This cycling journey has been full of surprises. Last weekend I found myself at the front of the peloton about 15 kms into our 100km training ride. Given it was 10 weeks to the day since I picked up my bike for the first time, this was surprising in itself. However what came next was even more of a shock – a call came from the back “Slow Down in Front”. Seriously?! Never in my wildest cycling fantasies did I ever expect such a call to be directed at me.
Actually to tell the truth I never really had any cycling fantasies. Taking on the challenge to ride the Westpac Tour 200, 300 kms over 3 days, my aspiration was simply to make it to the starting line and reach my ambitious fundraising target. With less than 2 weeks to go it looks like I’m odds on to make it – now the hardest days of training are done, it’s time to regroup and rest up for the big ride. So the “slow down” call has come at the perfect time to prompt some more considered reflection and importantly, to remind me to appreciate what I have around me.
Caught up in the mad maelstrom of the past few weeks of training, work, more training, getting kids back to school, training again, fundraising, physio, more work, getting kids to sport, yet more training, I’ve often looked to deep emotional stories to act as inspiration and to focus on the next milestone. I have driven myself hard for a good cause but still tried to do everything else… I have forgotten what I learnt a few years ago about the importance of slowing down.
This week marks 6 years since the devastating Christchurch earthquakes. My life was somewhat in disarray at that time as well, and I was being treated for anxiety and depression. As part of my recovery, I realised the power in asking those around for help when I needed it, stopping to smell the roses along the way, and learning to appreciate the present moment more than I ever had before.
The beauty of the peloton, as described in EyesUp Rolling #4, is that it is more powerful together than the sum of its parts. Riders at the front might be trying to get their as fast as they can, but if the peloton splits those behind will need to work 30% harder. So the “Slow Down” call is part of ensuring we continue to help each other by sticking together and riding to the pace of the slowest.
Off the bike, the Tour group has formed a close community,a support network with great encouragement shown by more experienced riders towards the novices, and connections forged over chats during rides and coffee stops that will endure beyond the event.
I have achieved my training goals and my ambitious fundraising target. Time to slow down and enjoy what is going on. Stop occasionally on a morning ride and snap a photo of the sunrise. Live in the moment, but recognise how far I’ve come.
(even though I’ve reached my target you can still donate to the cause here!)
I can still hear that famous phrase 🙂