I grew up in a safe neighborhood in a small town during the 1960’s when long summer days were best spent outside.
Our house was on a “Circle,” which today would be called a cul-de-sac, a lollipop-shaped street, with a circle at the end, and nice smooth sidewalks.
Consequently, bike riding was an ideal activity.
Every day I would hop on my Schwinn, proceed down my driveway, turn right onto the sidewalk, gather speed, coast around the circle at the end of the street, then cruise down the sidewalk across the street from my house to the end of the block, cross the street and back to my house. Repeat.
When I became a mom, I put a baby seat on the back of my bike and toted a child. And later, long after the kids gave up bikes, I kept riding for exercise, again blessed to live in an enclosed neighborhood where my route is safe and pleasant.
A few years ago, I had to give up bike riding when I was stricken with vertigo. Eventually, I cured the condition with daily yoga, which I still do, but the memory of being dizzy was still so ingrained, I could not persuade myself to get back on a bike.
Recently, however, I decided it was time to get outside again, and I asked my children for a bike for my birthday. I ended up trading that one (along with an older bike) for a Cadillac of a bike, a sleek black Liv (female version of Giant) with turquoise and aqua flowers…and a bell…and am riding again with great joy and benefit.
I have ridden every day since February with this past week being an exception.
In the dim hours of dawn in the cul-de-sac on the other street in my neighborhood, when I rounded the curve, my front tire started “thump-thump-thumping.”
I stopped and there was (what I later found out to be) a roofing nail stuck in my tire. I pulled it out and of course, the tire immediately started deflating. I was more than a little put out.
In all-too-human fashion, here’s what transpired:
Even for such a trivial matter as this, my first thought was “Why me?” Here I am, I thought, trying to take care of my health, out here at the crack of dawn. And yet, I’m stopped in my tracks when I’m “doing the best I can.”
Then: furious at whoever had left this nail behind, and furious at the nail itself, I thought of throwing it with great dramatic flair into the grassy area between two houses.
Beyond that: I was as far away from my house as it was possible to be in my neighborhood. I would have to walk home, when all I wanted to do was go for a little ride.
I started home, wondering if anyone would see me and come out of their house and feel sorry for me and offer to help. Then I could be noble and say, “No, thanks, I’ll make it.”
Here were the conclusions I reached:
The nail in my tire was not a conspiracy or some bad break I didn’t deserve. You live in the world and things happen. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t the fault of the person who lost track of that one nail. It was the inevitable result of living.
I stopped myself from throwing the nail, because I did not want anyone else to step on it or drive over it. Who knows? By jamming that nail into my tire and then taking it out and transporting it home where I could throw it away safely, I may have saved some barefoot child from stepping on the nail and having to go to the emergency room.
Yes, I was a long way from home, but I am blessed with good health and was thankful I was perfectly capable of walking my bike all the way home.
And finally, the fact is: if I had really needed help and had knocked on any door in the neighborhood, someone would have helped me. Of that I’m certain.
I reached home and called my son, who transported my bike in his truck to have the tire repaired. The bike is back in my garage. And I am back on the road and more vigilant about keeping my eye out for any hazards in my path.
Yes, my first reaction was to “make a mountain out of a mole hill.”
But let’s face it: nobody ever wrote a stirring song called “Climb Every Mole Hill.”