Humans plan, G-d laughs. There are many times when I’m working out, that I’m struck by how many analogies may be made between exercise and life in general.
Last weekend, as part of our Pan Mass Challenge training, we started to do rides of 35 miles or more. We set off for a 42 mile trek on Saturday morning, as the skies turned blue, temperatures were in the perfect riding range of the low 60s, and all was well with the world.
The first 21 miles to Carlisle went smoothly with some nice climbs and great scenery as we rode through rolling farmland and wooded areas. Four of the guys had to turn back, so I continued on with three others from our group. As I mounted my bike for the more downhill ride back, I noticed that my back derailleur wasn’t shifting. The average distance cyclist who owns a racing or road bike has anywhere from 18 to 27 gears. Mine has 22, with a small and large ring in the front, and 11 rings of widely varying resistance in the back. I realized that my shifter had broken, rendering my back gear stuck in the one I was using when the cable snapped. Thankfully, it was in a middle gear, which allowed me to pedal through the flats efficiently, but not the uphills or the downhills.
The result was an imposed leisurely ride, just at a time when I’m trying to increase my speed. I realized that pedaling while going downhill had no effect, since there was no resistance to help me up the next hill or power through the next flat. I had to coast down hills, and start the intense pedaling every time I hit even a slight uphill. I wasn’t able to keep up with our normal speeds of 16-17 miles/hour in a group, but the guys kept slowing down for me, allowing me to catch up. After about 2 miles, I told them to go on ahead and not wait for me. I’m sure they were relieved, and so was I. They made sure I didn’t mind cycling alone, which is something I actually enjoy.
The ride back of 21 miles from Carlisle to Newton took an additional 20-25 minutes, which isn’t too much. I thought it would be much more.
Lessons learned? Plenty:
- Initially the thought of riding in one gear for 21 miles made me wonder just how I would manage it, and seemed like a very big task. After I finished, I realized it wasn’t nearly as bad as I anticipated.
- It was a nice change to coast down hills and not think about timing and speed- very pleasurable!
- I had a chance to appreciate the great scenery as I was going much slower. I didn’t have to watch the bike’s wheel in front of me like a hawk to avoid colliding into my fellow riders.
- The pride I feel when keeping up with my fellow riders had to be put on hold as I knew my speed was insufficient to ride with them, and I felt relieved to have them go ahead. I’m a little annoyed that I still have that ego need- I’d like to be done with that!
- It’s easy to get frustrated or angry about your failed equipment or any other things over which you have no control, but it doesn’t change the situation.
- What truly matters is not the situation, but just your reaction to the situation.
Some people say that people or pets are put into your life for a reason, but I think hobbies and avocations are as well. My bike continues to teach me important lessons about patience, ceding control and being content with what is, not what should or could be.
Post-script– The next day, I used my back-up bike as I prepared to ride in the Berkshires. My back brake jammed, and the gears were grinding. Both my bikes had to go to the bike hospital at once! More lessons learned- we hiked instead!
Humans plan, G-d laughs, but with some humility and acceptance, we can learn to laugh too.