Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.

 

Mount Creative Writers

Road to freedom

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(8/2013) "Dadddddyyy," Kyla exclaimed as she hopped on her first pink bicycle.

"Iím scared to fall," she said. Her big bright green eyes, pale skin, and cute tiny freckles stared back at me, and I couldnít help but admit to myself that I didnít want her to fall either. But, she didnít need to know that.

"Youíre fine buddy, thatís why you have training wheels. Just hop on and pedal! The bike will do the rest," I reassured her.

"Okay, Daddy," she said. She threw herself over the bike seat and sat down. Her helmet was pink and purple and she reminded me of when I first started to ride a bike.

"Watch me Daddy, here I gooooo," she said with a big smile on her face.

"Iím right here Ky! Letís see that speed!"

She headed down the one hill in our neighborhood very cautiously and took her time learning how to stop and go on her own. I wondered if this would be her new favorite outdoor activity to do. I figured it was when she turned back at the bottom of the hill and yelled, "Daddy letís do that again!"

Ö

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep.

"Ughhh," I groaned. Is it really 5:30 in the morning already?

Knock, knock. "Good morning Ky! Wake up buddy! You have a long training day today. Brian will be here to pick you up in a half hour."

"Yes Dad, I know. Iíll be ready soon," I said.

It is day twenty-nine of my training and Iím still feeling sore. Brian is an old friend of my dadís and when he found out I loved biking so much, he suggested a duathlon. I had no idea what that was. I had done a few single bike races throughout my younger high school days, but this type of race was where most elite athletes came to compete. A 2-mile run, 26-mile bike ride, and a 4-mile run to finish the race. After some strong convincing from my dad and Brian, I thought to myself, how hard could it be?

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my biking singlet, shorts, watch, and biking shoes. Biking was always so easy. All you really needed was yourself, what youíre wearing, a working bike, and of course a helmet.

"Dad, have you seen my biking gloves?" I asked, rushing around filling up my water bottle while attempting to also eat a granola bar.

"Yes, they are in your helmet, on the third shelf in the garage," he said.

"Okay, thanks. I wonder how long Brian is going to have us ride today," I said curiously.

"Well, hopefully long enough that you will feel used to it by the time of the race! But, you donít mind going extra-long distances do you?"

"No, not really at all actually," I said.

"There is something about biking that is different than any other sport Iíve ever done. It seems like the only sport that makes me feel, well, fully free."

My dad laughed and with the biggest smirk on his face he said, "Yeah, I remember when you rode your first pink bike for the very first time. I knew that you would love biking."

I got the feeling that he was going to start walking down father-daughter memory lane. I have a hard time remembering most of the memories because I was so young anyways.

"Yeah, yeah Dad, well thatís nice, but I have to go. Brian is going to be here soon. Iíll see you later, Pops!" I quickly made my escape to the garage where I was once again reunited with my bike. Her name was Claire. That was the name of my mom. She passed away when I was three in a tragic car accident, and a few years later, I learned how to ride my bike. It was also around the same time that I learned how to cope with my momís death. I feel as if every rider has something special they carry with him or her while they ride. Mine just so happens to be my momís loving spirit and her joy of riding. I decided it might be nice to keep the family tradition.

Brian pulled up into the driveway and began to get his bike off of the bike rack. He was a shorter man, most definitely shorter than my dad. Probably only about five feet and six inches tall. He was a fast rider though, in good shape, and well into his 40ís. Thatís one thing I learned through riding is that really anyone can ride a bike: big, small, short, tall, young, or old. Although, Brian would laugh if he knew I called him old!

"Hey there Kyla! You ready for todayís ride?" His grin stretched ear to ear, and I figured todayís ride was going to be difficult and long.

"Well, by the look of your devious smile, Iím not so sure if I should be excited or not! But, Iím usually excited. So, Iím going to go with yes. Iím ready!" I replied.

He got onto his bike and looked at me.

"What are you waiting for? Letís go!" He motioned to me with his head to get onto my bike.

Here goes nothing, I thought. Day 29 was going to hold some long miles, a challenge, and pure freedom.

Ö

Come on, just a few more miles. Push through for her. You can do it.

I have seen it all. Well, not all of it. I wasnít her first bike, and I wasnít the second, or even the third. But, Iím her race bike. Everyone knows that the race bike is one of the highest bikes. It is really close to the rider. I know why Iím named Claire, and Iíve carried my rider not just to overcome physical challenges, but emotional ones as well. I am her friend.

The friend that was with her through her first flat tire, first race, second race, third race, and her grueling training days. Iíve seen her smile, cry, and feel pain. Sometimes, I think she doesnít see me as her friend. But most of the time, she does.

Ö

"All athletes report to the starting line please. The race will begin in 4 minutes."

I had the pre-race nerves. I warmed up, my bike was properly set up on the bike rack, my shoes were tied, and everything I could think of was in place. It was just me, myself, and I.

"Second and final call. All athletes report to the starting line."

I approached the starting line. It was early, 6:58 A.M. The race officially started at 7 A.M. and then I would be off and on my way, attempting to finish my first duathlon. I took the next 2 minutes to really clear my head. I looked around me at all the other athletes. I seemed like one of the youngest people there. I mean I was only 20 years old, but I figured there would be more people my age there. The elite athletes pushed toward the front while some of the more relaxed athletes scattered toward the back. I remained in the middle. I felt the humidity rest heavily on my shoulders as sweat began to form on my top lip. The fog rolled over the trees and the crowds were making a lot of noise. Some athletes looked serious and some looked happy. I felt like two minutes was going by really slowly. I checked the clock and with 30 seconds to go, I spotted my dad on the left-hand side of the starting line. He smiled and waved, and I suddenly felt ready to complete this new challenge.

"MEEEEEHHHH" the starting horn chimed. This was it. I was starting.

I began to run the race. My heart rate started to pick up, and I could feel my feet below me moving at a fast race pace. I couldnít focus on anything else except the tall blonde woman in front of me wearing a bright blue shirt. Each stride was strategically placed. In, out, in, out. I kept saying this in my head as I gradually started to approach the woman in front of me. The pack was huge, and everyone was budging to get ahead of his or her neighbor. I came upon the bike transition area quicker than I had imagined. Was 2 miles over already?

Spectators were cheering for their friends and family who were competing. The announcer stated our names and numbers as we approached our bikes. After running Claire out of the transition zone and passing the mount/dismount line, I slipped my feet into my race shoes and clipped them into my bike.

Through the first few miles, I noticed I was flying. I could feel my training paying off during the race. I passed quite a few people and soon enough my confidence was extremely high. I was pretty sure I was even in front of Brian.

Mile 17 passed and now I was on mile 18. Only 7 more miles to go; Claire was pulling me through this race. I could sense both of us feeling strong. I took a turn behind me and saw no one. I figured the race was pretty spread out at this point. I turned back to the front of my bike, and I was gliding on a flat country road, going about 20 miles per hour. It was hot, but there was a breeze, and I saw the true beauty of the world around me. The country road in front of me went for miles, and the sun beat down on the cows in the field on my right. I examined the scenery around me while my thighs felt like they were going to explode. I noticed beauty when my calves were shaking, and I was out of breath. Sweat was dripping onto my eyebrows, just shy of touching my eyelashes. I was competing in this race, and I felt like that little girl my dad remembered from years ago.

I felt as if I knew what biking really meant to me for the first time. I ride for adventure. I ride because a bike can take you anywhere. I ride to feel free. In mile 18, I realized that I would finish this race, and I would finish well. But, itís not even about finishing. Itís about riding. Itís about feeling free. Through these hills of my hometown to the hills of a new place, I can only wonder where my bike and this road to freedom will take me next.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski