Rough Ridin’

Hebrews 12:26-27

Recently, I received some feedback encouraging me to write more about bicycles.  There is, in fact, a reprise concerning my first bicycle.  A couple of years after I inherited and overhauled the red rocket, our family moved. My dad had accepted the invitation to pastor Challis Baptist Church, which sits just off U.S. Highway 62, halfway between Brownfield and Meadow.  The parsonage was a small, two bedroom “Redi-built.”  I didn’t really like to spend a lot of time in the house, simply because there wasn’t much room.  Since it was a two bedroom, my parents got a room and my sister got a room.  My brother and I slept in the hall on foldaway camping cots. We shared the hall coat closet for our clothes. Later on, my parents purchased a hide-a-bed sofa, so we shared that. It was more convenient and moderately more comfortable than the cots. It was always cramped quarters, though.  I preferred being outside, whenever possible.

Riding my bicycle on the highway was, of course, forbidden.  There was, however, a dirt road just beside the church that stretched for miles and conjoined several other dirt roads through cropland and pastureland.  John Smith (yes, that’s his name) was a friend I rode the school bus with.  He lived on a nearby farm, so we would both ride our bicycles all around those roads.  Our favorite spot was an old abandoned farmhouse surrounded by elm trees.  We would ride the three miles to the old house, BB guns in tow. We would shoot anything that didn’t move and several things that did move.  On an especially good day, we could lay waste to old cans, antifreeze jugs, and the slower sparrows and field larks.  I make no apologies to my anti-hunting friends.  That’s how we were raised, and there was an overpopulation of that particular species. We were, in fact, helping the eco-structure.

Over time, those old dirt roads grow hard and rough.  You can only run the graders after a good rain, and those were few and far between. Keep in mind, this is a day and age before so-called mountain bikes or cross country bikes.  Ours were strictly rigid frame vehicles designed for pavement.  We were not deterred, though. We rode our bikes almost every day after school and most of the day on Saturday.

Eventually, the rough roads started taking their toll on my bike.  The first casualty was the bracket that held the seat on. First it cracked.  The seat was still on the stem, but it would not tighten up.  When I rode the bike, the seat would swivel around all willy-nilly.  It was better than no seat at all, though.  That would soon change.  After a few weeks, the seat bracket totally broke in half.  Big deal.  I stood as I rode most of the time, anyway. Boys do that, because you can get more inertia directly to the pedals, thus increasing speed and momentum.  I rode my seatless bike with no noticeable adverse affects.  The next issue was a bit more tricky.  The yoke on the steering column broke.  That meant the handlebars would not be fastened on.  I had watched my dad enough to know that duct-tape can fix anything.  Surely it can attach handlebars to a steering column.  I found a roll of the gray wonder and promptly created an adhesive monstrosity about the size of a softball.  “That should hold them on,” I thought, and it did….for about three days.  I had to reassess the situation.  I remembered that I was very adept at riding without hands, every boy is.  All I had to do was get started.  I cut loose the handlebars and re-wound the tape, so as to cover the sharp edge of the broken yoke.  It had just enough forward angle left for me to grab with both hands, like one might grasp a baseball bat.  I got started easily enough, then I could just let go and ride…if I had a seat.  Now, standing up on a bike AND riding without hands was a complication I had not counted on.  Ultimately, I had to settle for standing up, leaning forward, holding the steering column, and riding like they do on the Tour de France, except without a seat.

All this was fine and good, until I got two flat tires from riding in the stickers.  I tried, folks; I honestly tried. I rode for about two weeks with no seat, no handlebars, and two flat tires. I just didn’t have anything left in me.  Eventually, I saved enough money for bicycle pump and a tire patching kit, then I was back on my semi-merry way.  I must admit, the magic was gone.


Sometimes we invest much of our lives in things that aren’t inherently good or bad, they are just things.  The problem comes when we allow those things to become our identity and our security.  To paraphrase the verse from Hebrews, anything that can be shaken will be shaken until only that which cannot be shaken remains.  We have to come to a place where we can live with or without that house, that car, that person, if need be. That’s when we are most pliable to God’s will in our lives. Also, that’s often when God gives back to us “all these things as well” (Matt. 6:33)

Recently, I’ve been looking at bicycles in Wal Mart.  I find myself drawn to the old fashioned kind with the big fat saddle and the broad handlebars. I think maybe a red one.

Published in: on February 8, 2018 at 1:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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