Monday, October 5, 2015

Stranger Inspiration

I was going to talk about lessons after a rain.  Slippery places and puddles. My headlight playing tricks on me.  Riding in the dark.   But something happened.

It was a rough start this morning.  Shortly into the ride, my bike shorts' elastic waist band folded over and rolled down.  This happens because, quite frankly, there's a bit too much fat in the middle of me and it pushes on the elastic until the elastic cries uncle and backs off.  That made me quite sad.  That had happened to me all the time in the beginning.  Every single ride.    Only recently had I noticed that it hadn't been happening at all.  In fact, on Thursday, after a particularly good ride in a week of particularly good rides, I allowed myself to think that perhaps changes were indeed happening with my body, even though the scale was reticent to share the same good news with me.

When it happened again this morning, I was more than crestfallen.  However, as I rode, I tried to push myself and find the good feeling I had been having of late.  Regardless of the missteps with shifting gears that I seem to be doomed to repeat, each ride has felt better and better.  As I make it into my driveway, I am relishing the feeling of the ride before I look at the numbers.  Then the numbers only make the ride feel that much better.

Reaching for that good feeling, I got on with the ride despite the now fallen waistband.  I chose a tad bit of a different route.  It was a whim and I decided to just go with it.  In the end it still encompassed 99% of the normal ride, just a bit in a different sequence.  

As I turned down a street, I saw one of my now familiar, if only on sight, neighbors walking her dog.  She appears to be a quite fit woman and I suspect walking the dog is not her sole source of exercise as the dog appears older and not a good jogging candidate.  Intent on her cell phone,as she nearly always is when I see her on the street, she paid me no mind as I passed her going down the cul de sac, and then again as I came back up the street.  I turned and zoomed down the hill and hit my turn around spot.  I intended on pushing myself back up the hill.  I wasn't going to stair step it as I always did by turning onto the street mid rise to ease the length and steepness of the hill. 

I was going to conquer it in it's entirety. 

And then I saw her.  Fit, cell phone concentrating, dog walking woman.  She was crossing where I would be heading up the hill and I saw her hesitate, unsure of my path.  In an instant  a dozen thoughts came through my mind.

I don't think I can make the hill.

If I can't make the hill, she'll see it.

She'll see me have to stop and get off my bike.

She'll see me walk the bike up this insignificant hill.

She'll think I have no business riding this bike.

I will be embarrassed by my inability to ride up a truly simple hill.

I can't let her see that.  

Turn.  Must. Turn.

So I signaled to her that I was turning out of her path.  She nodded her thanks and continued boldly walking.  

As I passed her, I heard her say it.

Words that for then next 1/2 mile would bring tears to my eyes.  

"You're doing great!"

I simultaneously froze and continued riding.  Time stopped.    I processed what I had heard.

Fortunately, my politeness didn't wait.  I gave her a sincere, heartfelt  Thank You.

No, I didn't change course and challenge the hill, pushed on by the stranger's words.  

I continued on my path down my stair step street because I needed to mindlessly ride for a minute.  I needed to process what this stranger had said to me.

I needed to process that it meant so much to me. 

In just those three words, she told me that she had noticed.  She had noticed me riding diligently.   She noticed my effort.    She acknowledged that effort and the reasons behind it.

That I am fat, but I am trying not to be.  And that I was doing great. 

This woman's words were heard by my very core.  The core that the negativity emanates from.   I heard what she said, but moreover, I felt what she said.

Never underestimate the power your words have to change a stranger's day.  To maybe make them change their course, make them reevaluate the steps that they are taking, or to confirm that the path they are on is the right one and that one phrase will keep them going. 

I have gone 212 miles since August 1st, with an elevation gain of over 16,000 feet.  My average speed is 11.4 mph.

My number is 240.8

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