If My Life Were A Bike Ride

This past weekend my husband and I went on a 40 mile mountain bike ride to celebrate his 40th birthday. Somewhere along the way we realized that the ride was a metaphor for our lives so far. The first few miles were a breeze, in fact I can barely remember them. I was full of energy, although a bit wobbly on my bike. Everything was fresh and brand new. I spent a lot of time enjoying the view and some time getting off of my bike to walk the more treacherous parts of the trail. (See Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking.) In fact, in an attempt to increase my bonding with my mountain bike and decrease my fear and anxiety associated with mountain biking, at some point in the first ten miles or so, I bestowed a name upon my lovely mountain bike. Her name is Rita. I am not sure why, it just came to me. She seems feminine and lovely and she is also white and green like the colors of salt and lime that that go with a margaRITA, so maybe that’s why. I don’t know. What I DO know, however, is that Rita is timid on single track trails and steep downhills. She’s a bit claustrophobic, risk averse, and has a fear of heights. But we are getting along well so far.

Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Rita, Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Miles 10 through 20 were also a breeze. Downhill through the mountains following the river with a beautiful view. Much like in my own teens, I did not realize how good I had it! At mile 20, we stopped to turn around. And that’s where the real fun began. The trail we were on had been downhill to our turnaround point, but the downhill was gentle and the trail was loose gravel so we were still having to pedal to go downhill and did not realize how much we had been going downhill. Oops!

When we turned around at mile 20, we quickly realized that we were going to have our work cut out for us. Much like a college graduate at age 22, we realized around mile 22 that we were going to ration out our water (much like budgeting money), and work smartly and efficiently to ensure that we would meet our goal. The 20s were hard but we still had energy to plow through them.

Trucking along!

Trucking along!

The 30s is when the real fun began! And in our real lives, our 30s is when we had our 3 children. So fittingly, miles 30-40 were grueling and exhausting. We took several breaks to laugh at ourselves (Whose idea what this?!) and encourage each other. We knew we would reach our goal, but knew it would take work. And much like parenting, we did it together and with a sense of humor (well, mostly). When we got back to the car (kind of like when we get to the couch after a day of parenting) we were exhausted, but felt accomplished. And very thirsty for beer. We also realized that this is just the beginning of the journey and look forward to seeing what the next 40 years (or miles!) will bring!

Trusting the Process Part II: Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking

I am not coordinated.  I fall while running, while walking, while going up stairs, you name the activity and I’ll find a way to injure myself.  My daughter’s name means “one who walks with a strong proud gait.”  It is my hope that by bestowing such a name on her she will be more graceful than her poor mom.  But I digress…

My husband wants to do a long bike ride for his upcoming 40th birthday and was sweet enough to buy me a nice mountain bike so that I could join him.  The first time I took it out I crashed within 15 minutes.  Today I rode with my husband in lieu of doing my long run.  We were on a beautiful trail in the mountains in McCall, Idaho.  I don’t think this trail would be considered difficult or technical by any standards.  Nice and wide with some ruts, not too steep.  About three miles in I somehow popped my chain off of the gears and got it stuck.  While my husband was patiently trying to fix my bike for me, I was repeating to myself, “This moment is exactly as it should be. This moment is exactly as it should be.”  But although my head was saying that and my eyes were looking around and trying to appreciate the beautiful scenery and the peace and quiet of being along in the mountains with my husband, my heart was screaming the following:

“This moment is NOT as it should be!  I should be on a long run!  Or with my running team at the Famous Potato Races trying to get a PR! What is wrong with me? Why am I always injured? I don’t like mountain biking.  I should sell this bike.”  I almost burst into tears.

But I got back on my bike. Repeating, “This moment is exactly how it should be.”  My encouraging husband kept telling me what a great job I was doing even though he had to slow his pace and frequently wait for me while I walked my bike around ruts that I was too timid to ride around.  I felt like my heart rate was getting higher more from the adrenaline pumping through my body due to my fear of crashing rather than anything my legs were doing to power me up the hills.  My hands were getting tired from white knuckling the handlebars.  I knew there was so much beauty around me, yet I was afraid if I took my eyes off of the trail in front of me, I would miss a rut, rock, or stick and crash.  At one point my husband asked me if I was having fun and I just smiled.  Fear and frustration had been the more dominant emotions, and I didn’t want to lie.  As I rode along I thought also about a passage I read earlier this week in a book called “How Champions Think” by Bob Rotella.  In it he says that “Failure is only final when you stop striving.”

So even though I was slow, clumsy and awkward on the mountain bike, even though I was missing running something fierce, I was no failure.  I was out there.  I was only a failure if I stopped trying. This moment is exactly as it should be.

As my husband and I got to our halfway point and turned around, the most amazing thing happened.  I started to relax and bike a little faster.  I was able to take my eyes off the bike for long enough to enjoy the amazing views around me.  I was able to chat with my husband some and enjoy his company.  A luxury that we don’t get very often with three small kids in the house!  I was actually enjoying myself and having fun!  I returned home from that ride happy, refreshed and with a feeling of accomplishment.  And when I got on the bike again a couple of hours later to ride with my kids I realized that my legs had gotten much more of a workout than I thought.

I will get back on that bike and ride again with my husband tomorrow.  And I will probably be scared.  And I will probably get off of the bike and walk around the ruts.  But I will do it.  And I will keep going.

IMG_5724

Trying to keep up!