Juergen set a goal to cross the Alps on a mountain bike, only to face a major setback that threatened more than this dream.
You may remember a couple years ago we featured Juergen and his story of finding health and fitness through sports. Today we’re going to catch up with Juergen and have him share about a challenge he has faced since then.
He set a goal to cross the Alps on a mountain bike, only to face a major setback that threatened more than this dream. His story represents, in a lot of ways, many of the challenges that we face along our path, though on a larger scale.
What types of things are you facing that are uncomfortable or difficult? How do you choose to see these challenges? Do you give up? Try harder? Go with the flow? I think we can all take a page or two from Juergen’s book.
Just because we are faced with a challenge doesn’t mean that we have to choose between giving up OR forcing ourselves to push through
. We can take the middle road. We can choose balance, in whatever way that means for us.
My normal lifestyle over the past couple years since I last wrote has been pretty active. I ran 2 marathons, played in a hockey league, I was back to the gym twice a week and rode my mountain bike a lot.
My goal for this summer was to cross the Alps with my mountain bike and I knew this would be a big challenge (13000hm, 400km <249 miles> in 7 days). But then something major happened with my health.
I woke up one day and I wasn't able to walk anymore. None of the doctors could figure out why at first. Later it was found that one of my nerves in my leg was damaged. Slowly but surely through physical therapy, I was able to regain control and was able to walk again.
The doctor said it would take about 5-6 month to recover fully and be able to start playing sports again. Was I going to be able to cross the Alps this summer and achieve my goal? I didn’t know.
Small Steps Add Up
I decided to take small steps and tried to focus on positive thinking. I celebrated every small achievement and I decided not to worry about whether or not I could cycle the Alps. I just listened to my body and did what I wanted to do.
I felt better each day. The doctors were surprised at how fast I recovered my mobility. In June, I visited LA and was able to able to play hockey with Ryan. Since I’m from Germany and am not in the States often, this was our first time skating together (something we’ve talked about doing since we meet in 2008).
I had such a great time and the positive spirit of being able to skate after not being able to walk gave me even more power. When I got back to Germany, I started running again and finally riding my bike. With this positive momentum going strong, I knew I was ready to try a smaller version of my original cycling the Alps challenge.
Relax and Enjoy the Journey
The 3 guys who cycled were with me were all in a perfect shape (each trained about 1500km <932 miles> in the last 3 months). I knew that this would be a tough week for me but I thought I was up for it.
I was so wrong. After two days the pace was much too much and I wasn't able to cycle at their speed. So I was very frustrated. Should I give up and go home? One evening during the race I talked to an older gentleman in a village somewhere in Switzerland about what I was going through.
He gave me an idea, which was funny because I used to do this all the time. He said, “Don´t care about the other guys, just relax, take in the silence, the view, and enjoy what you´re doing.”
It sounds simple but it worked. I didn't care about being the first at the top of the mountain or the fastest downhill. I took the time I needed for cycling, relaxing, watching, eating, hydrating.
And each day I felt better and better – no sore muscles, no problems with my leg. The only thing that hurt was my butt after sitting on my bike for 8-10 hours a day! When we finally arrived in Riva del Garda, Italy, I was really proud that I crossed the finish line… and learned a lot of about how to live well 360 no matter the obstacles I’m facing.