I have been training at home, indoors, on my turbo trainer while J naps and O is in his bouncer. I find O likes the hum of the flywheel and I can chat to him while I pedal.
But last week, with a bit of coaxing from my husband and an offer of babysitting, I went out on my bike. It had been years and I was nervous. On top of everything this new person that has been me for the last ten months felt unease: would I be able to make it?
The hills looked bigger than ever before. I questioned my ability to go up them. Something that in my past life never fazed me suddenly became "a thing" in my mind. As I got dressed it made my heart pound. As I mounted my bike it weighed on my thoughts. As I warmed up it almost made me turn back.
The first hill was tough. My legs burned, my breathing was heavy, my hands gripped the handle bars while my heart felt like it wanted to jump out of my chest. But after a while I got into a rhythm and after a little while more, before I knew it, I was at the top.
The view was stunning. The burning quickly subsided. I took a moment to savour it then I cruised down the hill liberated and at that moment it hit me: climbing hills is like a metaphor for life. It's tough. It's difficult. At times it gets ugly and you question your commitment. But two things struck a chord:
1. Hills sometimes look scarier when they loom on the horizon. Yet when you're on them, doing the hard work, they shrink or don't quite feel like the monster they looked like. I'm proud to say that so far in life, my life, my fear has rarely stopped me climbing that hill.
2. Hills always have a crest. You can't always see it from the bottom and sometimes you wonder whether it is close or whether there's more uphill round this next corner. But eventually they run out: the difficulties in life soften. Then you can cruise downhill, wind in your hair.
In the last seven years since D and I moved to Greece we have had our share of hills: unemployment, illness, death, miscarriage, surgeries. It has not been easy. But we kept climbing, often with help from each other, often with help from others. And now the view from the top is simply stunning. And so very worth it!
Here's to the hills in our lives. Here's to the rolling terrain that is life. Here's to the ups and the downs and the people that help us conquer them.