Two blocks in thirty minutes.
I’ve told the story of my first handcycle ride many times, but Jerry Schemmel asked a great question during our interview for his radio show.
“What about the guys who helped you?”
He’s absolutely right. Like everything else about Rich’s Ride and the FREEDOM TOUR, this was never about Rich riding a bike. Jerry’s question about community aimed at the heart of what we’re doing.
I could list the names – Wayne, Tom, Mike, Cody, Steve, and many more – but the list wouldn’t matter to you. Jerry’s point was that I was surrounded at this critical moment by a circle of people who refused to let me give up. They pushed me onto my first bike. They cheered me on as I crawled those first agonizing feet. And they continued to show up.
They didn’t do it because it was fun. Nothing fun about wobbling along at 4-5 mph and stopping every few blocks. They got up early to encourage me, to keep me going.
I believe they were sent by God.
In the picture, Tom and his fat-tire cruiser roll along (no helmets?) with my first bike. In addition to slogging lots of miles, Tom was my personal bike mechanic and all-around support system as I cranked toward the dream when I didn’t even know it was there.
Several cross-country tours, 20 years, and 38,000 miles later, that first bike seems primitive compared to my spiffy new chariot. Most of “those guys” aren’t around. Tom has a lovely wife and a beautiful daughter. He had no clue, all those miles and years ago, where this thing would lead. Like all the others, he simply showed up and did what he could, where he was, with what he had.
And changed everything.
Could you be one of “those guys” for someone in your life? Who do you know who needs someone to show up and keep going?