Pop a Wheelie!

May 29, 2013

I spent the better part of Monday (May 27, 2013) at the top of Lookout Mountain, TN. On the one hand, it is because my sister-in-law and brother-in-law live there, and they are the greatest people in the world and it was great fun to hang out with them. On the other hand, they were a cheap place to stay in order to spend the day as a volunteer at the US Pro Cycling Championships.
Because of a connection I made some years ago when I volunteered at the (now defunct) Tour of Georgia, I had an inside track for this gig. I was assigned to work the KOM (King of the Mountain) station in the Women’s and Men’s races. After a few opening circuits in downtown Chattanooga, the racers made their way up Ochs (pronounced ‘ox”) Highway, then down Scenic Highway, a 16+ mile loop. The women completed the mountain loop twice, the men four times. From downtown, there was a roughly 1150 foot climb in elevation over the course of roughly eight miles.
You may think that sounds like “not so much,” but trust me—this was a monumental (pardon the pun) climb. And these racers, with monstrous thighs and phenomenal cardiovascular systems, powered through it.
In every bicycle race, there is something called the “broom wagon.” This is to “sweep up” cyclists who abandon (quit) the race, or fall so far behind that officials deem them necessary to be removed. The broom wagon this past Monday had four brooms attached to its grill, making it unmistakable.
On one of the men’s circuits—being run in the afternoon when it was quite hot—I was directing traffic from the top, where the racers topped out and turned down the mountain, when it seemed that everyone, racers and cars and support vehicles, etc., had come through. But I realized that the broom wagon had not passed. I stood in the intersection, wondering and waiting, when I saw flashing lights approaching from downhill. After a moment, I saw the bobbing helmet of a racer, almost being pushed by the broom wagon. I instantly felt sorry for the guy, being so far behind everyone else. All of the many spectators there began clapping, half-heartedly for this guy, and ringing cowbells (what is it with that tradition?) As the guy drew closer, listening to the weak support for him, I felt even worse.
He reached the KOM line. And then it happened.
Exhausted, discouraged, not motivated by the crowd, this guy had the audacity to pop a wheelie for a few seconds. And when he did it, the crowd went wild. They exploded in cheers, yelling and screaming for him, cowbells ringing madly.
And he made the turn and disappeared.
I did not catch his race number, I have no idea who he was, or whether he even finished the (100+ mile) race.
But I know that for one moment, this guy set the world on fire.
As I watched him ride away, I did not feel sorry for him anymore. I realized that to be in that race, he has to be an incredible athlete, and I felt pride and inspiration.
Some day you may be dragging your way along, slogging through life, feeling like everyone is beating you and better than you.
When that happens, pop a wheelie to the amazement of everyone around you. Not literally, but through doing something to make someone else smile, lift someone else’s spirits, just do something that no one thinks you have in you—and the world will stand back and cheer.

What is it about Mondays?
This past Monday, my alarm went off–as it usually does, if I do not wake up before it goes off–at 4:30 (yep, that’s AM), and I rolled out of bed. I stumbled to the bathroom to grab my workout clothes, and pulled the T-shirt on as I walked out of the bedroom. As I picked up my shoes from the floor in the hallway, and started to head downstairs, I thought something was not right. Turns out my shirt was on backwards. I headed on downstairs, switched it and pulled my shoes and socks on.
I wandered to the kitchen, and switched on the coffeemaker, so that the sweet nectar would help me wake up. Seems I was groggy from the Tylenol-PM I took Sunday night to try and get a good night’s sleep after a string of so-so nights in a row.
I went to the garage and opened the garage door to let Gumbo, our Black Lab out, only to discover that the recycling had not been taken out the night before. Grumbling because that was not done, I picked it up and started out with it, thinking, “Well, I have to get the paper anyway.”
Only the newspaper had not been delivered.
Grumbling more, I headed back to the kitchen to get coffee, only to discover that none had been brewed. The light was on, water was in the reservoir, grounds were in the filter, but no coffee in the pot. No amount of turning it on and off made any difference; the heating element in the brewer was obviously dead. OK, we have another coffee maker. I got the stepladder and retrieved it from the cabinet. Did you know that cone filters do not work in a basket?!
Frustrated, I boiled some water and made a cup of tea. It was OK, but look–when you want (NEED!) coffee, Earl Grey just is not the same. I made my way down to the basement, where my office is, where I spend quiet time with God each morning, grumbling (to the Lord!) that I was about 20 minutes late and behind schedule, and thinking “Some days it just don’t pay to get out of bed.”
In answer to your question, I did not just go back to bed because-despite being groggy, I was too awake to get back to sleep
The good news is that after my quiet time, I made it to the gym where I had a pretty darn good workout, and the rest of the day got better from there. Breakfast with friends with some good, deep, conversation, a productive morning, a meeting in the afternoon that did not make me want to pull my eyeballs out, and a relaxed evening.
I couldn’t wait for Tuesday.