There are lots of new things going on at our house. For one thing, as you may have read, I have a (sort of) new job. I also have a new bike! My first since I was about 10 years old.
Taking on the responsibilities of a news editor is both an exhilarating challenge for me and a bit of a hardship for our family. I will be staying in Marion to edit the Record while my husband and daughter move back to Kansas City where he has gotten a job. It’s not far. It won’t be forever, but it will likely be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
The bike was purchased primarily to get me to work and back since Michael and Lyla will have our family car and to allow us to take family bike rides around town.
Before we settled on buying one for me, I rode my husband’s uber-fancy road bike to work a couple of days. I wanted to get back into the swing of balancing my whole body on the tiny surface area of two racing tires meeting the road and going pretty fast without being surrounded by a metal shell.
Needless to say, I started small. I hadn’t been on a bike in about 15 years.
It took me several attempts just to get the courage to do more than push it along with my feet. I eased my way into a jaunt down the block.
After a few trips around the neighborhood I tried riding to work for my first day as a full-timer in a few years. Speeding down the hill convinced me I needed a heavier bike than the tiny featherweight thing my husband rides. Pushing back up the hill later that day in 103-degree heat along side grain trucks that can’t easily share the road convinced me I needed more practice.
The child seat my mom brought was the kicker — it didn’t fit Michael’s bike. It was time to get me one. So we did.
I’m getting the hang of (some) things, but I’ve got a long way to go.
We’ve been taking bike rides at least once a day since I got it, usually after work. We strap Lyla safely onto the back of my bike with her Lightning McQueen helmet on and a juice in her hand, and Mike leads the way so I can focus on learning to mess with the gears and, most importantly, balancing.
Balancing may seem like a small thing to some, but the 30-some extra pounds I have strapped to the back of my bike makes it a major feat to me. Plus, I’m rusty. I’ve nearly fallen a couple of times. My body hurts as I’m getting used to riding on a small seat over bumpy roads, but, again, I know when I learn to be better balanced, I’ll relax a bit, and my muscles won’t be sore after every ride.
The process so far has been a lot like growing into my new job. Much like my bike riding, it’s been a while since I’ve worked full-time in a news room, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it soon. This past week I’ve had moments I was sure a paper wouldn’t go out — I’ve nearly fallen down on the job — but I didn’t. I’ll get better at that too.
The key, of course, will be balance. I’ll have to learn to make good decisions more quickly and to account for the weight of all that’s riding on those decisions with me. As I learn to relax, to find the balance, I expect the rough roads will take less of a toll.
Last night we went for another family bike ride, and as we coasted past somebody mowing their lawn, I caught of whiff of fresh cut grass and gasoline — that strange combination that permeates summer. It’s been rare this year with so many lawns shriveling in the drought.
I sat back on my bike seat and took a deep breath.
“Smell that?” I asked Michael. “It finally smells like summer.”
I felt my shoulders drop and I slowed down to look around me instead of at the gears or the bumpy road. I saw people out in their yards and walking their dogs. I noticed my neighbors’ lawns and flowers starting to look more green and healthy like I’m used to. I saw people. I saw Marion. And I didn’t lose my balance.
Today has been a bigger challenge at the Record than I anticipated. But I know I’m up to it. I just need to remember to take deep breaths. To look up and see people, see Marion, and remember those things are why I love what I do.