In the mirror

October 10, 2020

The mirror reflects my upper body, I have not taken much time in the last year to look at that reflection, but today I am. In my shoulders, I see the mountains against which I pushed my bike when it was too steep to pedal. In my forearms I see the in the sinews the long descents on which I held the brakes tight. In the color of my skin, I see the many, many days in the summer sun where I rolled on so many roads.

My body.

It has pretty much been a battle between us, me and my body. Most of my life spent believing it was not as it should be. It’s a needlessly painful journey, to look at one’s body this way.

A few days ago, I was looking at my bicycle. My little purple machine, unassuming, unfashionable, kind of old school and ordinary It carried me over nearly 3000 KM of road with a heavy load, I feel wonder and thankfulness for it. I feel a love for it.

Now, looking in the mirror, I feel a love for my own body. This is a rare event. I feel wonder for the gifts it gave me; from being a completely untrained body, huffing and puffing over a tiny hill, to a powerful engine, taking me over 1000s of meters of elevation, mountains, hills, crossing countries in record time. This body at 56 years of age giving me a journey of a lifetime, giving me a sense of immense freedom, strength and ability. I am in awe with this body. In awe with its generosity, its beauty, its incredible healing ability.

This body’s only limits are the limits I bestow upon it… It listens to me so intently, constantly.

As I rode at times, it would speak to me, and I would respond with love, and following that, it gave me even more.

I never knew one could do so much physically. Many times in my life I had caressed the dream of hiking or running or riding across continents, but I never could confront doing it. It just seemed too, too, too hard. What allowed me to do it, was the decision that it didn’t matter how long it took. That it did not matter if I got off the bike and pushed. That I had nothing to prove, no ego or insecurities to cater to. When it gets hard; go slower, one step, then… another. One pedal stroke, then another. Another essential ingredient: motivation. It has to be clear, undeniable, untainted. Then one can really do anything. Uncompromised intent.

This body of mine was made to move, to breathe deeply, to sweat, to work hard. This mind of mine was made to explore, to ponder and search. To never settle for comfort but to seek answers. To meld with the world around me, disappear in the wholeness of it and exist fully, bloom like a flower on its own time and needs.

One day, we were riding through Serbia, it had been a hard day. My legs just did not want to go. I had even taken an hour nap in the afternoon trying to reignite them, on the lawn of a church. When I got up, I felt even more defeated. We left the church yard and headed towards the river down the hill hoping to camp there overnight. First my friend was attacked by wasps when he tried to lift a cover on a well, we ran out of there, took the next road towards the river and then we immediately got stuck on a greasy muddy road, bikes caked with inches brownish gray clay. We grumbled out of there, and got back on the road as the sun was coming down. The closest town was so far away it seemed. Night came, we were riding on a scary 4 lane road with no shoulders, cars brushing by us so closely honking their horns, flashing lights, I was terrified, struggling to see the holes in the pavement or any type of obstacle that might arise. Trying to stay close enough to draft from my friends airstream and far enough to be able to see road hazards in time not to crash. When we finally were able to get off that road, a hill waited for us… more sweat, more huge efforts. I am giving all I have.
Then we found ourselves on a wide, flat if not slightly descending, friendly road. No cars, we started to pedal faster. Side by side we rolled, it was intoxicating. I could feel my body suddenly so alive, so strong. It felt like my racing days, keeping this threshold pace. I felt invincible, I was the engine in the night, I could, for the first time on this journey, push the biggest gears, with all this luggage as if I carried a bag of feathers on the bike. I became completely exhilarated.

We made it to the next town, found a good deal on a room for a couple of nights, all my worries, all my fears, all my resistance washed off, I was me, decalcified of limiting ideas, I was laughing so hard and loud, unapologetically. So strong… so strong.


2 Responses to “In the mirror”

  1. Danielle Liard Says:

    ah oui, il n’y a rien comme la bicyclette pour se mettre en forme. Me souviens des collines de Vancouver, que j,ai parcourues beaucoup avec ce moyen de transport durant la grève des autobus. 😀


  2. Francoise Says:

    Tu es une lumière merveilleuse ma belle Danielle. Comme je t’aime! Je te lis.. Souvent je ne dis rien… Mais je suis là…
    tu as un courage! Persévérance! Tu es extraordinaire!!!

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