One of the most challenging roads I ride around campus is Shaker Road, which has a steep 14 percent grade as it rises from the Great Shaker Swamp to where it intersects the north end of campus. For the uninitiated, a 14 percent grade represents an elevation of 14 feet for every 100 feet traveled. Traversing the hill is always a daunting challenge, and it teaches me something new each time I accept its gravitational gauntlet.
What I’m thinking: Whatever discomfort I feel will pass in a few minutes. The only way to make it stop is by continuing to make circles with my legs.
What I’m learning: Pain is an important signal to monitor, but it shouldn’t overwhelm the lesson. Know the difference between the pain that simply wants the ordeal to end, and the pain that forewarns a more serious problem.
What I’m thinking: I’m grateful that my bike is composed of a lightweight, carbon-fiber material.
What I’m learning: The gear never makes the athlete, but having the right tool helps. Have you tried to julienne veggies with a dull knife? No need to make something harder than it already is.
What I’m thinking: At what point will my ability to complete this stretch start to diminish?
What I’m learning: I don’t remember a time when I was able to imagine being middle-aged. Now that I am, I value even more the things I’m still able to do.
What I’m thinking: Dessert. (Because if I’ve biked the hill, I’ve earned it.)
What I’m learning: Everything in moderation, including moderation.
What I’m thinking: The hardest part of my day is voluntary, temporary, and essentially healthy.
What I’m learning: If you are reading this, the same is probably true for you, too. That is something to be thankful for.