The other day, my husband and I went bike riding. He has a light, thin racing bike that's about twenty years old. He's also ridden in organized bike rides, including one that went from Philadelphia, PA to Atlantic City, NJ (that's 62 miles!) He can practically fly if he wants to...as long as I'm not riding with him. My bike is much like me - heavy and squat. It's a cruiser and that's exactly what I like to do on it - I like to look at the blue sky and the palm trees and the cranes with their new hatchlings. I also like to keep from getting crushed by passing motorists and I figure they can't miss me toodling along on my copper colored bicycle.
But I also need to keep from getting crushed by The Competition. You know who I mean - those roving packs of cyclists who cheerfully call good morning as they zip past in their coordinated outfits and their well-developed muscled legs. And those solitary senior citizens who give me a friendly wave and a crinkled grin as they glide past, their tennis racket bumping along in the basket behind them.
Okay, now, to be fair, The Competition only really exists in my mind. They're just out there exercising and having a good time. Bike riding, like writing, isn't about Them. It's about Me. It's about me making myself ride that extra mile, write that next scene. It's about me pushing harder, farther even when my legs are shaking, even when it feels like my spirit can't take one more rejection. It's about me digging deep and finding just a little more...oomph to keep going whether on the pavement or on the page.
So, as others pass me by - in both bike riding and writing - I wave and wish them well, and I use their strength and their success as inspiration to beat the real, the only, competition - myself.