I went for a little road ride this morning, clocked in about 40kms before having to get ready for the day. For whatever reason, mentally I was very alert and focused. I pushed my legs, even when they hurt. I kept my pace as much as I could. And I was enjoying it. It’s like I couldn’t slow down.
I’m not sure what caused the shift today. Maybe it was the last look in the mirror and noticing how much rounder I was looking in the mid-section. Maybe it was my lack of proper diet lately. Maybe it was the idea that summer was short and if I wanted to achieve my distance goal I’d better kick it up a notch. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was riding my bike and loving it. Whatever it was, all I could think of was something I had said to my wife the night before. Yes, there is pain in the ride. But afterwards, that pain is forgotten and it is replaced by a joy and satisfaction that I got to ride my bike.
Yes, I get to ride my bike. I have a bike to ride, and I am healthy and able-bodied enough to ride it. So many people can’t say the same, I am privileged.
Sure, there are a lot of things that go on in our lives that we tend to see as negative, restrictive or down-right joy-killing. Our lives are not perfect. There is so much going on that is depressing and can cause us to get caught up in worry. Yet, when I ride, I’m not thinking of those things. I’m not thinking of finances, relationships, vehicle payments or even the store! I’m thinking about two wheels. I’m thinking about the smooth whir of the gears as I pedal along. I’m thinking about the wind in my face, and the smell of the outdoors. The fields ripening for harvest. The livestock enjoying the morning coolness and fresh grass. The birds flying overhead singing their songs.
And, yes, I’m thinking about the pain in my legs. Yet that pain is temporary. As is most pain in our lives. Pain that is leading us to a better place, a higher plateau, a healthier lifestyle. That pain is worth every second. Yes, it will return the next time I head out on this bike. But next time I might be faster. Or I might go longer. And that pain is simply an indicator of that progress.
For me, riding a bike is enjoyment. I wish I could ride all day long. I wish I could ride down the highway and never have to turn around to come back. Just ride until I can’t ride any longer. A professional cyclist named Jens Voight was known for his saying “Shut up legs”.
He would push beyond his limits every time he was on his bike. When his legs voiced their complaints, he would say “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!” Jens loved being on his bike. He loved competing. He loved riding. And he loved it enough to push beyond what his legs would tell him was his limit. I want to ride like that.
I also want to live my life like that. When it gets hard, when there is pain, I want to tell myself “shut up, keep moving”. Don’t wallow in the pain. Don’t succumb to the difficulties. We are so privileged in this country. We have freedom that so many around the globe can’t even imagine. We have beauty all around us. We have everything we want at our fingertips. We have relationships that aren’t restricted by any governmental body. We can enjoy each other in community and freedom. And while hardships come, I need to remember that the pain is temporary and soon forgotten.
If riding my bike can bring me that type of clarity, then I want to ride it more. And I wish all of you could enjoy it with me! Whether riding across town or across the country (I wish!), down the highway or on trails (now that’s fun!), I wish everyone would be out on two wheels (or three!) enjoying the simple freedom and satisfaction that only a bicycle can bring.
Summer is short! Get out and ride.