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Without imagination, how can we achieve anything?

cycling

This isn’t about cycling, but…

Cycling has become interesting over the last few days. At one point, my cycling buddy pointed out, the section of hill I’d just come to the top of would have been coloured black on the Tour De France magic map. And black means steep. I was too exhausted to respond with anything remotely intelligent. My thighs were burning.

Not every hill has been a successful climb. Luckily on the rural roads there’s nobody who could hear me curse, loudly, as I struggled to push my bike up the last few metres of a particularly steep section in my cycling shoes. It’s like trying to walk with a pair of heels on back to front.

Côte de Goose Eye
A short and savage little 20% ramp, yes 20%, that will hopefully catch many by surprise. There will be those powerful riders who will eat it up like a ripe apple but the rest will grind to halt on its savage slopes that rise, twist right then left and will hopefully provide one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Cycling Weekly

I’ve cycled most of Goose Eye, but ‘grinded’ to a halt not far from the top of the particularly steep initial ramp. However, by the first twist right I was climbing back on my bike with my determination to keep on going.

Jelly babies I adore you.

…imagination…

The other night, I watched the Imitation Game, the film about Bletchley Park which is a place I’ve visited a number of times and is held in a warm place in my heart because it reminds me of watching the father excitedly talking about valves and British genius and maths and logic and secrets. Such excitement is infectious.

The repeated quote in the film is:

“Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

Which is a beautiful way of saying that sometimes people surprise. Now I wouldn’t make any comparisons with people who are real cyclists or real geniuses, but the one person I can compare myself to is myself. A number of years ago, I remember having a big stress about a hill which was 0.8km, had 26 metres of elevation gain and an average gradient of 3%. This week I’ve done much more than that, much more than I could have imagined anyone imagining me doing.

However, I don’t believe The Imitation Game quote really works. I struggle to believe that if you are someone ‘who no one imagines anything of’, then you will ever gather enough self-belief to imagine much of yourself at all. If you can’t dream of having a success, how are you going to walk the path? Alan Turning had Christopher, Joan and presumably his mother, not to mention he was generally known to be incredibly intelligent from a very young age which inevitably results in academic support (even if he was a pain to teach).

I couldn’t cycle the route I’ve cycled without believing it might be possible. I’ve looked into a pair of eyes which taunted ‘you can do this’ and this made me believe.

Failing to imagine the possibilities of life keeps us grounded at the bottom of the hill looking down at our chubby thighs. Perhaps the step between the ego driven dream and the impossible ‘just do it’ is imagining ourselves actually pushing through the pain. It’s easy to laugh at our inadequacies; it’s harder to imagine that you could actually have success.

The friend, the colleague or the coach who believes is the catalyst. Maybe the biggest gift anyone can give to another is to believe in their potential.

…and belief

At the beginning of the week I considered Goose Eye, laughed and said no. Despite this, and despite failing to get up it, I believe I will climb that hill.

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