Mark Twain once said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
Cyclists on the road are a hazard and they annoy the heck out of me. I understand they have as much right to be on the road as me but they always seemed to be slowing down traffic when I'm in a hurry to get someplace... which admittedly, is most of the time. Sometimes they practically jump out of the bike lanes for no apparent reason causing a minor heart attack for every driver around them. Countless times, I've missed a short left-hand turn signal because they were at the front of the line and took the time of three cars to make the turn. Irritating. Don't even get me started on what a bike race or club event does to traffic and road closures on Saturdays in my hometown particularly when my weekend to-do list was running over into a second page!
All 100% true until... I fell in love with someone who loves to cycle. Someone who said he thought I would be a natural on a bike... a strong rider for sure and would really enjoy the sport. Well, now. Someone who, if I wanted to spend Saturday mornings with him, would definitely be on a road bike. And so about a month ago, I reluctantly took my turn as a cyclist on the road. And just out of curiosity... when did cars start driving so dang fast and get in such a god-awful hurry on a gorgeous Saturday morning? And when did those slight inclines on the road become flippin' mountains!?
It only took one time out on a road bike to change my entire perspective about cyclists. Feeling incredibly vulnerable and ridiculously clumsy being "clipped in," befuddled by what seemed like a thousand different gears, and stupidly unsure of the rules and etiquette of the road from the vantage point of a cyclist (not to mention, day dreaming of my old, extra wide beach cruiser seat!) every little piece of trash, small rock, pile of sand, or sliver of glass on the road seemed like a boulder of an obstacle to me. Thorny branches appeared across the bike lane right at face level causing me to swerve unexpectedly... occasionally accompanied by darting small children, animals, or the inhalation of a bug into lungs which were gasping for air while pushing up what seemed like a ten thousand foot climb in elevation but which I'm sure was only a small hill in my car!
How good did it feel when someone in a car patiently waited for me to pass in front of them even when it meant missing their opening to enter traffic so that I didn't have to break my precarious stride? How encouraged was I to keep going when someone shouted from their open car window, "You can do it! Keep pushing!" as I was just about to stop before cresting a challenging incline? How sweet was the kind smile of the man in the car who motioned for me to go first when the light changed as we both waited in the turn lane?
The lesson? For me, it's been a huge reminder to "walk a mile in someone's shoes" (or "ride a mile on their bike") before making harsh judgments about their intentions, motivations, actions or experience. We decide what's true and then it is true for us. But it almost always looks different when seen from the other's perspective.
Who have you made up your mind about? What have you decided is true about the people you work with, live with, or serve? It's so easy to be quick to judge and quick to decide what the 'one sure truth' is. Be careful. It's highly likely you'll have a completely different, or at least broader, understanding when you see it from the seat of their bike...
And by the way... is there a Great-Granny Gear somewhere that I'm missing?