Some of you might remember my bicycle ride through Paris…well I recently had another opportunity to hone my riding skills in Nida, Lithuania. I travelled to Lithuania with my siblings, my two older brothers and my older sister. We had an indescribable adventure discovering our heritage, which included a day of bike riding on the Curonian Spit – a beautiful peninsula in the Baltic Sea on which there is a majestic forest, soft sand dunes, and a border with Russia.
Let me be clear that though I am the youngest in the family, I am not the fittest – at least when it comes to bicycle riding. Bicycle riding is the favorite method of exercise for my oldest brother and my sister, and my other brother is a marathon runner who is at the gym almost daily. I was not fearful of the endeavor, but I knew it would be a challenge for me to keep up with them.
We had a hearty breakfast and headed off to choose our steeds for the day from the local rental shop. I immediately spied a purple bicycle (my favorite color), and as luck would have it – it had a basket which would be perfect for carrying Chuckie (see photo), and a few bottles of water. We obtained a map and asked how to get to the Russian border. We were immediately discouraged and warned that we would not be able to enter Russia. We smiled, and rode off towards the border.
Now my purple bicycle, looked good, felt good, had the amenities I thought I needed, but whilst my bike-enthusiast siblings donned their 10-12 speed models I found myself facing the first big hill with…a 3 speed. NO ONE NOTICED I CHOSE A 3 SPEED BIKE FOR A DAYING OF CYCLING THROUGH SAND AND FOREST. So as I faced that aforementioned mountain of a hill, my siblings not only passed me, but had to patiently wait for me as I walked my bike to the top. I assured them I was fine and surely that hill was an anomaly. Sure enough, the road evened out and I was doing okay. I was feeling tired, but I maintained a look of enjoyment, even though internally, I was concerned that I would not survive the day. I portaged my purple bicycle through the sand traps of the forest, and I assured myself I was burning more calories – this was good for me.
We made it to the Russian border, took our pictures, and then decided to return to a previously spotted taped off area in the woods warning NO ENTRY ALLOWED. It was there we thought perhaps…we could put our toes in Russia. It was also there that we ran into a very scary guard- complete with a German Shepherd dog. Just when we thought we were headed to prison, my oldest brother stood tall, declaring we were only excited to “see Russia”. The guard examined us…and then, reassured us that we were still in Lithuania, and he was a Lithuanian guard. Oh.
Back on the bikes and now headed to the sea, and I am exhausted. It’s at this point that Marathon Brother sees my discomfort and offers to exchange bicycles. That’s love. WOW – and cruising on my newly acquired 10 speed bike gave me an understanding of why people like bike riding. After wading in the Baltic, we hit the forest trails. It wasn’t easy, you know dodging rocks and trees at full speed down the hill in a dense forest– but hey, what’s life without a few challenges? One thing is for sure – I didn’t need a purple basket. I needed someone stronger, wiser, someone who loved me so much he wanted me to have a joyful ride, and he was willing to sacrifice his comfort for mine.
Kinda like Jesus.