One of my favorite cycling memories
On the South East tip of St. Kitts, West Indies is a stretch of land known as The Peninsula. A paved road was built in 1989 to make this area accessible, and it now allow people to drive along a stretch of road through untapped nature. Miles of beautiful, natural scenery. This 10KM section of road has no houses, buildings, or anything else……just total beauty (well at least it was that way when I lived there…since then it has become quite developed). The amazing view along this road is worth the drive in itself, but reaching the end is also a highlight as there is a beach restaurant there that is one of the nicest attractions in St. Kitts.
The Peninsula is made up of huge hills and valleys, which must have made building this road very difficult. The paved roads are tough enough to climb in a vehicle, so imagine the difficulty of taking them on a bike…..especially when the rider is a guy from Saskatchewan (the flattest place on Earth). For any of you readers from Saskatchewan I can best describe this road as biking up and down Mount Blackstrap (or probably higher) approximately three times, and stretching it along 10 KMs.
There are very few bikers living or visiting the island who take on the challenge of The Peninsula and battle their way up and down the mountainous stretch of road….when I lived there I definitely had to learn to love it. I was raised in Saskatchewan, remember? The other roads on the island were still hilly enough for me, but I started to force myself to take on The Peninsula challenge, slowly making it more and more a part of my weekly regimen.
I can remember getting over the intimidation of the mountainous ride and how I was able to bend my head around the possibility of doing it. It’s an easy ride to give up on and say, “maybe next time”. What I did to get over it was to tell myself to just have fun with it, and that I would walk up the top half of the most difficult hills if I had to.
When I took the pressure off, something happened on that ride. It started off just as beautiful and challenging as ever. I passed monkeys playing along the side of the road. I witnessed breathtaking views of the ocean…..The Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. I saw a tourist parked on the side of the road capturing the landscape on his digital camera. As I continued along this peaceful quiet of my journey along this empty path…..the scraping of the odd dried leaf on the ground making the only noise. Most of the ride was as challenging as ever, but it was the last and biggest hill that I had thoughts of getting off halfway and walking up. As I reached the hill, I started to bike up and in my mind I knew exactly where I would probably get off…..and I was okay with it. Because I took this personal pressure off myself, the climb somehow felt slightly easier. I wasn’t stressed and I was able to make it as enjoyable as it could possibly be. I kept thinking to myself that I would just get off the bike as soon as my head started to feel like it was going to explode, as it had felt in the past. That point didn’t come. It was still as hard as ever, but I was able to keep going and make it to the top.
As I happily cruised down the other side of the hill, I thought to myself how taking the pressure off enabled me to complete something I wasn’t even planning on accomplishing. It was an awakening moment and it felt good.