I knew within 30 minutes of this day how things were going to go today, literally. The morning was cool and wet and we were about a couple of miles (if that) away from the church we had stayed at last night and my back tire blew. Of course, I had a new tube on me, but it was too big. I stood on the curb thinking “oh, so this is how this day is going to go…I see…” Thankfully sweep was right behind me and had spare tubes and a nice travel pump and they gladly fixed my tire for me. On we went, at most 10 more miles, and then we hit this hill, a never-ending, hill.
After a few minutes of the ascend and my breathing got out of control (this will be something I will work on figuring out for future rides). As I mentioned, it was a cool and wet morning, perfect conditions for my asthma to get out of control, and quickly, and that it did. I didn’t think to use my inhaler during the ride (as I just use it pre-workouts…but it’s called an emergency inhaler for a reason…did I mention I can be stubborn?), so I tried to push through and conquer this beast. It was one of those hills where you couldn’t see the top, it just kept going UP UP UP. The bottom half was okay, but once my breathing was out of control, and it didn’t take long because the incline was so steep, I had to stop about every 20 feet to catch my breath. I wish I were exaggerating. One of my best friends was riding sweep that day and he wisely encouraged me to just go as slowly as I needed to and that it wasn’t a race.
Well between my asthma getting the best of me and the steepness of the climb sending my back into pain way before the now familiar 50 mile mark, I was filled with two emotions upon finally reaching the top: elation and immense frustration. I asked the team if they would mind going slowly for a bit because my back was already hurting, to which they gladly agreed and suggested I take the lead and set the pace. So I lead, and was crushing it at 18-20 mph, so much for going slowly and not racing (racing what?! I have no idea, but clearly I was racing something). I was pissed that I had had to go so slowly the first part of the ride so far and I was so frustrated with my back pain and my asthma getting the best of me that I did the most rationale thing and rode as fast as I could away from that bloody hill.
By the time we finally got to our first stop around mile 30, I was physically, mentally and emotionally a mess. I knew I needed to pull myself off the road. Half of me didn’t want to imagine that I needed to since I was GOING to get to Chicago on only 2 wheels, and the other half of me knew that if I didn’t pull myself off, the rest of the day was going to mirror the first part of today’s ride, and I had no interest in putting the rest of our team through that. You could say I gave up, and perhaps I did. I could’ve pushed through and forced myself to get over it. But on the other hand, I knew we still had 3 more full days of riding ahead of us, and I wanted to make sure I could at least ride part of the remainder of the 3 days to Chicago. So, in the moment I did what I felt like was the best decision and pulled myself off the road.
Tonight, during team devotions, I sat there feeling discouraged, defeated, frustrated and like a failure. And God met me in that moment and said, “I asked you to go on this trip. I did not say you had to ride every mile from Minneapolis to Chicago. Your obedience to simply going on this trip is all I asked for. And look at the people who are on this trip because you did what I encouraged you to do. You’ve already succeeded in doing what I wanted. I don’t care if you ride all the way to Chicago or not on your 2 wheels, that’s completely up to you.”And in that moment it was settled and I was reminded that God’s word for me this year was “play.” So for the next half of this trip, that’s what I’m going to focus on, “playing.”