Down, down, down the trail went towards the small Oregon town of Banks. We were riding the state bike “rail to trail” which is located between Banks and Vernonia, Oregon. Gliding at 15 mph kept me in control because if I went any faster, I would not be able to respond quick enough to avoid the bumps in the road. The bumps caused my feet and bottom to lose contact with my recumbent trike and when I regained contact I hit hard and IT HURT! I heard a voice from behind, it was Charlie calling out to me. “10:10” A smile came across my face. Why? The backstory first.
Yesterday we rode to Vernonia. The trail was different in that after you caught the trail from the campground you cycled down through a set of tight switchbacks and then climbed steeply up the other side of the canyon with another’s set of tight switchbacks. After that hard climbing was several miles of level and plain-fun riding through a beautiful forest. When we arrived in the smallish town, we were hungry. Asking local people for the hotspot is always a good idea. We were directed to Main Street where several coffee shops and diners enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. We chose one, parked our bikes and sat outside at an umbrellaed table.
In small towns there seems to be more time. We had questions for our waitress, and she didn’t rush off. This was her first day of work at this restaurant. She was an elementary education major from Hawaii, with hopes to get a master’s degree in English as a second language.
We loitered at this restaurant for over an hour after we had finished eating. Finally, I stood up and grabbed my trekking poles and Charlie followed suit be standing and turning towards his bike.
Then, a woman appeared at our table. Where she had come from, I wasn’t sure, but learned later she was taking a shortcut through on the way home from the store when she joined relatives at the table next to us.
And suddenly without announcement she was at our table.
“How come he gets to ride a bike and you have to walk with those sticks?” I pointed over to my trike: “There’s my ride” I just use the sticks to walk.
We talked while standing up for a while, then sat down and talked more. All this time no one asked us to leave the tables.
She revealed that she had blown an interview for a teaching position due to her nervousness. We talked about interviews and tricks to deal with anxiety. Then she told me why she wanted the job, it was with a challenging level of students. She explained that she felt a connection with this class, as she had been troubled herself. She said she also had experienced addiction issues, but not anymore. I asked how she overcame her addictions and she responded John 10:10. “I have come that you may have life.”
I didn’t even know her name, yet in two hours she had told me the story of how she was still alive. One little piece of scripture had saved her. Every time she was tempted, she said “John 10:10 I have come that you might have life”.
She finally told me her name is Allison. She told me she is happy with her new life. She is 5 years sober. I didn’t get her last name, her address or anything to identify her. I gave her my card and told her “It’s up to you if you want to talk to me more.”
We hugged each other “goodbye”, she held tight, and I held on a bit longer that usual, just to let her know that I really meant it.
Everyone has a story. If you take the time to listen to a stranger’s story, you get to decide if it is a treasure or a lump of coal. I have told my share of “lump of coal” stories. And now I only tell stories as truth.
I believe Allison’s story. It could have all been made up. But it was not. She is a treasure more beautiful than gold.
The grin on my face must have seemed strange to oncoming bicyclists. We try to keep our mouths closed to bugs! But I was thinking of Allison who gained her life back with a short scripture. John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.
Allison had 5 years into her new life. I had 13 years away from my old life and felt I was going down, down, down even faster than my trike took me on the trail.
I needed to breathe again. John 10:10
Parkinson’s is the thief. But we choose if and what we let it steal.
I stole back these past few tough months Parkinson’s stole away from me by riding like a crazy woman for 88 miles through beautiful old growth forest.
It makes me smile.