April 26, 2020 – Day twenty-eight of Shelter in Place:

It is a proven fact, even I can’t deny it anymore…I’ve gone totally bonkers! I’ve not only forgotten the days of the week but apparently also what year we are in, or more specifically, what age I’m turning this year!

My fitness level according to my trusty smartwatch. I wander what will happen if I ever reach the purple zone; will I turn into Benjamin Button?

I really thought it was going to be a ‘walk in the park’. I assumed I was in tip top shape since my watch seems to think so. It keeps telling me I’m in the 15th percentile of my age group (whatever that means) and that I’m as fit as a twenty-year old! Now, to be honest, I can’t rely on all the information my sports watch provides, especially the swim times are usually off by a hundred meters or more, but this particular statistic is of course one that I believe in blindly and I made sure to record it for posterity…and more importantly, to bug my kids. I repeatedly point out to them that I’m officially younger than they are!

Point being, when the government announced that on Sundays you are only allowed to go to the beach on foot or bicycle, I decided that I would take on that challenge and then some… I was going to take the loooong way by cycling to the furthermost beach on the island, Playa Forti at West Punt and back for a total of just under 100km. Piece of cake right, trusty watch? Yeah, maybe 30 years ago…not now!

Giddy at Westpunt, the halfway point

It all started smoothly enough, downwind, not too many climbs, mostly just coasting downhill towards Playa Forti beach. Being ‘balance challenged’, I still managed to pull my phone from my back pocket and take some selfies, again for posterity and to serve as proof that I made it to Westpunt. I was all smiles and giggles…I had done it!

The reason I was so darn proud of myself that I reached Westpunt on my own is because I’m sort of a coward when it comes to doing things by myself. I’m the first one to yell: “I’m in!” whenever someone comes up with a challenge…as long as it’s in a group. I’m just not a ‘fly solo’ kind of person. The Covid19 measures forced me to leave my comfort zone; if I wanted to move, I had to do it on my own. I started with baby steps, staying close to home and with Google’s ‘live location’ on so that my family could track my whereabouts at all times. It went better than I anticipated, and my confidence soared. I ventured out further with each ride…and then I got cocky…

Let’s fast forward back to my Westpunt adventure. After taking the required selfies and eating an energy bar, I started on my trek back home and suddenly…boom! No, I didn’t fall, but I did feel like I smacked into a wall, only it was made of air. The unforgiving wind taunted me, giving me a few meters of headway only to push me back to where I had been a few meters ago.

I’ve cycled this road plenty of times, so I know the wind is killing heading back, but it has been a long time (read, years) since I biked this particular area…I’d forgotten how hard this was. If you are cycling with more people you can alternate riding in front with coasting in the back to catch your breath but when you are on your own, it becomes a battle between you and the wind. Actually, you and the wind accompanied by his friends the sun and the hills!

I wasn’t smiling anymore. In fact, I had to bite down hard not to breakdown and cry or just step off the damn bike. I trudged on, focusing on my breathing and keeping a consistent, but much slower, pace. A few stray dogs saw me struggling and probably felt sorry for me because they didn’t bother to chase me. I could see it in their gleaming eyes: ‘No point going after her, way too easy, she’s gonna drop any second now.”

“It’s a good thing I’m only twenty, right?!” That’s the crazy mantra that I kept repeating to myself. It somehow kept me going, even though I could feel the years piling on with each passing kilometer, surpassing my actual age by at least 100! Then, finally, just as I was about to throw in the towel and call for backup, I took in my surroundings and noticed that I was in familiar territory…I was almost home, just a few kilometers to go, I could do this, just had to peddle this one last stretch and I’d be home. Forget the mantra, forget everything…just…peddle…the…damn…bike! I did it! I biked a loop to Westpunt beach and back. Crazy? Probably, but I proved to myself that crazy is as crazy gets and that life is a box of chocolates. I think my life is cherry liqueur infused dark chocolate, what’s yours?

But seriously, there is a lesson to be learned from this adventure. I learned not to give up. I guess it is true what they say; ‘What goes up, must come down’. Although some of the hills were tough, they all eventually reached a top and once I crested that top, I was awarded with a long downhill stretch to help me recover and prepare for the next climb. All I had to do was keep pushing and not give up.

I’m sure there is also a saying about the blazing hot sun and the unforgiving wind that can be turned into a silver lining, but I’m too tired to ponder the possibilities. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Meanwhile, I’m just going to crash on the sofa with my box of cherry liqueur infused dark chocolates and contemplate life from a horizontal perspective.