In my about section, I explain that prior to bike riding, I attempted to be a mountain climber. Hence the moniker “Mountainstroh”. (I will explain the Stroh part another day.)
I have climbed smaller mountains. Mt. Baker, Mt. St Helena, Mt. Lassen. However, in Washington State, the mother of them all, is Mt. Rainier. 14,410 feet of snow, glaciers and rocks. You can see that mountain from most of western Washington, when it’s not raining, and it beckons to you! I tried to climb that SOB 4 times, and in each of those 4 times my body just could NOT make it to the top.
Now the first 3 times, I felt like a complete failure. I wasted hours and days of training, 1000’s of dollars in gear and guide service, just to have to admit I failed. I made it to 12,500 feet, Disappointment Cleaver (Aptly named), but after that the body shutdown.
That was where I was turned around on the 4th attempt. This time though, I didn’t feel like a failure. Up and until 12000 feet, I was leading the way, doing better than the guys literally half my age. I helped teach them self arrest, and how to walk with a rope. I was also in the best shape I could be! At 12,500 feet, I was staggering and pulling people off the mountain. I was done.
I remember thinking “Stroh (I call myself that sometimes when I have serious talks with myself) you gave it everything you had pal, you left nothing in reserve. It’s not failing, this is just one big F’n mountain! Be proud of yourself for trying!”
This was distinctly a new paradigm for me. I started looking at what I do from the eyes of the people I know and work with. To me carrying. 40 lb back up and down 297 steps for 10 reps was just what I did. Hiking to the top of Mt Si with the same pack in 2 hours was fun for me.
To those I talked to though, what I did could seem as far out of their reach and my climbing Everest. I am not trying to brag, it’s just that when I have a goal, I train and train hard. Plus I loved hiking, and I like the feeling when I am “in shape”. I started allowing myself to be proud of what I accomplished. I didn’t go out of my way to tell people my stories, but if they asked or wanted to see pictures, I was happy to share. 12,500 feet IS an accomplishment!
I can hear y’all now though. “Is this a brag session? What the heck are you trying to tell us pal?”
Well, here it is. If you are a beginner, take pride in what you are doing! You’ve put in the time, effort, and money to buy a bike. Look around you at the people who you hear say, “I need to start exercising!” yet never do.
Instead of thinking “I only rode 10 miles today.” Think, “Hell yeah, I got outside and cranked out 10 miles instead of sitting and watching reality TV!” Look at all those people driving, or in McDonalds drive thru, or circling the parking lot for the closest spot! 10 miles is a good thing!” Plus if you do 10 enough times, it will soon be 15, 20, 100!
Instead of saying, “I don’t want to sign up for that organized ride, I would have to push it up some of the hills.” Say, “What the hell! I’m going to go for it! I won’t be the only one pushing!”
Every mile you pedal is another mile away from being a couch spud! How many people do you know who say “You pedaled 10 miles??? All at once??”
Getting in shape, and riding longer distances takes a while. It will be MUCH more enjoyable and you will reach your goals faster if you give yourself the pats on the back that you deserve! Don’t brag, but don’t feel bad about “short” or “slow” rides. Any saddle time gives you a helluva lot more benefits than couch time!
So, to quote Queens “Fat Bottom Girls”. GET ON YOUR BIKE AND RIDE!