Our dance group normally dances at Heritage Park to celebrate Canada Day. It’s one of the spots that annually hosts a citizenship ceremony, and we are always delighted to see our newest Canadians looking so proud at its completion. This year, there were no live ceremonies, but there was a very moving virtual ceremony for nineteen of our newest Canadians, from coast to coast.
I had been looking forward to a couple of biking events this summer. One was a trip we had planned to Nova Scotia. I’ve long had listed on my ‘Life List’, Bike the Cabot Trail. June 15th was to have been the date I took my first pedal stroke along that majestic, iconic road, along with my brother, Daniel, Victoria, my friend Rhonda and her husband, John. Jim had very generously volunteered to be our support vehicle, eliminating the need for us to bike with anything more than water and a light jacket.
Rhonda, John and I had also signed up to bike the Ride to Conquer Cancer, in July. This would have been Rhonda’s and my third year to participate in this. It felt especially poignant this year because while several people I’ve biked for in the past have recently received excellent news regarding their health, several others did not live to see this summer.
Needless to say, I’ve been feeling a bit lost without a couple of good goals to anticipate. Luckily, there are some creative Canadians out there, who have been working on ways to fill in the gaps for people like me. About a month ago, my brother, Daniel, sent me information about a new race, The Great Canadian Crossing. It really caught my eye. About one hundred years ago, I was taking my first leadership course, and was tasked with the job of creating a list of 50 – 100 things I’d like to do in my life. One thing I wrote on the list was to bike across Canada. As the years have passed by, and the Trans Canada Trail didn’t exactly materialize the way I had envisioned it, I was beginning to think this would be one of the few things on my list I have not done.
This new event, The Great Canadian Crossing, is an event starting on July 1, 2020 and finishing on July 1, 2021. The goal is to get across Canada. Participants can run, cycle, walk, snowshoe, ski, or do a combination of all or some. I’ve chosen to bike. I haven’t quite figured out exactly how I’m going to tackle it. We can see the distances for each province and territory and virtually complete them in any order we wish. We can bike outside or on trainers in the basement.
I do know I’d like to complete all my miles outdoors. What I haven’t figured out is if I can finish before the snow flies, or if I’m going to need to save a couple of provinces for next spring. No matter what, I’m excited. And I’ve been training. I love to bike in our local provincial park that boasts hundreds of kilometres of bike paths. I also absolutely love taking the car ride to the mountains and putting on a few miles there. This year I’m even more motivated to take the couple of hours needed to get there. One of the secondary highways, usually crowded with cars filled with tourists heading to see beautiful Johnson Canyon, has been completely closed to vehicular traffic. Bikers are free to cycle it’s full fifty- kilometre length and back, or go just a few kilometres and bike back from there. There is plenty of room for every age and ability of cyclist. My plan is to take advantage of this road at least once per week.
Last week when we were cycling along this beautiful stretch of highway, Jim and I noticed that although we were working, it didn’t feel like we were climbing. As we biked along, we discussed how far we would go. We knew we would be more tired on the way back, simply because our legs wouldn’t be as fresh. We were a bit concerned that when we turned around, we would be facing more hills than we wanted.
As it turned out, when we turned for the trip back, we found ourselves cruising along at a much faster clip than we had managed on the way out. It seemed impossible. What we hadn’t noticed on the way out, was we were consistently, gently climbing. It was so consistent as to feel just normal. It was only when we had turned, that we realized the extra effort we’d been making.
As we cruised along back to our vehicle, I thought about how life is like this too. Often, we get so caught up in what we have to do in our daily lives, we don’t realize the extra effort we are expending. The climbing begins to feel normal; not necessarily good, but normal. We keep giving more and more effort. Unlike Jim and I, who only had to turn around to get relief, usually the rest of us don’t even recognize when we are climbing. We certainly often don’t have the luxury of turning around.
Most of us will encounter plenty of hills and even mountains we need to climb in our lives. I believe we are all capable of climbing. I even think completing a climb gives us a sense of confidence, of accomplishment. When I think back on ‘climbing’ times in my life, things that have helped me the most were twofold. Sometimes I needed to have people help flatten out the road for me. This has come in the form of having others help with the ‘doing’. Most of the time, though, I’ve managed pretty well with the doing. What I have found to be even more helpful was to have a good riding partner, to have someone to listen, sometimes to talk, and most often to just be. Finding a partner like this, feels a lot like turning for home.
As we head into this summer that is ‘not like the others’, let us notice the hills, gentle and steep, others are climbing, recognize the ones we are climbing ourselves, and find ways to partner up to help us get back home.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What kind of climbing partner am I?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to make climbing easier.