First of all, who gets up at 5a on a Saturday morning to drive an hour to get to an event that you pay for the right to ride 62 miles? Never mind that the event is advertised as The Big Hill Challenge. I can tell you, it’s someone who’s not quite right. That’s who and that’s me.
What can possibly be going through their mind you ask? I wondered the same thing. Because as one of “those” people I am still wondering about things such as sanity. I think I still have mine but that’s open for debate.
At 5am there wasn’t a whole lot of conversation on the way to the event with my neighbor. He was probably more worried about my driving as I fell asleep behind the wheel but boy, did we wake up fast. (just kidding) We arrived and checked in.
The Big Hill Challenge is a well coordinated event. I really like the volunteers who sacrificed a beautiful day of riding to help folks like me who are there to ride a “big hill”. The first thing learned is – it’s better to give than receive. These folks gave at every step of the way. All of them earned a well deserved thanks.
At the starting line with a couple hundred other riders who were all wondering the same thing as I was “How big is the hill, really?” there was a moment of pure small town America.
The town spokesperson thanked us for coming and then a local singer stepped to the mic to sing the national anthem. And here’s where I was reminded yet again, of the tremendous sacrifice given by those who serve our country. You could have heard a pin drop through that town square as she sang. Lesson number two was that freedom requires sacrifice. That the things you want to do, require effort. You want to ride a big hill? Then you have to give a little something.
Then we were assembled and off we went.
I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that the ride went pretty smoothly. It was very well marked and staffed with those smiling volunteers who weren’t even sweating. As we rode along in some of the prettiest country you’ll see. There were several scenes we came across that I could have stopped and photographed to bring back to the studio and paint. I learned that sometimes being in a hurry to ride a hill, you miss out on stopping and taking that pic. It’s only in hindsight that you look back and think, the shot was really more important than the ride. Funny how perspective changes given time.
And then there was this hill thing. Was it big? Yes. It was a 2 mile climb. We were around the 30 mile mark when I turned a corner and was like, oh, that hill. There’s a saying, “Death before dismount” which led me to yet another lesson. Tenacity. You have to cultivate internal grit in order to stick to your vision. Mine was to ride the hill. Yours could be to finish school. To learn how to paint. Whatever it is, you need internal grit to get it done.
On we rode. The event organizers have a saying, “Don’t worry, what goes up must come down” and coming down was a lot more fun than going up. Which was yet another lesson. Sometimes when the going is tough, you turn a corner and things get better. At the time when it feels like you cannot take another step, make another choice, or go on, just take one more step and your perspective may change. The hard part is not knowing which turn will be the one that gets you into the ‘clear’. Life, like the hills around these parts, is either you’re going into them, in them, or coming out of them. It just is.
So a 62 mile ride and a 2 mile hill taught me:
- Giving is better than receiving
- Sacrifice is necessary to the long-term vision
- You have to give something to accomplish anything
- Don’t be in a hurry in the pursuit of one goal that you miss the bonus. Be intentionally flexible (have rigid flexibility)
- Life requires tenacity for all sorts of things
- You need to take that next step, no really, you do need to get back up
And then before you know it you’re at about the 55 mile mark thinking, I can make this. What was I worried about? And you start thinking, maybe next year I should try the 100 miler. They say that they ride even a bigger, steeper hill. You have to wonder what people who do that are thinking.
kind regards and stay hilly my friends,