When you know it’s time to push, don’t be afraid. Find a way, and just do it.
There are times when you don’t feel up to it, you aren’t sure if you’ve got it, and you have doubts about whether or not it is a good idea. But, deep down, you know you can and you know you should. There are also times when you simply know that you shouldn’t. There is a very distinct difference between these two scenarios. In both of them, you feel weak. In both of them you may be suffering. In one of them you know you should and it would be good for you. In the other, you know that you shouldn’t and that it is time to nurture and heal. You absolutely must get in touch with your inner being and your sense of intuition to enable yourself to distinguish between them.
Nurturing yourself when it is needed is extremely important. But this is a story for another day. Today, we address the situation in which you know you should, you know it will be good for you, but you need to find the balls to do it.
Mt. Bachelor is an absolutely breathtaking mountain located in Bend, Oregon. I have only been to Bend once, and fell in love with it quickly. Bend is more densely populated with craft breweries than any other place in the United States. Many of these breweries also house restaurants and thus offer the perfect craft beer and food pairings. Bend is an extremely dog friendly place with many restaurant patios open to our furry friends. Bend is infused with a hippy, yogi feel. Everyone says hello, whether they are strangers or long time friends. Bend offers some of the best road cycling including many well marked scenic routes, supported group rides, and plenty of mountains to climb. I can’t wait until I get to spend more time in Bend.
Back to Mt. Bachelor. I have had two encounters with Mt. Bachelor. The first one was a lovely ride from the place that we were staying to the top, then back down again. The start of the climb was only a few kilometres from what we were calling home at the time. The climb itself was about 950 metres of ascending, and the entire round trip was about 66 kilometres. It was a good days work. My first attempt went quite smoothly. I already had a decade of climbing up mountains under my belt, and I felt fairly at home. I enjoyed the scenery, and the peacefulness of being surrounded by trees and fresh air.
After a week in Bend, and several bike rides, we did a two hour time trial (TT) style ride along one of the well marked scenic routes. These routes are amazing. Signs clearly mark the route for the cyclist, and all roads are declared bike friendly. Keeping up with my strong riding partner (A.K.A. husband) is always a challenge and an adventure for me. On this particular ride, it was more of a challenge than usual. What I didn’t realize was that during most, or even all, of our time on this road trip I may have been fighting a bug or virus of some sort. I was also run down. I had some really great days, and some really bad days out on the bike. This particular day was really bad for me.
I didn’t have it mentally or physically. I could not keep up, even at a pace that was usually very doable for me. After the ride, I was so disappointed. It was only a couple of hours. It was a very doable ride for me. I had done bigger rides even earlier this very week. I just couldn’t understand what was wrong. I blamed myself completely. This was not my first disappointing ride on this trip. In fact, it was one of many. They had piled up on me, and the ultimate conclusion that I came to was that I simply wasn’t trying hard enough. I was the problem. I wasn’t pushing enough. I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I couldn’t do the very activity that I loved so much.
This terrible TT left me completely shattered, and I found myself spiralling down into a deep and gloomy place. The rest of the day I felt emotionally drained, and completely finished.
The next morning, I still felt just as gloomy as I had when I went to bed. I didn’t feel any better. I found myself wondering whether or not my husband was going to ride today. I wondered if I should go, or simply take a day off. My mind raced and flip flopped between going and not going, trying again or giving myself a break. Somewhere deep down I knew I had to get myself out of this funk. I needed to shake this gloom and doom feeling and attitude. I needed to be who I knew I was.
When I found out that the ride of the day would be a second attempt at Mt. Bachelor, I instantly declared that I would join. If I blew up, I could turn around and easily find my way back. I wouldn’t be holding anyone back, except for myself. I felt physically and mentally drained. I didn’t know if I had it in me. But, I also absolutely knew that I had to get on my bike. I needed to go out for at least an hour and do something. I needed to face this place I was in. Ignoring it, or letting it fester was the wrong choice.
As we neared the base of the beautiful Mt. Bachelor, I was nervous. However, I also knew I needed to be here today. I knew it would be good for me. We started the ascent. I soon lost sight of my husband as his strong legs took him up the mountain. There was only one way up, and he knew my plan to do what I could and hopefully meet him at the top. Looking back, he probably never doubted me.
As we ascended I felt slow, but, I also felt strong enough to grind out each pedal stroke. It became soothing to lose myself in the physical flow of pushing up the side of a mountain, breathing in the fresh air, and surrounded by natural beauty. I was pushing out all of the doom and gloom, and breathing in energizing, natural life. One pedal stroke at a time. One deep breath at a time. One less negative thought. One more positive feeling. The doom and gloom slowly shed it’s confining cloak. My physical and mental beings slowly found another place to be.
It was cold, and at one point it started to rain. I pulled over and put on my vest. Then I continued. I was now in a place where I wasn’t going to turn around until I saw my husband coming down the other way. I continued on. The rain came down, and I saw other cyclists coming down. I wondered if they made it, or if they had turned back because of the rain. This cyclist was not going to turn back because of some cold and some wet. No way.
I looked ahead, and I could see a lonely cyclist coming down on the other side of the road. It was misty, and I could only make out her outline. As she rolled through the white fog, it was like looking at an artistic photograph. The rain was letting up, and the sun was breaking through. I looked ahead, and there it was. The peak of Mt. Bachelor, white with snow and glowing from the rays of sunshine hitting it. It was unbelievable. I was now in a place where I was going to make it as far as I could up this mountain. I pushed harder. I was finding a real flow. I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me and the glistening peak ahead of me. I was cold. But all I could think about was getting up as far as I possibly could before my time was up.
Before I knew it, I only had a couple hundred metres to go. This is when I found myself in a place where I thought I might actually get to the top. I just kept pushing and pushing. There were no longer any traces of doom and gloom. Just a girl, a bike, and a mountain top to reach for. All of a sudden I could see my husband. The top was just around the corner. And then I was there. It was over. On a day when I thought I had nothing to give, I climbed a mountain.
Now I was faced with the task of getting down the mountain before getting too cold. I hung on to the wheel in front of me for dear life. There were times when I really had to push, and it felt good. It felt rewarding. Back in the place we were staying, I uploaded the data from my bike computer, and was astonished to see that I had done better on my second try up this mountain.
I knew this would be good for me today. Finding a way to do it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I will forever remember this day. Whatever it is, you know you can. You just need to find a way. Just take that first pedal stroke.