Gathering Gumption


About this time last year, I decided to participate in the Chicago’s Bike the Drive. This is a city-wide, 30 mile, bike ride down the popular street, Lakeshore Dr. They shut down the entire road to cars and it is a major inconvenience for most non-bikers.

But it looked like fun. So I signed up last minute, about a week beforehand. That week I rode my bike to all my errands to see how far I could go, how long my stamina would last and the results were pathetic. The farthest I went was about 22 miles but 11 miles in each direction and hours in between and after each leg I was wiped.

I began to get nervous, would I be able to make it the entire way? I had previous commitments later in the day, so I knew I had a limited amount of time to ride.

Now if you read my previous post, you know that I had been biking on my 40 lbs beast of a commuter bike, now while that would have been welcome, I was not confident that I would complete the route. Danny recently had purchased a road bike to replace another bike we got from a pawn shop (that replaced the Hercules bike, when it finally was no longer trustworthy), and he offered it to me for the event since he wasn’t able to make it.

His new bike was a breeze, I could easily pick it up and carry it up the flights of stairs to our apartment without huffing and puffing. I readily took him up on his offer.

The day of the ride was perfect, the air began cool and crisp, but the sun rose from Lake Michigan’s horizon and promised a beautiful warm and sunny morning as the hours passed. I started my GPS and attached it to my handlebar bag, and began my journey.

Since becoming a teenager, I hadn’t ridden a bike for pleasure it was merely to get from point A to point B when a car wasn’t available. This was the first time, in years, I rode just to ride, to enjoy the journey.

The numbers zoomed through my GPS, I was going faster than I ever anticipated I could ever go. I saw and experienced my surroundings in a new and exciting way. I even found a cycling buddy who after half the route mentioned to me, “You are a strong cyclist.” I don’t think he knew how much that meant to me and how much I worried about being accepted in the biking community this impermeable group I wanted to join but didn’t know how.


I finished that ride feeling reborn. I finished those 30 miles (+ a few more) in less than two hours, and I knew that I could do something that before was unattainable but now was reachable. I never knew I could bike that far, but then again, I never actually gave it chance.

So now I have a crazy task ahead of me, and you know what? I am going to try.


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