So because I had 520 miles between Albuquerque and the Rest Area I’d stopped previously, Randy and I had discussed how to make those up. The plan was to ride any day that looked clear enough with not much snow in the previous week or so, throughout the winter. That is being revised after this ride, since it was super cold and there was ice on the side of the road that made me pretty nervous. But I did get in 45 miles in Price Canyon, Utah – a stark contrast in terrain from just one week ago.
Seriously, east of Albuquerque is super flat.
Price Canyon is not. From the Rest Area it is 8.5 miles to Soldier Summit, and it’s all uphill, with anywhere from 3-5% grade. Then it’s another 8-10 before you hit the downhill. The downhill is fun, to be sure. But because I’d had an appointment that morning, I hadn’t started until after noon, so the downhill I was in shade 100% of the way. At 38 degrees, the fingers were stinging they were so cold.
But the really interesting story is this:
While I was climbing in those first 8 miles, I was focused on the road ahead. Often I get so intent on “that piece” that I don’t see anything but the white line on the road and the edge of the shoulder, and I’m focused on continuing to move and push rather than how much farther or how steep it looks – or how slow I feel like I’m moving.
This time – and I’ll stress I had been on the bike under an hour – everything hurt. My hair was complaining that it was being pulled by something in my helmet. The headwind was pretty harsh, and I was considering packing it in. A few moments later I was prompted to “Look Up.”
Price Canyon is amazing. (see pics – not mine – below) Yes, the view was worth it. But I would call the view a fringe benefit. As soon as I looked up, the pressure on my shoulders and neck relaxed. My hips shifted ever-so-slightly and allowed the stronger muscles in my thighs to take over the pushing and pulling I have trained for.
Here’s the thing: Life is just exactly that way. When it’s flat and the wind is at your back, it flies by, and honestly, there is very little interesting to be said about it. The beauty comes when you’re having to endure to the end up some rough terrain. Stuff you don’t know if you can do. And yes, it gets to be hard. It’s also part of the joy in getting to the top. It gets easier if you will Look Up. Look around and see others who have struggled before you. Look around and see how far you’ve come. Look up to the Heavens and say a prayer for continued strength. Look up and let the stress melt away.
Life is beautiful. Enjoy the ride!