Frozen to the bone on a 45-degree morning this past Saturday, and feeling more than a little foolish in my borrowed spandex riding suit, I was determined to be fearless and make it all the way to the finish line. My goal for the day? To bike 40 miles through the beautiful Texas Hill Country just outside of Waco.
Although there were a few things working against me. My sister and I were the only bikers present trying to muscle our way through on bulky mountain bikes. I was wearing a ridiculous outfit, with baggy shorts thrown on over my spandex (because unlike the other riders that day, I wasn’t ready to throw my most intimate contours out there for all the world to see). I hadn’t really done much training. And I forgot to stretch before the race – something I’d definitely regret a few miles down the road!
Mile after wind-chilled mile passed by, and my muscles began to feel the burn. At one point I tried to hop off my bike and walk but my legs simply refused to cooperate, sending me sprawling to the ground for a brief moment. The scenery, however, took my breath away. It was so quiet I could actually hear the wind whispering across the tall grass, saw cattle grazing lazily in the fields, and passed by several old country churches and cemeteries. If ever there was a place to feel close to the Creator – this was it.
My legs felt like Jello.
My tailbone felt broken.
But my spirit? It was soaring.
I didn’t end up making it all 40 miles. After 23 miles, my family arrived and talked me into jumping into the car. They were worried because, in my amazement at the beauty around me, I had somehow managed to miss every single one of the racer’s checkpoints. All they knew was that I had dropped off the face of the earth for three hours!
Not reaching my 40-mile goal was a little disappointing, but I had still accomplished a longer ride than I had ever done before. And I felt that I had learned so much about myself, about what I could really accomplish if I wanted it bad enough – that it was possible to reach deep inside myself and simply push through the pain.
So my 40-mile bike race was a bit of a flop, but I ended up with a 23-mile biking adventure that I’ll never forget.