If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that I recently got my butt back on a bicycle for the first time in years.
To be honest, I never thought I’d be ready to ride a bike at this weight. I still weigh 304 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to sit on a bike seat, but it seems the 79 pounds I’ve lost was enough to make a difference. That and…something else.
The first time I rode the bike, I just rode around the corner and back. It probably took less than a minute, but that’s all it took. By the time I pulled up to the curb in front of the house I had a big, stupid smile on my face. Then Hot Mess Hubby challenged me to ride to the stop sign and back.
That moment when you realize…you’re having fun.
There’s a simple peace that comes with riding a bike. As children, riding our bikes was our first taste of freedom, wasn’t it? It was for me. And even though my mother had specifically mapped out the borders in our neighborhood that I had to stay within, I still felt like the world was my oyster. There was nothing like navigating the sidewalks of my neighborhood on my purple bike with the banana seat and sparkly handlebar streamers. Nothing.
It was freedom.
So when I pushed back out onto the street and pedaled toward that stop sign, I was free once more. Free from the miserable prison of the obese body I’ve kept myself in for the last 20 years.
The sound of the tires gripping the road, the feeling of the neighborhood whizzing past…it brought back a happier a time for me. A time before I was made to think I was fat and before that “not good enough” feeling had taken over my entire life. A time long before the limitations of obesity started to chip away at my spirit.
For days afterwards, I couldn’t get the smile off my face…because I’d finally had a taste of something I haven’t felt in a very long time: normal.
Being able to ride a bike is a perfectly mundane, ordinary thing that millions of people around the world do every day. It’s a very normal thing. But normal isn’t the world I’ve been living in for the past 20 years.
I’ve been living in the “World of No”. At a big event at work? No plastic folding chairs…they may not hold me. Out to lunch? No booth…I can’t fit in there. Walking through the mall? Don’t even look at the pretty clothes in the windows. No, they won’t fit me. Rollercoasters? No. Walking at a flea market? No. Too much foot pain. And sitting my giant butt on a bike seat? No. After a while, a part of you starts to give up and the walls start closing in on your life.
Imagine my surprise when I started peddling on that bike and my body responded with a big YES.
That moment when you realize your world is opening up again. Being able to do this simple thing that had long been denied to me was such a gift that it brought tears to my eyes.
Hello, normal. It’s nice to see you again.
So with my new kid-like motivation, I put on my bike helmet and struck out on my own the other day. HMH was working and I’d been thinking about riding my bike all day long. I couldn’t wait to get out there and see how far I could go this time.
Now, really, in the immortal scheme of things my bike riding accomplishments are quite unremarkable. At this point, I couldn’t even ride a mile yet…but every time I went out, I went further than before. And that was my goal on this day: ride a little farther, pedal a little faster.
I didn’t have to pedal far to run into some kids playing in their driveway. Mom and Dad were sitting in the shade, diligently watching. In true Texas fashion, I waved and smiled as I passed. They waved as well, but their smiles were…odd. It seemed to me they were quite surprised to see such a big fat person on a bike. They kind of stared. Whatever, right? I was living life, peeps! Who cares about their strange looks. Jerks!
Not too much longer after that, I passed a woman sitting in a car on the wrong side of the street. She looked up at me as I whizzed by, so I smiled and waved. She nodded her head but, again, no smile. Just kind of this weird stare on her face like she’d never seen something like this before. Gimme a break, people! You should be high fiving me and cheering me on! Why so judgy?
I jutted my chin out and kept on pedaling. To hell with them. I’m having fun. So what if I’m fat? How judgy of them!
I pedaled around another corner and came up alongside the 12 mile bike path that runs behind our neighborhood. What a great place to stop for a picture. I planned to post it on my Facebook fan page since I knew many of you would cheer me on for getting back out there again. So I took a quick selfie by the woods…and that’s when I caught a glimpse of what my neighbors had been staring at.
Yeah. That shit happened.
Here I was thinking my neighbors were judgy bitches and I’d been riding around with my eff’in helmet on backwards. I wondered why it felt different, honestly, but I was so excited I didn’t think anything of it. This picture doesn’t do it justice, really. It looked much more ridiculous than this.
I immediately put my helmet on correctly…and then I deleted the pictures. Lucky for you, I had taken a couple selfies in the driveway before I got started. I reluctantly saved those to share my helmet shame with you. You’re welcome.
I haven’t let my helmet shame slow me down. I keep going out. When I first started a week ago, I was out of breath just heading to the stop sign and back. Now I’m doing over 2 miles in one ride. Every day I get stronger. Every day I get better.
It’s an unexpected gift to be able to add this little piece of normal back into my life. The World of No has gotten a little smaller. The World of Normal is ahead…and it looks like so much more fun. Let’s ride.