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Nothing Beats a Seventy-Two Year Woman on a Very Large Tricycle for Laughs Along the Bike Path!


"When The Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"

“I am woman,

hear me roar . . .

I am strong

I am invincible”

            --Helen Reddy

Last week was a tough week.  The jeep was in the repair shop, and I was left way out on Eel Point with no transportation for six long days and nights.  I did not deal with it in a mature and thoughtful manner.  In fact, I did the antithesis of this. I melted down, I sulked, I whined, and I cried. Instead of using all that at-home-down-time to accomplish many of the things I really needed to do, I was paralyzed.  I watched mindless television, I read junk, I checked my email every few minutes, and I spent countless hours on Face Book. But mostly, I just felt sorry for myself.

Generally, I love to walk, but I am having some lower back, sciatica problems, so I can’t even walk long distances (or sometimes even short distances) right now. This compounded the problem.  Even a trip to the mailbox hurt.  Furthermore, I had to cancel all my appointments with the physical therapist because I did not have a car and couldn’t get there. 

SEE--whine, whine, whine!!!

By the time Thursday came, I was determined to stop sulking and do something.  I had purchased a ticket for an evening of chamber music by The Rossini Club, a young and exciting group of musicians.  The program was coupled with a five course tasting menu by Ambrosia. I really, really, really wanted to go, and I had already spent $30.00 for a ticket.  If I took a cab, it would end up costing me another $40.00 round trip making it a $70.00 evening instead of a $30.00 evening.  So I had a change of attitude.  I remembered Kenney’s old rallying call:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  I decided that I was tough, strong, and resilient, and I could get there on my own. Furthermore, I could do it without spending $40.00 on a cab. 

Now, I knew how to ride a bike when I was ten or twelve, but I am almost seventy-three, and I have have not ridden one for at least six decades.  They say, however, that one never forgets how to ride a bike, so with that in mind, I put on a bike helmet and jumped on one of my grandchildren’s bikes. 

I promptly fell off. 

Replay this scene several times—on and off, on and off, on and off. 

I gave up.  I guess you actually can forget how to ride a bike.

But, since I had decided that I am tough and “when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” I needed a new plan. 

I have a friend who has one of those three wheeled adult bikes, so I called her.  Sure enough, she could throw it in her truck and bring it over. 

Now I was good-to-go! 

I put on my helmet and a black leather jacket.  After all, a black leather jacket is the only fashion statement to make when one as a cool as I am.  I jumped on my big, heavy three wheeler, put my purse in the very large basket on the back, and took off. 

Oh—wait a minute—“took off” is not quite the right image. I couldn’t make it work on grass.  I couldn’t make it work on the crushed up shells in the drive way.  I couldn’t make it work on the dirt road.  So I pushed it and pulled it.  Did I mention, it was heavy—really heavy.  Finally I hit the paved road and the bike path, and everything went well.  OK—marginally well.  There were two problems:   the bike took up the whole bike path—a situation with which bikers on their sleek racing bikes were less than pleased--and my balance, even on a giant tricycle, was a bit precarious.  Furthermore, the bike had its problems to begin with.  It made a terrible noise where the wheel rubbed against the fender, and it did not feel very stable under the best conditions.  In addition, I couldn’t pedal it up hills, so I kept having to get off and walk it.

Now, I can find Greater Light with the car with no trouble, but I had a little more trouble with the bike.  I biked into town, then up main street to the cobble stone street and on to the rotary.  I don’t know if a two wheel bike will ride on cobble stones, but I can assure you that a three wheeled one will not.  So I pushed--much to the amusement of several workmen who were doing construction on the street.  In fact,  during the whole trip—there and back—I road to a chorus of beeps and cat calls:  “Nice ride, lady”---“Nice Bike—Not”—“Trikes are in—huh?” and “You go, girl.”  Cars beeped.  Bikers passed me in disgust. Children laughed, and their parents couldn’t help giggling. 

When I finally made it to Greater Light, I was late.  It had taken me well over an hour and a half to get there—a ride that should have taken no more than fifteen or twenty minutes.  I raced in just before they closed the doors for good, bike helmet and leather jacket in hand, just to discover that everyone was uncharacteristically dressed up.  I got the last available seat in the house!

Relieved, I collapsed into my back row seat, ate, and listened to the beautiful music—all the while checking the window to be sure it was not getting dark yet.  I was longing for a glass of wine. It had been a very stressful ride, but I was actually relieved that wine was not being served.  I suspect the ride back would have been far more fraught with danger had I had one.

The trip home, however, was better.  I took a more direct route, and it was much faster.  An hour soak in epsome salts and very hot water did little to make my legs stop aching, but it felt good nonetheless..  As I relaxed in the tub,  I was tempted to sing the old Helen Reddy tune:  “I am woman.  I am strong.  I am invincible. I can do anything.”

Perhaps getting out and defying adversity paid off.  The next day my wonderful friend Georgia loaned me her car, and shortly thereafter I got word that the jeep was fixed.  While I immediately returned the adult tricycle to my friend and graciously declined her offer to loan it to me for the summer, I was nevertheless pleased with myself.  Despite all the humiliation, I had braved the odds, gotten out there, and achieved my goal.

Now I am wondering if I put training weels on an adult bike if I could learn to ride a bike again just like I did when I was a kid. 

Maybe I will try it.  After all, I am now impervious to ridicule!!