Ride vs. race


Last Sunday I was pumped and pooped. I finished my longest bike ride – 227km – as part of the The Ride to Conquer Cancer. I knew this was going to be a physical challenge, and it turned out to be a mental challenge that started before I even signed up for The Ride.

In April, my brother signed up for The Ride and invited me to join him. My first reaction was, “no way, I am not good at fundraising, I would have to buy a bike, I would have to train a lot.” But he had planted a seed that started to grow because I was looking for a new physical challenge, a goal for the summer’s physical activity. I said yes.

Scarcity-thinking was entrenched within me; I fussed about having enough time to train, I fussed about figuring out how fast we could go so we could finish in a respectable time, I fussed about the chunks of time when training would be impossible. My brother told me not to worry – we were going for a bike ride, not a race. How fast we finished didn’t matter.

But deep inside, I wanted to race.

Then, as I took this exploration of scarcity and abundance with me on a wilderness quest this spring, I received the gift of discerning chronos and kairos time.


Chronos = time. The passage of time. The measurement of time. Related words: chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, chronicle.  Quantitative.  A specific amount of time. An day. An hour. A minute.  (Link to Wikipedia.)

Kairos = the right, or opportune moment in time. The supreme moment.  Qualitative. A moment. A season.  Crises that bring opportunity. The crucial time.  (Link to Wikipedia.)


I learned I was choosing to race with time.

A race is in chronos time; how fast I finish matters. A ride is in kairos time; I move from moment to moment, taking in the experience, shifting and adjusting, learning. In race mode, where I place matters. How I compare to others matters. In ride mode, I notice my accomplishment. I notice the physical challenge of cycling 112km one day, then 115 the next, when the most ground I have covered in a day is 60km. I notice the hum of 1700 cyclists and volunteers who raised $7.9M for cancer research. I notice the fellow I followed for a while, with this note on his back:

I ride for my brother, Henrik. 54 years old.
February 1950 to May 2014

This fellow just lost his brother.

I notice how wonderful it is to be healthy and ride with my healthy brother. I choose to notice what I have, not what I don’t have.

Here we are at the finish line.
Photo: Angella Vertzaya


Chronos + Kairos


A quest begins before the quest itself.

Over the course of last week, I was tucked into the Eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, USA on a Wilderness Quest, with the support of Ann Linnea, Christina Baldwin and Deborah Greene-Jacobi. My intention was to rewire the reptilian in me, to awaken my whole being to what scarcity looks and feels like, so I could more fully see and appreciate – and embody – the abundance in life.

My drive to the Cascade Mountains was full of scarcity, and so began my learning journey.

Here’s what I did.

I wake Thursday morning to have breakfast with my husband and kids as they head off to work and school, then jump in my car to begin the 15 hour drive (the route: Edmonton, Crowsnest Pass, Fernie, Eastpoint border crossing, Spokane, Cascade Mountains).  At this end of the drive, I can move quickly and efficiently.  I can drive faster than 100km/hour, which means that I when I factor in the odd stop I can still travel on average 100km/hour. This was the case for the first 5 hours of my trip, on open highway.

As soon as I entered the Rocky Mountains at Crowsnest Pass, the highway goes through a series of towns and I am forced to drive slower. Once through the towns, I am forced to travel the speed of the slowest driver. When there is an opportunity to pass, I take it. I have a long drive ahead of me and I have to make best use of time. Moreover, I am keeping track of how much time I am ahead of my 100km/hour schedule. I am also noticing how I am losing time.  I hit a construction zone and have to sit for a while. I open my windows and enjoy the smell of the ponderosa forest, but truly, I am anxious about how long I will have to sit. I am losing time.

The hardest part was exactly where I knew it would be – in Idaho, north of Coeur d’Alene where there are traffic lights on the highway every mile. Then where the highway is in the middle of an urban area and the traffic crawls. I find myself appreciating all the transportation officials I have worked with in Alberta and Manitoba who limit the number of roads that have access to highways, allowing the free-flow movement of vehicles. I think to myself, if you are going to build a highway, let it be a highway.

It takes me 11.25 hours to cover 945km and reach Spokane, my stop for the night. Much less than my 100km/hour average that is my goal, or the 10.75 hours it should have taken according to Google. But I have arrived, found my hotel and the gym. I find some supper and go to the gym. I have a schedule to adhere to here too – I am training for a 200km bike ride in 2 months and I have been unable to train due to illness. I am at last well enough to get some time in on a bike. I find myself back on the treadmill for another 32 km.

Then back on the treadmill in the morning, for another 20 km, then a 4 hour drive to meet up with my fellow questers and guides.

And after all the rushing, and watching the clock, I find myself in beautiful Skalitude, nestled in green, lush mountains, longing to go for a walk and explore, but I don’t have the energy.  And during our free time the next day, I set up my tent for a nap in the warm sun; the perfect antidote to rushing in chronos time.


Chronos = time. The passage of time. The measurement of time. Related words: chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, chronicle.  Quantitative.  A specific amount of time. An day. An hour. A minute.  (Link to Wikipedia.)

Kairos = the right, or opportune moment in time. The supreme moment.  Qualitative. A moment. A season.  Crises that bring opportunity. The crucial time.  (Link to Wikipedia.)


And in my exploration of chronos and kairos in Wikipedia, I come across Madeleine L’Engle, author of a book I read at about 12 years old that still resonates with me: A Wrinkle In Time. (A 1962 Newbery Medal winner that was rejected by publishers 30 times.) Her works are divided into chronos and kairos frameworks. The chronos stories take place in primarily realistic settings; the kairos books in realistic and magical settings. They are not separate worlds, for the characters travel in between…


As I drive home, I find myself receiving the gift of time, of many, many moments, to simply be with myself.  The time the drive will take is the time the drive will take. And there is so much to notice along the way. Notice the conversations I have with myself. Notice when I feel like singing. Notice the birds that are shepherding me northwards, to home: the hawks, the raven on the Crowsnest Pass sign, the crows on fence posts, the pelicans on the lake where I had a picnic, the eagles all over the prairies. Notice all the little things that remind me of the people I explored the wilderness with for a week.

I camp by the Moyie River between the border and Cranbrook on my way home.  A swollen slumber. I get up in the morning, and after so much stillness, it is hard to move fast.

I settle in to travel in both chronos and kairos time, enjoying the abundance of moments.

The quest continues after the quest.