Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike Lessons

A lot of life's lessons come to us in the form of metaphors. The first time many of us learned that positive thinking and determination are the biggest element in overcoming life's obstacles is when one of our parents read the words "I think I can, I think I can" coming from "the little engine that could."

Principals and behaviors that work in small circumstances many times transcend into being applicable to life's more extreme or complex circumstances.

With that I would like to present to you some of the lessons I've observed as the result of the bicycle riding I've been doing these past few weeks. These might seem rather cliché but they are sound principals that are scriptural. At this point I haven't connected them with "chapter and verse" but I will. When I do I'll use that association to help me in my Christian walk.

Get On & Go
I maneuver the bike off the carport and moving the right pedal counter clockwise into its starting position. Then comes the moment when I throw my leg over the frame and transfer my weight back onto the seat and make the first rotation of the pedals. My bike ride begins. I move out of my driveway with the optimistic belief that I'm going to enjoy a nice trip around "The Grove" and return without having any problems along the way.

I might have been sitting on the couch thinking about going for a bike ride all day. But before that first pedal push it meant nothing. My faith and desire to go for a ride was meaningless nothing until I actually got on the bike. Without action ideas have no substance. The most important step in any journey is the first one.

Gear Up For Tough Hills
Going downhill is really easy and a lot of fun. I can pedal in a low gear (by low I mean a low number on the gear indicator) but don't necessarily have to. My momentum keeps me going. But as I look ahead I can see a hill coming up. I know that when I get to the beginning of that incline I'm going to have to go to get over it. I shift into a higher gear that provides some power pedaling and builds up some speed with which I can go into the hill.

In life things can seem to be going smoothly. You can be cruising doing everything right almost effortlessly but there's a hill up ahead. If you can see the tough times approach you can get ready for it by being as intense in the easy times as you need to be on the hills. Of course a lot of the times you don't see the hills on the horizon. That means you should never let your intensity or efforts in life become too lax or careless. Stay strong; you never know when you will need the momentum.

Keep Pedaling
Although I push hard in a lower gear as I'm going downhill because I see an incline coming up; inevitably I have to start working on getting up the hill. The momentum I gained is soon used up by friction and getting up the hill becomes a bit difficult. I'm slowing down, so I shift into the easiest gear and pedal as best as I can. I may slow to a crawl but I keep going. I set my eyes on a goal close me, a landmark, instead of the top of the hill. I tell myself to keep pedaling until I get to that goal.

When I get there I pick another until I've conquered the hill. Setting my sights on immediate goals is helpful but the most important thing is to keep pedaling. When I think of doing this I remember the advice of my favorite Disney character, Dory, from "Finding Nemo": "Just keep swimming." Walt Disney, himself, always said "Keep Moving Forward". The Apostle Paul urged us to keep running the race. On a bike this principal would be "Keep Pedaling.

It’s Okay To Coast
Once you get to the top of the hill and you're going downhill again you start gaining speed without pedaling. You're coasting so you can sit back, take a breath, and for a brief moment enjoy your success in climbing the hill. Catching your breath is okay. A period of recovery and rest is as much of an important part of the ride as anything else. Its okay to coast. Enjoy the ride. That brings me to my next principal.

Look Around
So far this bike trip has seemed like it's been all work and no play. Well not as of now. The best thing about riding a bike is that you get to be in a place where you can observe and enjoy your surroundings. Like Matthew Brodrick said in the movie "Ferris Buhler's Day Off", "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in while you'll miss it."

Even if you've driven or walked down the road on before; riding your bike gives you a different perspective on your surroundings. In my car a certain route to my church many times. But when I ride my bike down the same roads and look around, I notice things I've never seen before. I never realized just how many baby goats are in the pasture to my right. I didn't see the barn behind the house 50 yards off the road. One of the houses has a 3 legged dog running in the yard. Those are just a few of the many things I've seen because I rode by them at a slower pace and was looking around.

The act of observation not only results in new discoveries; it also helps you appreciate the details of the world God had created. King David would never have written the Psalms that praise God for his greatness if he had not seen it in the world around him.

So look around you never know what you might see or be inspired to do.

Stay Curious
After I've completed a bike ride to a place I've wanted to go for a while (such as riding to my church from home or riding down Cemetery Road to Scottsville Road in Bowling Green) I ask myself a question: "Where else can I go on my bike?"

When I had my job delivering auto parts on a daily basis I would always take the time to drive down different roads. This was to see if I could find a shorter route to my customers. I discovered so many short cuts and interesting places by doing this that I still do it to this day.

As I ride and I pass streets or roads I've never been on before I always wonder "What's down there?" I try to always stay curious. Sometimes I decide to go down a road just to see where it leads. My sense of adventure helps me exercise my mind and my imagination at the same time I'm moving my body on my bike. I highly recommend you do your best to stay curious and feed that curiosity by exploring your sense of adventure.

So there you have the lessons I've learned just by riding my bike. I'm sure there will be others as I gain more and more "over the road" experience. I hope I've encouraged you to take these bike lessons and use them in your own life.

As I wrote at the start of this post; I'm sure all of these principals are scriptural. As I've been writing I've made some specific connections. Now I have to just write them down and apply them to my life the way God wants me to.

So I guess my bike has now added another benefit in my life. It helps me physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually. That makes it one of the best investments I've made this year.

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