Karl von Drais invented the first “running machine” in 1817. His apparatus, consisting of two wooden wheels with iron rims and leather-covered tires set the pace for the current bicycle, which was introduced to the world in the 1860s by inventors Pierre Lallement, Pierre Michaux, and Ernest Michaux, who added pedals that were attached to the front wheel. By best guess, there are well over one billion bicycles today. Thanks, Karl and the boys.
The thing about riding a bicycle is that if there is no motion, there is no ride. The bike's value is equal to the effort one puts into peddling. Also, important to note is that it takes more exertion, and more “pain” to get moving than to keep moving. What we have learned, the hard way, is that if we stop peddling we will coast for a bit, which isn’t bad, but ultimately the drive will end and we will fall.
This post reminds us that the push toward sobriety, like cycling, takes effort and continual momentum. It is both tricky and tough to get moving at first, but the trek becomes easier, sometimes effortless, as we learn the nuances of efficient riding and become familiar with the path that we are on.
Get Peddling – the early push
We had to want to ride. And then, we had to get on the bike. We had to want sobriety.
And then, we had to do something about it. Just wanting nets just nothing.
But, we argued, “I don’t know how”. While growing up, we had no how-to videos to guide us; we tried but failed. We saw others accomplishing and wanted what they had. We tried, and we fell. We learned from our failed attempts. We tried again. Eventually, bruised, we found success.
We found that the bulk of the effort was with the initial impetus – the get-going stage. Once we committed to mount the bike, to get sober, we had to find balance AND muster up the energy to initiate the motion.
These were tough days no doubt, that we bank in our memory as it is easier to move than to get moving.
Setting the pace
It is in the early activity that the pace gets set; we put in as much energy as needed to achieve the speed we desire. And, for us, we sought the promises of sobriety so intensely that we exerted extreme effort to set the tone for assured gain.
This meant, early on, many meetings, readings, step-work, and serving, along with much prayer and meditation. And constant contact with those who shared our desire to ride, paying particular attention to those who illuminated the path before us, who knew where the threats might be.
We knew there would be hills and valleys along the way – and occasional road hazards. We had to stay aware of what lay ahead – to “keep our eyes on the road”. We knew we had to know when we needed to engage the pedals again.
We were also coached to move at a reasonable, healthy tempo to avoid burnout. Being tired is as big a threat as being lonely, hungry, and angry.
It is okay to coast; we were taught, as long as we keep moving forward. Backward movement could spell disaster or death.
Once on a rhythm, we sense when to peddle and when to coast, when to reengage in the program, and when to rest.
We are not perfect at this. Sometimes we coast when we should be working; other times, we move too fast on a downhill and risk a wipeout. Riding is as much an art as a science, so patience and experience eventually pave the way for a smooth ride.
Continue Momentum – avoiding the fall.
The key is in continued movement. If we move forward, balance, remain observant of obstacles, and control ourselves, we greatly minimize the chance of a fall.
Scholars point to Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion: a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.
Can he be wrong? We think not. We will remain in the same place unless we move. And it is the outside force we need to be aware of. The straight line is what we want. Constant motion is our goal.
We also remember that it is a pain we grow, and to grow is to live.
Enjoying the ride
We have also learned that if we are not enjoying the scenery and the breeze of the trip then we are doing something wrong. If we do not appreciate the journey then what is the point?
We have come to appreciate the benefits of a solid ride. Every day we learn how to improve the experience. We ride hard some days and soft others – but we ride.
We are teaching others how to cycle now. We convey the actual struggles and joys of a ride done well.
Karl D had no idea that a billion people would come to love his contraption. Bill W had no idea that a million people would come to love his program.
It's funny what you learn when you look for the similarities.
Interesting, the cycle of sobriety.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast, #35, titled " Maintaining "Momentum" on the Sober Path” The session dropped on 12/1/2021….Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.