I rode my bike today from Frisco, Co to Breckenridge, an 8 or 9 mile route one way. The path was a slow grinding incline on the way there and a downhill masterpiece on the way back. And yet, on the way back there were these two hills that I had to get off and walk. I probably wouldn’t have done that, but my daughter was trailing behind me in a WeeHoo, a recumbent bike for kids that attaches to the back of my bike.
The ride was beautiful both ways. I couldn’t look up much at the surrounding mountains on the way there because of the grinding uphill battle. I couldn’t take in the scenery completely on the way back because of the overwhelming fatigue that had set in. I was happy when it was over, both ways.
It reminded me of the first long bike ride I took as a kid. I rode with a group of friends to the farthest one of our houses. It was almost all uphill. And I never made it back. My mom came and picked me up because I didn’t think that I could take the muscle exertion that everyone else had signed up for. I felt defeated, or at the very least, unequal to each of my friends who could to it.
After that moment of defeat, I decided to start riding more often so that the next time I had the opportunity, I would be up the the challenge.
This time, though, I was up to it. I didn’t think that it was possible after having arrived in Breckenridge but the people I rode with were able to convince me otherwise. They said that it would all be worth it to ride downhill, at least until I hit the two big hills that I would most likely have to get off and push my bike and WeeHoo combo. They were giving me permission to do what I needed in order to make it back with them. They were letting me go at my own pace and engage in the types of travel that would get me to my destination.
So, coming back was decidedly better.
I had the support I needed to encourage my return. I knew the route and could predict what it would be like. While I had more energy on the way there, I knew exactly what it would take to get back. I could coast downhill and gaze up at the mountain forest. I could see the end in my mind and then see myelf through.
I think this is how it is with every long journey. While everything is new and different on the way out, the satisfaction comes from the return. While the effort is easier at the outset, the steep incline wears on you. And if you decide to skip out on the way back, you will lose out on the most important learning of all: getting off your bike and walking it up a hill. By doing that, you will know that there is no pride lost in getting there under your own power at a different speed and via a different method. Some may judge, but the people that are really important, the ones that came with you, never will. And that is well worth the trip.