It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

When I was in fourth grade, my parents bought me a bike for Christmas. It was blue and white with a banana seat. It had a plastic, wicker-looking basket that hung out front just begging to be filled with rocks, stray animals (some alive & some not so much), Pop Rocks and a Cabbage Patch Kid (or three).

I loved that bike.

A few years later, I got my first 10-speed. It was pink and gray and totally awesome. I was pretty much hot stuff with my mullet flowing in the breeze and my way more mature metal baskets firmly attached to the back ensuring my Steve Taylor tape, scratch & sniff sticker collection and Trapper Keeper would stay put.

I loved that bike even more.

Fast forward a few *cough* many years and that precocious girl who used to whiz round corners with blue & white streamers streaming and that gawky preteen who rode around squawking Petra and Stryper tunes had long put her bicycling days in the garage to collect both dust and memories. That is…until now.

Personally, I blame Anne Jackson and Donald Miller.

If you know me, you know that I pretty much like Anne and Don better than I like apple butter on toast…and that’s a lot. (I was going to say better than ice cream, but let’s not get crazy.) I read their books, share their blogs and follow their tweets. I’m like their sweet, cyber high-fiving, totally uncreepy stalker (Don, I like the new lamp by the window, but it totally blocks my view from the street.).

But for realsies, I got inspired by their own adventures of riding across the country to stretch themselves physically, spiritually, mentally, financially, philanthropically and many other words that end in ‘-ally’ and I found myself wanting to do some of the same.

Don wrote about his trek a couple years back and I swooned and swayed at his thoughts and plots about the sweat and friends he met along the way and how he brought life and light to a water crisis that was far, far away, but much too close to home. Then, just this summer, Anne took the plunge in the asphalt pool which made me consider doing the cannonball myself.

I followed her tweets and blogs about the deathly heat, sore muscles, new friends, old Caspers and jagged accounts of some (BILLION) people who go without and what others have to do for clean, safe water. I felt a personal tug to be a part of this adventure. To be some small piece of this cause’s puzzle. So, when Anne tweeted that Venture Expeditions was accepting applications for the 2011 Ride:Well Tour , I re-tweeted a half serious, “I just might do that” and she wrote me back and encouraged me to go for it.

I went for it…and they said YES. (*gulp*)

So, here I am a 30-something swirl of a girl who has lived most of her life taking care of this or that, making sure to be safe and sound and constantly white-knuckling the railings of life’s Tilt-A-Whirls about to take her inexperience, fear, excess baggage and immense love for people out for a ride across the country. Taking deep breaths in and out (…and lots of water, Aleve & protein shakes) along the way.

Most of the people I’ve told about my excursion are genuinely excited for me and give me high fives and cyber fist bumps. However, there have been the occasional quizzical brow montage and drilling about the whys, whosies and whatsies and I have to say, that with each sideways glance I get, I feel a Chuck Norris to the gut for the lack of adventure in my past and a kick in the Rumpelstiltskin to see this challenge through to the end.

I’m adding plot to my life’s story.

We have this amazing opportunity and awesome responsibility to live out an intentional story full of purpose, hope and passion to positively impact our communities and our world. My heartbeat is to live out that kind of story and I’m inspired that so  many of you feel the same way.

Next month, Donald Miller is going to be giving a seminar all about story. I’d love for us all to squish and squash on a plane headed to Portland for the Living a Better Story seminar and nudge each other with elbows of purpose as we jot narrative notes and draw ourselves as stick figures climbing mountains and fighting bears. But, that would have to be one big plane and I’m afraid there are simply not enough tiny packets of peanuts to go around. But, if you can go and hear Don talk about the importance of story, you should.

But, don’t just take my word for it…

Now, as a chapter in my narrative, I’m going to ride from the WEST Coast all the way to the EAST Coast in the sticky, sweaty heat of summer with people I’ve never met, to raise money for people I’ll never know, for something we all need. To be honest, right now, my bags of saddle and I find it hard to imagine us taking such an excursion.

But, I need to do this, and most days, I actually want to do this.

So, keep your ears open for the brrrrng, brrrrng of my bicycle bell and the smell of Powerade on my breath because during the next few months, I’ll be blogging, pleading, tweeting, facebooking, snail mailing and chatting all about this adventure and the need and basic human(e) right for clean, safe water.

Now…I suppose I should buy one of these…

What adventures are you writing for your life’s narrative?

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  1. Hi! I just want to say you are hilarious and an excellent writer. It was great fun reading this post! I wish you all the best in your cycling across the U.S. adventure. Kudos on having the courage to commit to such a great journey! Blessings, Emily

    • Emily..thank you so much! That means a ton to me! I dig the name of your blog. 🙂

  2. ANdy

     /  August 15, 2010

    Good stuff Mandy. You are definitely living the adventure. Consider me inspired!

    • Thanks Andy for constantly checking up on the progress of the interviews for the ride. It means a lot!

  3. So excited for you. Funny you mentioned a Tilt-a-whirl. I was on a retreat with some people that Don kinda leads these past few days and he mentioned one by his house. Welcome to the craziest summer of your life.

  4. Words that brought lots of laughing tears – stray animals; mullet flowing in wind; Steve Taylor cassette; Stryper tunes; and not enough peanuts on the plane. It just doesn’t get any better than that!! You are amazing! I feel guilty for not paying you to read your blogs. They are too good. You are an inspiration!

    • Heather…Girl, you know all about my mullet. We had so much fun back then. I could write a book on all of our adventures! Hey…maybe we should do that! 🙂 You’re awesome.

  5. So excited for you. Adding notes to my calendar…to send you encouragement throught the trip next summer. 🙂
    I’ve been looking at the Story conference too and wishing I could swing it. Oh well.

  6. Chris

     /  September 16, 2010

    I randomly found your blog linked on the Ride:Well Tour FB Page. I too made the cut (not sure if there was one of those) for next year’s ride. So I thought I would say howdy. Shoot me an e-mail some time and we can chat. Or tweet me! I love twitter. (@cshepperd)

  7. culotte

     /  November 8, 2010

    Yo! I just stumbled across this, and I LOVE it!! I knew you were going to be doing it, but I hadn’t read all about it yet.
    What’s the status? Shoot me an email or sumin’!
    Love love.

  • Hi! This is me.