After being out of the saddle all week, I was eager to finally get on my bike today. When I poked my nose out the door this morning, I was greeted by a grey sky and the chilly air. It was a little disappointing after missing out on several fabulous days full of sunshine and warmth. However, I missed my bike so very much that I was determined to get out there.
As I was warming up on one of my favorite hills, I saw a fellow cyclist on the other side of the street standing beside her bike. I slowed and asked if she was ok, or if she had a mechanical issue. She replied that she didn’t have a mechanical issue, only an emotional one. I realized that she looked terrified. This particular street is a smaller road which used to be quiet, but has more recently become a well used connector for many drivers. As cars whizzed by her, the look on her face told me that she was having an internal dilemma.
I turned my bike around and pulled up behind her. As I came to a stop, she immediately admitted how scared and unsure she was. Her husband was waiting at the end of the road, and to get there she would have bike down a short but steep incline, up a short hill, then around some tight bends downhill to the end. She told me that she used to bike a lot, but it had been years. She said that she thought she would be ok and had told her husband to go ahead. She was thinking of walking her bike all the way to the end of the road to meet up with him. This would have taken her a long time. After sharing so much so quickly, she introduced herself as Barb.
My mind took me back in time. I could vividly picture a girl on a bike, at the base of the famous Alpe d’Huez, tears streaming down her cheeks. It was the day that I faced a real mountain for the first time. I looked into Barb’s eyes, and I told her that she could do this. I kept talking to her, and convinced her that she could let those wheels role down this little steep hill and pedal her way up the other side. I told her I would ride behind her and tend to the traffic. She told me that she would be way too slow, and I told her that her speed didn’t matter. And it didn’t. She lifted one foot, then the other, and off we went. Next thing you knew, we met up with her husband, Gord. She was quite happy that she had made it.
It turns out that Barb used to ride on the highways on the outskirts of the city all the time. It has just been a while, and she had lost her nerve. Today, she started to find it again.
As we parted ways, I turned my bike around once again, and headed back up the hill that I had just done. I’ll admit it, I like to climb, and a second try as this hill was a bit of a treat. Invigorated by seeing Barb’s success, and by the realization of how far I had come since I started riding, I stood up on the pedals and pranced up that hill. It would turn out that I would have my second fastest time on this hill today, and I wasn’t even thinking about it.
I absolutely lost myself in the moment for the rest of ride. I rode up and down the lovely hills that had been my training grounds for so many years. These roads were part of the first rides that I had ever done. My route simply unfolded itself before me as I focused only on the stretch in front of me. My whole being was filled with happiness. Very little of my thoughts had anything to do with the threatening rain clouds, or the chilly air. Every part of me was simply lost in the riding.
Next thing I knew, I had surpassed my goals for the ride, and I found myself heading for home. Today, I was truly ‘in the now’. I read this phrase in a spectacular post that a fellow cyclist published yesterday. I highly encourage you to read it.
This woman is an amazing and talented runner, and now cyclist. Her writing is real and inspiring. She reminded me through this last post that being ‘in the now’ is important. As I experienced this past week, things will not always go your way. When they do, be in the now and enjoy them. Today, I was completely in the now and enjoyed my little ride immensely. I love my bike.
If you want to read the story of Alpe d’Huez, you will have to read my book when it comes out 🙂