I chose the run/ride combination. In reality, I should have just chosen bike. I am endlessly optimistic that I’ll be running by the end of the year, even though I have absolutely no evidence to support my theory! So, for now, I’ve been biking. Even though I have a year to complete this challenge, and even though it is not a race and is based on participation only, there does happen to be a leader board where our progress is tracked. It’s impossible not to want to take a peek to see how I stack up against others in my category.
Before it started, I had several ideas about how I’d approach this. I knew I wanted to complete it all outside, on real roads and pathways. There is nothing stopping a person from logging miles on their indoor trainer or stationary bike. However, when I have imagined myself riding across Canada for real, it’s always outside. For that reason, my first decision was to make sure I could cover the entire distance when I could be outdoors, meaning the kilometres would have to be covered this summer, early in the fall before the snow flies, or next spring.
If I had managed to stick to this idea, my daily mileage would have been very manageable. As it turns out, once I got outside that first day, I knew I wanted to complete it this summer. If Covid has taught me nothing else, it has certainly reminded me to not take for granted that opportunities will always be available to us at the timing of our choice. My choice then became, did I want to do eighty days of 60km, or sixty days of 80km.
Alas, I chose to do about 80km that first day, and the dye was cast. I knew there would be many cyclists who are stronger than me, and who can log many more miles at a time, but I figured my secret weapon of consistency might come in handy. So here I find myself, three weeks in, part way across Manitoba, with very tired legs, but determined to set the alarm clock again tomorrow morning.
I love to ride early in the morning. I love being outside before the whole world wakes up. I love the lighting, the sightings of wildlife and the peacefulness. This is when I do my best thinking. One morning about a week ago, I was riding in our local provincial park. I ride here often; there are hundreds of kilometres of paved paths, and it’s a safe place, away from traffic and busy streets. One of my loops takes me to a little park within the park, where there is a pond. On that particular morning, a hot air balloon was taking a flight over the city and it happened to be in full view as I reached the pond. I couldn’t help myself from stopping to take a picture.
The balloon, backdropped against a perfect Alberta blue sky, was perfectly reflected in the glass-like water of the pond. If I had stood on my head, or later turned the photo upside down, it would have been hard to figure out which way was the true right-side-up. As I rode along that morning, and on mornings since then, I’ve begun to think about my own refection. Would I, I wonder, have such a true reflection? When I see myself reflected back to me, based on what others experience when they are with me or when they observe me, am I sending out an accurate ‘picture’? I want my reflection to be as true as the one created by the balloon and the pond water. I don’t want my reflection to be distorted by things going on in my life. I don’t want to only be able to be my best self when my counters are clean.
During Covid, because none of us had a template for how to navigate the uncharted waters we found ourselves in, many of us began the pandemic trying to gain control in areas we could. In my house, I cleaned cupboards and scanned pictures. I like to get my surrounding organized, giving me a sense of control over my life. I also like to set goals and check things off a list. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this ordering of my external world. The balloon image helped me see there is also room in my life for some internal housekeeping. When I calm my insides, I can send out the ‘me’ I’m striving to become, no matter what is happening outside of myself.
The stillness of the pond allowed for the perfect reflection of the balloon. My biking adventure, the Great Canadian Crossing, is giving me time and space to calm my own waters. I love the rhythm of the pedal strokes, just as I loved the familiar sound of my running feet hitting the pavement. At the end of it, I’ll really have nothing to show others in terms of my accomplishment. However, I do feel a sense of peace inside as I cycle through the stillness of the mornings, past spotted fawns, baby ducklings heading off to swim with mama, soaring pelicans looking for the right place to land in the river, and as I give a gentle wave and smile to other early risers and deep thinkers like myself.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘How can I calm these waters?’
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 calm your water.