Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I did it!!

I first learned to ride a bike when I was about 7 years old.  If I recall correctly, my older brother launched me down the street of Hillcrest.  Unfortunately I was given little instruction on how to break and wound up piled in a heap.  I didn't care, I did it! I had successfully made my first bike ride. I was so proud of myself, lumps and bumps and all.

I gave up the hope of ever bike riding again since first being diagnosed with ra. I didn't own a bike at the time but I had always envisioned myself peddling freely about, wind whipping through my hair with my cheeks red from the speed of it all.  For thirteen years I looked on in envy as others would fly past me as I slowly paced the paths in Smoaks, Burbank, Valencia, Edison and finally Wilmington. I couldn't help but brush away a stray tear every once in awhile as I realized what I had lost. Perhaps it was the pain of a fading memory, perhaps it was that I couldn't hold onto the passing time, or perhaps its was just another loss due to ra. No matter the reason, I felt it.

For thirteen years I have wondered if I could possible ride again. Could my ra body allow me the freedom I had so joyously found in bike riding?  Could I possible have the strength of body, the will of soul to climb back on a bike and peddle back into my childhood dreams?

I just had to know.  I was fortunate in that I found a wonderful bike that was up for adoption in a yard sale.  During my friend's recent visit, we went foraging about for fantastic finds on a warm Saturday morn.  There she was!  Her green body, straight handle bars and luscious seat beckoned me.  I quickly claimed her as mine! And for a mere $25.

My friend ever so gently helped me carry her home.  I proudly wheeled her into our garage and inspected her.  Her tires were in great shape. Her body even better. And oh that seat. Not only was it softer then most it was also larger then most bike seats. Perfect for my 54 year old derriere.  Oh how I wanted to hop on her and careen down my driveway out into the world.  But my debut ride would have to wait. My joints just weren't cooperating during those early fall months for my maiden voyage.

She sat.  I would spy her looking at me when I went to do the laundry.  On occasion I would run my hand over her smooth frame in anticipation.  I would gently squeeze her handled breaks in the hope of regaining enough strength.  She beckoned me.  She quietly waited for my body to regain its stamina and courage. She did not judge.  She did not scorn.  She did not ridicule.  She waited patiently.

The day of reckoning arrived.  Slowly the automatic garage door opened.  I felt like I was on a huge stage and the butterflies in my stomach told the story.  I rolled her carefully out of the protective walls, mounted her gingerly and coasted down the driveway.

I carefully turned towards the right and headed out.  The sun beat on my brunette head while I propelled forward.  With no cars in sight, I cranked up the speed a bit.  It was glorious! True, every single joint in my body screamed in rebellion but I cycled on. I made it to the end of the street and even did a u-turn without incident!  It was glorious. Pure and utter determination carried me on that journey.

True, it was a short journey compared to many a cyclist story but to me it was glorious. I accomplished what I set out to do.  I rode a bike again!

Will I continue riding you are wondering?  Not in the real sense of the word but surely I will forever be riding that memory in my heart and in my head. RA has not stolen my determination or my ability to believe in myself but it has taken away the strength in my hands.  My bike needs to find a new home and with an owner that will ride her with pride.  She deserves that!

For me she was a passing friend but one that will forever be remembered as a soul mate.

Number five is now done on my bucket list!

Did I hear someone mention hang gliding on their bucket list?

Please don't ever give up on your dreams. Is there a dream you have that you are accomplishing?  Is there a dream you want to accomplish but haven't? I would love to know how you accomplished this dream with ra or how you plan on accomplishing your dream.

5 comments:

Wren said...

One of my favorite memories is of riding my bike with family and good friends along the North Sea dike in Northern Germany on a clear, sunny day. The only drawback was the wind. It was at our backs on the way out, and in our faces on the way back, naturally... I rode with and in spite of RA, and I loved it.

I'm delighted, Deb, that you got yourself a bike and indulged your dream. Here's hoping you'll have many, many wonderful rides.

As for my own dream... I'd love to take English horseback riding lessons again, but I'm not sure I could manage it anymore. Only one way to find out, though, eh? You're an inspiration!

adrienne said...

Deb, I am so excited for you! I have dreams of riding a bicycle but I live on a hill and fear that once I get down I would not be able to get back up!

I would like to get a bike and a carrier and drive to a park and ride in the park where it is flat.

My dream is to learn to drive a motorcycle or at least a scooter. I already drive jet skis on the water. Maybe you will give me some courage!

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

Wren...your dream brings back childhood memories of riding a horse named Star. We rode together alot. That is not one thing I would try at this point in my life but would love to see you maybe one day fulfill your dream. I use to ride bareback alot. English style was always a bit uncomfortable for me although I did give it a try in my youth :-) Sitting like that made me feel like I was going to slide off the horse. I would love to see each and every one of us still pursue and accomplish our dreams. Even if we have to change the dreams. It is so important we continue to dream.

Adrienne...my neighborhood is flat. I am sure there is no way I could have done hills at all. And yes parks can be a great place to give it a whirl. Maybe you could consider trying to rent a bike first. Sometimes shore areas or resort areas have this option. This way you wouldn't have to spend too much money but you would be able to give it a try first before making the financial commitment. There is a blogger called Dual Sport Life http://midnightflier.blogspot.com that does continue to ride his motorcycle and loves it! Maybe he can inspire you on :-)

The Rheuminator (Jackie) said...

Deb - this was so beautifully written I felt like you took me along on your handlebars! I shared your joy as I read along. I think RA forces us to simplify our lives ... we can choose to consider all we've lost or we can find childlike joy in the things we can accomplish. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.

tharr said...

Deb, how awesome that you did this. I felt like I was there with you while reading this post. I have hung onto one mountain bike that I ride on those special days when I feel up to it. Although those days seem to be fewer and farther in between, I refuse to give it up. I'm so proud for you!

btw, wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.