Desert Bones and the Rider
Alone, parched and without water or food and I was melting in the high desert sun and waiting for God. Of course, it was 2 miles to the finish line, and I had just had a fill up of water 8 miles ago. But none of that mattered. Last weekend, I biked for my friends who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. It’s an ego trip really; I bike for those who can’t, and I am called champion for it. It is a frightening disease. I am their witness to pain and suffering, and the only thing I can do is get on a bike and ride for them.
What I learned is that God, Allah, the Great Mystery, or the Universe, whatever you would like to call that guiding force, has a particularly funny way of showing you how much strength you really have hidden in the folds of skin and bones. After biking for a few miles uphill, because let’s face it there is nothing but up in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, I came to my nemesis. It was the hill right before you get into the Pojoaque. That damn hill is legendary among the bikers of the MS Challenge. After a hard day of riding in the rays of the sun, and determination extracted from your soul, you get the pleasure of riding up Mt. Everest in spandex with muscle depletion. But I had a plan, I would bike to the edge of the hill and wait for salvation, in the form of a sag truck.
I had sucked my water dry from the last hill; my feet were on fire, and I waited……..for any sign that there was life on the desert planet. I waited some more and pretty soon after an endless monotony of begging and pleading for mercy, I began to have visions of iconic cow skeletons wasting away in the desert heat. I would have loved to throw my bike down, laid on the ground, and cried but at that point there was no fluid left in my body. I thought better of it when my shoes pulled some hot tar up. I thought hmm, hot, dry, and tarred does not sound appealing. So I looked up that hill and screamed bloody hell and biked up halfway. Then I got off my bike and walked up counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and breathed, died, and tried to suck some more water from my empty bottle. What can I say, I was desperate. I still kept looking for a sag truck because somewhere God’s joke should end, but no.
I continued in steel plated bike shoes, holding onto my bike, and continued up that god forsaken hill until I hit the very top of the devil’s crown. I made it, but I was too tired to dance. I sat on the guard rail celebrated my victory by raising a hand and whispered woohoo. I stared down at what I come from, and I looked to the right and saw where I had to go. Another slight hill but it was only a mile and a half, and I would have the fountain of cold water and soft, cushy bed within the hour. I closed my eyes and tried to steel myself against getting my chafed and worn backside on a hard saddle. Right about then, the lesson was over, two sag trucks with my teammates stopped in front of me. “Now you show up!” I screamed. I have no pride and got in fortune’s wagon, gulped some water down, and had them sag me one mile. I jumped out to catch up with my friends, proceeded as planned before God’s little lesson, and rode the last mile across to the finish line.
So how did the divine teach you a lesson about accomplishing what you thought you couldn’t?