Exponentiality

I have come to the conclusion that I am a fair-weather cyclist.

Over the last few years, I have begun to appreciate the joy of riding a bicycle through the country side–over hills, around lakes and streams, and between grassy fields full of livestock.  From my first attempts that were only two or three miles long, I have gradually extended the distance and increased my energy output.

I was thinking that I would continue that through the coming fall and winter months.  I may need to rethink my optimism.

Yesterday, I headed out for an afternoon ride in the sunshine.   The temperature was a brisk fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit.  I was dressed appropriately.  What I hadn’t prepared for was the even brisker wind blowing from the northwest.  The seventeen to twenty mile per hour breeze was surprisingly difficult to ride against.  Biking either to the west or the north slowed my progress substantially.

On relatively flat stretches of the road, I can normally average 15 to 20 miles per hour.  Imagine my surprise when I attempted to achieve those speeds yesterday, only to find that I could hardly reach them, much less sustain them.  What I found was that if I dawdled along at 10 miles per hour, I could ride almost comfortably, but over that, for each mile per hour I sped up, the effort required was an amazing amount.  If I reached 15 miles per hour, I was pumping so hard it felt as if I was climbing the steepest hill I have ever attempted on a bicycle.

I struggled for the whole ride.  To top it off, I was exhausted when I finished a relatively short ride, almost as if I had ridden uphill the entire route.  Arriving home, I shoved my bicycle into the storage barn disgustedly.

It may just stay there until spring arrives.

But then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty.

I talked about the problem with a fellow rider today.  I call him a fellow rider.  I’m certainly not in his league, but he is kind enough to play along with my little charade, so we’ll leave it at that.  When I complained about the difficulty, he wondered aloud about my purpose in making the ride.

“Are you trying to go really fast, or are you wanting the benefit of the exercise?”

The answer was obvious.  “The exercise, of course.  What are you driving at?”

His quiet reply came, “You don’t have to ride any faster.  Go as fast as you can without causing distress.  You’ll get there when you get there.”

Need I say any more?

What task is in front of you today?  Does it get more difficult with every step, every mile?  Every time you try to speed up, does the difficulty increase exponentially?

I wonder if we focus too much on the wrong things.

We’ve heard it again and again–there is joy in the journey.  In.  Not after.  Not at journey’s end, but in the journey itself.

The destination is not the goal, but rather accomplishing the task.  The goal includes the enjoyment of taking each step along the way.

Slow down. But keep going.

You’ll get there when you get there.

Exponential is a good term here.  No, I don’t mean the difficulty–this time.  What I’m saying is I’m pretty sure the benefits to finishing well are multiplied many times that of the drudgery and effort.  But, we’ll never know if we don’t keep at it.

Yeah.  I even see another bike ride or two in my very near future.  I may be slow, but I’m determined.

I’ll get there when I get there.

Photo: © David Lally

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 ~ NLT)

“Get a bicycle.  You will certainly not regret it, if you live.”
(Mark Twain ~ American novelist ~ 1835-1910)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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