You can imagine our shock when we both found ourselves in the Walk-In Medical clinic on Sunday morning. Now, on antibiotics and under self-imposed quarantine, we still aren’t sure we’ve turned the proverbial corner. But we have been able to watch quite a few stages of the Tour de France I had saved on the PVR.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of cycling this summer. I’m getting ready for several big events. One is the Sea-To-Sky Gran Fondo in Whistler, BC, in September. A Gran Fondo is a fancy way of describing a bike race that is at least 120km, is timed, has a marked course and has course control - lanes closed to traffic. Needless to say, I’ve been training hard. Needless to say, I’ve been less than amused to not be able to be out on my bike this week. Needless to say, this virus is also what has allowed me the luxury of sitting in my living room watching of the Tour de France this week. And needless to say, this has brought about my pondering of the term ‘blow-up’.
There is a whole language used by cyclists that would have an outsider to the sport shaking their head. ‘Blow-up’ is one that caught my attention this week. Can you use that in a sentence please?
The commentator might say, ‘He has to be careful not to blow up’.
Good grief; the visual is not nice.
However, in cycling, when a person ‘blows-up’, it means that they have just completed a particularly extreme effort and they have simply run out of energy. Just prior to blowing-up, the cyclist will enter the ‘red-zone’. This means they are on the brink of ‘blowing-up’ and ‘blowing-up’ is now inevitable. Their body will not allow them to take on nourishment – the one thing that could replenish their energy stores.
Watching the Tour, I’ve discovered relief, realizing that my training partner, Rhonda, who is also competing at Whistler, and I will likely never blow-up! The tour riders easily double our speeds on climbs and often triple our speeds on the flat. In addition, they don’t seem to weigh their bikes down with the paniers that allow us to carry plenty of food!
I’ve been thinking about how we use this term ‘blow-up’ in life. We might use it to say that there was a blow up at work today. This refers to someone getting mad and usually yelling. It seems an appropriate use of the biking term as I can only assume that just before the blow-up, they reach the red zone where they have simply run out of self-control.
I’ve also heard businesses use the term by saying, ‘Let’s blow this thing up’. In this case it refers to making something more successful that anyone could have imagined. Let’s be unstoppable, they might have said. Let’s shatter everyone’s preconceived notion of us.
On social media when something ‘blows-up’ it means that many, many other people suddenly engage with you via ‘likes’ or comments or photos.
In my life, there have been times when I have wanted to ‘blow-up’ the ideas that others hold about me. I want people to see me differently than they do. I don’t want them to think that what they think they know about me is all there is to know. Alas, this is when I’m operating from the place of ‘If the whole world would just change for me, my life would be easier’. The truth is, perhaps what I really need is for me to blow-up some of my self-beliefs.
What people think about us is often only a reflection of what we think about ourselves. When we show a pattern of behaviour often enough, people classify us in a certain way. It is only when we get brave enough to enter the red-zone; to risk laying it on the line; to risk blowing-up, that we are declaring what we want others to know about us.
Many people would not label me as a risk-taker. I might agree with them. But I also know I do have the capacity for risk -taking within me and I’m trying to exercise it more and more. Last week, when Rhonda and I were out on our weekly long ride, a total of 91km including climbing the challenging mountain Highwood Pass, I blew a tire. I hit a rock and experienced my first blow-up. I couldn’t believe it. I had just had brand new tires put on to avoid such an event. The rock put a hole right through the new tire and the tube. We were in the mountains, out of cell phone range, 17km from the car in bear country.
We thought about our options; Rhonda could cycle alone to the car, leaving me to fend off the bears. We could look helpless and hope for a passing motorist to stop. Or we could, as Rhonda proposed, pretend we were on the Amazing Race and figure this thing out.
In my panier I had a new tube, and tools, placed thoughtfully there by Jim. Rhonda had a pump. Neither of us had one clue about how to change a tire. If truth were being told, I had never even watched anyone change a bike tire. I recalled at my last dental appointment, the wonderful Dr. Charanduk, a much better cyclist than I, had told me it’s easier to get a back tire back on the bike if it’s in its smallest gear. So that became step one. Rhonda had seen someone using the little plastic tool and she began to work on getting the tire off the rim. You cannot imagine my joy when I opened the new tube and found some instructions to follow. Let’s just say this, we won’t be hired to be the maintenance crew for a Tour de France bike team, and we did end up covered in grease, but we DID change that tire. All by ourselves.
We completely blew up what we had previously thought about our limitations. I was forced to get into the red zone of no turning back before this could happen. I think we both came home prouder of the tire change than of the successful ride. And when I posted a picture on social media? Why my account blew up (I think 33 reactions qualifies as a blow-up?!)
My inquiry for you this week is, “What needs blowing up?”
Elizabeth is a life and leadership coach in Calgary, AB. She provides leadership coaching for individuals and groups and she creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you or your organization to figure out how to blow up pre-conceived notions that may be holding you back.