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Beyond the Bike
Part of me, the down to earth, reality-tied part, knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. But another part of me, maybe equally as big, hoped I could.
Two days ago we’d gone to a movie together. The two us in the surely germ-infested chairs of the metro. I loved that he and I could go to a movie together and not make it a weird “are we dating or not” thing. We played taboo for two hours afterword sitting on the newly stuffed cushions of my couch until our brains were too tired to think of synonyms for deli meats.
Two days later, he texted me, asking if I was up for a “tour de Queen Anne.” I wanted to see him again but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him on a bike. But, a little part of me really believed I would be fast enough. So I said yes.
I pumped up my tires, my arms already sore. I’m never going to make it up any hill. I thought to myself. What was I thinking? Going on a bike ride with a kid who rides 20 miles a day.
We started off cruising down Stone Way to the Burke Gilman trail. My legs pumping, my heart pounding, thinking, am I fast enough? Knowing deep inside that I never would be.
“Let’s go over to Magnolia” he said. “Sure!” I replied. At least I wouldn't have to climb Queen Anne.
We kept riding for a while. “I’m warning you, there’s one big hill we have to go up.”
“Ok! Sounds good.” I replied, while dying a little bit inside.
We started climbing up. My breathing was heavy and my legs ached. I’m never going to make it. I thought to myself.
But somehow I did. I was able to muster enough energy to make it to the top of the windy hill, despite the fact that he had lapped me.
We took a break for water, my hands tiredly fumbling with the lid of my bottle.
He asked me if I felt comfortable “descending.”
“Sure, I guess. I like going down hill...” I replied, unsure of what was to come. He gave me some pointers about curves and we zipped down the hill.
The wind rustling through my shirt felt so good and I let out a holler of happiness. We reached the bottom of the hill, and hit the edge of the water.
We took a break and I skipped a few rocks in the water. I didn’t want to face the fact that we’d have to climb up the big hill we’d so quickly come down.
It’s ok. I said to myself. You can do this. You’re strong enough.
We started the climb, him barely breathing hard, biking like his legs were of steel. Once again, he lapped me and I felt like my whole body might spontaneously combust.
Fire was shooting through my thighs and I urged my lungs to keep working.
“The top is in sight!” He called out to me. And all I managed was a smile. Finally, as if by a miracle I reached the top. He told me that the rest of the way back was flat or downhill. I was relieved.
We biked for a while in silence.
Then my chain fell off. I quietly swore under my breath and pulled off to the side.
“Hey! Wait up a sec!” I called out to him. He was eager to help, but I didn't want it. I had to prove that there was something I could do.
“Do you want gloves?” He asked. I smirked. “No.”
“I don’t like getting my hands dirty” He replied.
“You’re such a girl.”
I fixed the chain and we continued back to my house. Biking up my street, every muscle in my body protested. My house was in sight. I collapsed against a tree in my front yard.
“Thanks for putting up with my sluggishness.” I said, gulping down water. He smiled.
“You’re faster than you were when we biked to school last year.”
“Between now and the next time we go on a bike ride, I’m going to have to get in better shape.”
He looked at me. “Maybe.”
And that was it. He rode off back down the street, late for ultimate practice.
I went inside my house and took a shower, feeling bad about my ability. Why couldn't I have pushed harder? Why couldn't I have been faster?
The cool water ran over my body. I felt pathetic.
I got out of the shower. He had texted me, “I had a great time! Don’t worry about the speed!”
He was right. I shouldn’t feel bad.
The point of the bike ride was more about spending time together than it was about the speed.
But next time he asks to go on a bike ride, I’ll be ready.