ANOTHER HOLIDAY COMES AROUND: My Martin Luther King Day Bike Ride

A couple of days ago, while I was shoveling my driveway, I was thinking ahead to the next holiday.  I sure didn’t want to miss one.  Yes, that’s how seriously I take these challenges.

“Martin Luther King Day should be coming up soon,” I remembered.

“Yeah, but what kind of Martin Luther King story could I tell,” I asked myself?

“Hmmmmmm, I guess I don’t really have one,” I answered.

“Right,” I agreed, “I certainly never met the man.”

“And I never played a part in the civil rights struggle,” I added to what I had just said to myself.


Indeed, I grew up in small mid-western towns where there were very, very few African American families.  Yet, thanks to my parents, I knew racism was wrong and when I saw examples of it, I was disgusted.  How, then, can I explain the following encounter and my reaction to it?

In the summer between my junior and senior years of college, a couple of friends and I made a road trip from little Marquette, Michigan down to the big city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We stayed at a cheap motel and the next day we decided to take public transportation to our main destination–Summerfest–the city’s famous music, arts, and food festival.  We were the first three people to board when the bus pulled up to the bus stop and we seated ourselves near the front.  Gradually, others arrived and the bus filled to capacity.  Standing room only.  And every single one of the other passengers was black.  Why did I fear that we might be forced to get up and move to the back of the bus – – like Rosa Parks and so many others were forced to do a decade or two earlier.  If so, would I have had the courage to resist?  (I doubt it.)  Would we even have boarded the bus had it already been full of people with a different skin color than ours?  Why did I think those thoughts then, and why do I still remember them so well now?  Was there some kind of subtle racism within me?



As I rode my bike this M.L.K. Day morning, I recalled the incident and my irrational fear and ignorance once again.  I also thought about Martin Luther King’s assassination.  I was not quite ten years old at the time, but I remember seeing the news and being sad.

I know Dr. King was a great man and a great leader.  I remember studying his “I Have A Dream” speech in high school.  But I must admit that I never truly appreciated how inspirational he was until this morning when I got the idea to look up a few of his quotations for my Cycle365 Holiday Challenge presentation.  There were dozens of great quotes.  Some of them made me feel ashamed that I haven’t lived up to them.  Next, interspersed with a few pictures from my bike ride, are a few of my faves from Martin Luther King.


“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”


“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”



“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”


“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.”


“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re on the same boat now.”


“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.”


“Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”


“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


Pretty smart guy, wouldn’t you say?



Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

4 response to "ANOTHER HOLIDAY COMES AROUND: My Martin Luther King Day Bike Ride"

  1. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: January 20, 2020

    Well said and presented.

  2. By: The Navigator Posted: January 21, 2020

    Very thought-provoking and inspirational post. Like Greg said, well put together. For me, the pic of the bike against the tree in the snow and the quote below nails it. Looks like you got a pretty good dump of snow, too!

  3. By: Suzanne Posted: January 23, 2020

    Dito everything Em said, thought-provoking and inspirational.
    “Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.. .” One of my faves.

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