brave is a 36km bike ride

Bike Ride Interlaken

On Thursday, we decided to cycle around the lake that our holiday apartment looked out over. That’s 36km of lake-edge which I assumed would be a gentle, flat ride. It turned out there were some pretty horrendous hills to climb, and we’d left the best till last – a whopper (for me) that climbed 100m in 2km.

I was walking my bike up in no time, Rasmus already well ahead (going for the spotty jersey). Half way up I got passed by four seasoned bikers, kitted out in professional-looking cycle gear, pushing hard up this climb. One grinned at me as I pulled my bike in to the side to not get in their way and said something in German that I didn’t catch. Something about the difficulty probably, or the heat.

I certainly didn’t look as ready for this trip as they did: a borrowed bike with dodgy gears, no padded shorts to soften the ride (I felt that the next day), no clip on shoes, and still the additional “softness” I gained while eating so much cheddar cheese during my ten weeks of pregnancy (the only thing that quelled the constant nausea).

And yet as they passed me and disappeared up the hill – while I plodded on with my bike by my side and a face like a tomato – this thought came to me:

I may not know much about cycling, but I know a thing or two about courage.

I could have quite happily finished the ride at a quarter of the way around, when I was already tired from the hills and desperate for a swim to wash away the dirty mix of sweat and suncream. But I kept going because I wanted to be able to say I’d made it all the way around.

And as we freewheeled down that last awesome hill into our little postcard-ready village, I was proud of that discipline (or stubbornness maybe is a better word). It was truly hard work: I complained more than a few times to my very patient husband, stopped for breaks frequently, and even once shed a tear at the bottom of that final hill when I just wanted to be home already.

That doesn’t make me look so good, I know, but I needed you to know it because being brave, I am discovering, rarely looks glamorous. It looks like hard work. It looks like really wanting this thing to be over already. But it looks like keeping going, taking the next step up the hill, enduring the ache in your legs and your butt, and keeping your eyes on the crest of the hill.

And it’s worth it because brave ultimately brings you to the top of that hill, to the feeling of the wind in your hair as you pick up speed down the other side. And that’s not worth missing out on for anything.