Another Point Of View

Warning Sign With Creech Hill In The Background - Click For A Larger ImageI am a big believer in trying to see challenges and situations from as many points of view as possible. It is so easy, when involved in situations, to be so preoccupied by our own agenda, that we miss the bigger picture, maybe even the truth of what is really happening.

Now this principle of trying to get a 360° view of things doesn’t have to apply only to emotional challenges, it can apply to any challenge. So today, in order to take a different look at the challenge I set myself yesterday, I decided to ride roughly the same route, but in the opposite direction.

Despite having my legs reminding me that they had undertaken a tough test yesterday, I set off towards Upton and Lychett Minster in the mid afternoon. The sun was warm and the breeze had a welcome cooling effect as I started the slow rise along Grange Road.

It’s a beautiful route, farms and woodland line either side of the road. You pass under a railway bridge, which is the continuation of the Swanage Steam Preservation Society line, though the trains don’t come this far at present.

As I reached Creech Grange, the dreaded 20% incline sign loomed into sight and I knew that the challenge of Creech Hill was just around the corner. Yesterday, travelling in the opposite direction, I had reached a speed of just over 60kph, so maybe that gives a better indication of just how steep the hill becomes.

Anyway, I had set the challenge, the main focus of the challenge was upon me, and I was ready to confront it head on. Most roads, even little B roads like this, don’t usually go from being flat to being steep in one step, usually there is a gradual increase in the incline, but not this one.

Within a few metres I was clicking through my gears, trying to maintain what little momentum I still had, and resisting the temptation to stand on the pedals. Generally speaking, if you remain seated, you get better traction through the back wheel and you don’t have to support your own weight, saving your energy for turning the pedals.

As happened yesterday, a couple of cyclists came past in the opposite direction, shouting encouragement as they went. Metre by metre, step by step, I climbed the hill. Although the ascent is very similar to that from the other side, this is much steeper. Happily, because it is steeper, it is a great deal shorter, so the summit was reached quite quickly.

My heart rate monitor was testament to effort expended, but as the road levelled out, and the amazing views either side revealed themselves, my beats per minute quickly dropped, as did my breathing. The challenge had again been conquered.

The rest of the trip was made in the company of a couple of guys on road bikes, and cycling in company always makes the kilometres fly by. I was home well before the sun had even thought about setting.

My idea to examine my challenge from a different viewpoint was, I feel, very worthwhile. Not only did I get a better impression of the effort involved, but I saw the views along the route from a different, and in some ways, better aspect.

This works for any situation we might find confronting us. More information is always preferable as we search for a solution and seeing things from a number of points of view gives us a better and more rounded understanding of how things really are.

Always Small Steps

The Climb To Grange HillMaking full use of the good weekend weather, I had decided to set myself a challenge and to ride up to the top of Creech Hill, via Old Harry Rocks, Swanage, Corfe Castle and Kimmeridge. On paper, or at least on the map, it looks very easy. On the road, it is a rather different matter.

I’m getting used to the undulations on my usual training route, so there were no surprises between home and the foot of the mount at Corfe Castle. But taking a left off towards Kimmeridge, instead of the right turn back towards Studland took me into a world of uncertainties.

The road to Church Knowle is very picturesque and does have a few ups and downs. St. Peters church, as you might expect, marks the high point of the village and The New Inn looked very inviting as I set off towards Steeple.

The real test, as I found out all too soon, was the climb out of Steeple towards the top of Creech Hill. It starts slowly, but gets steeper and steeper as you go on. I was encouraged on my way by a group of cyclists coming down the hill. They knew what the road had in store for me and urged me to press on.

The trick with tasks like this, for me at least, is to look at the next couple of metres before me. Looking up at the way ahead offers no real help, it simply serves to show you how much work is left to be done. Taking one step at a time is a far more productive method.

Although my legs will probably remind me of the trip in the morning, I completed the route at a reasonable pace and, of course, enjoyed the ride down the other side of Creech Hill, encouraging as I went, others who were making the reverse trip.

The title of this blog, The Search For Enlightenment, in so many ways, documents my own path to Buddhahood, a path that can be just as steep and difficult as the road up Creech Hill. The way to progress along this long and winding path is exactly the same as getting to the top of the hill, one step at a time.

The determination, perseverance and effort for both continue.

What A Let Down

Only Flat At The BottomSo the highlight of today was meant to be a gentle social cycle with friends over near Winchester. That’s not quite the way things worked out. Having made my way over there with my bike in bits, and having reassembled it ready for the ride, I was raring to go.

There are some beautiful back lanes around Alresford, obviously the reason that there are so many cyclists about. Rolling hills, farms, sheep, horses, even a pack of lamas, though not of the Buddhist persuasion. Beautiful countryside, and nice soft weather too.

All was going well, we were about half way around the 12k route, nothing too strenuous as one of the friends is doing the Round The Isle of Wight charity cycle tomorrow, then a minor setback.

My bike was feeling a bit strange, rather less roll and a bit more rock, and looking down I found to my dismay, that my back tyre was as flat as a pancake. Now 6km is not far on a bike, even with the odd hill to make it interesting, but 6km on a bike with a flat back tyre is a challenge.

Now I don’t know whether you have ever tried to cycle, standing up, leant over the front wheel, in order to take as much weight of the back tyre as possible, but it’s hard work. Try doing it for 10 metres, now try doing it for a kilometre, tough eh?

Now try doing it for 6km, up and down some not insignificant hills, with a certain degree of amused banter aimed in your direction, that is a proper challenge. They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’m sure that is right, but just at this moment, sitting here, with two legs that feel like they’ve been under a road roller, it’s rather hard to agree with the sentiment.

But I’ve got a new inner tube, all ready to fix the wheel, and I’m looking forward to a ride over to the pier and back tomorrow, just to shake the aches and pains out of these poor old legs.

Little Wobbles

Water Through Your HandsDetermination is funny stuff. You can’t buy it, you can’t bottle it, in fact, if you don’t have any, the only way to obtain some is to create it for yourself. A little like water in your hands, it can trickle through your fingers and be gone, if you are not keeping an eye on it. Along with perseverance, it is the driving force behind each and every one of us achieving our goals in life.

Determination and perseverance are slightly different things. Chambers online dictionary defines Determination as “firmness or strength of will, purpose or character” whereas Perseverance is defined as “continued effort to achieve something one has begun, despite setbacks”.

So it might be said that perseverance stems from determination, they might even be inextricably linked. However, I have to report, to myself as much as to you, that I have had a couple of wobbles on the determination and perseverance fronts these last few days.

This goal of mine, to reach a target weight of 75kg, has been going so well. The weight loss has been steady, not dramatic, controlled and relatively continuous, until now. I’ve been burning far more calories each day than I have been consuming, and my level of personal fitness has improved noticeably, but I’ve become complacent.

My eating habits, so carefully controlled over the last three months, have become sloppy. I have allowed myself ‘treats’ on the basis that I will ‘burn them off’ later in the day, or week. But the scales do not lie, and having ‘treated’ myself a little too often, and having been unable or unwilling to cycle yesterday because of the bad weather, my weight has started to creep back up again …

The Odd Wobble

Ok, so it’s not the end of the world, but it is a wake-up call for me. I have to refocus, concentrate on my goal and strengthen my determination to persevere with my quest. Maybe, as with my Buddhist practice, the occasional set-back is almost a good thing. Without challenges, how can we grow stronger? Without resistance, how can we measure our own strength?

So, having admitted to my failings in a very public way, I can now regroup and gird my loins for a serious amount of cycling tomorrow. I’ve taken a day off work, partly to take advantage of the improved weather we have been promised, but mainly to cover a lot of scenic miles through the beautiful New Forest.

I’m even going to cycle there and back, adding a further 40 miles to the days exertions, so that should put it on a par with my trip up to Bristol a few weeks back. I’m really looking forward to getting started, and also to getting well and truly back on track.

Perseverance Wins

Andy Murray - US Open WinnerCongratulations to Andy Murray, for winning the first Grand Slam title of his career. His thrilling US Open victory over Novak Djokovic, which had me glued to the TV until nearly 3:00am this morning, is the first British Grand Slam winner since Fred Perry in 1936.

I am ashamed to say, that as with Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and other previous British hopefuls, I was fearful that a title win would never come. It seemed that when the chips were really down, he just didn’t have the character to push home any advantage.

So sitting there this morning, I was delighted when after taking the first two sets, then losing the next two, he found that inner strength to play some of his best tennis and defeat Djokovic in the final set. The match took just short of 5 hours to complete, a testament to the stamina and fitness of both players.

Murray thanked his new coach and mentor, Ivan Lendl, and said that his experience and presence had helped him to this first title win. Of course Murray has practiced and practiced to reach this level of achievement. He has had the determination to continue in the face of defeats and is now reaping the rewards of that dedication.

His goal was a Grand Slam title, my goal is enlightenment, very different on the face of it, but the path to both entails practice, focus, determination and courage to continue in the face of adversity. Andy has reached his goal, for me the quest continues.

%d bloggers like this: