In March, a few months before the one-year anniversary of my husband’s passing while in a church service, on the announcement screen there flashed, “join the Freewheelers.” The Freewheelers happen to be the EV Free church #cycle group. I cannot even tell you how excited I was about that whole idea.
Within the next month, we as a board decided that YAS would be closing its pantry doors, and there came another end of a season for me. I sent off an email to the Freewheelers group, and they responded giving me the time and location of their next ride. I was excited!
I was ready to go in my sweat shorts, t-shirt and new gloves along with my cruiser that had a very cool basket on it. I loved it! My youngest son came out to head off to work, noticed my cycle apparel and said, “Mom, that group is going to be a bunch of 70-year-olds in spandex, and you look a little out of place.” My response was, of course, “Well it’s what I have, and I am going.” So off I went.
I unloaded the hefty (prayerfully no one was looking) bike out of my car basket and all. Proudly put on my gloves and helmet then walked over to the group, no they weren’t all 70, many were young, and the looks were something I will never forget. I looked around and said, “Are there any women in this group?”
And simultaneously the men said, “Yes, and she should be rolling up at any moment.” I thought, cool some women. Up rides two people, one man, and one woman. The gal got off her bike, proceeded to walk right over to bubbly me and said while taking out the 5 lb bike lock I had (hey, I loved my cruiser) handing it to me, “You don’t need this, and that basket why do you have that?” I responded, “you wish you had one,” not knowing what else to say, and as she walked over to her bike she said, “and turn your gloves around, you have them on upside down.” Then they prayed before riding. I think they prayed I would quit but not me. I am for sure a turtle, but I am not a quitter. My friend, the woman, told me later she said to a fellow cyclist, “Oh brother, we have a winner.” This woman has stuck by me, taught me, trained me and was very patient through the process.
They let a kind man on an electric bike stay with me, and I thought I was going to die! I could barely breathe. I rode eight mph downhill, I worked out all the time and was in excellent shape. I rode to the beach in that cruiser, in those sweat shorts and sure enough they kicked my booty. They were all relaxing at the local coffee house when I rode up. Someone graciously bought me a coffee and no one knew how excited I was actually to make the 12 miles but just as I sat down, the gal said, “Ok, Michelle get back on your bike and head back.” WHAT! I just sat down and needed to breathe for two minutes, but I got back up on the cruiser and headed off back to who knows where. I learned a few lessons that day. Never open your mouth to say how cool next to a chicken farm because flies find your mouth quickly.
I am telling this story because these in this group are now some very precious friends of mine. Over the next few months as I closed another small piece of who I thought I was they took me in and befriended me, talked with me, and prayed for me. That gal is now a close friend to me and has trained me to be a good cyclist, encouraged me, pushed me along with the others so that I would improve. They have been such good friends with fun, sweat, and even tears. I worked hard when they weren’t looking, rode to the beach and back on my cruiser until I purchased a good road bike and began to train myself and study all about cycling. I have come to love the sport and during my time of sabbatical when I did not work and did not counsel anyone, I just relaxed and spent time with the Lord and my family. Something I don’t’ know that I have ever done. These friends are new but feel like old friends; they have accepted me, and I would have never met them if I had not had the sabbatical.
God is so gracious. I needed the rest, and now I am back working for myself. I was given an incredible opportunity to work for an excellent company, but I have decided to work for myself being encouraged by my children, friends, and family. I will keep you posted.