“Shall I take the pass or not? It’s nearly seven ‘o clock and soon it will get dark. Hmm, maybe I can do a part of the pass, and camp somewhere in the middle.” So there I went, cycling up the Furkapass, during my without-a-map project. What meant I had no idea how long the pass would be, how long it would take me to get over it and if there would be places to camp. It looked like a tough ride at the end of the day.
Obviously I wasn’t going to make the passover. But still I wanted to make at least a couple of kilometers. The kilometers came slowly and I was exhausted. With my last energy I cycled uphill in my first gear. And then it happened. From the opposite direction came a girl, speeding down the pass. It was just a small gesture she made towards me; her hand in a fist, a smile on her face and a “Wooohooo, come on!” shouting towards me. Just a split second (as you can imagine from somebody speeding by with 50 km/h) but I still have the image clear in my had as of today.
She made me laugh, and that laugh gave me energy to continue uphill. Just a stranger, showing me some positive energy. I mean, she just went down and only had to steer and brake once in a while. And shout “woohoo’s” to struggling cyclists, but it reminded me of what I was doing. Reminded me that I was cycling in Switzerland, would camp somewhere at a beautiful spot, and actually had the time of my life. Sure it was hard, but beautiful to cycle in the mountains, taking passes and overcome challenges.
Earlier in the trip I saw cyclists greeting me. Just a sign of respect for what we are doing, a sign of recognition: “Yeah, I know where you’re coming from”. But a shout of encouragement is something else. Making a strong, but small, gesture like raising your fist, with a smile on your face can make a difference to any struggling cyclist. By making a gesture like that, you show your respect towards the other. You tell them in just one gesture: “Yeah, you can do it! Come on, take that extra kilometer!”. It might leave the struggling cyclist with a smile. A smile that can give just that little bit of energy that they need. Especially when you’re alone and have to deal with all the challenges, that come with long distance cycling. A positive reminder of what we are doing and the challenges we take on. A reminder that the challenges we create ourselves, like cycling a pass, will be conquered.
Next time I see a cyclist slowly pedalling uphill; a red head, pannier bags filled up, struggling to get to the top, I will scream: “Woooohooo, come on!” and raise my fist. I might even throw an extra “Yeah!!” at them. I know they will appreciate it, and every positive gesture makes it a bit easier for them to get to the top. As we know for ourselves, the joy of downhill is only accomplished by the struggle of getting to the top. When we struggle we can use all the help we can, and when the struggle is over, lets give the help back.
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