The temperatures have been absolutely fantastic around here lately, so my desire to ride my bicycle outside has been overwhelming. Most days, I don’t get off work till 5 p.m., and it’s dark by 6 so I’m lucky if I’m able to squeeze in half an hour outside. (I have an indoor trainer, but I hate it. Five minutes on it seems like 30, and it scares my dogs.)
But Saturday morning, when I took the dogs out, it wasn’t raining. It was overcast, but it seemed the rain might hold off a while so I decided to plan a ride across town. I called a friend and told her I was coming over. “I’ll see you in 45 minutes to an hour,” I said. (And because my friend is a mother, I also had to text her my route and my blood sugar.)
And one hour, 11 minutes and 29 seconds later, I coasted into her driveway. Her house is all the way across town, (but in actuality, it’s only 11.59 miles from my apartment.) I stopped briefly once to catch my breath after an incline, and I stopped once more to check my route after missing a turn. But I made it, regardless of how long it took me.
I’ve ridden more than 12 miles before, but not on real roads with real traffic and real elevations. Not with a great pace being interrupted by a red light. Not with an old lady nearly side-swiping me at an intersection because she was completely oblivious to my existence. And definitely not across town, across an interstate overpass and through two major intersections. It was quite possibly the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done, which seems so trivial considering how insignificant of a feat it was. But it felt so rewarding when I pulled into my friend’s driveway.
At one point during the ride, I felt like a cross between Texting My Pancreas and the Little Engine That Could as I repeated “you CAN do this” out loud to myself. And I’m pretty sure during part of the ride, you would’ve passed me had you simply been walking next to me. The thing is, I didn’t really care. For the first time, I didn’t care what I looked like riding. I didn’t care if I was moving slowly or if I was out of breath. Mostly, I didn’t care because in a few more months, I won’t be as tired or as out of breath. And in a few more months, I will laugh thinking about the time I was so proud of 12 miles. And if I felt that rewarded after a small trek, oh how the tears will flow after a century (which is my ultimate goal.)
I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’m scared. I’m nervous and some days, I think I’m crazy and that I can’t do this. But last week, I gave everything regarding this ride to the Lord. I handed the entire thing over to Him: my training, my blood sugars during rides and my fundraising. I know I can’t do something of this magnitude on my own. I’m far too weak. And when I finish, I will give God all the glory.
Before each ride, I pray. I ask for safety and I ask God to take control of my riding and my route. I ask Him to give me strength when I feel like stopping, and I ask for protection in regards to the roads and to my blood sugar (which I have a lot of trouble with when riding.) So when I coasted down the last hill outside my friend’s neighborhood, tears filled my eyes. I had done it. No, it wasn’t a marathon or a Race Across America, but it was a first, and a big one for me. As those tears fell, I smiled and repeated John 3:30 aloud, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
Yes, I realize this was a baby step in my riding journey, but I’m considering it a little triumph. And what I felt when I finished made every hill, every tired breath and every aching muscle worth it. I cannot wait to see where my bicycle takes me (literally and figuratively.)
disclaimer: I would not be attempting any of this without the encouragement of several people, especially @mod4acure, @rharmstrong77 and @jeffmather! Thank you friends!