I am in the midst of a 16 week training schedule to increase the amount of power I can attain on the bike. So yesterday I was instructed to maintain a 92 rpm cadence for 1.5 hours at a heart rate between 125-133. This seemed like an easy enough task to complete. I decided to ride around the Columbia River as it’s easier to keep a consistent cadence on flat terrain. This was a good plan except for the wind. Depending on the direction I was going the wind would push me forward, blow me sideways, or push against me. However, with such specific parameters given to my by my coach to ride within I found it relatively easy to ride in the wind. For the first time I actually enjoyed riding into a headwind.
I discovered that riding for time instead of distance makes all the difference in the world. Because I was riding for a specific period of time I didn’t worry about my speed. In fact, I simply concentrated on maintaining the cadence at 92 rpm. When my heart rate would drop I would increase my effort and shift the gears as necessary to the amount of effort needed to maintain my cadence and heart rate. Wind became a tool for me to train hard. I found it easier to pedal at the necessary cadence against the wind than in many other conditions.
In John 3:8 we read, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” When I was riding against the wind the sound was deafening. This was always a distraction to me until yesterday when I appreciated the wind for what it provided me – a great training ride. My ability to ride was increased because of the headwind. If I’m only focused on my destination rather than the journey along the way, I can get frustrated with the wind.
Perhaps we need to embrace the challenges in life as a gift from God to maintain our fitness level and even experience more power as a result of the journey. It’s so easy to always want a tailwind, but that doesn’t increase our strength and power like a headwind. Are you experiencing a headwind? If so, lean into it and enjoy the ride. You never know how strong it will make you.
I will admit that I’m tired of riding, but I’m not tired of connecting with God, one person at a time. My legs are complaining loudly that they have enough of biking for a while, but my mind tells them to keep going because they are providing the opportunities to connect with others. However, they keep on complaining. Today the complaints came fast and furious. At first it was too many steep hills to climb when we (my legs and my mind) thought the worst was over. In actuality the worst is over, but even a short climb of 14% gets tiring. And then there was the road surface to complain about as it was far too uneven and rough for 20 miles. Once the road surface smoothed there was the headwind for a few miles.
Today I realized there will always be something to complain about if what you’re doing is significant. If anyone could pick up a bike and ride across America with no pain, no challenges, no complaints, then no one would care if you did it. If it weren’t for the presence of complaints, then I would not have so many speaking appointments, contacts, life lessons, and diapers for those in need. I had this same problem early in the ride, however for a different reason. Early in the ride I my fitness level was too low for the level of activity I was doing. So my legs revolted and I complained. Now my fitness level is very high but my fatigue level is also very high. So my legs have revolted again and I complained. But I know this ride is significant because I am doing it to join God in His activity across this country. I see Him at work more and more as I meet people in town after town. And so I laid the complaints to rest and my legs agreed because they want to be standing as I connect with others.
When your fitness level is low or your fatigue level is high, the complaints are bound to come creeping in. It’s worth remembering this fact. If you have not been spiritually exercising by sharing your faith and connecting with others, then you can expect to find yourself complaining more because your spiritual fitness level is low. The same is true if you are not resting in Jesus, allowing Him to fight your battles. When you fight your battles in your own strength without the help of a mentor, God’s Word, and/or His Spirit, then expect to find yourself complaining more because your fatigue level is too high. So exercise and rest. And if you find yourself complaining, make sure you know your spiritual condition. It could change how you see your challenges.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 62.1 Elevation Gain- 3,533 ft Avg Speed- 11.3 mph Avg HR- 104 bpm
Today’s ride reminded me of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I enjoy riding in the hills of Kentucky. Yesterday was difficult because my left knee was very sore from a prior meniscus tear and surgical repair in January of this year in addition to issues with my saddle sores. For some reason I didn’t suffer from these problems today which allowed me to enjoy the ride today. Perhaps I felt as good as I did today because I knew when to stop yesterday. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed riding the hills today.
As I think about it, my experiences throughout this trip have prepared me to enjoy the hills in Kentucky. The first day was a very difficult ride of over 100 miles in extreme heat. When I awakened on the second day to ride another 100 miles I had serious doubts that I could do it. In fact I questioned my ability to complete this ride until I sat on top of Lolo Pass near the end of that first week. It was at that moment I realized I could really make it! I then enjoyed the challenge of each mountain pass and the increased fitness level they brought to me even though fatigue and pain often accompanied each ride. And then there were the steep hills in Missouri with their multiple 15-16% gradients. I had a difficult time enjoying the beauty because the rides were so painful. However, without the mountaintop experiences in the west and the extreme challenges of the hills of Missouri I would not have been able to enjoy the hills of Kentucky with their 8-10% gradients.
I have gained strength, confidence, and fitness as I have biked from Washington to Kentucky. Likewise, I am learning to be thankful for the difficult spiritual climbs to reach the mountaintops and overcome the everyday hills of life. These work together to make me a stronger, more confident and fit follower of Jesus. Fitness always comes at a price. My advice to all those wanting to be strong, confident, fit spiritual warriors is to never avoid a mountain pass or an everyday hill because they all work together for good for those who love God.
Ride Stats: Total Miles- 10.5 Elevation Gain- 4,692 ft Avg Speed- 14 mph Avg HR- 117