Speeding through Life

I took a bike ride day before yesterday.

I joined one hundred forty other riders to roam the rolling hills of Aiken County, South Carolina. This event had several routes/distances from which to choose.  The longest distance was a full Century Ride which is one hundred miles. I have ridden almost 275 miles in the last three weeks, but the longest distance I have clocked in a single day was 43 miles. I felt like riding a full one hundred miles would have been a foolish stretch for me so I chose to ride the Metric Century which was 100 kilometers (actual 62.1 miles) or, in this case, a 68 mile ride. Nearing 70 miles would be enough to challenge but, prayerfully, not injure my body.

My goal when I exercise or participate in an event/race is always, ALWAYS the same;  (a) finish (b) without hurting myself while (c) bettering my time or distance by some degree. An unspoken undergirding of this combination rule is to have fun along the way.

So, Sunday morning, I rolled out of the Odell Weeks Recreation Center parking lot at 8:15 in the morning and I rode my bike for seven straight hours. The only exception was that I stopped at every rest stop offered (four, I believe).  I also stepped off the road about four other times along the way so that I could drink, and swallow down a fistful of something nutritious while stretching my hamstrings. So, I averaged a three to four  minute stop (yes, I used a timer) every thirty minutes. Every independent stop was prompted *deep delicious sigh* ….. by beauty. I stopped when
I absolutely
had
to take a photo.

There are times when I stifle the desire …
and I often reminisce about that “lost” photo …
the capturing of  an emotion stirred within my spirit.
I remember the sight …
the smell …
the emotion.
I almost feel like
I left a piece of myself behind
or neglected to bring that emotion
(as seen through my eyes and a camera lens)
into my present
in some tangible form through pixels on a screen.

The average pace of most riders is probably somewhere between 15-20 mph. I have found that my speedometer usually shows that I am traveling around 12 mph.
I run slow (11.5 minute miles, average).
I pedal slow (10-15 miles per hour, average).

WHILE I’m running
or pedaling,
my slower-than-average-speed bothers me not.
But, when I get into conversation with others about speed,
I feel a tiny *twinge* of
inadequacy … especially if they are critical of me in tone or word.

My friend, Anne, has been riding longer than me. She’s long-legged and lean. She’s a long-distance runner. We have attended a few events together of late, but we have not ridden together in the event. In fact, she finished yesterday’s race two full hours before I did.

At one point last week, some chatting was going back and forth on Facebook about Anne and I doing this event and I responded to another friend that Anne and I would not ride together. In fact, I said something like, “Oh, no. Anne and I won’t be riding together. She’s much faster than me. In fact, she will be showered and in her pj’s back in Augusta, sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching old black and white movies LONG before I even FINISH the event.”

She and I chatted on the phone about the ride after it was over. She ended up riding with a guy who challenged her to pick up her speed a bit and she admitted that she was fairly sore and spent. I shared that I had ridden the entire length alone and was pleasantly surprised that I was not sore at all. I had no neck/shoulder tension. My legs were not tired. My fanny wasn’t even sore from seven hours in the saddle. In fact, had I had my running shoes with me in Aiken, I would have probably run a few miles after I reached the rec center.

Anne pointed out that I had reached my goal. I had finished without injury to find that ….
I had not been pushed physically
so
the next step …
might be to try to ride faster.

As we continued to converse, though,
she mentioned that she remembered the ride that she m.o.s.t  e.n.j.o.y.e.d
of all the rides that she has ridden.
It was a ride where she allowed herself to ride a bit slower and
stop along the way to snap photos.
She pointed out that she somehow felt a little uncomfortable
as more focused riders would whiz by her
stopped there on the side of the road …
camera in hand.
She mentioned that she thought about that ride as she rode yesterday
being challenged by this new male friend
to go faster ….

I was reminded of the quote by Emmerson ….

I can relate to her feelings. I’ve written before about how I love to leave early for a trip
and travel alone
because I am then afforded the sweet, gracious freedom
to stop on a whim to take photos along the way.
This makes me soooooo happy. It pleasures me. It fills my soul with richness.

And isn’t that important? Shouldn’t we make allowance  …
truly buffer our lives with time for fulfilling
that which causes our soul to soar.
We are each built with at least one strong gift that
makes us tick, fills our life with richness, stirs us to life.
What is that gift for you? Are you nurturing it?
Do you pad your life slices of time to slow down and foster that endowment?
Do you find ways to share that special present?
Of all of the activities that fill your days,
taking … making time to nurture this gifting
will help your life become richer and more meaningful.
It will energize you for all of your other duties and responsibilities.
It will help you discover a fulfillment that other activities sorely lack.
For how empty is our life … our journey, if we RUSH through it and spend no time
sharing our gifts and encouraging others to share theirs, as well?

As I rode yesterday, I thought about my speed. I rode alone
and I was okay with that …
because I stopped to take a few photos
and I spent seven full hours thinking about spiritual/physical parallels,
life, motivation, relationships, dirt, disappointment, muscle structure, and rain.
I prayed out loud, again pondered JUST.HOW.MANY shades of green God has created,
and considered line upon line from Mary Chapin Carpenter and Alison Krauss
that lilted from my iPod to my ever searching heart.

Soon, I will attend another biking event. I am forming strategies so that I will not be the very.last rider to cross the finish line (like spending less time at rest stops), but I am more comfortable than ever
covering 10-12 miles per hour
and knowing that I will finish injury free
having fully enjoyed every revolution of my pedals.

Yes, this life is a trip … it is an event.
We can rush through it focusing on performance
comparing ourselves to crowd around,
or we can let the pack whiz by …
and make sure to take the time to do that which
fulfills, motivates and invigorates us.

I choose to be slow … on foot, while pedaling, in my speech and most actions.
And I choose to take the time to snap photos along the way.
I want to live an intentional life. I want to impact in a positive way.
I want to share. I want to encourage and uplift … edify and empower.
I want to ask questions that challenge and make people think.
I want to focus on enjoying the ride
more than finishing the event.

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2 thoughts on “Speeding through Life

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