Braver Than the Elements

There was just barely a sliver of orange-y pink on the horizon as I pedaled out this morning. The streetlights were glimmering, crystals of untouched snow were twinkling in glow of my headlight. I realized, as I tucked my nose into my gaiter, that I was doing something that most would call “stupid,” or a just plain bad idea. Then a patch of ice broke my thoughts and I stood up to brace myself against the slip that never came.

As it turns out, all you need is a sliver of light to foresee the icy patches when you’re rolling through the darkness.

This was the last edition of the ritual ride that my girlfriends and I have come to lovingly call “The Schoolbus Ride;” my dear friend Liz is a schoolteacher outside of town and since the winter doesn’t offer her much time to ride after school, and since the weeks get long and the social time/ride time/catch up time falls by the wayside when things get busy, we all ride her out to school. We meet at a coffeeshop, rain or shine (and only sometimes when there’s black ice anticipated,) have a treat to warm up and roll out of the valley to school. We’re never sorry we’ve taken The Schoolbus – no matter how dark, cold, rainy, brutal it is. This is our time. And even if it seems “stupid” to someone else, it’s just “the way” for us.

I’ve come to look forward to this ride more than most other things my week holds; because it’s just enough adventure for any old day. Because the occasional brutal conditions make the obstacles of life seem miniscule.

I strive to be the person that laughs in the face of adversity, in the face of challenges that threaten to bring me down.

It turns out that it’s pretty easy to stay upright during a sideways slide, IF you’ve braced yourself enough for the slip. If you’ve practiced slipping through the tough patches.

So, I like to practice. Particularly in the company of these babes.

Last weekend, women around the world joined rides as part of Rapha’s call to be Braver than the Elements (my fellow ambassador Kim Cross had this to say about the ride); here in Boulder we had some amazing women join us; women who had never done group rides before. A few  had never ridden more than a few miles, some had never used bikes with gears, and quite a few weren’t outfitted with fancy shoe covers, reflective jackets or even eye protection. These women completed nearly 40 miles in driving snow and sleet, on a day that many would have looked out the window and hopped back into bed. No one was forcing them, there was no reward at the finish (besides beers, ok – reward!)

I’m just so proud of what they accomplished out there, what our organization of women worldwide was able to accomplish by challenging ourselves to get after it; I hope that our ride that day reminded those women that it’s ok to get out in the elements, to suffer a little bit. The ride IS the reason. Feeling yourself toughen up a bit is the reward. Knowing that the tougher you can be, the more softly you can approach the world. When you know what it feels like to have your hands and toes and heart frozen over, it’s all the easier to feel when you’re warm and to share that warmth from the inside out.

Be brave out there! xx – L