O Lord, when Hubby and I first rode our new tandem, we nearly took out our neighbor’s trash cans. He wasn’t perfect then and isn’t now. And unlike Daisy, I don’t always “look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.” But OMG, thank You for 17 years and 5,500 miles of mostly fun cycling together without a crash.
Each year, taking our first tandem bike ride, Hubby and I huff, puff and yell at each other to keep pedaling — and that’s just getting out of the driveway.
In spring 2019, however, we had put on major pounds. Dogs that normally pursued our bicycle built for two didn’t bother. Their snores said, “I’d get more challenge out of chasing a parked car.”
Spring 2020, we decided, would be different. Or did Hubby decide? Whatever — I admit all those stay-sane-during-quarantine walks made us fit and ready to ride.
Hubby services and washes the bikes. Buys new helmets. Fires up his cyclocomputer that records mileage, speed, and number of bugs encountered and swallowed.
Despite lighter traffic than usual, we face certain risks. The above-mentioned dogs might supplement their diets with an ankle or two. Some drivers believe bikes are imaginary. Occasionally, a crazed farmer tries to flatten us with his field planter. Maybe his girlfriend named Daisy dumped him, and he’s hated bicycles built for two ever since.
Still, Hubby and I take to the road.
As we pedal out of town, Hubby supplies most of the power. He also steers, changes gears, brakes, and does maintenance.
Me? As we approach stop signs, I proudly exhibit an innovation: hand signals. Correct, most of the time.
Impressed? Hey, I fill water bottles, too.
Zooming along Hoosier country roads, we spot landscape changes. A new house has sprouted. Young trees have grown. On the familiar route, I notice one homeowner’s switch from planting red geraniums to peach-colored.
“It’s great to be on the bike again,” I yell.
Hubby nods, mostly to keep bug-swallowing statistics low.
After several miles, though, a repressed truth returns full force: we are fit, but that does not mean the bicycle seats fit. A month will pass before our um, muscles, adjust — or total numbness sets in.
Plus, seduced by sunshine on this “perfect bicycling day,” we had ignored the wind’s powerful gusts. With the west wind behind us, we might eat lunch in Pittsburgh.
Then we turned.
Now, with the crosswind, our bike almost flew to Pittsburgh.
Still, even the last gasping miles of our return couldn’t detract from the green rivers’ flowing loveliness. From intoxicating apple blossom and honeysuckle fragrances. From glorious redbuds, as if God had tossed His favorite bouquets to us.
Yes, this first ride is different, and not just because we’re in good physical shape.
In spring 2020, we’re learning to live in the moment. Beauty bursts our hearts with gratitude. We’re extra thankful for health and strength to ride.
More than ever before, we are fit to enjoy it.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you spent more time outside during quarantine?
Three little words.
We’ve all heard them: word trios that drop on our heads like clusters of miniature anvils.
- You are overdrawn.
- The IRS called.
- What’s our deductible?
- Congratulations! It’s quadruplets.
Dress for exercise.
Dress for exercise?
“Lifetime Fitness Awareness is required for everybody,” my college adviser insisted.
“But I’m already aware,” I whined. “My knees crack and I injured my back reading the newspaper. Why should I throw away perfectly good money to find out what I already know — my abs of steel are flabs I conceal.”
She gave me a sympathetic look, but said nothing.
At the first session, I felt encouraged. Our instructor, a Nice Young Man (over-50 translation for hunk), prayed at the beginning of class for health and well-being. A Christian college has its advantages; I could use Divine help, especially since one glance told me I was at least 10 years older than any of my co-sufferers.
He prayed, his voice full of compassion.
Then he proceeded to kill me.
“Okay, everybody, let’s hit the weight room!”
Weight rooms exist for football players. Olympic medalists. Japanese wrestlers in loincloths.
I don’t even like to swimsuit shop.
As we filed into the weight room, young men with biceps the size of hams gave us polite smiles as each hoisted half a house above his head.
I stared at a machine.
I refused to be defeated by a lower species. I grasped the machine’s cold, skeletal limbs and yanked them toward my chest. The machine fought back, but with grim determination, I conquered my opponent. I had nearly completed a whole set when the instructor interrupted me.
Would I please stop wrestling with the equipment rack?
He stuck close after that, introducing me one by one to various torture devices: machines that
- bent my biceps,
- pulled my pectorals
- decreased my height
- reversed my elbow direction.
“Can you believe it?” I asked my adviser later, after describing my brush with death by machinery. “We spent the last class session talking about managing stress. I’ll tell you about stress. Taking ‘Slow Execution 101.’”
My adviser looked up from her schedule of classes. “You’re mistaken,” she said. “That course is required next semester.”
What exercise horror stories are you trying to forget?