Cycling: (n) the act or sport of riding or traveling by bicycle
I got my first bicycle when I was ten years old.
Although no one actually weighed me, from my memories and careful guesstimation, I would say I probably weighed two hundred pounds.
My parents were not wealthy and could not afford a heavy-duty bicycle for me, so I ended up with a lovely Schwinn.
It was suited for a boy less than half my size.
First of all, may I say that riding a bicycle when you’re obese is like perching a frog on the head of a pin.
It was not comfortable.
And I was surprised at how much energy it took for my chubby legs to pedal my weight along the road.
But I was thrilled when a friend asked me to take over his paper route for two weeks during his vacation.
It was very nice of him, and he guaranteed me five dollars a week to perform the task.
Thirty-six daily deliveries—and going door-to-door on Saturdays to collect the subscription money.
Now, the whole thing sounded completely plausible and nearly fun. But on the first day, when I had trouble getting all the newspapers onto the back of my bicycle and struggled with pedaling both my weight and the additional girth of the news, I almost lost heart and nearly gave up around delivery seventeen.
I decided to gut it out for the day and planned to telephone my friend at his vacation spot and let him know I would not be able to fulfill my promise.
But a fit of “Sunday School” possessed my soul and I concluded it was unfair to leave him hanging.
I chose to endure.
During my normal cycling, I didn’t have to stand up on the bicycle to pedal—because I avoided hills. But the paper route had three large hills, and unfortunately, on the fourth day, second hill, when I stood, the pedal broke off due to my weight.
I was not terribly embarrassed about it until I went to the hardware store, showed what had happened, and the old man behind the counter rubbed his chin and declared, “Boy, how in the hell did you break off a pedal? I’ve never seen such a thing. Maybe you oughta lose some weight.”
As I tell you this story, it’s astounding to me that his statement upset me so badly—but it did. I cried all the way home and all during the time it took me to reinstall a new pedal.
After that, every time I came to a big hill, I had to get off the bike and walk up, pushing it, because I was afraid of breaking another one and the humiliation of dealing with Gramps down at the store.
Mostly I enjoyed cycling.
But the thought of pedaling still puts a chill down my spine.