I opened my eyes this morning wide enough to see 5:45am on the alarm clock. It was warm in my bed and it was cold outside. People shouldn’t get up at 5:45am on a Saturday morning. I could think of a thousand reasons to stay in bed and I could only think of one to get out of bed – to get on the road and ride my bike. However, it was still dark outside, and it was very comfortable next to my wife under the covers.
Yet there I was, climbing out of bed, grabbing my cycling outfit and quietly going downstairs. As I fixed myself a cup of coffee and filled my water bottles, my 8-year-old daughter walked in the kitchen and asked, “dad, are you going riding?” I answered “yes”. To which she asked, “why”? For the life of me, I couldn’t think of a good reason, so I said, “Because I can”. She said, “Oh”, and walked over and turned on the television. While my daughter watched a DVD of “The Brady Bunch”, I finished eating, stretching, putting on my leg warmers, arm warmers, shoes, helmet and walked out the courtyard door. As soon as the cold air hit my skin, I froze and thought seriously about getting back in bed. I repeated “…because I can” under my breath and climbed on my bike.
My Saturday morning ride consists of 50 miles on the road. It is a great course of tough climbing, fast down hills, winding wooded roads and some great flats where you can test your time-trial abilities. The only downside is that the first hill comes about a block and a half from our house. It is a short, but very steep climb and you have no chance to warm up. As I broke a sweat, but could still feel the needles on my face from the cold temperatures, I asked myself, “why am I doing this?”
About 50 minutes into the ride, I felt my first adrenaline rush. Every endurance athlete knows the feeling. Some people know it as the “runner’s high”. It is a point where your body generates enough adrenaline to offset the pain you are experiencing – and you actually feel euphoric. You no longer notice the pain in your legs. You no longer feel your lungs straining for air. And you no longer think of the warm bed back at home. You realize that you can attack the upcoming hill and recover quickly for the next one.
I rode up next to another rider who was just starting out on his ride and said, “A great day for a ride, isn’t it?” I could tell he was ready to say, “What are we doing out here?” but he replied quickly with, “Absolutely, we are lucky aren’t we?” Lesson: It is amazing how a positive attitude can be contagious.
As I rode Santiago Canyon, I had one of my best rides in a long time. I rode with passion and inspiration. I rode harder than I have in months. I’m not a professional rider, but I do well for my age group. As I climbed the hills, I realized how lucky I really am. No one was there to see my climbs or to time my ride. However, it was reward enough to know how well I was doing. No one needed to see it but me.
Why do I ride? Because it inspires me. Because it is a metaphor for life. It isn’t always easy to get up. It isn’t always easy to be positive. It isn’t always easy to encourage others. However, when the ride is over, it feels great to look back and say, “I am proud of that one”.
I didn’t want to ride today. But I did. And I am glad I did… Sometimes you just need to get out of bed.
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