Be Strong and Move Forward

Yesterday I had to ride my bike about 10 miles in the rain. For some people a 10 mile bike is no big deal. Usually I can do it without any problems. But in the rain? That was tough.

Before moving up to the pacific northwest I sold my car. The goal was to simplify my life and stay in good shape by riding my bike everywhere. Those goals have largely been achieved. Not having to get into a car to go places is quite liberating. Thankfully in the small town we moved to everything is nearby.

Every Wednesday, I tutor a teenager in Algebra. She lives approximately 7 miles from me.  A bus stop that will take me to her house is about 3 miles away. To get to her place I ride my bike to the bus stop and then take the bus the rest of the way.

Getting back is the hard part. The bus stops running by the time the tutoring session has ended. The result is that I ride my bike 7 miles in the dark every Wednesday evening.

For whatever reason, call it providence, the famous pacific northwest rains have been absent on Wednesdays. Yesterday was the very first time I had to ride my bike home from tutoring in a heavy downpour.

I learned something profound about riding a bike long distances in the rain. It sucks.

Actually, as I was trekking home I realized that doing almost anything in the rain kind of sucks. You’re wet, you’re cold. Its gray. Your clothes get heavy. Water gets into your eyes and turns them red.

Sure, taking a light stroll in the rain is alright. Stomping in puddles for a spell can be enjoyable. But doing something serious, really exerting yourself, when its raining, is a bummer.

So there I was, pumping my legs. Up a hill, down a hill. Cars go whizzing by. When the road is wet, the bike tires kick up dirty street water. You can see the brown, thick drops floating through the air, and splash!, right on your face.

All I kept thinking was “Just want to get home. Just want to get home. Just want to get home.”

Usually I meander up hills. I put the bike in a low gear and take my time. Not yesterday. The rain made me desperate. I kicked the bike into high gear, stood up on the peddles, and jammed. My legs burned. I was sopping wet.

The home stretch to my house starts off with a big downhill joy ride. When I get to the massive downhill, I know I’m ten minutes from home. The road was wet so I rode the breaks more than I usually do. The heavy rain ruined this part of the ride for me. Usually its celebratory. Yesterday it was an obstacle.

“Just want to get home. Just want to get home. Just want to get home.”

Five minutes from the house I cruised through the quaint downtown district. Generally I ride slowly on the sidewalk through downtown. The bike lanes are almost non existent on the downtown street. Yesterday, I rode on the street with the cars. The car drivers seemed none too pleased about it. Dirty looks from commuters didn’t exactly help my state of mind.

The final three blocks are on a slight uphill slant. I had ridden harder than I normally do and was feeling pooped. For a second, the thought of getting off my bike and walking went through my mind. But no, I’m not a wuss, I had come this far, I had to finish the darn thing.

Three more blocks. “Just want to get home. Just want to get home. Just want to get home.”

Finally, I got home! I opened up the door and the smell of garlic and rice perfumed the air. My wife took one look at me and said “Ohhhhh baaabbbbyy” in very sympathetic way. I must have cut quite the pathetic figure. Wet to the bone. Red eyes. Sad. Tired. Relieved.

I peeled off my clothes and took a long, hot shower. So happy to be home.

After reflecting on my ride last night, I’ve come to the very cliche conclusion that life is much like riding home from my tutoring session.

Sometimes the skies are clear and the ride is enjoyable. Effortless. The air is clear. The evergreens are picturesque. Life is good. Life is fun.

Sometimes the skies are gray. The wind is blowing against you. Dirt is spraying you in the face. You’re burned out and you just want to go home.

No matter the situation, there is only one solution. You put one peddle in front of the other and you keep going. You grind up the big hills. You relax on the downhills. You focus on your goal and keep going until you achieve it.

You can either keeping moving forward or you can give up. But if you give up, you’ll never reach your warm house, where a beautiful person, good food, and a hot shower awaits you.

However your life may be going, you just need to set that alarm clock early, get out of bed and do the best you can.

Wake up, read the news, take a shower, eat breakfast, work hard, watch a show, spend time with your loved ones, do some reading, do some writing, do some thinking, do some hugging, do some kissing, do some dancing, do some reflecting, be happy, be sad, and repeat.

Put one peddle in front of the other and keep going. That’s all you can do.

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