People tell me I have no business riding my bike around town. At age 77, I’ve been hearing this for over 20 years.
What these well-meaning advisors don’t know is, I didn’t even own a bike until I reached my senior years. Like many enjoyable hobbies, we wait until retirement to dive into adventures we’ve always looked forward to.
I pick trails through nearby wooded areas. These are especially relaxing at the change of seasons. I also like to ride through my neighborhoods. These are best visited during holidays.
No matter the season, people in my community love to dress their homes to reflect Christmas, Thanksgiving, even St. Valentine’s Day. Most fun-filled rides are when the Halloween spooks sparkle and swoop down, connected to electronic switches purchased from the big box stores.
Riding does have its disadvantages. When walking, we often have opportunity to stop and chat with a neighbor. This may not happen as we are pedaling by their houses.
There are those who consider prayer walks a meaningful and important ministry. Walking leads to personal reflection and a time to connect with God and others.
Connecting with others might be more challenging on a bike ride, but the chance for seeing a new friend or distant neighbor is greater with mileage gained on the bike.
I love bikeathons. A review of bikeride.com showed over 90 cycling events already scheduled worldwide for the year 2023, with most being in the U.S.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship North Carolina coordinator Larry Hovis traveled across the state to raise funds for our Welcome House Ministry. What a great idea for a fundraiser as well meet many new people and lose weight!
I have taken a tumble from my bike on several occasions. I distinctly remember each time I have fallen, ending up with scrapes and bruises and a dented fender. These usually were the result of bad decisions. For example, turning on to a busy road without benefit of a bike lane, distractions while steering or just a clumsy wrong turn. Life is like that.
The first time was Memorial Day weekend, about 20 years ago. I was near a park with only an occasional car approaching from the opposite direction. I speeded up my pace and hit a rocky patch on the path. Down I went ending up with scraped knees and both hands stinging from embedded gravel. I should have known better. The road was twisting and turning with several elevated stretches along the way.
As I reflect on that day, I am reminded of Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist. He proclaimed to his followers and students, “The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3:5,6 NIV).
I don’t want to take verses out of context, but I can certainly see a connection between bad decisions with my bike riding and the promise that God will lead our hearts into straight smooth places during life’s journey.
A few years later, I was traveling faster than I should as I approached an intersection with a stop sign. My speed caused me to bump right into the front end of a shiny Toyota. The driver must have stomped his brakes full force. Even though I was nose-to-fender, I was unhurt. I think the driver must still cringe when remembering that careless bike rider from years ago.
This was a simple lesson for me to learn. Jesus’ admonition to love others as you love yourself would include driving safely and courteously even when we are late for a destination. We would also do well to consider the consequences of rushing past people.
As for me, I keep an eye out for “stop signs” ahead in other contexts as well.
Is there a co-worker approaching that could use help or an encouraging word? What about children and older students who meet us at an intersection of confusion and hard questions about school? I find one of the best ways to slow down and help others is through tutoring children in an afterschool program. After all, who can rush through long division?
More recently, I took my bike out on a beautiful autumn day only to discover a flattening tire and no handpump. Thankfully, I was close enough to walk my bike back to my house.
We all run out of air at times. I know I need to “pump up my tires” with regular study of the scriptures and prayer. It also helps to spend time with friends who can refill our need for fellowship with kind, good and patient people.
When I keep these habits in mind, I can get back on that less traveled road and enjoy the beautiful life God has given me.
A retired Associate Professor Emerita at East Carolina University, Brown serves as a deacon officer at Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, North Carolina. Along with bike riding, she enjoys reading and tutoring children.