As you now know from the title of my forthcoming book, we seek to live a slower life—a “not so fast” life. Plenty of people are living far simpler and slower lives than we are, but we’re making choices that do set us apart in our suburban area. One simple choice is to use our bikes as often as possible.When my four kids and I head out through the neighborhood on bikes, we stand out. Most everyone in our area drives everywhere, even for short errands. But we like to bike, so in spite of looking a bit odd, we do it anyway.Monday, the kids and I biked down to the library. The trip taken at a leisurely pace takes about 25 to 30 minutes. We were in no hurry, so we arrived more on the 30-minute side of that estimate.When we got there, three of the kids offered to use their safety locks and chains to link the bikes to the bike rack and to each other’s bikes. Two worked fine, but the third lock wouldn’t go all the way in.”Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It looks locked. I think it’ll be fine while we’re in there. Besides, some of the other bikes are connected to it, so it would be a huge hassle for a thief to undo them.”So we left it like that and searched for books, even kicking up our heels in a reading corner to leaf through some of interest before making our selections and checking out.We tucked our treasured titles into our backpacks and headed back out.That’s when the trouble began.That uncooperative lock wouldn’t budge. My daughter tried pushing it in and out, fiddled with the numbers of the combination to keep coming around to the right order, but that thing was stuck.Older sister spent five minutes with it, stomping in frustration.Two young men with cigarettes tucked like pencils behind their ears sat on a bench watching.”Did you forget your combination?” one of them asked.”No! We know the combination,” I said. “It’s just jammed or something. Are you good at this kind of thing? Would you be able to give it a try?””Naw,” he answered. “I had it happen one time and just cut it off.”I took over for another ten minutes, trying everything I could think of to jam it in before pulling it out, angling it this way and that.It was stuck, frozen, or rusted. Or just plain broken.Both my bike and my eldest daughter’s were freed, but the rest were woven together by the blasted lock.The kids started to voice their concerns.”What are we going to do?””What if we have to spend the night at the library?””Will I have to leave my bike here forever?”One child was verging on panic.”Now, calm down,” I warned. “The first rule in any emergency is to not panic. If you can keep your head on straight and think, you can come up with a next step. So…what’s the next step here? What are our options now? Let’s think together.”One of the kids suggested, “That guy said he cut his chain off. Maybe if we had a pair of scissors we could do that? Just cut it off?””Oh, it’ll take more than scissors to cut through this cable,” I said. “But it’s not a bad idea.””What about a pocket knife? A knife is better than scissors!” the Boy shouted. He turned to his sister who received a small Swiss army knife for Christmas. “Did you bring your knife?””No,” she replied sadly. “I didn’t.””It’s okay,” I assured them both. “Even a knife wouldn’t cut through this. You’d need something big. To cut through something like this requires a special tool.””Do we have one? You could bike home and get it while we wait here,” someone suggested.”I don’t think we even own one. It’s a tool to cut through thick stuff like this. I think it’s called a bolt cutter.””Maybe you could ride somewhere and buy one?”Hmm…”Not a bad idea,” I affirmed. An Ace Hardware wasn’t too far away, so we arranged for them to stay in the library together—our eldest two are babysitting age—and I pedaled off to Ace.Once there, I explained to the Ace employee that I was dealing with a minor emergency, bike lock stuck, kids stranded, blah-blah, could he direct me to a tool that could cut through a cable-style bike lock and chain? He started to take me to that aisle, and then asked me if I had any ID on me.ID? To buy a bolt cutter?No, an ID so he could loan me the store’s bolt cutter. “It seems a shame to have you spend all that money for a one-time use. Leave your ID with the cashier and borrow ours.”I could have kissed him.But I refrained.Instead, I smiled and thanked him, tucked the bolt cutter into my backpack, and pedaled to the library again.I called the kids to come outside and pulled the bolt cutter out of my bag.”Cooool!” two of them murmured admiringly.”Well, let’s see if they work,” I announced.Ka-chunk-a-chunk…ka-chunk.Ha! It took a few snips to get through all the cable, but it worked!The kids cheered.The young men with cigarettes kind of grinned, but they were too cool to get very involved with our wholesome bunch.We tossed the bike chain into the trash can and rode back to Ace to return the bolt cutter, secure my ID, buy four 25-cent gumballs, and make the now-extended journey home. The trip to Ace added several blocks.But we stopped at a beautiful town fountain along the way, and two of the girls snapped some pictures. One girl tossed in a penny that she found tucked in her jacket. We had found it on a jog a few weeks earlier. It seemed fitting to toss it back out into the world.Then I found a quarter in the road.”It replaces the quarter you gave me for the gumball!” the Boy exclaimed with glee.To get home, we rode along a walking-jogging-biking path. En route, we saw two squirrels with half-tails, chomped off by a dog, perhaps, or torn off during some wintertime escapade. We saw robins bathing in puddles and chipmunks nibbling nuts.A group of kids were along the trail tossing sweetgum balls and sticks at each other.We smelled a skunk when we rode under a big bridge.When we finally arrived back home, we were exhausted. We parked our bikes, flopped our backpacks onto the family room floor, and got big drinks of water.Then we settled onto couches or the floor to read and relax.Hours earlier, when we headed out, I thought our trip would take about an hour-and-a-half.Our bike-lock adventure made it twice as long.As I reflected on our three-hour outing, I thought about the life lesson the kids learned: that keeping our cool and thinking clearly (stay calm; don’t panic) helped us solve our dilemma. I was glad the kids witnessed and helped with it by contributing solid suggestions. And I thought about the man at Ace, who chose to be generous and helpful, even though it resulted in no personal gain.I thought about the slow ride home, and how we were able to enjoy it, even after the bike-lock debacle. We enjoyed our value of noticing what’s going on in nature, picking up on those little details that delight.And then…I closed my eyes and fell asleep.