I was biking a pretty tough trail, back when I had a hard tail. (I am talking about my bike, not physical conditioning.) I had noticed previously that my rear tire was slightly askew. The axle had bent and it resulted in the tire sitting at 5 degrees lilt. The tire rubbed the brake for awhile and slowed me down, but I set the brake off to the side to compensate after it rubbed it for awhile. I was bombing downhill, but when I had to pedal, I noticed the gears didn’t shift quite right. I quickly adjusted the derailleur just enough that it would switch gears in a pinch. The pitch of the tire messed up the balance of the bike. I had to lean a little to the right.
I had decided that it was better to go ahead and ride the bike out of the woods. I noticed the problem after a 5 mile climb and felt like I earned the downhill plummet. I figured that the wear and tear would be minimal and repairable. The risk would be that I would have to replace tire, brake pads, chain, gears, etc. The trick, I told myself, was to ride enough that I enjoyed it and not too much to ruin the bike. The problem was that there was no way to tell how long that would be.
My life has been like that descent as of late. I trudged quite a hill the last few years. I have lost a business, a career, a home, a wife, my kids, friends….etc, etc. I pedaled and pedaled. I was afraid to stop. I was afraid to keep going. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breath. So, I pedaled. There were false peaks along the way. Id think I had seen the worst of it, and the trail would magically re-pitch and I’d have to put my head down and climb some more. I had decided to ignore the feeling that I had finished the climb and just pedal until I dropped.
I met a wise old coot along the way. I paused to listen. I absorbed the information. It was then that I looked around and saw the problems with the bike. I couldn’t really stop, but I could make adjustments on the fly. It felt funny beneath me, but it was better than nothing. I passed person after person. I heard declarations of admiration, love, hate, hurt. I kept pedaling.
My tire was off balance. I couldn’t seem to maintain the course I had planned. My education and experience weren’t important in the eyes of employers. I had a check mark next to my name and it seems to blind others to anything else on the page.
My brake was rubbing on the tire. I tried to move forward, but was held back. Judgement and condemnation followed me everywhere. The idea that I could possibly change was dismissed. The harder I pedaled, the more the rim rubbed the brake pad.
If I tried to alter my course of the intensity of the struggle, the derailleur wouldn’t switch gears. I tried different approaches to the same problem. I tied to alter how I expended my energy, ignoring the cacophony of mean spirited voices.
The adjustments worked and I have continued to pedal. As I ride on, I wonder how long I, the bike, can last without being ruined. I block out the evil voices (most of the time), and pedal on. I focus on each pedal stroke without worrying about the hill (some of the time.) I long to be whole 9all of the time.)