Life. It gets busy sometimes. It gets overwhelming sometimes. We all experience moments when there doesn’t seem to be a way to wade through the clutter and do what we know we need.
I suggest a simple approach. 1. Take a deep breath. 2. Identify what you need. 3. Do it.
Even one hour. Just take it and do it.
Today, I stole a good hour and a half and had the most amazing little jaunt with my beloved bike. Together we climbed some good hills, coasted through some forest, and even stopped to chat with a deer.
Don’t forget to breathe and give yourself the gift of time to do what you love. You deserve it.
This year was my fourth time attending. Thus, only three years ago, I showed up at this massive conference and I didn’t know anybody. At that time, I had written my book ‘Just a Girl and a Bike’, but I had no idea how to put it together and get it out there. My goal was simply for even one person to read it and feel inspired and infused with belief in themselves. Well, I’ll be honest, tears are trickling right now as I write this, because that goal has been surpassed. And not just because I have been able to get my book into many hands of people who needed the message within, but because this time at When Words Collide I had a profound and touching experience.
The second time I attended When Words Collide, I signed up to give a presentation on steps to self-publish. I was terrified – I questioned what I really knew. But, I had learned that this conference was about sharing with each other what we had learned along the way. It was a fantastic experience. I did the presentation the next year, and again this year.
This morning, this memory from about six years ago today popped up into my world. This was the day that I biked to the top of Mortirolo, a very famous mountain in Italy. This mountain belongs to the professional cycling race known as the Giro d’Italia. Mortirolo is one of thethe mosttalked about mountains in the road cycling world. Some of the pro cyclists themselves have claimed it to be the most challenging climb they have done. Yet, little ‘ole me somehow made it up there, one pedal stroke at at time, pigtails in tow. It’s true.
Sometimes I still can’t believe that I did make it to that summit. The picture of me was taken right at the point where I doubted that I could do it, and wondered what I was doing there. My husband, who has played the role of my coach numerous timesover the years, convinced me that I was choosing to talk myself out of it. He was right. He told me to do one switchback at a time. He told me notto stop during a steep incline as it would be really hard, if not impossible, to get going again. He told me to take a break at the flatter part of each turn. He told me breathe, and to regroupduring each break.
Putting the pieces of advice he gave me into action, I made my way up some of the steepest sections of road that I have ever encountered.
We left Friday Harbour on a ferry and headed to Orcas Island. We didn’t have confirmation of a place to stay that night. We had contacted one of the few places that may have some vacancy, so we took a chance. When we arrived, we drove the peaceful, quiet road, easily sinking into the slow pace of everything and everyone around us. We found the one small ‘main town’ and a lovely breakfast. How delightful!! The food was tremendous, the view was spectacular, and who knew what the day held? After our adventures in escaping from the blazing fires in Oregon (Burning Eyes of Fire) we were definitely ready to turn over a new page on our road trip!
I was SO excited. We were finally hitting the road! It had been a while since we had done any travelling. We had just moved into our first house. It was a huge endeavour that took much more time and energy that I had anticipated. The fruits of our labor included an amazing summer in our new oasis.
I was craving some time on the road. Some time away to explore and be free. We had a great two weeks planned, packed full of craft beer, cycling, and outdoor exploration. We arose before sunset. As we backed out of the driveway in our little Subaru, packed to the brim with bikes and outdoor gear, we were guided by the soft glow of the moonlight.
The summer had been an absolutely terrible one for forest fires. We were fortunate. Being in Alberta, and the fires mostly burning in British Columbia, the most we experienced were some minor inconveniences when we had to cancel cycling or hiking plans due to poor air quality. For those in the heart of it, lives had been changed. I didn’t realize how much, until we embarked on our exciting little road trip.
Henry nailed it on the head. You can, literally, talk yourself into or out of anything. It is up to you. I could not have had any more of a lesson on this than the day that I found myself at the bottom of a famous mountain, broken, terrified, and in tears.
Alpe d’Huez is a very famous mountain that has made many appearances in the Tour de France. Composed of a series of 21 switchbacks winding their way up from the valley to the peak, this mountain is not something to take lightly.
When I showed up at Alpe d’Huez, I was not an experienced cyclist, I was not an athlete, I was not in the type of physical condition that one should be to ascend such a monstrous beast.
I had a choice. I could not even try. I could simply give up and declare that I needed to find a way to get back up to the top of the mountain without using my own two feet. Or, I could try. I had travelled all that way. I was at the base of a very famous mountain. I did not know if I would ever be back there. Crying is great – it relieves a lot of tension. Allowing myself to completely break down, be honest about my fear, and to fully take stock of my situation, took me to the conclusion that there was only one option. I had to try. By choosing to face my fear, I found a mental resilience that I didn’t know was there.
I was willing my body up the side of the of mountain, one stretch at a time. Any progress I made was a result of mind over matter. Logically, I should not have been able to ascend. There is nothing logical about will power…it allows you to will yourself to do what seems impossible. When you completely decide to do something, when you choose to believe that you will, is when you really put things into motion.
My journey was nothing as smooth or graceful as the one shown here, by the famous Pantani who holds the record. My journey was one of struggle, brute force, and putting one foot in front of the other. I made my own valiant attempt, in my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but it was one that I will never forget, and one that changed me forever. The day that I chose to climb a mountain, I chose pain, I chose to suffer, and I chose to find my inner strength.
Check out my Alpe d’Huez climb page for more details about the cycling route, where to stay, and my personal experience with this amazing mountain.
I was completely numb. My body was numb. My mind was numb. Everything was numb.
I could feel myself leaving my body. It was as if I was looking down at myself, from outside of my physical being. Everything was hazy. There was no time. There almost wasn’t any space…but not quite. I still knew where I was, but only faintly.
I was drenched in heavy, sticky sweat. I was so thirsty that I had stopped being thirsty. All my beings had definitely melded into one. There was no separation between physical, mental and spiritual. I was just one single being, floating in the air, looking down at my physical representation and drifting in a weird, hazy existence. I wondered if this is what Jim Morrison meant by breaking on through to the ‘other side’.
Crater Lake came into my life unexpectedly when a road trip spontaneously got extended. With the gift of extra time, my husband James and I found ourselves in the lovely little town of Bend. Our location, the fact that we had our bikes with us, and our love for craft beer all resulted in our stay in a place that we had never heard of, and quickly fell in love with.