Enjoying the journey (aka, look mom – no hands!)

25 09 2016

I learned to ride my bike with no hands, today.  I also braved an overpass descent with no brakes.  I consider these significant accomplishments, given that I’m the complete opposite of an adrenaline junkie (rather, more a lay on the couch with my head in a book junkie).

Even better, I achieved the no hands skill badge while coming up on my favorite part of the ride – the span of bridge high above a winding stream in what feels like the middle of nowhere (but is actually pretty close to smack dab downtown).

2016-09-02-10-01-20While taking a water break and looking down at the stream, I realized something – I was out there enjoying the journey.  That’s another significant accomplishment.  Because, as a child, pretty much the only way I could be coerced onto a bike was with the inclusion of an ice cream stop on the route.  In addition to being the opposite of an adrenaline junkie, I was also the opposite of an athletic child.

That’s not to say I didn’t try – I did – gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, tennis lessons, miles of swimming laps, mastering a jumping front dive and a standing back dive (HUGE for me!).  Pretty much anything my mom (a YMCA swimming teacher) could sign me up for at the Y, I was in. I just sucked at sports.  My heart was never in it, and I didn’t have the reflexes.  I had a doctor’s note for the grade school president’s fitness test (bad knees).

So, it was probably a shock when, choosing classes for college, I signed up for Air Force ROTC.  I know the cadre looked at me and gave each other the “wtf” look.  But, of the 55 freshmen that showed up for the first day of training, only 6 made it all the way to commissioning.  I was one of them.  In those four years, I ran, I jumped, I completed obstacle courses and learned to repel, I maxed out my sit up points on the fitness test… I even completed a sprint triathalon.

And then I graduated, and was stationed in North Dakota.  It’s cold in North Dakota.  And when it’s not cold?  Mosquitos.  Seriously, never have I encountered so many mosquitos.  So, no more running, no jumping, I didn’t even touch a bike for well over a decade.  Probably two.  And, we know how that ends… about double my military weight.  Not only did I gain a husband and two children in North Dakota – I gained a whole other me of weight.  Yah.  Nice.

So, I learned to ride my bike with no hands today.  And I looked out over the stream from the top of the bridge.  And, during the whole 23 miles, I absolutely LOVED feeling strong and skilled and balanced.  And, not once did I think about stopping for ice cream.

My weight has been plateaued since July, but on that bridge I realized – I really don’t care.  I’ll get there, in due time.  People often ask me if I feel different without the weight (I’m down 85lb now from my highest point).  Of course I feel different physically, but mentally, not so much different – more like I’m recovering who I used to be.  That ROTC gal has always been inside of me, and she’s always been pretty bad ass.  But even she couldn’t ride a bike with no hands.

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