also fared reasonably well. The chain was knocked off its gears, but that was easily remedied.

I got back on my bike and continued my ride. Pride badly bruised, hands and legs a little sore, but grateful thinking that I had just dodged a big one. As I rode I realized what a metaphor for life riding a bike is: ups, downs, spills, recoveries, smooth sailing, bumps, and bruises along the way. I love riding my bike.

Riding a bike is also a little bit like our relationship with God. We are one when we ride frequently, regularly … but if time passes, and we haven’t communicated in awhile, it takes time to get back in the groove of our relationship. Eventually time blesses both the human and the conversation, and we can become one again with God. But it takes time, so be patient.

Bless us Dear God as we ride through this life.

I am reminded of a story Sister Marie, the principal of the school where I grew up, once gave to me when I was the Youth Minister of the parish. I have included it here for your enjoyment.

A Tandem Ride With God

I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal. I didn’t know just when it was He suggested we change, but life has not been the same since I took the back-seat to Jesus, my Lord. He makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at break-through speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it often looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!” I was worried and anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared”, He’d lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says… “Pedal.”

(Author unknown)

Peace friends,

Chuck

 

 

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