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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

I was determined to not let the whole bike riding to work thing be just a passing fad and vowed that as soon as it was the weather was nice, I'd start riding Bessy to work. The nice weather showed up around here sometime last week. I rode the scooter. It's totally a lame excuse, but if I can't start my week with riding the bicycle, then I'm ruined for the rest of the week. Plus it was the first scooter ride of the season. Sunday rolled around and Michael said that it was going to be 77 degrees on Monday. I then declared that I was riding my bike! I said it with an exclamation point, but I didn't feel that exclamation point on the inside. 

The minute I agreed to ride my bicycle on Monday, I began to doubt myself. I've been walking over ten thousand steps every day, but I am not "in shape". My mind instantly pictured the three big hills that I have to tackle to get to work. Those hills took on a ridiculous incline. I tried to think of the downhill parts where I don't even peddle, but I started to remember those sections as being to short and to far between. What if I couldn't make it to work? What if I did make it to work, but it took me over an hour? Just what if I couldn't do this? Then Monday morning came along and I was still doubting the whole bike riding thing. Michael stepped outside and said "whoa! it's thick as soup out here!". I thought "here's my out!" I could always say that it's too foggy outside to ride. Except I didn't.

I dragged my bicycle out of the garage and headed out into the fog. As I turned the corner to head towards the bike route, I felt the cool air sting my cheeks and my eyes tear. Then I felt an involuntary smile creep up on my face as I coasted through the neighborhood. The stillness of the morning combined with the heavy fog gave the illusion that I was the only person on the planet. Then a car would pass or a person would emerge from the fog to stand at a bus stop and I would remember that I was not alone. I struggled up the hills that I have always struggled on. They were not better or worse than they were when I was riding to work regularly. When I got to work and parked my bike, I noticed something shimmering and sparkling in my peripheral vision. Dew drops had collected on my eyelashes. My cheeks had that rosy crisp air glow and I filled up with a little pride for myself. I suddenly wanted to brag. I rode my bicycle to work. Like this made me special even though I know that millions of people do this every day because it's the only way they can get to work. 

Well, pride goeth before the fall, because my ride home that evening was pathetic. I was so slow. It was like was I only moving just fast enough to keep me balanced upright on the bike. It took me forty five minutes to ride four and half miles home. The next morning was worse. My knees started to ache on my third turn of the pedals. My thighs were burning. My nose was dripping. I wheezed up the first hill. I seriously considered walking up the next hill. I practically whimpered with relief when I finally reached that last section of the ride where I could just coast into the parking garage. I knew my ride home would be excruciating. I thought maybe if I could get out a little early, I could just take as much time as I wanted to get home, but then a miracle happened. Just as I was walking out to the parking garage the sky opened up and dropped buckets of rain down. Michael had to pick me up on his way home from work. When he showed up, he said "What about your bike?" I replied that maybe Thursday or Friday he could just drop me off on his way to work and I'd ride my bicycle home. 

A friend of mine was saying the other day how she's been working out for three years now and she just didn't know if it was doing any good. I can relate. I walk every day. I get on my yoga mat. I hardly ever use the elevator at work and will walk up four or five flights of stairs three or more times a day. I have this idea that I am fit, but when I'm wheezing and pep-talking my way up a hill that idea becomes a very fine piece of china that I just violently threw onto the sidewalk. I have to remind myself that I haven't done this kind of activity in months. I have to remind myself that I am not in any sort of competition with any one and getting to work and back is not a race. I have to remind myself that it is OK to huff and puff. I have to remind myself that it's OK to be a little bit outside of my comfort zone. 

I'll be riding my bike home today.