My wife is the cyclist, I just took it up about a year ago to hang out with her and drop some lbs. She’s pushed me pretty hard, thought I was gonna puke a few times, but I somehow found some inner strength… no doubt the reserve tank of pride and ego, to finish each ride.
Of all the times we’ve ridden I’ve never been first unless you count the downhill parts only, but I’ve never been dead last.
I found myself in California early on a Sunday morning straddling an ole and heavy bicycle, relatively speaking, and having not been on one in months. We planned for a short ride with an older group of riders that promised to be a leisurely jaunt, what those in the bicycle world refer to as “a recovery ride”.
The group had about thirty riders, fit folks, that were humming south along Pacific Coast Highway around twenty-three miles an hour between red lights. Then we turned left… We were about fifteen miles out when I realized I was in trouble.
You don’t have to get too far due east of the Pacific Ocean before you run into what they called “hills”. I’m no geography expert, but I know the difference between hill and mountains. Those were straight up mountains… and yes, pun and sarcasm intended.
The ride that by this time left me feeling like I’d been trapped in an evil plot had one catch in my favor; it was also what those lunatic bikers called “a no drop ride”. That means once they get a fool who has no business being out in the middle of nowhere on a bicycle they won’t just leave them to the vultures.
By the time we were beside the beautiful mountain lake and climbing the other riders, including my wife, had gone from moving dots on the horizon to having disappeared like the dinosaurs. My arms were tingling and the burn from lactic acid had seared my legs. I was gasping the thin mountain air in chunks. Riding high was a memory.
By the time I reached the graded turnout on the two-lane mountain road the entire group had finished their snacks and were waiting for me; the last rider on their “no drop ride”. Some of them tossed me angry looks like a pitcher does a fastball.
I’ve strived to be first all my life, have a few times, but that day in Southern California was the first time I’d been dead last…
The verse from Matthew “Who is last will be first and who is first will be last” rolled around my head faster than my wheels were spinning. It’s harder to lose than to win. Pride comes far easier than humility, yet we can’t begin to please our Father until we can grasp true humility.
“I’m sorry”, I grunted to the leader of the ride who had circled back to ride and literally push me up the hills.
“No worries, just try to enjoy the ride – I got you,” he said without a hint of irritation or pride.
That guy doesn’t grasp the depth of the lesson he reminded me of during this ride of humility.
“Thank you,” I huffed with pure sincerity.