In case you haven't checked out the page on my blog; Bike to Build: in the Himalayas- do it now. I'll wait.
Pretty cool, right?!
Well yesterday, I started training. I did a 12-mile road bike ride starting at about 800ft elevation, probably without much gain, although those hills are killer.
A little reflection on yesterday's ride:
I remember hiking about a year and a half ago in the Columbia River Gorge in Northern Oregon with my sister. My sister is stronger and faster than me in almost everything. This particular hike was when I really came to peace with that. Always about 5-10 paces behind her, I was huffing uphill: the sound of my breath overpowering the sounds of birds and soft rainfall around me and failing to smell the fresh air by breathing deeply in and out of my mouth, my glare was down at my feet, making sure I didn't trip over anything as I tried to hurry my pace to catch up with my sister. There came a point where I stopped trying so hard to match her footsteps. I took a breath in through my nose, looked up at the beautiful temperate rain forest around me, and most importantly, I stopped berating myself. The voice of, "I can't," quieted, and I could hear my footsteps on the wet leaves, my breath, the birds, the kiss of water against the treetops.
I wrote previously about a short backpacking trip I took last summer in Colorado with my boyfriend, and how we stopped just above a pretty steep pass and he asked me how I felt. I answered, "I feel inadequate, like I can't do this. Frustrated. Tired." Or something along those whiny lines. He looked at me, and said, "Would you shut up?" I was slightly taken aback, and in that moment I caught a glimpse of my surrounding environment at 1200 feet in altitude in the Colorado Mountains, snow covered peaks, the sun just over the crest. And I thought, "Wow. I've been harping on all this negativity, when THIS is surrounding me?! What a waste of energy." I looked back at my friend, and thanked him for telling me to shut up.
While biking yesterday, after about 40 minutes of this somewhat steady uphill ride, my mind and I were deeply entrenched in some ugly warfare. That same, nasty "I can't" voice was louder than my breathing (which was pretty hefty), and I was about ready to give up on the goal I've set to bike 480 km from Manali to Ladakh, India. Then I reached the top of the hill (one of many), and again took in the view of the sun peaking over the clouds beyond the mountain peaks, the river rushing past and the rich smell of manure that I've come to love. Then I kept going.
On the way back, a mostly downhill ride, my riding partner (the same gentleman who so lovingly told me to "shut-up" last summer) commented on my supremely improved attitude. I reminded myself of a hike with my sister where she observed that she is always in a much better mood when the hike is descending rather than ascending. In other words, downhill = happy. As we rode our bikes near top speed, he asked me why I was in such a sour mood earlier.
I loosened my grip on the brake, and proclaimed, "IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER!"
So while, I'm still unsure of my capability to ride almost 300 miles through dirt roads in Northern India with a top altitude of 17,580 ft., I haven't given up yet.