The Accidental Athlete


I had been pedaling my bike for days and days.
Week in and week out.
And then just like Forrest Gump.
I stopped.
In the middle of nowhere.
It was time to get that bike of mine back to cabin number five.
I took a snapshot to show my Sweet Sven.
I could already hear myself bragging, "I went this far."
I glanced at my watch.
WTF? I've only been out here fifteen minutes?
Holy shit.
But it had been a long fifteen minutes of hard work.
I was surprised.
A little impressed even at my athletic ability.
Because I am no spring chicken and I hadn't been on a bike since last summer when we were on vacation.
It happens every year.
Sven loads our bikes up, upon my insistence.
Because I know and you know and we all know that without one's bike, one cannot go biking.
And then it just sits there, leaning against the building.
Until about the fifth day into our seven day stay.
And then I hop on it and feel like a kid with a slight hangover, shifting into and out of gears.


Usually the wrong gears.
But no worries.
This year I just kept on going.
And going and going.
Way past The Cry of the Loon.
This was an accident.
I'd meant to turn onto the black top road that led to the lake and all those cool cabins back there.
I didn't.
I'd flown right by.
Funny story.
As I'd pedaled my way to the top of the driveway in our little slice of Northwoods heaven, I'd run into Vicki.
A fellow vacationer.
A member of our crew.
Vicki was on her way back from a bike ride.
Vicki is a biker.
"It was nice," she'd said.
"Which way did you go?" I'd asked.
"Down past the dam. But man, I was sure happy I had that tail wind with me on my way back," she'd said and then expertly squirted a shot of water into her mouth. "Which way are you heading?"
"I'm going the other way," I'd said. "I always go the other way."
This conversation came flooding back as I turned my bike around in front of the snapshot I'd taken, thinking how nice it would be to have a big old glass of ice-cold water right about now.
A gale force wind hit me in the face.
It felt real good and it cooled me right down.
Thank God for all these clouds, I thought.
And then the sun popped out into a giant patch of blue.
I took a couple deep breaths and then I began the paddle upstream and against the current.
Why in the hell did I go so far? Why do I not have any water? And why can't I ever remember how to shift these damn gears?
I will tell you why.
The tail wind made me do it.
I had no water because I did not bring any water.
And the gears?
Well, on the left side you have to push down with your thumb to shift for less resistance.
And on the right side, you have to flip it up for less resistance.
This is not something a brain fashioned the Millie Noe way is able to comprehend while under duress.
Or any time.
And duress comes to Millie Noe while she is pedaling her bike up a hill.
Especially those long ass hills that don't even look like they are hills to the common eye. And yet they never end.
Since I wasn't able to stop and squirt water into my mouth.
I pretended to be taking pictures.
Lots of pictures.
This way if a car, truck or ATV went by, I wouldn't look like an idiot on the side of the road just standing there doing nothing, with a bike underneath me.
I would have actually taken some pictures, but my camera was too slippery to deal with, as I was storing my cell phone against my left boob, because I didn't have any pockets other than my bra.
Into the wind, I foraged.
I am going to have a real bad time in this race, I thought. I need to get in the draft. Where is the leader? Am I in the lead? Where is everybody? I should have shaved my legs.
I pedaled.
And I stopped.
And I pedaled.
And I stopped.
And I.
Uh oh.
That truck just put on it's breaks. He better not be turning around to see if that little old lady on the side of the road pretending to take pictures needs his help.
Because she does NOT.

A sudden burst of energy brought those legs of mine into motion.
Around the bend I went.
And then the fire station came into my view.
Praise the Lord.
You see.
Once you see the fire station, it is smooth sailing from there on out. It is just a matter of minutes until you are driving down the gravel driveway into Cedar Cove Cabins.
Wait a minute.
My mistake.
That is the case when you are riding in your car.
It is not so on one's bike.
Not at all.
Here come the stone pillars! I am almost home now.
Once again.
False alarm.
The stone pillars should be holding a sign over the road that says, IT IS ALL UPHILL FROM HERE TO YOUR CABIN.
Well, it was a good spot to take another picture anyway.
And then.
I was back on the saddle.
I was the little engine that could.
Chugga, chugga, chugga.
Under the canopy of trees I continued my journey.
You can do it, Millie.
I could see the pond ahead on my right.
Oh, my God! The pond! There is the pond!
And then.
At long last.
The gravel driveway dared to show its ever lovin' face.
I coasted on in.
I hopped off and onto a couple wobbly legs.
I leaned that bike from hell against the A frame on the end.
"Well, how was it?" says my sweet Sven, looking over the top of his reading glasses.
"I bit off more than I could chew," I said and grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge.
The kitchen clock said it was one-twenty.
I'd been out there for forty-five minutes.
You see, I am all about the Yin and the Yang of life.
And I had just balanced out the unclean living that had transpired for the last five days and nights.
That should do it.
Early Saturday morning we were all packed up and on our way back home.
We turned onto FF.
After about five miles on the windy and hilly road Sven says, "You rode past here?"
"Yep," I gloated.
A few more miles go by.
"Farther than this?"
And finally, I see the spot that matches my snapshot.
"This is where I stopped."
"Wow," he says again.
"How far did I go?"
Sven lifted his arm and looked at the mileage.
"I'd say about three and a half miles."
"Three and a half miles? Is that all?"
"Well, you get to double it, Millie. You had to ride back you know."
"Oh. I know," I said.
"I know."

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