My first summer on a bike was one the most transformative times of my life. Already a runner, I bought a bike and started riding the hilly country roads near my house. One thing led to another, as often things do, and I raced in my first triathlon in June of 2013. I gradually started tackling larger goals, pushing my limits and completed my first Ironman in 2016.
Every mile I spend on my bike reminds me of how much I’ve changed. Because of my bike I’ve stepped forward into a lifestyle change that has had a positive effect on my family and me. I’m a stronger person because of my willingness to embrace the suck of a tough ride, the grit that it takes to crank out the big gears, and the courage that’s required for me to head into the unfamiliar territory of cycling and triathlon. I know that I face challenges in my daily life differently than I did a year ago, and it all started with a bike ride.
Over time I’ve learned it’s the difficult rides that show me who I am. They seem to distil all the extra noise away, leaving only the purest part of my being. There’s no escaping what a difficult ride reveals about our goals and desires, and that’s where the true change begins.
There is a hill I ride that I joke about, saying, “Yeah, that hill improves your prayer life big time.” The hill starts out pretty innocent, as most do, then the trees cover the road, blocking the view of the pain and suffering. Then, before you know it, you’re out of gears, then you’re out of the saddle, then you’re just trying to remain upright and hoping that a car doesn’t come up behind you. And then on the last few yards of the hill, you realize how human you are. You realize that human strength isn’t enough. You’re in oxygen debt and know that you won’t last much longer. You realize where you end and where your faith begins. That particular hill humbles me every time but in a good way.
Each time I throw my leg over my bike it’s a new day. It’s a new chance to learn what I’m made of, to find a new depth, to challenge what I think I’m capable of. Some days I surprise myself, some days I don’t. All I know is that riding a bike has helped me discover who I am, and that’s a pretty cool adventure.