I used to be a lot more fearful than I am today. I had a chance to reflect on that over the weekend as I rode my bike with G.
First, we came to Credit Island, which was the first place that I gathered my courage to ride with traffic here in the Quad Cities. Riding the Critical Mass in Chicago with hundreds of other riders had emboldened me enough to think I might one day manage to ride on the streets without the wall of bicycles on all sides of me. So when I got back to Rock Island, I would put my bike on the rack on my car and take it to a park in Davenport. From there, I could ride directly on the bike path to Credit Island. It is a quiet road, but still I was terrified when cars and trucks would pass me. I had to ride it a lot of times before I could consider riding other, busier roads.
We crossed the main Arsenal bridge, and I remembered my first time to cross – how I stood trembling, barely able to make myself get on and pedal, so sure I was that I would somehow slip and slide and fall over sideways, getting a head injury on the metal edges that are everywhere on all sides.
We crossed the other, smaller bridge for the Arsenal, and I remembered countless rides across with terror of heights clambering inside my head and twisting my belly in knots.
We did a little sharp u-turn to exit from that bridge to head north-bound on the bike path, and I recalled how I used to have to stop and get off to make that turn, so sure I was that I would fall over otherwise.
We crossed stoplights, and as I properly took the lane for maximum safety, I felt calm certainty inside, rather than the fearful notion I used to have that some driver was probably going to mow me down in a fit of road rage.
I stood on the pedals as we rolled down a big hill, and I remembered the days when I couldn’t even summon the courage to stand on them while riding on flat ground.
The thousands of miles I have ridden my bike since April 2010, when I first purchased Lulu, have been among the most empowering, liberating forces in my life. I would never have gathered up what it took to start running, had I not started with biking. My confidence and competence in all modes of travel – even driving – have been boosted immeasurably by my bike time. My comfort level with my body has vastly improved – I am more graceful, more sure, and that has chip, chip, chipped away at my self-loathing over the years.
It makes me wonder – what physical challenges will the Lord throw at me in the coming year (because YES I believe the bike was a God idea) to continue to stretch and grow me?
May I meet it with gladness and courage, even if only just barely.