The Author

Bicycle Ride

The first bicycle I ever rode belonged to my oldest brother. As a teenager, he had a paper route that required a bike that was sturdy enough to stand up to the rigors of lousy roads while holding a large canvas bag containing the newspapers. After months of riding around on a used bike while saving every extra dime he could, he bought a brand new Columbia bicycle. It was the size of a small country.

For weeks on end, relentlessly, in season and out of season, I begged him to let me ride his bike. It mattered not to me that I had never actually ridden a bike or that it was so tall that my feet wouldn’t reach the pedals. With the confidence born of ignorance, I assured him that riding the bike was no challenge, that I had watched plenty of people do it, and besides, how hard could it be? Like water on stone, my pleas finally wore down his resistance until one day he said, “Just this once.”

We pulled it up against the curb so that I could leverage its height to gain the lowered bicycle seat. I grabbed the handlebars with a death grip while he steadied me by holding the bars and the back of the seat. With a push he said, “Pedal as fast as you can.” I wobbled away from the curb.

For about five feet, everything went well. But, for some reason, as I made the middle of the street, my straight path began to circle, gravity took hold, and the bike made a beeline for the opposite curb. I can still see clearly the faded blue Volkswagen Beetle parked against the curb that blocked my path to the safety of the grass. I can still hear my brother yelling, “Don’t hit the car!”

As I clipped the rear fender of the Bug, the bike came to a sudden stop, sending me over the handlebars into the neighbor’s yard. As I lay there dazed, with a busted lip and bruised pride, I heard my brother say, “Did you hurt my bike?”

A few thoughts, in no particular order. Sometimes, we’re not as important as we think we are. Sometimes, no matter how fast you pedal, you still crash. “Not now” doesn’t always mean “never.” It never hurts to count the cost before we begin the task. Getting what we want doesn’t always mean getting what is best for us.