Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I will push

This past weekend I rode in an eight-hour backcountry bike race, mostly on rocky and steep trails. I have ridden farther, mileage-wise, but not for eight hours. The black, flitting demons that plagued me were:

Falling off the bike

All pretty much what I expected, except for the cramps: both legs! All at once! Hip to ankle! Where are the invisible dwarves stabbing me with battle axes? Quit it, you!

Many of the uphills were so steep that I, especially after six hours of pedaling, couldn't claw my way up. So I would hop off the bike, punch my cramping thighs, and push the bike up the rutted trail, gasping for breath.

About 48 miles in I realized I was going to make it to the finish, despite the fluttering demons listed above. I said:

If there is a downhill I will ride down it. If I fall I will stand back up and keep going. If there is an uphill I will ride up it until I cannot, and then I will push the bike until I can't go any farther, and then I will rest until I will continue.

This wasn't some heroic Eye-of-the-Tiger moment of pure defiance against a backdrop of soaring eagles and crashing kettle drums. It was just a simple realization: I. Will. Push. No different than remarking on the color of the sky (clear blue) or the singing of the locusts (chirring).

Boatbuilding? I will push. Writing? I will push.

It's risky quoting from memory, but I think it was Epictetus who said, "First say what you would be, then do what you have to do."


Babs said...

Your drive is awesome and commendable--but is it fun? I hope so.

S R Wood said...

Yes, I'm learning that hard is not the opposite of fun!