The Story of a Brave Woman and the People Who Love Her
Never ignore a person who loves you, cares for you, and misses you. Because one day you might wake up from your sleep and realize that you lost the moon while counting the stars.~Unknown
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Fightin the Hills
I've been working on getting my bikes replaced so with Spring just around the corner, memories of healthier days have met me on every corner. I took a drive to Brigham City today along Highway 89. I have spent many, many hours on that road, riding for a variety of reasons. When I purchased my first road bike, I wasn't thinking of riding in 100 mile events or the Logan to Jackson ride. I just thought it would be fun and a good way to exercise. I certainly didn't think that I would ever be strong enough for the things that I ultimately accomplished. Today though, I thought of the first time I ever completed the whole ride from my home in North Ogden into Brigham City. My first long ride. I can still remember the thrill and pride I felt when I soared down the final hill that brought me into Brigham. Joined with those memories are my legs feeling like jelly when I got off my bike after returning home. I was so proud of myself and in awe that I could actually do such a thing. That ride was the prelude to many other riding events and experiences that would cover many, many more miles than those to Brigham City. But it was my first big accomplishment. You never really forget those times...when
you pushed yourself harder than you thought you could acheive
and as a result, traveled further than you ever dreamed you would.
Initially, I struggled with the hills. On my first few trips, conquering a hill meant multiple stops during the climb..stopping long enough to catch my breath, take a long drink, and allow the burning in my muscles to ease. In order to push myself, I enlisted the help of numerous strategies...counting spins, songs from my ipod, mailboxes, and landmarks. Anything to get me to the top. Always, I rewarded myself with a rest at the top. When determination and sheer will would not allow me to stop, I zig-zagged, pedaled standing up, and continued to move at a snails pace until I reached my mark. And then, ahhhh, the exhilaration of the down hill rush pedaling faster and harder with the hopes that the momentum would carry me further up the next hill. Another one of my strategies to move me to the top! It was while struggling up a hill that I came to realize something that changed the way I felt about hills (and I hated hills!) and began to make the climb easier. Looking down, trying to avoid the distance to the top, I realized that when you are looking down at the road, the ground is always flat. It is only when you look up at the magnitude of the hill that you are riding an incline. Granted, it is a matter of thinking but for one who hated riding hills, the change of perspective was motivating. So, I began to keep my focus down on the road as my wheels passed over it. Doing so also helped me to avoid the catastrophes of catching a rock, hitting a pot-hole, and all the other potential hazards on a public road. It kept me focused, allowed me to keep a steady, sure cadence and pace myself. And it taught me discipline. Most important, it kept me from being distracted by the things that could knock me off course and cause me to lose focus.
As I drove and continued to think about that first ride to Brigham City, the process became more about life than the ride. Life is hard and sometimes, presents itself as one hill after another leaving us exhausted and disillusioned with the experience. Often, as we look ahead to what feels like an unsurmountable trial, our first instinct is to turn around, coast down to where things felt easier and abandon the ride. In doing so, we forgo an opportunity to strengthen what is weak in us. Even more unfortunate is that in doing so, we miss the many tender mercies and evidence of a love greater than our own that have been gently placed along the road to encourage us to move upward and in a very literal sense, heavenward. And we miss an opportunity to experience divine support and encouragement.
Lately, my treatments and accompanying side effects have left me feeling like I used to on those uphill climbs. I become tired, discouragement beckons me to join forces with despair, and I doubt my ability to continue the climb. The climb is ardous and long and my muscles burn with fatigue. I find myself zig-zagging, stopping for cool drinks and more importantly, moving at a snail's pace, and staying in the moment so as to not become distracted by the distance to the top...alot. Truly though, the tender mercies along the path maintain my hope and knowledge that I can in fact, complete the ride. Most importantly, I have come to the awareness that I am not riding alone; that the prayers, love and support of others keep my wheels turning and hope alive for the exhiliration of the accomplishment. Of that I know of a surety. And of that, I feel eternal gratitude and love for those give so generously of their time, energy, and love to be there with me.