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July 4th is always a family oriented holiday for me, but it’s also always my day.  Maybe that is why that day is one of my favorites, a day that I come away from relaxed and regenerated.  I love July 4th for a lot of reasons.

Every July 4th starts with a bike ride, usually a long one that gives me that tired and satisfied aura, perfect for the relaxation that follows with my family.  My wife has learned to give me my time at the beginning of the day, enjoys what the bike ride does for my attitude.  This past holiday was no exception, with a three hour mountain bike ride with two friends early in the morning.

The picture is blurry, taken by my friend Jon as he laid down across a bend in the trail.  I growled at the camera as I leaned over the handlebars, about to negotiate the turn in the direction of my outstretched knee.  Jon and Eric are experienced riders, much better than I am, but also happy to be out riding with me.  It’s great for me to ride with them.  They make me a better rider, motivate me to get out and bust my butt.

My riding friends remind me of the truth of Paul’s words, more complicated than one might determine.

“Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.”  Paul in his letter to the Romans (12:15)

They are happy when each is having a good time on the bike.  Thursday morning, we each took a good spill, one that made my wife happy (translate as “amused”) when I came home and popped three ibuprofen and moaned on the couch with an ice pack on a bruised shoulder.  We each enjoyed the good fortune of a good bike with each other, shared in the badge of honor that a good spill can be.  It’s not a matter of comparison, it’s a matter of sharing.

I find that very cool.  Very relaxing.  Frankly, I like to ride with guys like that more than the ones who rejoice in making each other weep.  Or those who drool over new bike equipment, wishing they have what the other has more than being happy about the good fortune of the one who just got the nice stuff.  Some guys are more about the ride.  Some guys are more about having the best stuff, more about being number one.

Oops.  I’m preaching.  It is Sunday after all.  I did do that preaching thing in my previous life.

Yesterday morning I met with the same guys and a few others for a ride on the road.  They met me a block away from my house, took that route strictly to make sure I would get out of bed for the ride.  It was early — 6:00 in the morning.  They pulled me for close to 53 miles, not minding that I needed to take advantage of their strength and not take the front to do the work.  There is no way I could have gone that far without the motivation my friends provided.  And I had energy to spare when I got home, enough to mow the lawn and function the rest of the day.  In previous years, with other riders, that has not been the case.  Once again, I felt the satisfaction.

It feels good to be on the bike again, to be out riding.  After my foot surgery last January, I really did not feel I would be riding like I am now, even though I hoped I would be.

And I like it.