It’s cool to be Mr. Dependable in life or on the bike
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Confession time. I didn’t get one of the cool Senior Superlatives when I was in high school. You know the ones, like “Best Dressed” or “Most Athletic.” And I sure wasn’t in the running for “Best Looking.” No “Cutest Couple” for me. No “Wittiest.”
No, I got “Most Dependable.” Way down the list on the cool factor. I remember thinking that it must be the least desirable of all the Senior Superlatives.
Dependable. I got it with a really sweet girl named Cheryl Worley who I should have been proud to stand beside. Maybe I was. It was been a long time ago.
But I do remember that I would sure preferred something else. Now, not so much.
You see I’ve built a life and a career around being dependable. For being reliable. For being someone that you could count on.
I remember a girlfriend breaking up with me one time back in college because I just wasn’t spontaneous enough. Not “exciting” enough. She preferred the edgy guys that were always on the border of staying in trouble. Dependable equals Boring.
That wasn’t me then and it isn’t me now. Maybe that’s why bicycling is such a great sport for me (and which may prove to be my best overall sport ever). You have to be dependable on the bike.
Let me tell you what a paceline is. In a bicycle paceline, a group of riders is riding one behind the other, often only inches from each other’s wheel. The purpose of this is to draft off the person in front of you. Those that understand NASCAR racing will know exactly what I’m talking about.
Every biker/car except the front one has an easier job. For the biker, it takes less effort. For the car, less gas. It is a distinct advantage.
And just like in NASCAR, you can’t let up. The person behind you has got to be able to count on the fact that you are predictable. If not, you, them, and everyone else behind you is likely to wreck.
If we get a new rider in with one of our group rides, we check them out first to determine if they are reliable. Do they ever hit the brakes when they shouldn’t? Do they “hold their line,” not riding all over the road?
If so, we will gradually accept them into the group and ride closer and closer to them. If not ... well ... I’ve been known to deliver a stern lecture or two on the back of the bike. Literally, my health depends on it.
In my work, I’ve got to be dependable. If you come to me, you want my full attention to your health needs. You’re counting on me to consistently understand your problems and come up with solutions. Not occasionally: Every time.
My family counts on me to be reliable. At one time or another, that has meant a regular paycheck, consistent discipline, and even, maybe especially, the little things like being there when I’m supposed to.
I remember well that I forgot to pick up my 4-year-old son at day care one time. He let me know it in uncertain terms and it has bothered me to this day that I let him down.
Most Dependable? It may not have been the coolest Superlative, but after all these years, I can’t think of one that I would rather have had.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)