Saturday, July 22, 2017

"You Must Be..."

"You must be very athletic."

The voice comes from a man dressed in Tour de France biking clothes, who is perched on a sleek road bike beside me. His voice has a tone of admiration and awe.

We have stopped because every few miles the bike trail is interrupted by cross traffic.

Oh yeah, it's the guy I just passed, I think. I passed him on an incline too.

"Oh," I smile inward,  "I have a motor."

His friendly overture vanishes. He says nothing, and when the car passes, he hunkers down and distances himself from the pseudo biker who had him thinking otherwise.

On another day** I am biking up a hill that Tony named Rowley's revenge (named for the man whose house sits almost at the top). After a long bike ride, this hill is an unwelcome sight, more so than a pile of dung in front of your tent door the morning after the first night of camping. It's a soul breaker, as I've seen many a biker walk up this hill. It's the hill Tony accuses me of not pedaling on when I'm on the backseat of the tandem. It's the hill that makes me swear I'm putting my house up for sale, so I never have to ride it again!

No longer. I have renamed the hill Pat's revenge. I shift the battery power mode into the number 4 position and I work just enough to make the exertion pleasant. On this **another day, still working hard (ha ha), to reach the top, my neighbor's friend drives past. When I pull into my own driveway, she is just unloading her car.

"Hi Julie," I say.

"Hi," she replies as she studies the scenario. "It was you coming up the hill." Her voice has a tone of admiration and awe.

"Well, I have a motor that helps me up."

"Oh," She seems disappointed, "you didn't have to tell me."

The question surprises me. I didn't?

 I may appear to be a she-woman, princess of power biker, but I'm not.

The I'm not part would make me uncomfortable if I were to let other people assume I am.

Maybe people want to believe that an almost-past-middle-age woman could pass them on their road bikes, or could breeze up a steep hill. We are always looking for a Jesse Owens, a John Glenn, a firewoman emerging from a burning house with the missing child in her arms. We want ordinary people who defy the ordinary; people who push past the status quo, the couch, to become marathon runners and business innovators. We want heroes...but more than heroes, we want people who tell the truth.

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