Taking baby steps

I used to love riding my bicycle when I was younger. I rode almost every day. One time I rode too far away and down far too busy a street and then came home to find my mom standing angrily in the driveway…and my bike taken away from me for a while.

After she gave it back I still loved to ride. But after a while I started to notice a nagging pain in my left leg whenever I rode. I tried to just work through it but the pain became too much to bear, so I went to a doctor. The doctor put me through a series of tests and found that I had a benign cyst on my femur. The doctor offered to do surgery to remove it but thought that the surgery might be worse than just living with it since it wasn’t malignant.

The only trouble was that it kept me off my bicycle. The less I rode, the weaker my legs got and the less I was able to do other physical activities that I enjoyed. I couldn’t run or play basketball or (attempt to) dance without getting out of breath. It was partially because I was asthmatic, but the weakness in my legs made my heart and lungs work much harder to compensate for the lack of strength.

A few days ago I was walking through the garage looking for something and I can swear I heard a bicycle whispering at me.

“PSSSST! Where have you been? Isn’t it about time to get me out for a ride?” it seemed to say. “I’m tired of being all cooped up in here!”

So I got it out. I got a few feet down the street and discovered that the tires were messed up. Now this could have been the perfect excuse not to ride, but instead I went back and borrowed a bicycle from my mom.

I got on that bike and rode it through the neighborhood. But because of the pain I was in and my difficulty breathing when I saw home again after going in a circle through the subdivision it felt like the finish line at the Tour de France. I didn’t ride very far, but I was able to achieve a small victory. And maybe that small victory will enable me to push myself to go just a little farther next time. And a little farther the time after that.

Clearly I will never win the Tour de France, and it was never really a dream of mine anyway…I always thought of bicycling as a non-competitive hobby and maybe a means of transportation in certain areas. But I can savor a small victory.

Now I don’t know if I can put my finger on it but I think something about that very minor achievement gave me a tiny boost of confidence that I sorely needed, and it might just ripple through the other aspects of my life.

Addendum: After discussing my experience with my mom, she said, “Thank you! I thought I was the only one who couldn’t pedal that bike! I thought it was just because I was old!” Apparently there is a problem with this bicycle and it shouldn’t be this hard to ride, even for me.

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