What the summit taught me

I never expected cycling to teach me as much as it has. I always expected to learn about the sport and perhaps a few new ideas about discipline, but instead it has given me so much to think about. Now that we’re drawing near to the cycling season again, I’ve been thinking about what the climb has taught me.

Take the summit of a great climb for an example. For one to reach the summit, they must endure the pain and agony of climbing. Depending on where you are during the climb it could be easier or more difficult, but nevertheless, it’s still a climb. Therefore it’s still work.

There’s a category 3 hill that’s located in the town of Baldwin, Maine. Douglas Mountain shows me that sometimes the climb can seem like it’s going on and on without an end in sight. In fact, the first time I took the hill, I thought I had reached the summit due to a diminishing gradient, but alas, it was just a dip. The climb continued and brought me into a steeper gradient and a more agonizing climb. I am keeping in mind that this climb is nothing compared to what a lot of my cyclist friends have put themselves through, or even what I plan to endure in the coming summer, but it was my only reference point to a decent climb.
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The point is, and the revelation I had during this climb is that life can be like this climb. Life can have its series of hills and descents. The bible never promises a life without climbs, and in fact consider the words of the Apostle Paul, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 ESV) The challenge to be patient in tribulation is there because we will face tribulation. It’s what we do to get us through that and also how we handle ourselves while in anguish that becomes the test. Christ even tells His disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Life is like a long trek. In this trek is a collection of flats, climbs, and descents. On a flat section of a ride you can push it or relax, but it usually remains pretty steady. A descent is a often a time to regain composure most likely after a decent climb. But then there is the climb. A climb can be grueling, but they will come to an end. Just like in life, when we find ourselves in tribulation, be not overwhelmed by the severity of the gradient, but look forward to the fact that it will pass.

Just as the assurance of a climb will come, I’m confident that one who finds comfort in whining at the base of their climb will never reach their summit. If we focus on the difficulties rather than the results, we’ll not even get out of the gate before we talk ourselves into turning around. Self-pity will rear it’s ugly head in and ruin everything.

But once you fight the agony and the constant banter inside your head that’s telling you to turn around, and once you’ve reached the top of your climb, you’re often rewarded with the view that gives you a different perspective from what you had at the base of the climb.
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Don't loose heart. Keep climbing.

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