Before leaving school, I’d put a note in a fellow teacher’s room asking for a ride to work the next morning, and would she please call me when she had the chance. Thinking all would be well, I decided that a backup plan was not really necessary, however, I came up with two of them—just in case.
I had decided to leave a note for my roommate before I went to bed, asking for a ride in the morning, but stating that I had a backup plan in place in the event that he would be unable to do so.
Morning came. The phone didn’t ring from my teacher-friend, and my roommate was sound asleep. I decided to use backup plan #2 since I was prepared for the possibility of both my plan and backup plan to not pan out.
I’d ride my bike to school.
It was brilliant, really. I had it all worked out and had convinced myself that this would be a great opportunity for a little more exercise and I wouldn’t have to inconvenience anyone. I could see it already…in fact, I imagined myself flying down the streets with the wind blowing through my hair—my iPod cranking out techno music to carry me all the way to work at the speed of amazing.
I went downstairs to get my bike, which (admittedly) I hadn’t ridden in over a year. To my dismay, both tires were completely flat.
What? I hadn’t thought to check the tires before this, and immediately sent about scouring the area for my pump. Unfortunately, my electric pump was still in my car at the repair shop and after a quick survey about the area, I decided I would instead take my brother’s bike. He did have pegs instead of pedals, but I was sure that I could manage riding it anyhow.
However, there was a problem…both of his tires were flat as well.
I will admit that I was feeling just a bit nervous at this point. I couldn’t imagine the embarrassment of having to call my school to inform them that I would be late and how sorry I was that I had not planned this all out better.
I checked a few more places for my pump and finally found it. Being the little wuss-type pump it was, it took about six million pumps for each tire to finally be filled. By the time I was finished, I felt like I’d just completed a major workout at the gym.
I emptied my computer bag of inessentials and then made ready to go. Already, the front tire of my bike was a bit low on air before I’d even reached the street, and I needed to give it a bit more ‘life.’ Forty pumps later the pavement flying away beneath my tires…I was on my way!
It wasn’t long before I started to feel winded, pedaling up a few hills, and clicking the gears into a much-easier pedaling position. However, my throat was already beginning to burn and the strap of my computer bag—so light a few minutes ago—was pressing up hard against my chest, making it hard to breathe properly.
It wasn’t long before an insatiable thirst seemed to engulf my innards and I was wishing that I’d brought my CamelPak instead of my computer and digital camera—what on Earth had I been thinking?
The helmet I was wearing—the one to make sure I was setting a good example to any student I might have passed when riding by my old (or new) school—was really starting to bother me, and the tie I was wearing seemed to be more of a noose about my neck—slowly choking the life out of me along with that dratted computer bag. However, I couldn’t stop, I’d lose the momentum I’d already built up and there was no way I was going to do that!
As I rode farther, my throat became raw, and the coolness of the morning was starting to freeze my fingers to the handlebars. Why hadn’t I brought gloves? Oh yeah, they were still in my car—at the repair shop.
As the songlist on my iPod blared in my ears, I suddenly came to the realization that I really didn’t like any of these stupid songs…they weren’t making me ride faster as I’d first envisioned, but were really starting to tick me off. Why in the world did I have techno music anyhow? Why hadn’t I chosen an 80’s playlist?
As I rode further, I began to think of all of my friends who WOULD have given me a ride if I had only but asked. Their names came to me like signs I passed on the side of the road. However, I hadn’t wanted to be an inconvenience to anyone.
Why had I been trying to hard to be independent?
After the first few miles, I wanted to stop and rest, but by now I couldn’t. I’d already passed the railroad tracks and was in boundaries of my old school…in the area of my old students. I didn’t want them to see their previous teacher being a wuss and walking his bike, or sitting on the side of the road gasping for life; so I rode on, regardless of the stitch in my side, the rawness of my throat, and that stupid computer which was weighing against my chest like an anvil.
I did pass by a few students as I went through the old neighborhood, but luckily I was traveling quickly enough that they didn’t recognize me before I flashed past them in a blur of blazing pedals and remix songs of Bryan Adams which continued to make me want to scream. As I pedaled faster, I began to get my second wind. By this time, I was coming nearer to my school and sometime between now and Christmas, I arrived on school grounds.
I slammed the brakes to a screeching halt and dismounted—nearly falling to the ground. My legs had turned to string and I felt dizzy. I’d ridden too far, after not riding for so long, carried too much, and pushed myself too hard.
Upon arriving to my classroom, I fell, exhausted into a chair without turning the lights on. I just wanted to sit. Even better, I wanted to fall to the floor and lie there for about a week. I felt totally drained and sweat-laden.
Before I knew it, the school day was set to begin and I had to take on the role as teacher. I took a cough drop, squared my shoulders, and gathered up my students, pretending that nothing out of the ordinary had happened this morning.
I would love to say that after school I rode my bike across town to pick up my car, that I’d once-again conquered the distance and arrived at my destination. But, I would be lying if I did.
I accepted a ride.
Just call me a wuss.
Image garnered from here: http://www.tomichicreektradingpost.com