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.

carrying water

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.

  • bleui

    I’ve never commented before but I just feel the need to say that I absolutely love this simple yet full of wisdom article. Thank you for reminding us how blessed we are

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for taking the time to post your first comment. I really appreciate it and I hope you continue being a follower of our blog.

  • Cassie Cameron

    Brings us back down to earth a bit huh. Brilliant post.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Cassie….I appreciate your comment.

  • discount jeans

    well said. I reside in NY and was raised in the island of Grenada. I used to carry stones on my head for our yard from the river. Its up a hill which took me about 25 min from the river. I would put the stones in the yard and then go back. I remember I would make about 5 trips daily after school. Today I apply the same hard work in my life to be successful. That ain’t suffering

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      It’s great to hear back from someone who has lived here in Grenada. Thanks for sharing your story and adding to this post. When are you coming back for a visit?

  • Michelle – Big Little Life

    Wonderful post. We can easily get into the trap of focusing on what we don’t have and therefore feel sorry for ourselves. Experiences such as that you describe are a sobering reminder of our good fortune. The key is to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Michelle, appreciation is key indeed. I appreciate your comments.

  • Roger

    You are very right. What we put ourselves through to improve our performance and push our limits is a good thing but it isn’t suffering. The word doesn’t fit. Great post. Thanks.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Roger.

  • Jeremy

    You have a way of putting things in perspective without making people feel upset or negative on things. Well done.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks Jeremy, sometimes with posts like this that are slightly controversial I want to make sure they come across with the right feel. I appreciate your comments about that.

  • Ann Brennan

    Daryll, I think of people who are struggling to overcome cancer, people who are watching their children struggle with cancer and others who have real problems, then I remember that what I do I do for fun. I do because I want to be a healthier and because I have that option. I am not suffering, I am working hard. I am pushing hard but I choose to do so. To suffer, that is not something we choose.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Well said, Ann. Thanks for your comments.

  • F groulle

    I think I’ll still call it suffering, but I see where you’re coming from on this post Darryl. I’m glad that suffering on my bike is the only suffering I have to do.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Thanks for checking out today’s post.

  • Jennifer

    This is my favorite post of yours so far. This is a wonderful reminder and I like how you used riding a bike to spread this message. Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Love to hear stuff like that, Jennifer. When it’s your own writing, it’s hard to say that something is one of your favorites….but I would say this is one of mine as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Starry/100000742238449 Tim Starry

    first world problems

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      You know it, Tim.