Like Riding a Bike

COLUMBUS—I must be crazy. I am riding a bike through this Georgia town, following my wife, who is riding her bicycle with no hands.

The weather is perfect today. Birds litter the live oaks that line the cobblestone streets. The Chattahoochee River is roaring in the distance. And my wife has lost her mind.

We came to Columbus to buy two second-hand bikes that my wife found in the classified ads. They are nice bikes. The thing is, I don’t even know if I remember how to ride a bike.

I gave up riding bikes in the sixth grade. I remember the day clearly.

Robert Danielson dared me to ride no-handed. I did it for five seconds. Then I fell onto the pavement face first. My mother said it was the most expensive dental bill she ever saw.

“Slow down!” I shout to my wife.

“WHEEEEEEE!” my wife says. Then my wife removes her hands from the handlebars again.

“Stop that!”

But she can’t hear me. She is carefree, pedalling, punching the air, singing the theme song from the movie “Rocky.”

I should not be here. I am not a fan of the bicycle. If God had wanted man to ride bikes he wouldn’t have made biking shorts look so dumb.

Still, I am a big fan of the classified ads. You can buy a lot of nice things in the classified section. And in my family, we bought used things from the newspaper all the time. Most everything we ever owned was fourth-hand stuff.

I was brought up by a man who read the classifieds like some men follow the stock market. My cradle was lined with the “Thrifty Nickel” newspapers.

My father was always looking for a deal. He believed that the newspaper was the best place to buy cars, lawnmowers, radial saws, Christmas decor, wedding anniversary gifts, etc.

The thing is, buying used stuff always requires something called “dickering.” And I hate to dicker, so I rarely consult the classifieds anymore.

Price haggling is a cherished practice for a true classifieds-section man. There is a strict protocol, and it’s a real battle.

First, the buyer makes an insultingly low offer. Then, the seller comes back with a high price. The buyer goes even lower. The seller goes higher. Buyer spits. Seller insults the buyer’s mother. Both parties leg wrestle, shake hands, and build a sand castle together.

But getting back to the bikes. After we bought them, we took them for a maiden voyage by the river. So that’s how my wife ended up riding down the sidewalks of Columbus like a woman with her shorts on fire. Hands free. I can hardly look.

Meanwhile, I hold the handlebars so tightly that I leave inch-deep grip marks in the steel.

“ISN’T THIS FUN?!” she shouts.


Ever since this quarantine began, my wife has started reading adventure magazines about bicycles. These magazines feature photographs of attractive young couples cheerfully biking through the rugged mountains, wearing backpacks that are the size of Yamaha pianos.

I can’t blame her for getting lost in glossy publications featuring exotic hiking trips and places nestled in the woods. We have all been forced to fantasize, ever since COVID-19 became a household word. A lot of people’s summers were ruined.

But you don’t see everyone going out and buying bicycles do you?

Last night I noticed something was a little off. I came home to the smell of steak cooking. Then my wife placed a plate before me containing a cut of meat that was about the size Lou Ferrigno.

“What’s this?” I asked.


Immediately, my radar antennae went up. My wife only cooks steak when she either (a) wants something, or (b) receives a letter from American Express.

“What’s this about?” I said, poking my perfect steak.

“Oh, nothing.”

I waited for the other shoe to drop, but she said not a word. Instead, she got quiet and asked how my steak tasted.

“Fantastic,” I said. I am particular about my steaks. I like my steak so rare that a good vet could bring it back to life.

My wife let a few moments lapse. Then she said, “So when was the last time you rode a bicycle?”

There it was. I had known it was coming.

So I told her that the last time my haunches touched a bicycle saddle, Eleanor Roosevelt was still first lady. I don’t even own a bike.

“I’m not getting a bike,” I said.

“I know. I was only saying…”

“I don’t like bikes.”

“I know.”

“They’re dangerous.”

“You’re right, sweetie.”

“I will never get a bike.”

“I know.”

So I bought a bike.

And now I am watching my moderately insane wife speed along the scenic side streets of a picture-perfect Columbus. No hands. And I’m starting to realize something.

It was 18 years ago this week that I met this woman. If I close my eyes I can still see the day itself. She was beautiful, with cheerful eyes. I was an average guy with an overbite and unnaturally big feet.

She was the first person to truly see me. She made me feel important. She made me feel lighter. When we married, I knew deep in my heart that she would be the greatest adventure I would ever have.

So who am I fooling? I would do anything that this remarkable woman asked me to do.

Except let go of these godforsaken handlebars.


  1. Toni - July 2, 2020 6:31 am

    ‘So glad you found each other!

  2. Jon Dragonfly - July 2, 2020 6:36 am

    You lucky fella! Don’t ever let go of that woman.

  3. Christina - July 2, 2020 6:45 am

    What a gift of seeing you for who you truly are! You are the luckiest man, Sean.

  4. Robert M Brenner - July 2, 2020 9:02 am

    True love will cause you to make small errors in judgment sometimes. Watch out for skinned knees, have fun Sean! Ain’t love grand? 😊 🏍!

  5. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - July 2, 2020 9:21 am

    Sean, so yesterday you told us about dreams and bucket lists and bungee jumping, but now you’re afraid to take your hands off the handlebars? Really? 😀

  6. Tracy - July 2, 2020 11:23 am

    Adorable story! Lucky guy..and gal!

  7. Jan - July 2, 2020 11:50 am

    True love! The best gift in the world. I too am a worrier, Sean. I worry constantly about what could go wrong. We both need to lighten up and enjoy this crazy time as much as we possibly can, even if it means riding a bike!

  8. Donald Watts - July 2, 2020 12:01 pm

    I enjoy reading your daily column, but lately you’ve been out doing yourself. Maybe it’s the COVID. I can only describe it with some of the following adjectives: more insightful, more comfortable, more humorous, and better delivery. You are truly a master at your art. I will continue my daily ritual, reading your article with my first cup of coffee. Thanks

  9. Matgaret - July 2, 2020 12:30 pm

    Wish we had known you were coming to Columbus; we would have taken you out to supper! Enjoy the bicycle and thank God fervently every single day for Jamie! Stay safe!

  10. aleathia nicholson - July 2, 2020 2:20 pm

    My big adventure was Ruth and me playing “Dare Ya!” to see who would veer right first while riding straight towards one another. Neither one did and my daddy had to cut the spokes to get my right leg out of a row of metal lines. He looked at me and said: “Your mother is going to kill you as soon as the scars heal.” Ruth kept whining and saying: “Mommy Young is going to spank me!” She only had a scarred tire Blood was on my sidewalk for a week. One month later, I got a whipping

  11. kathleenivy - July 2, 2020 2:46 pm

    I can almost feel the bicycle beneath me. Thank you for sharing this Sean. It is the nature of adventures to be somewhat (or very) uncomfortable in the moment and then make for good stories. Many blessings to you and Jamie. May you have many adventures like this one together. Wheeee!

  12. Helen Taylor Andrews - July 2, 2020 3:30 pm

    Sean, and Jamie, I know you both well enough to say this: Folks would pay good money to see Sean in bike shorts and a helmet….just saying. It sounds like at least one of y’all is having a good time…
    I’m not an athletic person myself and the last bike seat I was on was not sized for my assets…
    Much love to you and Jamie! Jamie, you are the bomb!

  13. Becky Souders - July 2, 2020 4:21 pm

    Being born a midwesterner, one of the reasons I read your work is that is presents a different world than the Nebraska corn-fed beef on I was raised in. I, too, like my steak rare rare rare. My dad gave me that habit. When we ate out, he ordered his steak “Knock off its horns, wipe its a__ and run it through the kitchen.”
    Also, I will give you some incentive to ride that bike: no carbon footprint! … maybe only face-prints.

  14. Gale Smith - July 2, 2020 4:34 pm

    Jaime is so good for you, Sean. And I bet she thinks you hung the moon. It is wonderful to be married to your best friend.

  15. Linda Moon - July 2, 2020 5:00 pm

    “Thrifty Nickel”! I haven’t thought about that newspaper in years! You brought back memories of “dickering”. I’ve met Jamie, so I know why you went out and bought a bicycle because of her, steak or no steak. Gosh, you made me remember adventures that remind me of you two…especially eating at The Big Texan Steak Ranch and Brewery in Amarillo. Keep holding on to those handlebars and most especially….to each other!

  16. Sue Rhodus - July 2, 2020 5:43 pm

    Aww…how we love those people that makes feel light and important. 💕 Ride on Lance (Armstrong) !

  17. Ala Red Clay Girl - July 2, 2020 8:08 pm

    What a cute story! It reminds me of my in-laws who went bike riding one day near their house. Although they were in their 60’s and had lived through 8 children, they were still madly in love. They tried holding hands while riding beside each other. Of course, it didn’t go well and they crashed. Luckily, they walked away unscathed, but the bikes were totaled, and my father-in-law had to drag the bikes home. They were a wonderful couple who were married 62 years. So – don’t let Jamie talk you into holding hands while riding bikes.

  18. Nena Manci - July 3, 2020 2:35 am

    Daisy, daisy, give me your answer true
    I’m half crazy over the love of you 🎼🚴‍♀️🚴🏼‍♂️❤️

  19. kellygirlteacher - July 3, 2020 3:18 am

    Love this story Sean! Please wear helmets! We need you both with brains intact!

  20. Heather miller - July 3, 2020 6:37 pm

    My brother taught me to ride a bike when I was five. I was a quick study. This was fun, and I learned no-hands riding after a month or so. At least I thought I did.
    Riding along one afternoon, I decided to show the boy across the street how I could ride no-hands. I yelled “look at me!! Watch!!”
    Next minute I hit a rock on the sidewalk, skidded, and sailed like a kite into a wood fence, head first. When I got up, a rusty nail, head first, was sticking out of that tiny upper part of my nose between my eyes. Blood everywhere. Nail embedded in bone.
    I rode home, waited to cry until I walked in the kitchen. Mother shrieked, loaded me in the car, off to the hospital where they gave me something that sent me off to lala land, removed the nail, and sent us home.
    I promised not to ever ever ever ride no hands again!
    That promise lasted about a month. I’m going to be 83 next week. I still can ride no hands. I think. I need to get a bicycle and try.

  21. Ann Marie Bouchet - July 4, 2020 2:40 am

    And she is cute and makes you biscuits and pound cake! Yay, Jamie!!!

  22. Melanie - July 5, 2020 1:24 am

    You’re a good man and a good husband, Sean.


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