Tag Archives: bike

Just Like Riding a Bike

I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was ten; my childhood was –colorful– up to that point and well, learning how to ride a bike wasn’t high on the priority list.

My brother and cousin, however, were given the opportunity to learn at the normal age of six and I, amid the beauty of prepubescent awkwardness, decided to join in on the fun.

A ten year old’s body is different than that of a six year old.  It’s bigger.  More clumsy.  Uncoordinated.  Etc.  Samara learning how to ride a bike was far from elegant and could best be described as inept.

My best friend at the time was WAY into bikes.  Her dad had a bike shop in the garage, each member of the family had a top of the line bicycle, the family owned a tandem bike and they participated in the Ragbrai bike ride across Iowa each year.  This was a family of bikers.

So–in order to keep up with the Jones’, or in this case, the Rowell’s, I was determined to learn how to ride.

And I did…


Sort of.

I mean I fell a lot.  Who doesn’t fall when learning how to ride a bike…

…it’s just that I would just fall.  Like I would just stop peddling and tip over.  Peddle peddle. stop. flop.

Let’s just say, I was never quite a ‘natural’.

But I learned.

photo 1

(Please note that I am standing with the bike rather than actually riding the bike.  This was common.)

So there I was, the young and impressionable, bike riding Samara–ready to take on the world with my helmet hair and cool biking gear.

There I was, at least, until the dreadful day in 6th grade.

My brother and cousin took to bike riding much more naturally than I did and unfortunately for me, they knew it.  Even more unfortunately, they were little punks about it.  I could generally ignore their punk-i-ness by living in the Sunshine land that created for myself early on as a coping method for unpredictability and chaos, but this day was different.

The kids had been riding their bikes down a steep grassy hill located behind the church, across the street from my aunt and uncles house.  I had been watching them accelerate down the hill, listening to their wails of delight, but I had not even considered joining in on their madness.

But then the taunting began.

I was able to resist for awhile, but as the older and obviously much cooler 11 year old, I couldn’t stand in the face of their immature ridicules long and I decided to go for it.

I strapped on my helmet, got on the bike and sped down the hill.  Everything was going fine until I panicked over the momentum I was gaining and squeezed my handle bar brakes in a moment dismay.  Naturally my ever graceful body did a balletic spin over the handle bars landing me onto the ground with my bike laying next to me.

I died. I knew it.

Or worse.  I was paralyzed.

My brother and cousin came and stood over me looking at my bloodied and mangled body and all I was able to muster out of my mouth was a whisper stating, ‘I’m paralyzed.’

photo 2

As I was so completely convinced that I was either dead or paralyzed, I couldn’t move to get help and therefore my cousin had to go get her mom and my aunt literally drove the van down the hill, took the back seats out and lifted me in.  I rode to the hospital laying on the floor in the back of my aunt’s van.

A couple hours at the hospital and a few X-Rays later we found out that I was going to make it after all.  A minor wrist sprain and a few stitches in my mouth–but I was going to be just fine.

At least physically.  Psychologically, I was traumatized and decidedly never getting back onto a bike again.

Flash forward 14 years.

My car broke down and after learning that public transportation doesn’t actually exist in Omaha, (at least not with any efficiency,) I decided the best way for me to get to my coffee shop job at 5:20am was via bike.

I had been gifted a bike not long before and the old adage, ‘it’s like riding a bike,’ was ringing in my head, so I was completely confident in this idea.  That was, of course, until I got on the bike.

I fell.

and fell.  and fell.  I couldn’t get balanced, I couldn’t get my feet on the peddles and I surely couldn’t go down any hills.   I could not do this.

‘It’s like riding a bike.’  To me, this equals death.

Fortunately, one of my then roommates was (is) a saint and she agreed to re-teach me this age old skill.

It wasn’t pretty.

If I was nervous, awkward and scared as a ten year old, you can multiply those emotions by 14 and that is an equation that, again, leads to… death.

But my friend persisted.  She held onto my seat and promised not to let go and then let go and I fell.  Over and over and over.  Until, at last, I was able to ride my bike to work.

I, however, was never able to call myself a ‘confident rider’.  While I always made it to work and back, I refused to bike on the street and was convinced that I was constantly riding into danger and facing impending DEATH via bike accident.

photo 3

And then I moved to Thailand with the Lorensens.  This family is made up of avid bikers and lovers of all things scary and hard.  So, of course they had me biking to a market within the first month of being in town.

Soon there after, I purchased my own bike and while I was greatly distressed at first, I rode it.  In the beginning, my bike rides only took place on the back roads, but eventually I made it out onto the crazy, overloaded, hustling and bustling Thai roads–I even began to ride my bicycle to Thai class when I had alternative transportation options.

Samara, at the ripe age of 27, became a confident bike riding babe.

I was recently in the States for three months of resting, relaxing and library hopping.   As per my usual, I had a lot of car drama during these three months and was therefore out of a vehicle on a couple occasions.  Once again, providence shined down on me and I was loaned a bike.


This fearless biking mama was totally into the idea of peddling around Omaha.

Hello hipsters.  Here I am.

I buckled my helmet, put on my backpack, tied my Keds and was off on about a two mile journey to my church’s office building.

My biking, hipster babe fantasy bubble lasted a whole three minutes until I actually got on the bike and was reacquainted with my former fears and a few new foes called hills, gears, cars and cold.

That bike ride can only be described as DEATH HUMILIATION.

My Keds kept sliding off the peddles, there was something like 21 gears rather than the five that I have grown accustomed to, my fingers were frozen off in the 40 degree weather and the cars…

THE CARS!! Instead of just zipping past me amid my struggles up the hills (as any Thai person would do) they patiently waited behind me—only to increase my feelings of shame and anxiety.


Basically all the awkwardness and blunderings of my ten year old paralyzed self came flash flooding back into my psyche and I never got back on that bike again.

But hey, now I’m back in Thailand where the weather is warm, the traffic is crazy and for some reason, here, I can ride a bike like a pro.

The End.



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Breaking Bones, Facing Fears and Experiencing Freedom

I’ve never really liked to drive.  

I’m not really sure where that came from.  Maybe from traumatic learning how to drive experiences, maybe from my seven not so well working cars….maybe from my five or so fender benders… I don’t know; but I’ve never really liked to drive.  

…and I pretty much have had an intense fear of bicycles for the greater part of my life.

Basically if I could get by walking or taking public transportation (aka, a friend’s car,) I was set.

Moving to Thailand seemed like heaven to someone like me. 

The public transportation system is quite efficient, easy to understand and fairly inexpensive.  Walking is often required, but that’s no big deal in a snow-free climate. 

Most, if not all, of my western friends have some sort of transportation.  The Lorensen’s have a car, but most people drive their motorbikes.  For six whole months I was questioned about my choice to not get a motorbike.  

“They are so convenient.”

“You get places way faster and don’t have to walk miles each day.”

“Paying for gas is so much cheaper than paying for Songteows [my favorite form of public transportation here] multiple times a day.”

But I stood my ground.  I was going to be a Songteow-ing lady as long as I lived in Thailand.  In fact, I went as far as to let God know that I was not going to learn how to drive a motorbike…

About four months into living in Thailand, my walking and songteow-ing going strong, I decided that a bicycle would be a good investment.  Yes, I had some fears to face in regards to riding that thing on the (left side of the) street, but I figured, this would be a good form of exercise for me and would save me a couple minutes every morning. 

So I purchased my bike.  I was pretty terrified at first, but within a couple weeks, I was a pro.  [I even experienced my first flat tire without freaking out.]  

By this time, people’s complaints about my inability to get around easily where beginning to annoy, but I was standing firm in my decision to not learn how to ride a motorbike.  

My prayer changed a little bit though.  Instead of just telling God that I wouldn’t….I prayed:

“God, if you really want me to learn how to ride a motorbike.  Someone is going to have to straight up give me one.  I will not buy a motorbike.”


Two months later one of my friend’s moved back to America.  

She left me her motorbike. 



Sometimes I have to laugh at God’s sense of humor.  He gave me a motorbike.  I guess now it was my responsibility to learn how to ride it. 

It was incredible to me how much fear I had of that thing. 

I like to think of myself as a pretty adventurous person.  Things don’t scare me (unless we’re talking about spiders, praying mantises or any other flying insect,) I like to do the scary things.

Riding this motorbike FREAKED me out.  I was crippled.  As Caleb would say, my fear was driving me to do unnatural things.

So the motorbike sat in our driveway.

After about two months I decided I would start driving…little by little.  Seriously, little by little.  I would have to constantly remind myself to breathe and keep my eyes open during these learning sessions…


And then, I broke my toes.

I am not one to believe that God causes sickness or injury in order to teach us things.  I do, however, believe that God makes all things good.

I was pretty pitiful with those broken toes.  I couldn’t walk for a good while and had to hobble with my crutches… but despite the pit of the despair I was letting myself be in, life had to go on. 

I had to go to language school everyday and I could no longer walk the mile or so that was required to get there, let alone climb into and out of a songteow.  It just wasn’t possible.  

had to drive that motorbike.  And I had to drive it with my crutches.

So drive it I did.  

And I was terrified.  

So I prayed.  and prayed and prayed.  And arrived safely to my destination.  Time after time after time.   

I was forced to face this fear.


It’s been about two months now and getting on the motorbike is no longer a source of fear for me.  I’m still not the best at parking, (though, that was never my strong suit in the States with my cars…) backing out or making left turns, but, I’m getting better everyday. 


This is me with my awesome ride. As a motorbike, it is pretty much equivalent to any of the cars I’ve ever had. But, it has a warm place in my heart.

The incredible amount of freedom I feel when driving that bike is beautiful.  Not only the freedom to get around quickly and efficiently without long walks, but also the freedom from fear.


The whole experience seemed pretty prophetic to me.  It took my getting ‘broken’, for me to face my fears.  And it took facing my fears in order for me to experience this freedom.

It makes me question what other hidden fears are paralyzing me?  What other things am I refusing to walk into…. What other areas of my life am I saying ‘no’ to God in?

My toes are pretty much 100% at this point.  And some days I miss my walks and rides in the Songteows, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be going back to my old ways anytime soon…

…I’ve tasted freedom, and I like it!



Oh, also, my helmet makes me look like Strong Bad from Homestar Runner.


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