The little voice in my brain replayed the same phrase like a broken record, “You can leave. No one will know.” Easing my car into the parking area for the 8 Lakes Leg Aches bike tour, I seriously considered heeding that advice, but instead opened my door and got ready. Although committed, I was still unsure as to which was causing more anxiety, the fact that this would be the longest ride of my fledgling bicycling career, or that I was wearing skintight clothing in public. Figuring it was a little of both, I forced a smile and joined my fellow cyclists in the assembly area.
The ride, coordinated by Lutheran Community Services Northwest, is a superbly organized scenic tour, the proceeds of which provide assistance to thousands in our community. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to collect pledges before taking on one of three route options that cover 30, 45 or 75 miles of roads and paved trails that wind through the outskirts of Spokane.
My riding group, feeling ambitious, had selected the 45-mile route that would take us around six area lakes before returning to the start. Setting off, the pack quickly thinned and soon we had the road to ourselves. With each mile, my anxiety gave way to tranquility as the rhythmic cranking lulled me into a state of riding Zen. Even my skintight kit became less worrisome as we toured around lakes, over hills, through forests and fields. The diverse beauty that is our “backyard” was on full display. Lost in the ride, I didn’t even notice that we were covering distances that had, for me at least, previously required some kind of engine to achieve, and altogether too soon we were back at the starting area.
As our group shared celebratory high fives and indulged in well-earned post-race refreshments, I realized that my worries had been unfounded, transformed by a fantastic event shared with great friends. Even the little voice in my brain was no longer concerned by anxieties or skintight clothing. // (Adam King)