Previously, I introduced my all-terrain assault bicycle, The Tank. Riding that monstrous creation gave me confidence, and I could do anything on those wide knobby tires.
Mark, the rich kid who lived on the hill, had three channels of TV in our one channel valley. He watched stuff the rest of us only imagined—The Wonderful World of Disney, Star Trek, and Daniel Boone. After a new show aired, we dangled our feet in our regular spot at the edge of the bridge while Mark recited the dialogue.
One afternoon Mark described a TV special on Evel Knievel. Mr. Knievel possessed a manly desire to line stuff in a long row so he could attempt to jump the collection with a motorcycle. Sometimes he crashed, but the ladies swooned over this handsome daredevil. We decided to cash in on that fame and glory. We had stuff. We had bikes. We could fly.
The large boulder standing guard over the vegetable garden seemed an ideal launch pad. The first jumper used a plank of wood as a ramp, but he missed his mark and suffered a groan injury. Why do guys have that extra bar on their bikes? Seems like a cruel design error. We worked like ants moving dirt to make a safer ramp.
Once the dirt was packed, Mark took his Stingray for a jump. It was a good landing, but I expressed doubts that he had both tires airborne simultaneously. That objection moved me to the front of the line to prove I could do better.
I needed speed for a successful flight. If I combined The Tank’s weight with the generosity of gravity, 30 MPH should be attainable. I pushed the bike through the woods to the base of the cliff. Never mind that I had not ridden a bike down that steep hill dodging trees at high speed. I did it with a sled once, and riding the bike couldn’t be much different.
It was a glorious run—the wind scrubbed my crew-cut hair, juicy bugs plastered my cheeks, and raucous cheers rose from my friends waiting below. I struggled to stay on track. The Tank bucked like a bronco before the ride smoothed, and the speed increased dramatically. This was going to be a moment to remember.
The Tank hit the ramp dead center.
The front wheel embedded in the hard-packed earth and stopped in a microsecond.
Bikes do not perform well when the front stops abruptly. The rear of The Tank left the earth with my backside locked in a vacuum seal with the seat. Without the need to invest billions in a Saturn V rocket, I had achieved escape velocity.
Once the rear wheel passed the front wheel, the front rejoined The Tank and me for the remainder of the flight. I watched my graceful exit from the launch pad, thanks to my rear-facing orientation. Steering was less than responsive, and as a first-time test pilot, I did not know that bailing out is often the best course of action.
The flight trajectory was magnificent, but the impact of splashdown knocked me senseless. As my eyes fluttered open, I was greeted by intense pain and the concerned faces of the recovery crew. Their consensus was, “Browns Creek, we have a problem!”
Besides the minor scrapes and cuts, I had landed with my left leg wedged between the pedal crank and the frame. My subsequent verbal alarm brought Mom and several other moms out of their houses to see which child had exited the neighborhood for Glory. Being one with The Tank, I had no choice but to listen as the onlookers discussed options for my rescue (to be shared in a future post).
I can’t recall being hurt or getting into trouble in solitude. It took a village of idiots to plunge me into diabolical scenarios of distress. Usually there was a bumper crop of the verbal taunting of peer pressure. Parents warned. “Birds of a feather flock together”, but for some reason, listening to friends seemed smarter. Paul predicted the expected result with these simple words.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
I Corinthian 15:33 (NASB)
We never escape the forces of peer pressure. It grows stronger with a larger price tag. Do you know anyone struggling financially because of his need to keep up with someone’s new car, bigger house, or nicer vacation? How about a stress junkie volunteering and joining until his list stretches far beyond his available time? What about one who is so needful of the approval of others he will risk everything to gain it?
Paul sounded the warning. Perhaps we need to run with a different crowd or tune into a different message? What are your thoughts?
 Name changed to obscure his identity