That Ain’t Suffering
The word “Suffering” seems to be in the vocabulary of most cyclists, and generally seems to fit our sport quite well. Heck, the guys over at The Sufferfest have even created the Tour of Sufferlandria for cyclists to join in the suffering from their pain cave.
I’ve totally bought into the term and find myself suffering while out on many rides. It’s especially felt that way since moving to Grenada, as it’s pretty much impossible to get in a ride here and not be forced up some suffer worthy hills.
But the other day while I was suffering my way up another climb, it hit me that what I was doing is not even close to the suffering that some other people are doing around here.
I was making my way up one of the many steep inclines, and as I came around a corner I passed by a women walking up the hill with a 5 lb pail of water in each hand. I was moving slow enough to get a good look at what she was doing, and to see her face. As our eyes met, I got the sense that she was doing some actual suffering…..but also seemed to be saying, “I do what I need to do”.
For the rest of my ride home, I couldn’t help but create a different personal definition for the word suffering. The discomfort I had been accustomed to was self-inflicted. Any of the difficult climbs or exhausting rides I have taken have always been by choice.
The girl hauling the two pails of water was doing so out of necessity. She’s likely one of the islanders who doesn’t have running water in their home and the trek back from a nearby pipe is a daily (or more than daily) occurrence.
I know it’s fun to talk about how much suffering went on during a ride, but I realize now that what I’ve been doing ain’t real suffering. It’s suffering by choice, which is not quite the same as suffering by necessity.
I’ll tell you this. Every hill for the rest of that ride home (plus every hill I’ve climbed since then) has suddenly seemed just a little bit easier. All I have to do is picture the face of that woman with the water, and I’m reminded that being out on my bike climbing hills is oh so much better than the reality of what she does each day.
Note: The image above is not that of the woman I’ve described in this story, nor is it taken in Grenada. But it does encompass the idea of this post and how many people all over the world need to do this sort of thing each and every day.
I don’t know about you, but I’m super thankful that the only suffering I have to do is on my bike.