Zach and I have been in England for over a week now. Long enough to get over jet lag. Long enough to explore the area, get lost a few times, learn our way home, make friends, try fish and chips, go to church. And long enough to buy bicycles.
In Cambridge, cycling is one of the most common modes of transportation. Bikes are a very important purchase, because in a large part of the city centre, roads are restricted to cycles, taxis, and buses. We’re also temporarily staying with some new friends who live about three miles from the city centre. So cycling is a necessity. Thankfully, the cycling path is so picturesque, with most of the journey taking you by the River Cam and through some lovely fields. Although yesterday Zach had to cycle off the path to avoid being plowed over by a cow, so the scenery is not without its dangers.
All this to say, I have probably cycled more in the past week than I have in my entire life. The first day of cycling into town, I thought I would just keel over and die, right there on the bike path. When I got off my bike after FINALLY reaching the city centre, my legs almost gave out from under me. I told Zach a few days ago that muscles in my waist were sore. Who knew you even had muscles in your waist?! Well, now I do. Because mine are all angry at me.
Then, Sunday afternoon on our way home from church, I was trying to catch up with Zach and Mark, our host for these in-between weeks before we can move into our apartment. We were over half-way home, and I was completely done. But then we hit a part of the path that had a slight downward slope, and I thought, “Here’s my chance! Now I can catch up!” So I pedaled with everything I had. I was doing okay until it was time to make a hard right turn at the bottom of the hill.
With some sort of odd screeching sound – that couldn’t have possibly been me? – I toppled over onto the pavement, scraping up my arms and dirtying my dress. This kind older gentleman walking behind me ran over to help me up, but I really just wanted to keep lying face first on the pavement where I’d come to a stop. Zach and Mark were there, too, grabbing my (now slightly scuffed up) purse and righting my bike so I could get back on. But now my elbow hurt as well as my thighs, and I was very concerned that I’d ripped a hole in my brand-new leggings (good news! They’re fine!).
So I took a breath, thanked random-stranger-man and assured him I did, in fact, know these people who were holding my purse, and got back on my bike to finish the trip home. I was convinced my elbow was broken – I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic – but just kept repeating to myself what had become over the weekend my cycling mantra, “Just keep pedaling, Emily. If you stop, you won’t be able to start again. Just keep pedaling.”
Thankfully, I did not break my elbow. And, after many more miles on the cycling path, my legs don’t start screaming at me now until at least mile 2.75 of 3. I’m even beginning to pedal faster. But when I do get a bit behind Zach, or when every part of my body aches from cycling all over creation, I just remind myself, “Just keep pedaling, Em. Just keep pedaling.”
This transition will not always be easy for us. I am sure there will be moments where everything within us screams for us to just stop, turn around, and go home. Try again some other time. Or never. But then we will remember that this journey is all part of the Lord’s purposes for us. And we know that through His strength, we can find it within ourselves to just keep pedaling.