I was flanked by 2 spandex clad, helmeted cyclists. As the three of us rounded the bend, I could see a steep hill lie before us. Sweating from riding 10 miles in the heat, I wasn’t sure if I could make the hill. I had only begun to go on these neighborhood bike rides a few weeks earlier and I was the only one without a road bike. If you don’t know about bikes, this makes a huge difference! My bike was a hybrid and much heavier than the road bikes. It made it easy to go over bumps, but not as fast. Therefore I had to work harder going up hills.
The next thing you need to know is when to shift gears. If you choose a lower gear, it is easier to pedal but takes many more strokes to move the same distance. (Believe me, I have chosen the lowest gear before and a toddler walking next to me was going faster!) The key is to pedal at the highest gear you can, and only shift down when you are unable to push your feet down anymore. So, as we approached the hill, I did not shift down. I began to pedal quicker and breathe deeper.
Richard in his I discovered Portugal on my bike jersey, called from behind, “You can do it!” Surprisingly the first half of the hill was easy and then midway my pedaling had slowed and I was standing on the pedals leaning forward. It still felt doable until I was at the last quarter. My legs were burning and I could barely breathe. An old thought drifted in, “You’re not strong enough.” But then I remembered what my cousin said she did when she was learning to be a distance runner. “Julie, I just say that I am going to run to that trashcan, then that lamp post, then to whatever the next thing is. If you take it in little increments, you can do it.” I breathed in deep and said, “I can make it to that utility pole.” And I did. So then I said, “I can make it to that person standing on the sidewalk.” And I did. The traffic light was so close now, but I could barely breathe. Richard’s deep voice echoed in my head, “You can do it!” And I knew my two neighbors were right behind me.
Jubilation entered my soul as I reached the top, and I didn’t even want to stop anymore! I could keep going without a rest. Because that is what happens when you push yourself to do things you didn’t think that you could do and when you have support, not pressure, from the people around you.
By looking for people who support you and taking it in baby steps, you will be unstoppable!