Remember when I was riding my bike across the state last week so I didn’t really post a whole lot? Yes. Well. Here’s a story for you.
Background: Every day there were about fifty miles to ride on the tour. Those fifty miles would project you from point A to point B in pretty much the quickest way possible.
However, every day there were also optional routes. And the optional routes would visit more scenic routes: tiny towns, lakes, etc. You’d be adding maybe ten to twenty miles to your fifty mile route on most days, with the option for the century-ride thrown in one day, too.
On Sunday I rode the optional route with my sister, through a stunning lake town.
And we loved it. The route was great, the town was precious, our timing was good.
So, we decided to ride the optional mileage the next day, too. We set out early, turned right outside of the parking lot where the non-extra-mileage folks turned left and proceeded to pedal past a quaint lake and some scenic farms and, wait, it just started drizzling. No, it was raining. No, now it was a downpour.
Hours of rain-filled downpour.
And we were on the shoulder of a gravel-y highway which was supposed to be remote. But! There was a detour on a different nearby not-as-remote highway, so all the other-highway traffic rerouted to the highway we were riding upon. So: way heavier traffic than usual on the highway. In the pouring rain. Up and down hills and around bends. What I’m saying is: visibility and control were reduced for all drivers, whether they were riding upon two wheels or four.
There was one part where one of those semi trucks full of rocks made a turn where I was riding and I was–no joke–mere feet away from a wheel as high as my head and I thought to myself, “Well, well. The end of my life. How about that.”
What I’m saying is: the day was draining and my feet were in swamps of water as my shoes and socks were soaked–along with everything else.
Christine, Josh and I were riding together with about twenty miles left of the day. Josh’s bike pedal wasn’t working and neither were his gear shifters, so he was riding up and down the hills with one speed–highly undesirable. We were tired, wet, and hungry. I had eaten my Clif bar hours and miles before, and I knew I was running out of energy fast.
In the distance we saw a stop for water, and Josh and Christine decided that they would stop. But I had some water left and I felt that if I stopped, without food I wouldn’t start again, so I pushed past, willing my legs to pump, on the lookout for a gas station or a party store or anywhere I could refuel.
So, I pedaled some more.
For another hour, I think.
But all that was around were far-apart farm houses.
At one point I rode past a country-woman walking out to her mailbox
“Is there a gas station around here?” I called out to her.
She looked at me, “A what?”
I get it. I was on a BIKE asking for a GAS STATION. So I said again, “A gas station?”
She paused, thought for a second, and said, “Nope.”
I passed her, defeated.
And then I ran out of water.
And as I climbed the next hill I was like, “God, I need some help here! I can’t make this without some helllllp!”
And my mind was like, “You should have stopped at that last stop. You made a poor decision. You should have thought that through better. It’s your own fault…”
Until I was finally like, “NO! This is not right!” and I prayed, “GOD, THIS IS NOT WHO YOU ARE! I know you! You are slow to anger and rich in kindness and mercy! So HELP A SISTER OUT!”
I was riding on the shoulder of a highway still, miles from any gas station. I was riding way slower now, but all alone. I kept repeating to myself, “Slow to anger, rich in kindness, slow to anger, rich in kindness.” The simple repetition was good.
And then, I saw something in the path. I slowed and stopped.
There, right under my foot, in a place that couldn’t be more convenient, was a singular, individually-wrapped mint lifesaver.
Please, remember, I was miles from any store or gas station. I was off the side of a highway. With a singular mint lifesaver under my foot.
I stooped, picked it up, and looked around for someone to claim it. Of course, there wasn’t anyone around, so I just ate it myself, and remounted my bike with a renewed sense of love and energy.
And, in a few miles, I found a party store where I was forced to choose between honey roasted peanuts and Snickers.
So I choose both.
And I discarded the lifesaver wrapper in the nearest trash receptacle.
Is it right to end this story with, “…and I didn’t die”? I feel like many of my life stories end that way.
But, the moral of the story is: I prayed a quick prayer and was granted the quick grace of a lifesaver, mint, exactly where I needed it and it tided me over when I had nothing left to give.