Finish Every Hill You Start

Posted by Laura Baker | May 30, 2012  |  4 Comments

I remember back in my days of racing, and someone once said “Finish Every Hill You Start.” At the time, I never really understood how that would change my life—and my entire thought process. I’m not a quitter as a result. But I experienced some moments on Sunday during our 31 mile ride, which made me re-think my decision to ride so many miles this soon….several times during the ride—and the rising 98 degree mercury didn’t help!

I think it all started at mile 2.88—I recall looking down at my odometer while trying to climb a steep hill on River Road. I thought, “The hills I’ve been riding on aren’t this big!”  I kept going, and we hit another, even bigger hill. “Hufff…..Puffff” was all I could get out of me when a man and woman calmly rode by passing me like I was on a tricycle.  I really wanted to stop in the middle of the hill, and pull over to rest. But I’d NEVER done that before in the middle of a hill. I’d always finished every hill I started. So I continued—and rode up to where Jamie C. was already waiting. Bless her heart! She was so good about letting me take a break and catch my breath!

I admit, I was already telling myself that I might have to turn back if the hills continued like that. But I plunged forward. Fortunately, the hills got much better from that point on. The rest of the hills were rolling and very similar to what I’d been used to riding. But as I warned Jamie before starting out, I’d still have to take short breaks once in awhile to let the blood flow to my feet and hands. I never had to worry about this before when I was racing—but now the extra weight cuts off the blood supply and it really starts to hurt after awhile!

One of the first few stops we made, we pulled up into the shade where two other women were just getting ready to take off. Instantly I’d gained a new motivator….one of the women pulling away was about “my size” and was riding a comfort bike with a tire about as wide as the one on my Trek 520 touring bike. Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m competitive by nature when it comes to cycling. I never used my competitive personality to hurt anyone else—I’d only ever used it to keep myself challenged. I remember once riding in a winter Frozen Fools competition where I’d rode over 2000 miles outdoors from January 1st to April 1st. Challengers were given points based on the number of miles they rode and the number of days they rode. There was this other woman who rode and couldn’t keep up with me on mileage—but she had me by a couple days simply because I let her. I didn’t care anything about the days—I only cared about getting in the miles because I knew it was making me a stronger rider. This woman was pretty competitive with me, and told me that she wasn’t going to ride on Tuesday one week. That would have been my chance to overtake her completely and guarantee my status as a frozen fool—but I chose to take the same day off she had planned on taking. Like I said, I just wanted to compete for motivation—it wasn’t at all about winning.

I will find my motivation anywhere I can—and Sunday’s ride was no different. When I saw the woman whose figure was much like mine pulling away from the shaded spot we were just pulling up to, I figured she had to be doing at least the 31 mile route at a minimum. So I told the others in our group “If she can do it, so can I! That’s my carrot!”

It was funny because we kept passing “Carrot” throughout the ride—but Carrot would pass us as we took breaks. Carrot took breaks too, but it seemed like her breaks were much shorter.  I remember at one point Jamie saying “Look, you’re catching up to Carrot!” It made me laugh because by that point, I needed that kind of encouragement. I’d already been telling myself that I should probably just stop at the first official rest area and let my husband finish the ride, and then have him come back and get me later. Yet, by the time we reached that rest area, I felt I could go at least to the next official rest area at Beckman Mill, which was 7 miles out.

Passing Carrot again, we ended up pulling off the road just 2.5 miles from the Beckman Mill rest area. The heat was getting to me and I thought I was going to throw up! Jamie and her husband were such good sports about it, though. They had no problems stopping and resting—Jamie’s husband amused himself by scoping out the poison oak just off the other side of the road!

By the time we’d reached Beckman Mill, I had already thought about quitting so many times. The heat was getting oppressive, and I knew that there was still 9 miles to go after the rest stop. But, there’s that part of me that just doesn’t give up no matter what! So, I sent Jamie and her husband on ahead since she had to get back for her children, and my husband, 11-year old daughter, and I ventured onward taking our time so that I could stop and rest as needed.

Funny thing….Carrot had taken off from Beckman Mill before I did, and my competitive nature was kicking my butt! It wasn’t long before I’d caught up and passed Carrot again—this time braving the heat of the shadeless roads which led us back into Rockton. I stopped once under the only tree I could find along the way. I knew it wouldn’t be long and Carrot would be coming along—and we were too close to the end for me to let her pass me now! We hopped on our bikes and took off, this time not stopping until we reached the Community Center where the route ended.

I did it—I’d actually finished what I set out to do. I had to stop several times—but I didn’t care. I still did it. We started at 8am and finished by 12:30pm—and that’s okay because now I know how to adjust my goal for August. I’m still promising to ride the 34 mile route—this time much faster. I am shooting for few stops, if any at all, and a faster riding time.

Needless to say, I was not in the least bit exhausted the next day—and I even went out and planted my garden. I haven’t had the time for a bike ride, or any other physical exercise, the last couple evenings simply because I’m pushing a due date this week in my MBA program. But I plan on getting out there again tomorrow no matter what!

Oh….before I forget to tell you….I’ve lost an additional 2.6 pounds this past week totaling 4.8 pounds! I’ll take it!

Categories : Blog


  1. Kelly says:

    Awesome! Congratulations!! You better watch out, if Carrot is reading your blog she will be looking to best you in August! :)

  2. Laura Baker says:

    Funny you say that….I actually talked to Carrot afterword and found out she was from somewhere around Chicago (I think???). I was thinking maybe she wouldn’t mind getting together and riding once in awhile….but she explained she only came up here in hopes that she’d find a flatter ride. I told her to check out my blog—but failed to mention she might be in it. :-)

  3. CARROT says:

    Yes, you did forget to mention it… 😉 We had many a laughs as well as we passed and were passed by your group :)

    • Laura Baker says:

      It was a great day, Carrot! :-) Without knowing it, you inspired me to keep going when I wanted to quit! Thanks for the laughs and the motivation. :-) I hope to see you in Rockton for our Bike Tour in August(and I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog for your own inspiration!) :-)

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