Last summer, I had a particularly exhausting day. I had been up early for a run, then I had worked in the community garden, tilling soil with a hoe for two hours until my hands were covered in blisters. I followed that with a bike ride to a six mile hike with some friends, where we climbed an old abandoned fire tower (and all of the blisters on my hands popped until my fingers stuck together). After all that, I still had two hours of field work to do.
So you can imagine my exhaustion as I was riding my bicycle home quite late in the evening. I stopped at a red light on a hillside, unclipped my shoe from the pedal, and waited for it to turn green.
I should explain, at this point, that clipless pedals require you to turn your foot at a non-intuitive angle to release. It is almost a rite of passage to stop at some point, suddenly forget how to unclip, and to slowly fall over as you desperately struggle to put your foot on the ground. It happens to almost everybody who has ever ridden with clipless pedals.
In my case, when the light turned green, I clipped my shoe in, and then tried to pedal up the hill. Stopped in the middle of the steep slope, I found myself completely unable to muster the strength to get up the rest of it from a stopped position. I realized this fact at about the moment when I slowly began to tip over on my bike.
Crash! I toppled over sideways without having moved forward an inch. A passerby on the crosswalk was horrified. “Oh my goodness,” he shouted, rushing to my aid as I wrangled my bike off of me and hopped to a standing position, blushing furiously. “Are you okay?”
I laughed it off, “It was nothing, really. I am not hurt at all.”
He locked eyes with me and said, with a completely deadpan expression, “When you need help, you need to ask for it.”
Well, I never.
When I tell this story to friends who know me quite well, they just laugh and shake their heads. I guess I never have been good at asking for help.