The first bike I had was heavy, rusty, and the tires were made for getting around in the mud instead of racing down the highway. I made it work. Once, I wore the bearings out in the back wheel and had to push the bike back home for a couple miles. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it not for the excitement that always waited just one mile down the road.
There was a long white mobile-home trailer that sat back from the road several hundred feet; a beautiful open yard with well manicured green grass, and two of the scariest dogs I’ve ever been chased by in all my days. One of them was black with a white spot near the neck. This was the one with the crazy eye. The other was brown and shorter but clearly spent some time in the big house judging by the lack of shits he gave when confronted with a grown man easily 5 times his size. Never did I pass that house without peddling for my life. Never.
The house had the one-way benefit of being situated halfway down a steep hill. On the way out, I would come over the top and accelerate quickly down the backside of the hill. I had the surprise element and a great chance of making it before they could get to the road. However, on the way back, I would be in low gear and climbing when I made my attempt. When I finally came past the last tree that hid me from their view, I would be rocking back and forth on the bike violently; legs on fire, and sucking in fresh air like a jet engine. Instantly they would alarm and I would dig deep to turn my mental hat around like Sylvester Stallone in over the top. “Flip the switch!” Well, the switch didn’t always work. Sometimes I ended up off my bike dancing around trying not to get flanked and eaten. It was a humbling experience.
On the Side of the Road
It was with this exact thought that I sat on the side of the road looking at the rear wheel and contemplating my fate. Moments before, the bearings in the rear wheel had emptied out of their shell and scattered all over the road. I came to a screeching halt a half-mile before “the hill.” I laughed a little at my luck and the story that would come out of it. After a short time I knew the show must go on so I stood up and started toward the house. I held the handle bars and started to roll. If you’ve ever heard the sound a train makes when it slams on the brakes, that’s a whisper compared to the sound the bike was now producing from it’s rear end. I might as well just put barbecue sauce on my legs.
My Guardian Angel Looked like Santa Claus in a Chevy S10
It was a slow pace but I marched on pushing the wreckage toward my destiny. The turn in the road where it was about to “get real” came into view and I took a moment to review my plan. I continued moving on and was literally a hundred feet from the fun when I heard one of the best sounds of my life. From a long narrow driveway a white bearded man in his late 60’s rolled to a stop at his mailbox 10 feet from me. He shared the dogs suspicions about strangers on bicycles and sat there for several moments as if trying to understand if he should yell at me, hit me with the truck, or open fire. It took some delicate explaining but I managed to maneuver myself into the back of his truck. As we accelerated up the hill, the wind picked up and I could see those two dogs sitting patiently by the highway. They were just out of view from my inevitable approach. Waiting, Watching, for the sucker that would never come. I nodded my head and smiled a sly smile. I felt like I had really gotten away with something that day.
A Racing Bike for Free
The next week a friend offered me his used racing bike. He said it was just cluttering up his garage anyway. I was elated. I flew to Dallas, Texas, the next day and picked it up. My new chariot rode home to Alabama in the belly of a Continental jet. While the guy next to me sat quietly penning in the answers to his USA Today puzzle, in my mind, I was racing The Tail of the Dragon through the Smoky Mountains on my new “racing” bike. I was out of breath and leaning into the next turn. I was laying it all the way down like a superbike champion. At my house I pulled it from the giant cardboard box and fell in love all over again. It was candy apple red with a super-light aluminum frame. The tires on it were thin and sharp like knives. The special “aerobars” that allowed the rider to lean forward into an aerodynamic position were a perfect fit. If I had been in the mafia, this was like “the hit” that helped me become a “made” man. I finally felt like I was supposed to be doing this. There was one speed limit sign on the country road I trained on and if I peddled hard I could break the law by 2 miles per hour every time I passed it. 27 miles per hour. Whew! I was now a fugitive with a red racing bike. It was almost time for the big showdown.
Next Friday will be the final part to this story!
Thanks for being here. I recently posted a video I made for you. It’s a 3 minute clip that will let you see who’s really writing this stuff.
Get out there and kill it this week. Don’t let your past experiences decide if you are tough enough to make a new start. Everyday is a new life. Find something you want and write it down. Get started. Be that bold person you want to be.
Before you go, have you ever done a triathlon? Do you want to do one in the future but you are not sure where to start? Leave a story here about your race or a question about the triathlon you want to do and we’ll find an answer.
What’s the scariest part of doing a triathlon for you?