For the past seven years I’ve frequently ridden my bicycle around the Aurora Reservoir. As a matter of fact, 29 straight months I’ve looped the water, even when it’s been frozen. My preferred route is a 15.25 mile trek that ends with a steady and taxing two-mile climb. It’s not a mountain pass, but it makes my legs burn every time.
There are a few stoplights to navigate and a couple of stop signs as well, but over time I’ve come to know what a good average speed is for this route. With the 57-year-old legs that I have and the specific contour of the route, I’m very happy if I can average over 17 MPH.
My riding strategy has always been to ride at a consistent and controlled pace so that I have enough strength to finish the final climb. In fact, I have to confess that often during the first 13 miles of the ride my primary thought is of the last two miles – and that’s after I’ve ridden the routes a couple hundred times.
Yesterday as I rolled out of my driveway my mindset shifted… radically. I decided that I would put out of my mind the final climb and I would simply concentrate on riding each stroke and each turn and each mile with energy focus and commitment. “If I had to walk the last two miles home… tough!”
Much to my complete amazement, I didn’t have to walk; in fact, start to finish the ride was more enjoyable than ever. As I clicked through the statistics on my cycling odometer at the end of the ride I discovered the impact of this new philosophy – an average speed of 18.4 MPH. Shocking.
The self-exposing reality of this experience shook me. My propensity to focus on what is yet to be, constrains my ability to enjoy and excel in the moment. I save my energy for the final climb, all the while missing what miles 1 through 13 have to offer.
When I take each mile as it comes – without worry about what’s ahead… then my entire journey changes.
For seven years I had ridden with a confining philosophy – but on July 10 my mindset shifted with one unforgettable crash. Literally. I witnessed firsthand the difficult and life-threatening cycling crash of my wife, Mary. Even now she is asleep on a hospital bed just 10 feet from me. In God’s mercy her life was spared, but the impact of this experience has changed my life.
In a matter of seconds my tendency to anticipate what has yet to be swirled with the uncertainty of tomorrow. All the things I hoped to do, to say, to live with Mary sometime in the future evaporated.
The fierce anticipation of tomorrow had reduced the pace at which I experienced today.
My plans with Mary flashed in front of my eyes and in that instant my philosophy of life and living changed. I will pedal with vigor and focus and energy and determination and delight and celebration today. I will not worry about the final climb… I will grab today and squeeze. And when I do, my entire journey will change… forever. From 17 to 18.4 without stronger legs, or a new bike, or a great energy drink…
I am changed forever. And I am so grateful for the merciful hand of God.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ~ Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
Riding without worry. Living without regrets. July 10, 2012 changed everything.