A particularly challenging day on the bike for the 100 mile route of the Wine Country Century this past Saturday. The last 30 miles were tough on me, more mentally then physically.
Patchy roads and the 90 degree temperature chipped away at my calmness. While I find fatigue easy to deal with, frustration is a horrible impairment to me. It starts quietly in the back of my head, but soon spreads and makes everything feel heavier, the legs move more slowly and the mind has more time to focus on the frustration. It’s a viscous cycle.
When everything began to pile on, I thought of my mother. In 2009 she suffered from a stroke that left her with right-side hemiplegia. I thought how even a mile of the course is impossible for her, and my mind slowly turned to how grateful I am to experience this, to feel my body pushed to its limits while surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards and the warmth of the sun.
Then I realized how much of a role she plays in any ride I do. Her years nurturing me and supporting me as a mother all led to that day when her 32 year old son rode 100 miles for the first time on a bike. Without her, I have no idea what I would be doing that day, but thanks to her I was there, sweating while I made my way up the final climb.
Soon, I crested the top where a woman stood with her two daughters. They cheered on riders as they made it through this last physical obstacle before the final miles of the ride, and the woman held a sign that said “Way to go, Mom!” to show support for her mother who must have been cycling that Saturday. I let out a “Whoooo!” of appreciation to the revelers and did indeed think “Way to go, mom.”
As the crest gave way to the descent, I wiped away the moisture in my eyes, smiled to myself, hit my second wind, and settled down into the drops to spin away the last 10 miles.
Birthday card for my mom
I’ve recently decided that I need to do a better job of telling people how much they mean to me. I don’t know what stops us from doing this. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing; men are supposed to be made of steel. But I think telling people these things is the good thing to do.
My mother’s and father’s birthdays are this month, so what a better time to start being less unfiltered about love. Here is the text I wrote in the birthday card my mother should receive today, her 65th birthday.
I’m sorry I can’t be there today to celebrate your birthday and blow out 65 candles and eat some cake. I will be on my bike this Saturday, but I will be thinking about you.
As I get older I realize that you shouldn’t hesitate to tell someone how much they mean to you. Instead of a gift this year, I want to give you thanks.
I want to thank you for all that you did for me while I was growing up. For the home you created, the meals you made, the rides you gave me to band events, rehearsals, and wherever else I needed to go. Thank you for being there when I got home in the afternoon from school, for listening to me yabber when maybe it didn’t even make sense, and for making me feel loved. For birthday parties, Christmas gifts, hugs, daily wake up calls, and all so much more. You are such a big part of the person I am today, and I just wanted you to know that.
I love you.
Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003)
If your goal in life is to be as much like Fred Rogers as possible, you’re doing okay.