Tell me something positive about yourself. Really. Do it. I’ll wait. I’ll drink a sip of this tea, while I wait for you to speak your words to me.
Got it? Whisper it to me. Tell me across the miles and as you do, listen to what you say. Say it to me; say it to yourself.
This is what I did on Monday’s practice. I silently said to myself in the first few miles of the ride, “I am strong.” I breathed in. I breathed out, “I am strong.”
My legs churned. I didn’t hyperventilate. I was breathing out all the carbon dioxide and taking in all that sweet morning oxygen that was around me.
“Try to get to get past the point where they dropped you last time,” both my coach and my cyclist brother-in-law said to me. I saw that point in the map of my mind: right after the railroad tracks. This was where I first got dropped. When we came to that place, I breathed in. I breathed out, “I am strong.” It helped we were going a bit slower this ride, but there was something else too. I knew I could do it. I wasn’t afraid. Even if I got dropped, I knew I’d be okay.
Then, the wind started to come up. I know wind. I’ve sailed all my life (although I’m no expert). I do, however, understand wind. Our wind had changed from a headwind into a crosswind. My teammate changed her bike position. I followed so I was at her side, instead of behind her, as in a pace line. She yelled out what to do, “We need to echelon! You need to find the quiet place!” I understood it immediately. I needed to find the place where I could be protected from the wind by my teammate’s wind resistance so that I could find the most speed myself. I, in turn, provided wind resistance for my teammate to the left of me, so she could find her speed.
I got into the echelon and we sailed on the road. I knew exactly what she meant about finding the quiet place and I was there on my bike in this beautiful flock-of-birds-echelon of four women and one man and I thought, I love the quiet place. I can exist in the quiet place for right now.
Not just in my biking life, but in my regular life I am in the quiet place. I am a little lost. After being in an seven and a half-year relationship, marriage eludes me. My job is fulfilling and fantastic, but I am not a full time professor. I am a writer with awards, but not actually published. Therefore, this spring I’ve decided to take a step back from all of it and just concentrate on finding a way to my ideals, finding a way to not perhaps a white fence lifestyle, but maybe a bamboo fence lifestyle: living in a city I love, finding healthy relationships of all kinds, eating good and nourishing foods, having children a bit later, publishing my young adult novels, obtaining a healthy stomach: overall healing my body, my mind, my heart. In this way, I am in the quiet place.
I am here in the echelon of my life as the crosswinds are coming across. I am here in this quiet place and I am riding faster and stronger than I ever have before.