Pedal Pusher

The fresh breath of summer. Crisp, cool mornings erupt into sun-drenched afternoons then dissolve into picture perfect sunsets. The lakes warm to a balmy 62 degrees and fill with hardy wake boarders, skiers, surfers and Frisbee flingers.


And like the annual onslaught of swarming black flies come the color-coordinated, spandex-assed bikers riding three abreast on the winding lakeshore roads.


People like to stay healthy and fit. The allure of not too hot/not too cold calls out to you weekend warriors. I get it. Ok – not really, but I sympathize (yes “sympa” not “empa”) with your need to exert.


Hey – “mi blacktop, su blacktop” and all that. But, really? Really?  I’m driving a huge Mom Mobile. I’m right behind you. There’s nowhere for me to go except right smack over your tight, healthy little tushie.


I don’t mean to be snarky. (oh no…never….) but you do realize that except for the runners, joggers and speed walkers, everything on the road is much bigger than you, right? And faster?


Oh wait. No, not faster. Because I am behind you and although I see your little clipped-in feet going all hamster-on-a-wheel fast, you’re still going slower than I can idle.


In all these years, I’ve only flipped one biker the bird and it turned out to be my buddy, Action Figure Dave.  Busted.


Truth be told, I got talked into a bicycle up here one summer.


The BoogerButt was at that youngling age where he could ride for days and never get tired of it. Stud Muffin, being a stud muffin, could/can hop on anything and go for days.


I, being a Southern Dixie Princess, fell over getting out of the driveway and had a bladder infection within a block.

My hair was plastered to my forehead, my mascara was running and the stitches on the spandex were stretched out so much it looked like I was wearing a corset.


There was no “clipping in”; no logo-laden unitard. There was a butt-ugly helmet borrowed from my mother-in-law (c. 1978) and clothespins on my pant legs.


I stuck it out for about 45 minutes then peddled over to the Dune Dog stand for a Chicago all the way and some fries.


Not being one to give up on my (deeply) buried athletic abilities, Stud Muffie bought me the perfect bike. Big, cushy seat, high handlebars and an electric motor.


From afar, my new rig looked like a normal person’s bike.

It sounded a little like a mosquito but all I had to do was not fall over. Even that takes enough effort for me to break a sweat, trust me.


Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.   Off I go. I’m lovin’ it. The wind whistling through my helmet vents. The beauty of nature a bright green blur beside me. My legs pumping furiously……


Wait a minute. My legs are not pumping. This is an electric bike. I’m just perched on top of it – riding.


And now a car is coming. Awkward.


I lean over the handlebars, scootch my butt back on the seat and start pedaling my heart out. I don’t smile and wave – I’m way to into my fitness, man. Plus, I have to throw a hand signal out so they know I know my stuff.



The problem is the bike is actually in some high (or low – I don’t know which) gear and the pedals are ridiculously loose. I’m going up enough of a hill that even I know I should be in one of those “grind it out” gears and here my legs are in Hamster Mode.


I do this five more times.

Perch and ride.

Car coming.

Get low and pump.

Car passes.

Perch and ride.


I’m faking all this effort and, still, my thighs are starting to burn.


Then I get to Burdickville Hill. It’s a real long hill, y’all. Highest point on the lake. At the top is a scenic lookout called Inspiration Point. It’s beautiful. You can see Big Glen, Little Glen, Sleeping Bear Dunes and, on a clear day, on out to Lake Michigan and the baby bear islands.


The little motor on my bike starts to wind down. Then sputter. It ain’t makin’ it. You’re kidding me.


I pedal a little to give it a break. This works for five minutes. Long enough for me to turn beet red and scrape my ankle on the chain twice.


The motor farts once and quits. So on the biggest BEAST of a hill, I have to actually exert – a lot! – on a bike that, due to the motor, weighs a kajillion pounds more than Tour de France boy’s– who just passed and hollered, “Lookin’ good! You can do it!”


And now, of course, there are two Suburbans, three Jeeps and a Model T climbing up my ass.


The guy behind me toots his horn just a little. I look back.

It’s Dave.


He’s laughing while he flips me the bird.

Ah…. the irony.


* For more about Anita’s non-athleticism, click to read “Natural Born Leaner”.




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