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.
Sometimes things do not go as planned. Sometimes what you set out to do or to accomplish doesn’t happen. Life brings us many surprises. Things that we cannot possibly anticipate tend to happen. Just because you did not do exactly what you set out to, it doesn’t mean you failed. There was a time that I thought failure meant that you didn’t do it how you had it in your mind. Now, I believe that if you went out there and gave it what you had, then you have succeeded.
I like to ride my bike. I like to climb mountains. On more than one occasion, a mountain has entered my life, only to re-enter years later. There have been times when I attempted a mountain, and did not make it to the top. There have also been times when I have been close to or heard about a mountain, but it didn’t enter my life at that time. These beauties had a way of coming back into my life that could not have been anticipated, and in which offered such a sweet, sweet ending. If you consider sweat, fear, and tears a road to a sweet ending.
I present to you Croix de Fere, a magnificent mountain the French Alps. It has made multiple appearances in the Tour de France. The first time I met this mountain, I was an extremely green, very beginner, ‘cyclist’. I had really just learned to ride a road bike, if you could call what I was doing ‘riding’. And there I was, brute forcing my way up this crazy climb. That day, I simply bit off bite sized pieces and kept on pedaling, one small section at a time.
That day wasn’t the day that I would summit. However, that day was the day that I realized I can do this!! If I put my mind to it, I can climb magnificent French mountains!!! Years later, with much more experience under my belt, I was lucky enough to have another wonderful encounter with this beautiful climb. There are many details to be told, and which present a story for another day. The point is, summit or no summit, there I was – doing something that I didn’t even know I could do. And both times, there was absolutely no denying the absolute beauty of my surroundings. As challenging as it was, I was lost in the harmonious feeling of being one with the earth. I felt like a tiny, insignificant dot on this breathtaking road, engulfed in mountainous magnificence.
Thus, as you go forth at the beginning of this New Year…how will you define failure? And what will you set your heart on doing?
The holidays are over. Did you eat more than you intended go? Did that nightly rum and egg nog by the fire, that extra chocolate or two, and those ever so delicious ginger snaps that your aunt sent you home with…all catch up with you?
It’s ok. You can either dwell on what you can’t change, or, you can release it and move forward. Life is life. And sometimes you simply need to enjoy yourself a little. The simple things in life are the best.
Thus, let’s move forward together. And let’s keep it simple!!
13 years ago, I met my bike. Up to the point of this pivotal meeting I was the least athletic person in the world!!! I had no belief in my physical being. At times, I was completely uncomfortable in my own skin. I would experience a lot of anxiety in many situations, and simply wished I could blend into the wall.
My bike changed me life. It helped me to find a strong, capable physical side to my being that I never knew existed. It took me on adventures to new worlds and cultures. It took me deep into nature where I could connect with earth in a way I had never experienced. It introduced me to new friendships that would have otherwise been undiscovered. It took me to a place where my mind, body and soul melded into one and worked together to get me to the tops of mountains one pedal stroke at a time.
How a girl with no connection to her physical being could cycle to the tops of mountains belonging to the Tour de France pros I will never totally comprehend. All I know is that I get out there and I find a freedom that I never knew.
What is your passion? What do you long to do but are terrified to try?
As I took the first pedal stroke, I looked up at the mountain before me. As I began to roll, I took in a deep breathe of fresh mountain air. As I began to ascend, my whole being was present. I was there, just me and my bike, becoming one with the mountain. I felt so open, so free. I thought to myself, this is it, this is the true essence of cycling for me. This is why I fell in love with riding.
The beauty surrounding me was indescribable. The sky was true blue and the sun shone down warming everything. My eye caught the occasional chipmunk bouncing about and chirping away. The trees were an array of vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. The mountain opened up before me, grand and snow capped.
My being was in pure heaven. The purity of the moment filled my heart.
This was it. This was the true essence of cycling for me. This was why I fell in love with riding.
There is something so pure about just being out there, me, my bike, and nature. I see so much, hear so much, and feel so much.
I was only going to be riding in short bursts today. But, even these short bursts of cycling made me reflect and realize how long my journey has been. It started with fear and anxiety and evolved into feeling more free than I could ever imagine. A journey that started with my husband and the road bike that he bought for me shortly after our wedding. A journey that really got going on a French mountain known as Alpe d’Huez. A journey that has no end as it has now become a life long path.
So there I was, on the side of this lovely mountain, pedalling away and falling in love all over again. What timing to be taken back to a place that completely reminded me of why I picked up a bike and started pedaling, why I made my way up that first peak, and why I just keep on pedalling no matter what.
A bike can take you to some amazing places – physically, mentally and spiritually. A bike can become a friend, and a part of a life long journey.