Inclined to Wait

I must have ridden for about 10 miles, mostly on my neighborhood’s one-mile loop but also on connected cross-streets and cul-de-sacs, never exceeding 15 mph. A few cars drove by, and I passed vulnerable-looking people and a barking dog.

You should all be afraid. It’s a beautiful afternoon… but I have never done this before.

I couldn’t wave to my neighbors, of course, because that would have been life threatening. All I could do was nod at them, which felt too subtle by the time the angst waned. By then I wanted to wave wildly with both hands. To a few I shouted, “This is my first day riding!” like a five year old. One neighbor, who I know fairly well, stopped in his tracks for a double-take. I beamed back from inside my helmet.

Elated and disbelieving, I rode back to the base of my driveway. The modest incline was daunting, but I was in can-do mode so I rode straight up the hill and promptly stalled on the steepest part.

I stood up immediately and squeezed the front brake, probably harder than necessary, but I had no interest in discovering the brake’s threshold or what being in gear was really doing for me then and there with 440 pounds. I switched off the ignition, and I stood there, stuck, knowing I had neither the strength to push Little Red up the hill nor the skill to start her back up and ride forward under those circumstances. My right hand was getting tired from squeezing so hard.

I looked to the right. I looked to the left. No one was around. Where were all my neighbors? I looked to the right and left again, and I wondered how stupid I looked. I kicked the side stand down, and it seemed to bear the weight, but I couldn’t trust it. I waited, squeezing that front brake as my hand became weaker. Time passes slowly when you’re feeling stupid alone on a hill and your hand hurts.

Finally after a while, a dog-walking neighbor did come along and he graciously lent his strength to push Little Red up to the level part of the driveway while I walked her and steered. A motorcycle. Really?

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