I spent some time at my Aunt’s house towards the beginning of summer and I made sure to bring my road bike. The normal ride at my house takes me through a familiar neighborhood course sporting the flat terrain characteristic to the Houston area. My Aunt lives near New Berlin, TX, which is just east of San Antonio, and while it is not known for its hills, they were certainly more plenty than around my house.
As I set out on my long rides, which were not nearly as long as many of my bike riding friends, I had to prepare myself mentally to tackle the hills. I began flat, warming up my body, enjoying the feel of my muscles loosening, and staying in the easier gears. Gradually, I would increase the pace, soon finding a comfortable cruising speed. I would maintain this tempo until my first hill.
It didn’t matter if I was starting at the crest, or at the bottom, I knew I was still going to work. From the top, I would push my speed on my way down, hoping to gain enough momentum to fight gravity on the way back up, which I usually did not do. Invariably, I had to contribute effort to make it safely to the top. If I was at the bottom looking up, I worked to kick up my speed as I approached the rise, down-shifting as I lost speed, grinding it out to the top.
The couple of different courses I rode had many different types of hills. There were the long hills, with a slow, gentle slope, allowing a steady pace. There were the steep inclines, slowing me down so much that a snail could have raced me to the top and won. There were many times on these I considered stepping off the bike and just walking; I never succumbed, pushing my way to the pinnacle.
As I rode, I couldn’t help but notice how similar a bike ride was to life. All of us have hills and flat areas. We have times in our lives where we coast, not even having to work to move forwards. Other times we feel as if we are going nowhere; no matter our efforts, we stay in the same place.
It reminded me to always keep this in mind: For every up, there is always a down, and for every down, there is always an up.
Recognize where you are on the path, approach each situation with the end in mind, and you will always get to the end. Some hills will take longer to climb and some will fly by. Keep your eyes on the prize; know you will succeed.
There have been plenty of times I have been in either situation, down or up. Sometimes I kept perspective, working efficiently towards the peak, but there have been many times that I would lose myself to the hill. My momentum would cease and I would roll backwards, heading back into the trough. I would have to work twice as hard to make it back out.
Many of my band director friends are mentally preparing for the mountain that is marching band season. Some began today, some tomorrow, and the rest on August 1. This is a long, hard, climb, but keep in mind the pace you need, continuing to focus on the top of the mountain as you work. You will make it to the end.
Life is a long ride full of hills. Keep in mind there is always a peak ahead of you and beware the troughs. Remember to always move forward and know you will make it. Do this, and your ride will be much more rewarding.