Last Thursday we had awesome weather with a high in the 60s and lots of sun. So for the first time this season I rode outside.
I admit I’m not the most comfortable riding in traffic. I realize I can’t let this prevent me from spending time on the road. I need to ride outside as much as possible. I do use routes that are more or less off the (automobile) beaten path so 1.) fewer cars are around, 2.) I don’t have to stop a lot for lights, and 3.) my rides are much more quiet and peaceful.
Of course other cyclists have similar criteria for their rides which is nice. Seeing them on the road provides comfort and a sense of camaraderie. On Thursday, near my turn around point, six cyclists passed me on the other side of the road Three of them were on regular bikes and the other three were on hand cycles. After I turned around I actually ended up riding behind them for a couple of miles. I noticed that each cyclist on a regular bike was actually paired up with a hand cyclist. All seven of us approached a busy intersection as the light turned green. I could feel every single one of us picking up speed so we’d make it through the light. We succeeded. Afterwards I saw one of the cyclists had a “USO” logo on his back. With a military hospital nearby this particular route, I concluded that these six cyclists are affiliated with the military.
I already deeply admire paratriathletes. Sarah Reinersten is a poster child for this category of amazing athletes. And of course amputees compete in all types of sports. For example Amy Purdy is the world champion female adaptive snowboarder. These individuals are so inspiring to say the least. But there’s something about riding — for even just a couple of miles — with those three hand cyclists and their partners last Thursday that really moved me. As I watched these cyclists and thought about some of their circumstances I almost cried. Who knows what these folks have been through. They served our country and made tremendous sacrifices. And yet they persevere to ride, to live. And the cyclists who still have his/her legs are so selfless to accompany them along the way!
I was getting to a point where I was riding very closely behind them so I needed to make a call: do I slow down to give myself a decent amount of distance behind them or do I pass them? I knew I’d have to push myself a quite a bit more to successfully pass them. I decided to do so. As I passed them I yelled “You guys are awesome.” And because of this brief encounter on my ride, I actually felt awesome as well.