Sunday, October 11, 2009

The wheels on the bike go round and round...

I seem to love things with wheels. At one time in my life I learnt a lot about life and about God through driving my car. Today I was thinking about it all while riding my bike.

One of the things I love about riding is the way the road moves underneath you as you pedal; the way you gain ground. That is usually what keeps me going whenever I feel tired and feel like stopping: I desire to move, to make progress, to gain ground.

When you are particularly tired, it is especially encouraging, because every inch is one more inch closer to home - the finishing line. I think it is important to see results of some sort; one has to feel like life is worthwhile, and that you are achieving something. I think we were born to feel a sense of purpose. This is usually different for everyone. What makes you feel this way?

Sometimes the weather conditions are not that favorable. I don't feel particularly motivated to go riding on a windy day. I'm simply of the opinion that I don't particularly need the extra resistance, causing me to tire more easily, and often I would rather choose to not ride. This morning I decided to ride anyway - that the conditions were not too unfavorable. I was reminded how life is filled with unfavorable circumstances from time to time, and we face choices on how to deal with it. Do you stop and go nowhere? Do you turn back? Do you climb off and walk? Or do you forge on, keeping focused on the prize? Sometimes the decision can be very difficult, but inevitably one has to be made. What will yours be?

I'm not particularly fond of riding up hill, but every time I do, I'm reminded that life also has up's and down's. What goes up must come down - we can't expect to ever travel to spectacular destinations if we only want to ride downhill all the time - the path of least resistance. For this very reason I deliberately stick it out, but what I've learnt to do, and I still discipline myself for this every hill I ride, is to keep my eye on the road right under the front wheel - to watch it roll forward - to stay in the moment. I’m not particularly inspired when I look at the top of the hill and it is still (what feels like) miles away and I’m exhausted and my legs feel like jelly. Seeing how far I still have to go, and thinking how tired I am makes me want to quit. However, when I stay in the moment I am able to move inch by inch until I reach the top, and I feel less overwhelmed. In the end I always get to the top, and on the other side is always a downhill as a reward. Are you busy riding uphill right now?

While I'm riding that hill, and my chest feels on fire and my tongue is hanging out, I'm so grateful that I'll have a chance to stop at the top and have a refreshing drink from the water pack that I carry on my back. I don't think we always realize the value of water, and neither is it only good for drinking. I once went riding with a friend and I didn't eat breakfast - VERY foolish. Not even halfway on the route I felt SO dizzy and nauseous. I tried drinking water, but even though it quenched my thirst, it didn't make me feel better otherwise. My friend took the little pipe of his back pack and squirted water on the back of my neck. I would never have believed that it could make such a tremendous difference. We should never attempt to cycle the journey of life without God, whom the Bible describes as Living Water. Water restores, revives, brings life. Are you thirsty?

The more weight you carry, the more exhausting it is to peddle. A professional cyclist watches the weight of the frame of the bike, his clothing and helmet, his water bottles, the thickness of the tyres, etc. Less is definitely more. If you're holding on to any baggage - any dead weight - you need to get rid of it. Since you're the one peddling your life bike, no one else is suffering but you. Why make it any harder than it needs to be? Is there anything you need to off load?

Sometimes - especially when mountain biking - the off road terrain can get a bit rough. There are times when you do nothing else but hold on for dear life. Some of the times pulling on the breaks can be detrimental, so you just have to try to keep your balance and just 'let the bike take you'. Sometimes it is scary, but it can also be adventurous and cause an adrenalin rush that can be addictive. It is always nice to remember that the rough patches don't last forever. It is wise, however, to keep your eyes wide open!

Then it's crucial to remember that amidst the challenges, you always have some things to enjoy; for me they are listening to the birds or spotting a beautiful flower and green grass. I like the wind in my hair and on my face, and I love the sunshine and the blue sky. Every now and again, when I notice something really scenic, I even stop to take a photo; to make a memory. What is there to enjoy and appreciate on your route? Are you capturing the moment?

Then there's always arriving at your end destination: home. What a relief when you feel like you're going to fall over, and then realize that you've arrived. It is a good kind of tired - when you're all sweaty and red in the face, with your tongue hanging out, but it feels g-r-e-a-t!! That is always the moment when I'm the most glad that I (1) went out riding in the first place, (2) I stuck it out when I wanted to give up, (3) that I got the exercise that is so good for me and (4) that I have a chance to rest and recover.

...And tomorrow I trust that I get to do it all over again!!! What a privilege to ride my bike!

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