Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Day I Was Upstaged By a One-Legged Man

Since before my birth my parents were avid bicyclists. I went on my first bike ride when I was only a few months old. Until the age of 6, bicycling with my parents was a blast. I would sit contentedly in my “bike buddy” watching my Dad's legs rhythmic pumping. As I reclined in relative comfort sporting a be-stickered helmet, I could sip from my water bottle as the world rolled past.

All this changed once I learned to ride without training wheels. At first the rides were pleasant. A Saturday morning leisurely ride to the local bake shop for chocolate croissants. The Sunday afternoon ride to my favorite park. But one Sunday morning my parents decided I was ready for The Ride. My parents rode their bikes to church almost every Sunday. They would wheel them into a back room (my Dad was in leadership at church, so he had keys) and we would change into more appropriate attire before the service started. These rides were great when I was relaxing in the bike buddy. It was a much more daunting affair when I was maneuvering a bike of my own. I just googled the distance, and it was over 5 miles. One way. This might not seem that far, but keep in mind that 1. I was a little child. 2. It was hot. 3. I had a one speed bike. 4. I was only a child!!!

The ride to church was fine, exhilarating even. But as we wheeled out of the church parking lot around lunch time several hours later, it was a much different story. The ride home seemed to go on and on and on. We rode up a steep hill onto the levee. Rode down a steep hill, then up another. Finally I began to sob, begging my mom to stop making me ride. My mom turned a deaf ear to my pleas. Instead, she rode behind me prodding me forward whenever I tried to stop. I whined and cried. She urged me on. This pattern continued for some time. Suddenly, another bicyclist zoomed past us. I glanced up through my tears in time to notice that he only had one leg. I was silent for a moment, as I watched him speed off into the distance. Then I opened my mouth to resume my whining but was interrupted by my mother: “If he can ride with only one leg, you can make it the last mile home without whining. Now Pedal!!”

I think my younger self may have missed the moral this story offers, as I resented the one-legged man for several years after.

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