Always Check The Brakes

My husband and I have ridden thousands, and thousands, of miles on our bikes.

Some days the riding is smooth and easy and I feel like I can ride for ever.   It’s like I was made to be on a bike.

Then, there’s those other days.  I get on a bike.  And I pedal, and pedal, and pedal.  I find myself questioning the demise of my abilities.  Without notice.  Without warning.  Suddenly,  it seems I just can’t make that bike move.  Like today.  I rode well and fast.  After stopping to meet up with my husband, who wasn’t riding, for bicycle food (aka ice cream) I got on my bike and continued my merry way.   But suddenly I was unable to move that bike like I had been just thirty minutes earlier.  Suddenly, I had lost all power and stamina.

I don’t know why it usually takes me a while to remember.  But after a mile of thinking my biking abilities were abandoning me…..I remembered.

Check the brakes.

I need to check the brakes before I start doubting myself and all that I know in the world.  I need to get off of the bike and pick up the back end of the bike and spin the tire.  If it moves freely, I need to pick up the front end of the bike and spin that tire.  When the riding is tougher than I expect it to be, if I think to check the brakes, nine out of ten times it’s because somehow the brake got locked on.   Putting pressure on the tire without my knowledge.  Slowing me down.  Creating doubts.

Like today.  Somehow the front brake got locked on.  I spun that front tire, it stopped instead of spinning.  I adjusted the brakes.  I went on.  Happily.

I guess because I’m not putting the brakes on, it doesn’t occur to me that they may be on.  Maybe they got stuck the last time I used them.   Maybe in the loading and unloading the bikes as they are hauled here and there, the brakes get knocked out of place.

I readjust the brakes.   And when I start to pedal, I fly.  Because there’s nothing holding me back.  And I’m still expending the energy and effort I was all along.  But now, it works better.

The things that slow us down aren’t always things that we do or don’t do.   I didn’t put the brakes on today.  But something stuck that front brake on and it slowed me down none the less.  Sometimes the brakes have nothing to do with me.  But the things we’re using, or trying, or the things that influence us from outside sources are what’s putting those brakes on.  Sometimes it’s what’s in front of us slowing us down, or what’s behind us pulling on us.

Check your brakes people.  Even if you aren’t on a bike.