Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy second bike-i-versary, yellow bike!

Two years ago today, this unsuspecting middle aged woman walked into a Greenville bike shop intending to rent a bike for the afternoon to explore on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. In retrospect, I don’t know what inspired a bike ride or why I picked that specific bike shop other than I liked the name (Pedal Chic), the logo (whimsical yet professional), and the website said the shop catered to women riders.

I had no idea that two-hour spontaneous adventure would lead to a new passion, new friends and new perspectives.

When I returned from my ride that hot June 13 afternoon, I casually asked the women working in the shop about the sassy yellow bike parked out front. I wasn’t in the market to buy; I was just curious. Bikes had changed a lot in the 30 years since I last had one.

It didn’t take long for curiosity to get the best of me. Within an hour, I’d tried a half dozen bikes. But I kept getting drawn back to that yellow one. It wasn’t flashy or sleek. No fancy tires or complicated handlebars.

Before long, I was chatting with the shop’s owner asking questions about gears and brakes on that yellow bike and wondering if it would fit in the back seat of my convertible.
Next thing I knew I was handing over my credit card with no more stress than I would have buying groceries (I typically have angst over any purchase larger than a pair of black shoes). The yellow bike was mine! I resisted the padded bike pants and walked out with only the basics - a water bottle and a helmet.

I hadn't owned a brand new bike since I was a child. The first one I really remember was pink with the sparkly banana seat, a sissy bar, a basket with flowers and tassels on the handlebars. I would speed down the Roslyn Drive hill pretending I’d sprouted wings.
Today, I’m pretty sure I’ve dusted off those magical wings.

With cousin LeDare in Columbus, GA
Whether it’s peddling my yellow bike on the beach at Sullivan’s Island or exploring on a rental bike hundreds of miles from home, my feet hit the pedals and those wings give me a lift, a peace and a daring I didn’t know I was missing.

I’ve packed those magic wings with me to ride and explore in nine states over the past two years. I’ve biked through Central Park; around Lady Bird Lake in Austin; on the shores of two Great Lakes; along the bluffs overlooking Cape Cod; on the Colonial Parkway in Williamsburg, VA; by the Chattahoochie river in Columbus, GA; and along the Grand Canyon rim, just to name a few.

Whether it’s on my yellow bike or a rental, the feeling is always the same once my feet tap the pedals and the wind brushes my face. I can experience my surroundings with a perspective and intensity different from what I’d feel by walking or driving.
With my sister, Bootie, and nephew, John,
at the Grand Canyon

If I’d chosen to explore the Grand Canyon on the big tour bus, I would have missed not only the magnificence of the Canyon’s edge but also sharing the riding experience with my sister and nephew.
If I’d been in a car, I would have missed the quick turn in a small Cape Cod town that led me to a magical beach where I ate oysters as they were being unloaded off the boat.
If I’d been walking, I never would have made it far enough around Lake St. Clair in Detroit to eat the best hot dog ever and chat with the stand owner who was a retired cowboy.
On this bike-i-versary, I will admit to an obsession in  observing milestones. They give me a groundedness to see progress (or sometimes lack of progress) in my life. These observances are more than just a perspective on time, however. They also give me reason to be grateful.
With goddaughter Beverly on the Swamp
Rabbit Trail
Every year, I celebrate the anniversary of the day I started my first job and can be grateful for the people who mentored and inspired me all those years ago. I rejoice in the observance of the day our rescue dog Dixie came to us and am grateful for the simple joy she brings me every day.
On this second bike-i-versary, I can be grateful for many things 
  • the diversity of the travel adventures I never would have experienced otherwise;
  • the healthy habits I’ve gained and the calories I’ve burned from pedaling more than 1500 miles (without padded biking shorts);
  • the depth of life lessons learned;
  • the fun I've had on rides with my cousin, my goddaughter, my nephew, my sister, and numerous old and new friends;
  • the inspiration I have drawn from my new friend Robin, Pedal Chic's owner, who has encouraged me in my bike riding adventures.
So cheers to you, yellow bike! It's been a great two-year ride. 

I think I’ve proven to myself you’re a keeper - just a few nicks and pings along with new brake cables, one new tire and a new chain and a few added necessities like a rear-view mirror, bottle holder and rear rack. Plus, yes, even the padded biking shorts!