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Senior Correspondent

Elaine, my long time friend and bicycling buddy, and I were training for a ride across Missouri on the Katy trail a few years ago. On one of those training rides, we set out at 6:00 a.m. with a goal of getting 45 miles in early so we could have the afternoon for our respective weekend chores.

As always, we enjoyed wonderful conversations riding along, and one of the topics was how easy it has become to put things in perspective now. Situations that might have once seemed insurmountable really seem more manageable somehow.  

We speculated that the stuff we once labeled as "problems" seemed pretty tame compared to such things as being diagnosed with cancer, having a heart attack or losing a loved one. Elaine happens to be recovering from chemo and radiation and she can still out bike me any place, any time. She doesn't like to think of herself as courageous, nor has she allowed the cancer to define her. She is the same person she was before the diagnosis. She is a real "what you see, is what you get" kind of person. And, she has a ton of friends and, dare I say, fans.

So as we were cycling along reflecting on how manageable our daily lives had become, I felt a sudden burst of energy, and decided to spend it seeing if I could just once speed ahead of Elaine. ZoomZoom, my bike, and I took off like a streak, feeling proud.

And then I hear Elaine calling to me from behind. It's a flat tire. She has a flat tire. This is not good! We only have flat tires when biking with guys who know how to change them in 3 minutes or under. ZoomZoom and I return to the scene of the flat. It's on the back tire. That's the tire that's surrounded with all those gear things. We immediately recognize that we are in deep doodah, and secretly wish for some good looking guy to bike up and rescue us. No good looking bike guy in sight, we take our best shot. Soon the bike is in a several pieces on the side of the trail. She has the spare tube and CO2 to inflate it, but neither of us have the tool that enables the process for removing the tire from the rim. We will have to use our bare, recently manicured, hands.

If this situation had been a tropical storm, it was about to be upgraded to a hurricane. Then we remembered. . . No problem! Mosquitoes, bugs, trail varmints, grease, mysterious levers, screws and sprockets would not defeat us! And, then it happened. We were indeed rescued by a nice man and his extremely impatient wife. Tube changed out and aired up, we discover a good size hole in the tire. Off we go, hoping to make it to the nearest bike shop. No problem, we say to ourselves. A new tire and we'll be good.  

"No, they do not have the right size replacement tire, but they could do some patch work." No problem.Things are looking up at the bike shop. Just as we're paying the tab, preparing to hit the trail again, we hear a terrifying boom! The slumbering bike shop cat jumps 4 feet into the air and does a 180. Smoke is bellowing out of the bike tire. Now, this could be a problem.

Nothing could be done to get the bike back on the trail. We would have to send for Elaine's husband to rescue us. And then it hit us, a bike rental would work. No problem!

Back on the trail, our conversation resumed. We realized that even though the day went its own way, rather than according to our plan, it was a great day! There had been no accident due to a blow out. We had a better idea of the maintenance and repair items needed for our 4 day ride across Missouri, we had received a crash course on flat changing and we were both strong enough to enjoy the adventures of bicycling the Katy. No problem, Indeed!

"You can assess the state of your mental health by the number of options you are aware of." Source Unknown

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