Spandex in Ben Franklin

Spandex in Ben Franklin

Polly Holladay

Published July 17, 2010
I sat this morning on the tailgate of my son’s pickup truck and watched with wonder, admiration and a thrill as hundreds of bike riders flew past on Farm Road 38, right through our tiny community.

Ben Franklin was one of many small town hosts to the annual Tour de Paris, and we residents thoroughly enjoyed the spirit of these athletes racing by, some in large groups, some riding solo, and many riding in pairs. The majority had as big a smile as I did, waving and pressing onward.

My husband, Doc, and two of our sons, Daniel and Benjamin, helped in this endeavor: Heading further up the road to direct traffic, keep water bottles filled, and hand out energy snacks as the weary but resilient travelers stopped to rest and rejuvenate their bodies.

I, however, chose to watch from the comfort of my own shaded front yard situated in what I jokingly call “downtown Ben Franklin.” Once a thriving town of more than 500 residents, it now consists of a tiny post office directly across the street from us, and a working cattle barn to the south of our home.

Our property holds a building that used to be a mercantile store, and a shop, which once boasted a busy mechanic. Up the road you’ll find a couple of churches and a civic center, and aside from that, a smattering of houses here and there to the tune of about a hundred or so friendly folks.

Despite, or maybe because of its small population and slow pace, we love and have called it home for the past 16 years, raising and home schooling our six sons here. Once, when we just considered selling and moving back to “town” our oldest, Kevin, said, “Mom, you can’t! This is home!”

I recently found a picture frame that perfectly describes our third son — Jonathan’s current world in Houston as he studies at an underwater welding school. It said: “Life takes us to unexpected places. Love brings us home.”

Ben Franklin is home: Slow, easy going, wonderful home.

But today was nothing short of amazing as our little community observed a much faster pace, and definitely more traffic than we’re typically used to.

These cyclists inspired me! To attempt the feat of the Tour de Paris, in the hellish Texas humidity no less, requires more than a “wish”: It takes guts, commitment, and sheer hard work. I love that spirit in a world that increasingly expresses an attitude of entitlement over one of personal responsibility.

Great athletes are in a class of their own as they willingly, purposefully reach for higher goals, paying the painful price along the way. They make no excuses, live by the adage that whatever’s worth having is worth working for, and the only expectations they place are the ones upon themselves.

Today, I felt proud and blessed to witness these outstanding men and women. As I get a bit older, I also find myself more emotional. Unbeknownst to them, tears streamed down my face, hidden behind sunglasses and a smile meant to cheer them as I waved, clapped, and shouted words of encouragement their way, upbeat music by Benjamin Clark serenading them from the truck’s booming stereo.

But it was I who was encouraged, inspired to once again stretch beyond the comfort zone of daily duties and grab this wonderful, amazing life that God’s seen fit to give to me. As I watched, it wasn’t just bikers I was seeing. I was recognizing dreams being lived out, goals being set and striven for, passion for life exhibited in a grueling display of determination.

Mark Twain once said something to the effect that 20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

I don’t want to look back and say “I wish.” I want to look forward and say “I will.”

Thank you to all who made this day possible for my Ben Franklin friends and neighbors, and for encouraging us all through your actions to explore, dream, and discover the bigger and better possibilities in our own worlds.

I think I’ll go price some bikes and spandex. You just never know.

Jul 2019
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