Posts Tagged ‘cycling metaphor’


Some friends on the ride- this is at the top of an enormous hill we called “The Weigh Station.”

You can’t hear much besides your heart pounding in your chest and the wheels against the pavement when you’re struggling up a really great hill.  You’ve got to will your legs to keep going when your quads are on fire, the chain rings can’t get any smaller, and the top is nowhere in sight. Every movement is controlled and measured to transfer the most power from your hips to the pedals.  You’d probably smile thinking about the coming view from the top if you had the spare muscle power to turn the corners of your mouth up, but you don’t.

My husband calls hills like that, “paying the toll” for the view and there are a lot of things like that in life: times where hard work and focus can take you to the top of some hill where the view is simply awe-inspiring.  And in that moment you breathe deeply and fill your chest with rarefied air before taking the well-earned ride down the other side.

But what about the other part of the ride we cyclists don’t like to talk about?  Besides the fast flat roads, the tough hills and the beautiful controlled descents, what about those occasional patches of sand at the bottom of the hill?  Your back tire suddenly finds no purchase and slides out behind you.  The speed that exhilarated you a moment ago suddenly turns sinister and threatens to tear you down and throw you to the solid pavement. Your hard fought control is wrestled away from you for a moment  and all you can do is hold on tight and hope that gravity and centripetal motion are on your side today and that maybe you’ll come out the other side no worse for the wear.  Or at least that’s what you’d hope for if you had time to do anything but react; which you don’t.

2012 TOMRV

2012 TOMRV

I recently had a life experience that made me feel like I hit a patch of sand going 35 miles an hour.  It was a moment of pure beauty followed by forced surrender of control and rapid deceleration that terrified me.

But you know what?

I held on tight and made it through to the other side.  I’m clear and in the flat now, and my heart is pounding in my ears and I’m well aware of the other ways the slide could have ended, but hey, I’m going to be okay.  And as much as I’d love to tell you that I’d learned lessons about looking out for and avoiding patches of sand, what I really have to tell you is that you can’t anticipate what’s coming at the bottom of every hill. When you’re in that slide and you feel your wheel come around on you, you just have to ride it through.

I may be in danger of over-playing my metaphor here, but it’s important to know that in the times the slide ends badly and you need help peeling yourself off the ground and repairing your busted up bike or body, it’s good to be on the ride with friends.

I know I’m glad I’m on the ride with friends.

And if their tires hit a patch of sand, I hope they’re glad they’re on the ride with me too.



*The story I used as metaphor in this blog owes its very real origins to a hill near Mississippi Palisades State Park and a patch of sand I encountered on a ride called TOMRV (Tour of the Mississippi River Valley).  TOMRV will be held June 8-9, 2013 and I can’t wait to do it again.


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