Thursday, July 26, 2012

Knowing My Limits



"I'm not...going...to make it..." I gasped as I pumped my bike pedals up a hill somewhere in Silverlake or Los Feliz tonight.

I was on a bike ride led by Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge, whose advocacy for the outdoors has led him to lead these weekly summer bike rides all over his district, despite nursing a bum knee. Even though as a resident of Beverly Hills, I'm not technically part of his constituency, I liked the idea of following a politico on a sunset bike ride through the city.

We'd started in Griffith Park, rode along the LA River, and crossed the Silverlake Dam by the reservoir, whose gates were unlocked especially for us by the department of public works.

It was an amazing bike ride, with Magic Hour lighting, and a police escort the whole way stopping traffic for our group. But as we were returning towards Griffith Park, reality set in: we had to climb those hills we'd sailed down on our way out.

I'd been struggling on the ride already, not used to so many hills. (Even the downhill runs made me so nervous I braked through them.) At one point, one of the policeman on bike patrol asked me, "Do you ride much?" because, as he noted, I hadn't shifted into the right gear and I was making my legs work harder than they had to.

But as I warned my fellow bikers that there was no way I was making it back up the Hillhurst hill into Griffith Park, they scoffed. "Sure you are!" they said, trying to encourage me.

"I'm just...not used...to these hills..."

Regardless, I tried. I knew I was close enough to my car to walk my bike back, if I had to. And partway up the hill - not very far up the hill - I just...stopped.

One of the bike cops skidded up to me. "You OK?"

"I'm OK," I said, wheezing and heaving. "I just can't go any farther."

"Do you want a ride? The truck's right there."

I turned around, and a yellow pickup truck hauling bikes in its cab was headed slowly our way.

"Oh yeah?" I said, considering.

"I think you should, you don't want to strain yourself."

"You know what?" I dismounted and unbuckled my helmet strap. "You're right. I'm not running a race. There's no prize at the end. I am not getting paid to do this. I am taking that ride."

Someday, there may be a time in my life when I must go on - for survival, for glory, for something bigger than myself. But on a Thursday night leisurely, recreational biking trip, when a ride is being offered up the hill, there is no shame in my game in taking it.

I'm too often humiliated by my limitations. But I have to accept them. I'm not an experienced biker, even on level land. I don't really even know how to change the gears property. And when I am hiking a steep trail, sometimes I have to sit and scoot my way down. There is no shame in that, either.

It would be a shame to not try.

Related Posts:
Have Bicycle, Will Travel
Reaching My Limit
Photo Essay: The Bridge to Nowhere, And Back
Photo Essay: The Big Parade Day Two, Part 2 (Franklin Hills, Los Feliz, Griffith Park)
Plunging My Hand Into a Field of Terror at the Lavender Farm

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