Thankful for Duct Tape

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This writing may not be what you think, while yes I am thankful for duct tape and it’s many uses as I’m sure you are. This writing is about how duct tape taught me a very important lesson in humility.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to ride my bike from Fairbanks, Alaska to Anchorage on a supported Aids Ride. It was one of the most powerful and moving experiences I’ve ever had on a bicycle.

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On the forth day of the 500-mile ride the weather turned nasty and 1,600 riders where greeted with snow showers and temperatures in the low 30˚F’s. Most were not prepared, most sagged. So many that the local National Guard came in with busses to help move people to safety.

As I continued on the ride gloating about my skills and grit in foul weather I came across a woman tenaciously making her way up a grade fighting a snowy headwind. She seemed fully committed to going the distance. She was fixated on the road in front of her, head down, feet turning.

That’s when I realized she was wearing duct tape. This woman had completely wrapped herself with duct tape to keep out as much of the rain and snow as she could.

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I was in awe. I was humbled. I was a jerk.

I had been fueling my own ego over the last forty miles by riding in the cold rain while many others gave up. I had bloated my self-worth into thinking I was a bad-ass bike rider, me in my waterproof gear and neoprene pants with matching booties.

I remember that moment to this day, fifteen years ago. And then to find out she was from Bermuda was mind blowing. In honor of her brother who had died of Aids she had trained by riding up and down the twenty-five mile island over and over again. She had never been in snow before let alone ridden through it.

I was stunned silent as I pulled in front of her to block as much of the wind as I could. We continued on to the next rest stop without a word, her concentration was laser focused on the job at hand. That’s where we parted company, the rain stopped and the sun came out. True story.

So this holiday season I’m thankful for a lady wrapped in duct tape because she taught me something I’ll never forget. Her power and tenacity was an inspiration I still draw on to this day.

Check that ego at the door brother. Never give up. Never stop pedaling. And never put yourself up higher than anyone else.

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