On Instagram recently I saw one of those ‘inspirational’ quotes. Usually I roll my eyes but this one made me think a little.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Much as I hate to say it, the quote had a point. I can’t think of the last time I really got out of my comfort zone in terms of fitness. Going back to college, yep. Learning to clip into my pedals, yep. (Well, when/if it happens). But I don’t usually step out of my comfort zone.
There’s a hill near me. King’s Mountain Road in Woodside. It’s four miles long and climbs about 1400 feet. I’ve run up it on the trails of Huddart Park, but I’ve never cycled up it. Every time we drive it, we see cyclists slogging their way to the top. Many look like death, I have to be honest. Seriously, they look like they’re going to have heart attacks and fall over. But part of me has wanted to climb it FOREVER. So when someone pointed out on social media that I had nothing to lose – if I got too tired I could simply turn around and head back down – I realised that I was ready to give it a go.
So on Wednesday, my friend watched the Dude (I was watching her daughter the next day) so I packed Margarita into my car, drove to Woodside, parked up and headed up towards my nemesis. I turned right onto the road and it literally reared up before me. The first stretch is quite steep. I honestly felt my heart sink and I thought, I can’t do this. But what did I have to lose? Nothing, so I plodded on.
It took me about 45 minutes to climb the beast. And to be honest, it was both tough and not-that-bad. It was tough because it was relentless. It just went on and on and on. But it wasn’t that bad because it was never particularly steep. I just had to get myself into the mindset that I’d be here for a while, not going fast, and I just had to keep the pedals turning. So I did. I just slowly pedaled my way upwards. It was kind of lovely – the road was very empty so it was mainly the whirr of my chain, my breathing and the peace of the redwoods that lined the road. I don’t even think I looked deathly like the other cyclists I’d seen (I was also sure to sit up and look perky whenever a car came past me). There was one spooky section where the trees made the most freaky noise, like a squeaky door in a horror movie – I cycled a bit faster there. And then suddenly, I saw the junction at the top and I’d made it.
I was pretty chuffed.
And then I realised the really scary bit WASN’T the climb but was actually the descent. I thought I was getting better at cycling downhill but I was pretty terrified on this descent – I was braking so much I worried my brakes would overheat and burst my tyre! By the time I made it to the bottom, my hands were more or less deformed into ‘frantic braking’ shape, they hurt loads as I started cycling on the flat and was able to get off the drops.
Part of me feels a bit foolish blogging about this because basically I just cycled up a big hill which turned out to be totally within my comfort zone. (I was watching the Tour that night and realised how unimpressive my ‘spectacular’ climb was). But that’s the actual point I’m trying to make. We THINK things are out of our comfort zone but once we pluck up the courage to try it (and give ourselves permission to fail if it’s all too hard) we sometimes find that they aren’t that hard after all!
I need to do this more, and you guys need to remind me!! Here endeth the lesson 🙂