Today's Wellness on Wheels!
PASSED ON THE PASS, SORT OF
My friend Alexis and I biked an 18-mile hill climb to 12,095 ft today! The Top of the Rockies on Independence Pass out and back from Aspen, Colorado. This was our 2nd annual ride, and we chose to ride it in May prior to the pass opening to traffic. The pass is narrow, gradual and scenic, and it ignites the expansion of view, elevation and heart. We ascended at a chat pace, with philosophical, spiritual and gratitude-enriched stirrings presenting themselves in intervals. We’d giggle, catch our breath and giggle some more. When our chat was dissolved by silence, wilderness-inspired hypnosis set in, and we pedaled to the groove of our own pulse in sync with the pulse of the Pass. It is a rhythm that soothes the soul and that eternally lingers in cell and spirit.
With the Rockies still covered in snow, although not as much this year, the paved road was clear thanks to the Caterpillar plows and Colorado sunshine beaming its melty warmth. Winter’s debris of gravel, windblown sticks and nature’s artsy nitty grit were strewn across the pavement. Our own grit got us up and down the mountain just fine though. Other cyclists passed us going both ways, some with alpine or cross-country skis or snowboards strapped to their bikes or backs. Get it all in while you can! Some were wearing shorts, some leggings, I guess it depends on the degree of your bodacious burliness on a bike. We sported leggings and long-sleeve shirts on the ascent and even stripped layers 10 minutes into the ride. At the top we bundled up in hats, winter gloves, puffy coats and shoe covers knowing the frigid mountain air would nip us on the descent. It was balmier this year than last, but with the sun cascading through blue patches of sky atop our peak’s delight, our peripheral view of looming gray clouds and rain teased us. It seemed that the 5% rain forecast was erupting into 100%. Was a wet descent awaiting us? A bicycle baptism perhaps? Nope. Two sprinkles adorned our descent after all.
We saw Lance Armstrong twice. We were eating on the side of the road when he passed us while ascending, and we were standing on the side of the road taking pictures when he passed us while descending. So I guess we can’t say he “passed us” on the ride meaning perhaps we could’ve kept up with him. Ha! Seeing him stirred up emotion for me in numerous ways. I know Lance has hurt and disappointed many people. I was devastated when the colossal doping reveal punctured the truth of him and his titles. I idolized him when I myself was racing during his prime. A 7th Gr. student of mine named Emily, also during this time, was receiving treatments for her leukemia. We organized a school-wide fundraiser. Over 500 students and faculty wore Lance’s yellow bracelets and we had a HUGE autographed poster of him framed and displayed in the school office. We were proud. We were connected. We were Oneness. My student was loved, supported and confident. “If Lance survived cancer, I can too!” she said.
When Lance rode by us while ascending with his three friends, my cheeks were stuffed with food, but I managed to say, “Hi, Lance!” He replied, “Hey.” That old “Lance crush” feeling arose inside of me. And here I intentionally digress …
HANDLEBARS TOO NARROW ... OR MAYBE 'TWAS MY MIND
Watching Lance pedal by, I recalled the time when my Uncle Cliff gave me an autographed copy of Lance’s book. They sat next to each other at a convention and my uncle said, “My niece is into bike racing and she really looks up to you. Would you mind signing a copy of your book for her?” I took good care of that book. And I threw it away when Lance’s truth was exposed. I now wish I hadn’t done that.
I also recalled in that “Hey!”-from-Lance-moment the time two years ago when I had just moved to Colorado and my brother Starr was visiting. My husband Aaron, Starr and I went to Snowmass Bike Park for a day of downhill mountain biking. We were in line waiting for the lift to swivel around for us to load our bikes and then ourselves. I happened to turn around in line and saw Lance right behind me with his friend standing by. Flutter in the gut! Well, I had a feeling it was him, but I wasn’t positive. He was wearing black nondescript bike attire, and leaning against him was an older model Santa Cruz with very narrow handlebars. I am now privy to wide bars, and I admit in that second I thought, Those bars are way too narrow. Only a roadie would have those, just like I used to on my first mountain bike. It must be Lance. I turned to Aaron and Starr and whispered, “That’s Lance behind us!” They both looked at me like, yeah right. I turned back to Lance. Yes, this is one of those moments, where impulse and logic are equally vying for attention. For me, it was a cyclist crush thing exacerbated by a hunch wanting to be appeased by the truth. I wanted to know if this was Lance! I also considered the option of leaving him alone. At this point, I was gawking and it was obvious. He was looking at me. So I asked, “Are you who I think you are?” How bold, right! He offered a tint of a head nod. That was a yes! I was right! And then, with a digger of an interruption poking at my surreal moment, I heard Aaron and Starr say, “Jess, come on!”
Too late. The lift-swivel was quick and I missed my chair. Oh, shucks. I turned back to Lance and said, “May I ride the lift with you?” Another tint of a head nod. Yes!
The conversation was easy and light. All geared up with glasses and helmet, I could feel him staring at me two times for too long of a moment as I was babbling on about … I can’t even remember! He stared with that slight head tilt, you know, the one that shows the conscience is expecting all hell to break loose any second. Fight or flight. I’m stuck on this lift with a lady who could spit me into the nightmare side of my story. I wondered what he was thinking. Was he expecting me to pellet him with questions and judgment? Is that what he was used to and was defensively prepped and ready for? Was he wondering why I was so chipper? Was he wondering if that was my genuine personality or an amplified version because I was sitting next to him? Was he wondering why I said, “I know you’ve been through a lot. I want to say thank you for how you positively impacted the lives you have. You were a guiding force for me on and off the bike during the time I was racing”? I could’ve gone into all the details about my personal admiration and about Emily. I didn’t. People can feel your intentions. Words are redundant when the energy of things is taking care of business just fine. I was wondering though if he considered that side of his story a nightmare. I wondered. In a quiet reprieve, I remember thinking I could comment on his story, share my thoughts, ask him questions. Pellet him! I had imagined it at times in my life. “If I ever meet Lance I am going to say WTF!” Never would I, nor did I on the lift.
Sitting next to him, I could feel his soul light, his presence, his turmoil, and the resilience that was both primal and self-prescribed. That’s what I do innately. I can’t help it. I feel people’s story and I allow myself to be present. I’ve learned the hard way about the importance of boundaries, but that’s a different story. I sat there with another human being who happened to be Lance Armstrong, who happened to make choices in his life that exposed the layers of his authentic self and that wreaked havoc on many people and situations, and on the ethical code of due diligence in competitive cycling, and on himself. I wondered too about the inspirational impacts since the big reveal that only he and a select few know about. Life is an inevitable sacred medley of polarities. The paparazzi doesn’t necessarily capture those. Yet, there he was.
There he was. Downhilling on an old bike with bars too narrow. “I’ve never ridden these trails up here before,” he said. I could sense humility, vulnerability and confidence. Another sacred medley. Then he commented on the mountain road that winded beneath us and said, “That would be fun to climb!” I was thinking the same thing. There he was. There we were. Riding the lift together for some downhill mountain biking on a beautiful August day in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There we were.
We departed from the lift and I said, “Hey, Lance. Get yourself some wider bars.” He smiled and said, “Ok, thanks!” In a tone like he’d consider it, not like, “Yeah, what do you know!” Writing this I realize I share this not from pride or ego, like, “I told Lance what to do!” It’s from the deep place of soul to soul light. I recommended someone get wider bars. I was channeling my inner Shelley, a friend wise about everything bicycles who adamantly shares her bike knowledge out of both compassionate necessity and compulsion. I shared my advice with Lance through heart intention, knowing that just like any of us, he decides what advice and recommendations from the external world resonate and enrich his internal world. I hope Lance had a fun first descent. And maybe those narrow bars happened to be synchronously compatible with his flow. Only he knows.
LIGHT IN THE RANT AND RAGE
And returning from my digression, I continue. After taking some goofy pictures in the snow next to the “Independence Pass 12, 095 feet elevation” sign, Alexis and I descended the mountain with a man who ranted about how Lance has destroyed lives. I am aware of this. I am also aware that anger and repulsion permits Lance’s former actions to thrive. I listened to this man’s soul-sourced monologue with empathy and presence. Then I shared with him my own monologue, as we embraced the road-gritted descent in the chilly Rocky Mountain air, with wind muffling words, “See his light. That will show your strength. We cannot fix people. We CAN be accountable for our own choice to either react to other people’s actions or to empower our own light in order to see other people’s light. That is what the world needs. Lance too. Choose resilience over resistance. Choose respect over resentment. Ok, I am aware you may be having a severe reaction to my point. Respect? How do I authentically muster up respect for someone who showed mondo disrespect? No way. He doesn’t deserve it. Yes, this takes an immense amount of vulnerability and humility. Try it on! See what happens. How does that feel in your heart? What do you see in the ripple effect of that effort?” This man heard that. Our sacred medley of intersecting monologues blending as dialogue. I wasn’t trying to fix his perspective. But I could see how consumed and amped up he was by Lance’s actions, that his heart was hurting, and all I could do was BE the light and shed the light with no expectations of a certain outcome. I didn’t expect him to change his mind, as if my thoughts were “thee truth.” I wasn’t trying to fix HIM. I was not denying or condoning Lance’s action or this guy’s feelings or perspectives. I was simply staying true to me with simultaneous empathy and compassion for the power and integrity of soul light.
PROPELLING PIECES OF PEACE
It’s hard. Really hard. Especially when you have been scarred personally by someone else’s actions. I have been there. I get it. I experience PTSD when it comes to the entitlement and smudging of other people’s toxicity. It hurts. But, with a lot of practice founded on willingness, choice and commitment, I refuse to hate people. I call it radical intolerance of soul splintering. When I think about the fragility of our existence, I choose to bring strength to that fragility. As if it’s my right. I am honored to be obligated to this code. I also remember we’ve all done and said things that are devastating and demeaning. The cliche “we’re all human” fits in here. Yes, Lance’s story … well, I’ve said my “piece of peace” about it. Your right is to determine your own “piece of peace.” Mine isn’t a script or a brainwashing machine, it is an impetus for you to pause and check in. What is your “piece of peace”?
And, I say the core of this is not a cyclist crush story. Yeah, there are crush vibes involved. And those crush vibes helped me help my student Emily who has in turn helped others. The trickle effect! Pieces of peace! We are all in this together, so what energy do you want to spread for the betterment of soul and Oneness? What sacred medley do you want to be responsible for?
I am not immune to rage. No one is. But it’s what we do with it when it emerges. What is rage's message? What is it wanting us to do with it, really? How can we transform rage into … well, that’s up to you. I sit here recognizing the rage I feel that still sprinkles itself into my conscience and heart about Lance. Then I think about how forgiveness brings us home to Oneness. I ask myself, What ultimately is best for the evolution of soul? I discern with heart vs. ego. I choose resilience. I choose respect. It feels better for me. And if it feels better for me, then how I carry myself in the world will be better for others. If I choose resistance and resentment, then I’m giving permission for the rage to roar, devastate and demean.
Reflect today. Choose what you carry in your heart and head. What are your ruminating thoughts, and how are they serving you? What is your truth? How are you internalizing other people’s truths? How are you staying true to your light, especially when you’re triggered and reactive? How are you projecting it? Are your reactions mirroring the exact thing you’re reacting to? What narrow roads are you traveling, and how are they serving you and how are you serving them? What narrow perspective are you grounding in, how are they serving you and how are you serving them? What narrow bars are you relying on to navigate your life journey, and how are they serving you and how are you serving them? What is this article stirring up for you personally? What will you choose to ponder with productivity for your soul and for the grace of Oneness? Check in with love, vulnerability, humility, empathy, compassion, integrity and light. Try it on! You are light. We are all light.
If you’re out for a ride today, relish what comes to you internally and externally. We are always in momentum. It is life’s greatest craft. In the craft of momentum, what do you choose to believe in? What do you choose to do? Who do you choose to be? How are you living your pieces of peace?
In the sweep of wheels on road
I discover a lullaby-lubed OM is
the drivetrain of my mOMmentum,
and I find another one in
the mOMent I surrender
to the intricate intimacy
and the intimate intricacy of
my bicycle ride
Each moment in my MOMENTum is
the epic meditation,
a hypnotized haven where
tenderly tangos on the terrain
and aligns the mind and spine with the finest line
Then I hear the echo
of an “UM …” dangling in
p a u s e
at the intersection of my moments
… momentUMmomentUMmoment …
The heartbeat of my momentUM
propels my pedals,
and I play in the flow of
OM’s eternal resonance
In each moment of momentum
What OM do you feel?
In which UM do you pause then pedal, propel and play?
Intrigued by my writing? I am an intuitive coach. I offer a free consultation and can be contacted by email HERE.