Last April I took a train to a lake in Bavaria I wanted to visit after seeing a photo of it online. Upon my arrival in Germany, I wanted a baseline knowledge of places near where I live that I could visit on a day off. I looked up “must see” places, and Kochel am See was on the list.
Kochel is the name of the town, and “am See” is essentially saying “at the lake.”
When I visited this lake for the first time last year, I hadn’t yet purchased my bike. It took me a couple more weeks to pull the trigger on my trust steed, an investment I originally struggled to make. As I have said time and time again – I cannot imagine my life in Germany without my bike.
A short while after I bought Frosty (my bike) I had thoughts of what it would be like to bike to Kochel. It wasn’t close by any means, but it wasn’t so far that it was unattainable. I tucked the thought into the back of my mind for a looonnngg winter of cold and dreary weather.
As soon as the brightness of spring started to come back, so too did my suppressed “stay down in the basement” thoughts of biking to Kochel.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to return to visit the lake, it was that the mileage (or kilometers if you’re not a behind the times American like me) intimidated me. The self doubt was running rampant in my mind spouting grawlix like phrases of negativity.
I avoided the bike ride to Kochel, favoring closer/more comfortable distances instead. These shorter, but equally laudable rides were necessary for me to send my self sabotaging mindset to the gutter where it belonged. It was time to destroy the narrative I had created in my mind.
I had two options with regard to biking to Kochel: I could go as far as comfortable and turn around (or worst case if for some reason my bike exploded or my leg got mauled by a rogue centaur, I could take a train home), or I could stay in my comfort zone telling myself “you can’t do it.”
I decided to play my cards with the possibility of seeing a centaur.
I chose a day I knew would have sun, but when I started it was cold. Brutally cold. I wanted to turn around many times, until I made it to an area of the bike path I’d not been before. Something about new territory always sparks a flame in my brain similar to the adrenaline one might feel when lifting a car off of a horse.
And by someone, I mean Superman. And by a horse, I mean anyone in distress. You get the idea.
As if planned, the moment I found a new to me bike path the sun came out. You can’t make this stuff up folks! My doubts were washed away, and I continued to tell myself “you can always turn around.” I know my personality, and I am stubborn as hell so turning around is usually not an option – but just telling myself it was (and believing it), was all I needed.
The path to Kochel was beautiful, as all of the paths in Bavaria are, and I felt rejuvenated in my solitude riding through new to me locations. I made it to the lake and was feeling great (to the lake was about 25 miles, a distance I cover almost daily – so it was nothing new…yet.)
I sat and enjoyed the view, savored a snack, and enjoyed the warm sun on my skin.
Before biking back to Garmisch, I explored some of the surrounding areas as well. I was already there, and knew I likely wouldn’t be back so I wanted to see some other new to me places. I stopped by the town next door called Schlehdorf, to get a closer look at Cohaus Kloster Schlehdorf, aka the town monastery.
I also rode a few extra miles to see another smaller, and much less impressive lake called Eichsee.
After Eichsee it was time to head home, so I settled into the two hour ride ahead. Overall I felt strong, and I felt good. It wasn’t until around mile 45 I started to slow down. I was about ten miles from home, so I took a break by the river and ate the rest of my snacks.
I knew the remaining ten miles would be trance like, I had ridden them many times. I zoned out in an attempt to make them less uncomfortable.
I made it home, and my total milage for the day was 54 miles, or 88 kilometers. I was elated. It wasn’t the distance, or the lake, or the day full of adventure that brought such a warmth to my heart, it was the proof that I AM MY OWN WORST CRITIC. I put this ride off for months because the distance intimidated me, I told myself it was too much for my body, when really I have all the tools to make this activity possible.
The tools for me are different than the tools are for you, or for Sally, or Shaun. Life with an autoimmune disease is unpredictable and it takes attention to detail to make these goals a reality. Proper nutrition, proper hydration, proper rest, and a proper pace. These are boundaries we all have, they just vary person to person.
Some days I wake up and I know right away a 55 mile bike ride (I rounded up) is not an option – and that’s ok, but what’s not ok is never trying because I assume my body can’t do something. What’s not ok is forgetting all the good days I have because I’m dwelling on the not so good (physically) days.
The strength of your mind determined the quality of your life, and my life felt pretty high class after crushing this goal. The lake was not the goal for this day, the goal was to push myself further away from my black and white thinking, and to remind myself I don’t have to go fast – I just have to go. I’ll never know what I can do unless I try.
It just so happened that this day was also my one year anniversary with Frosty. I think we celebrated well, don’t you? 🙂
Q: Can you think of a time you surprised yourself with your capabilities?