I live on a gravel road.
When we bought the house two years ago, I knew the gravel would be annoying for many reasons, but mainly because I’m an avid cyclist and the gravel makes it harder to get out for a quick road ride. This morning when I hit the smooth pavement out of town, I realized that the gravel between my house and a beautiful ride was just a small inconvenience before I got out where I wanted to be.
As I rode on, I realized that road biking is a bit of a metaphor for life.
When you get to flat, smooth road and the wind is at your back, you feel strong and on-course. You can just get low on the handlebars and cruise, and life. is. good. Then, you turn a corner, and you’re riding into the wind, slowing you down a bit. Then a steep hill rises to greet you. And there’s more traffic to keep an eye on. And the sun is strong and hot. And maybe you didn’t plan well and forgot to eat before you left, or you didn’t bring enough water.
Usually these things don’t all happen at once, but the right combination can leave you wishing you were at home instead of miles away with your legs your only engine. You can’t just lay your bike down on the side of the road and give up. You have to keep going, even if slower than you planned or on a different route than you had intended when you set out. Every time this scenario has happened to me on a ride, I’ve survived and gotten home again… sweaty, tired, grateful to be there, and a little bit stronger too.
This is all true when I think about hurdles I’ve come across in just about every part of my life too. When things have been tough, I’ve survived, I’ve gotten where I was supposed to be (although admittedly, it isn’t always where I thought I’d be), and I’ve grown in the process. I’ve learned a bit of patience during all those times a plan didn’t come together as quickly as I wanted. I’ve learned that just because I didn’t end up where I thought I would doesn’t mean I ended up in the wrong place. And I’ve learned I’m stronger than I think. And I’ve learned these things over and over again… even when I thought the last lesson was strong enough to stick!
When you feel like throwing your hands in the air, laying down the bike, and giving up: know that the journey you’re on is making you stronger, and the hill you’re climbing has a peak you’ll reach. And maybe you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view when you get there! And maybe there will be another hill after that. If there is, you will take a deep breath, settle in, and climb that one too.
Just don’t even THINK about skipping the ride because of a little bit of gravel.