I was listening to the latest episode of the Fat Black Podcast yesterday, on the topic of showing up and believing in yourself. The podcast felt particularly timely as it has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot of lately. If you don’t believe in your ability to achieve a result you can be sure you won’t be able to achieve it.
On Tuesday, with the fatigue from training camp in Canmore still heavy in my legs I decided to climb up Knox Mountain in Kelowna. The climb up is about 3.8 km and you gain 359 m of elevation. My legs were tired but I kept climbing. The views were spectacular.
I even happened upon a group of deer in the woods on the way up.
Who was I? This person who decided to climb up a mountain on her bike? That doesn’t sound like me at all. Prior to this year I never felt like a strong hill climber. I would be filled with fear and dread at the base of big climbs. This year I have been riding a lot of hills and embracing them. While I’m still not a particularly speedy climber I now enjoy the process so much more.
As I started to descend Knox I thought about “the wall.” Maybe it was time to revisit my old nemesis.
The wall is a climb along Green Lake Road, just outside of Okanagan Falls. If you have ever visited See Ya Later Ranch Winery chances are you have driven up this road. The wall is about 1.7 km (1 mile) and you gain 145 m (475 ft) on the way up. Grades are steep…up to 14% at times I believe?
The wall represents fear, failure and doubt to me. Long before I was supposed to ride the wall I had driven up it, so I was familiar with the steep grades and tight hairpin turns. Riding the wall was Coach Angie’s favourite ride to do the day after our long bike ride at Penticton training camp. At camp in 2010 I made it to the first hairpin turn and quit. I was overwhelmed with fear as my heart rate shot up to my maximum, and uncertainty in my ability to make it to the top. In 2012 this was the workout I was most nervous for out of all at camp. I really wanted to make it to the top, but I was so scared. I stopped many times on my way up that hill, crying and exclaiming I couldn’t do it. My friend Kelly rode by my side, encouraging me, and I finally made it.
Again in 2014 I was still scared of this ride. I rode on ahead with my friend Tara and she kept me company on the hill, offering pointers and cheers along the way. With no stops I made it to the top.
Time to Erase Doubt
I have never wanted to ride the wall on my own, that is until now. Now that I had started to think about it, I knew I had to ride it. This climb was my measuring stick of my growth as an athlete and making it to the top on my own was important to me. Yesterday I parked at Skaha Lake in Penticton and started my ride to OK Falls. I had the most glorious tail wind as I rode along the east side of Skaha. I turned on to Green Lake Road. Time to do this!
As I approached the wall I wasn’t nervous. There was no other possible outcome besides riding to the top. I made it to the first hairpin turn and was able to take the corner wide. The first hard part was done…just keep pedalling. I glanced down at my bike computer and saw double digit grade percentages. I’ve ridden these before…just keep going. My heart was pounding, my breathing heavy. I passed the winery on my left but still had one final straight uphill to climb. Keep turning the pedals over! I crested the hill and pulled over to survey the view.
I had made it! It was hard, but I had never doubted my ability to make it. The hill that represented so much doubt, fear and failure before now represented victory and growth to me.
I continued on down the road, ready to enjoy the rest of the ride.