You’re Not A Quitter … Are You?

The View From Evening HillOne of my favourite training rides is from my home in Poole, over Poole Quay, through Sandbanks, along the promenade to Bournemouth Pier, and back. It’s not the most challenging ride, Evening Hill on the way from Lilliput to Sandbanks, and more particularly on the way back, is the only climb of any note whatsoever.

It’s a round trip of roughly 27.5 kilometres, about 17 miles in old money, so plenty of chance to stretch the legs. Until yesterday, I had been taking just over an hour to complete the trip, despite trying really hard to dip under that ‘magical’ sixty minute mark.

I was beginning to think it was impossible, for me at least. But I’m no quitter, and determination, or bloody minded pig-headedness, call it what you will, drove me to keep trying. It almost felt that the more I tried, the further I got from my goal, until last night.

With the evenings now really drawing in, I got home and changed in double quick time. I was out of the door and on the road by 6:00pm, and the legs felt good. There were fewer people around than of late, it was getting quite chilly, so the prom was clear and I made good progress.

Reaching the pier, I glanced at my watch and was surprised to see that it had only taken me twenty six minutes to get there. So thirty three minutes to get back under the hour. I gritted my teeth, selected the biggest gear I could turn and set off back up the prom.

It felt as though nature was doing its worst, the wind felt like it was against me, holding me back, even though the odd flag around was lying limply against its flagpole. I caught and passed several other cyclists, one of them on the approach to Evening Hill. He tried to draught me, to hide away from the wind behind my frame, but he couldn’t match my pace.

By the time I was back on Poole Quay, there were only six minutes left. My heart was pounding, 158 beats per minute according to the heart monitor, my legs were burning and my lungs felt like they might burst, but I was not going to give in now. I turned into Lulworth Avenue, straight into a headwind, the flag in the park even confirmed it, so I just dug deeper.

As I swung into the drive, I pressed the stop button on the bike computer and looked at the time. I really wasn’t sure whether I had made it or not, so Getting back into the apartment, I stowed the bike and downloaded the data.

Fifty eight minutes and twenty two seconds!!! The barrier had been broken, all the pain and suffering had been forgotten and my determination had paid off. The elation was worth every drop of sweat, every ache and pain I felt. Its a small goal in the great scheme of things, but it was my goal and I reached it.

So never forget the eternal truth, that we only ever lose when we concede that we have lost. Having the courage, patience and determination to press on, even when all the signs are telling us to stop, to give in, to cut and run, can lead to unexpected results.

Remaining calm, collected, objective and compassionate, even when the circumstances may be urging you to move in other directions, is a feature of our nature that requires time, practice and patience to perfect. Like cycling, you have to put in the effort to see the rewards.

I don’t think it is simply a coincidence that practice, meaning repeating a task or skill to improve your proficiency, and Buddhist practice, use the same word. As Gary Player, the famous golfer once said of his game, ‘the more I practice, the luckier I get’. Luck has nothing to do with it, as he and we know it all too well.

So if you find the odds stacked against you or get disheartened by the way events seem to be going, believe in yourself and your practice. You might be surprised by what actually happens. So apply for that job, write that email or make that phone call, what have you got to lose?

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