Why Not Skip The Climbs?


Our pastor told a funny story this weekend.

A while back our church had a staff/team mountain retreat. As a fun activity they shuttled bikes (and themselves) to the top of Vail Pass (10,600 ft) and cruised down the bike trail 16-17 miles to Vail (8,000 ft). It’s a popular tourist thing to do, an interesting and different way to experience a stunning part of creation.

Dary told the story in a self-deprecating manner that made it clear he wasn’t really “cycling,” since his only exercise was squeezing the brake lever. He used the experience to make a different point, but he got me thinking about teams and relationships.

In about three weeks our Colorado Mountain Tour will cycle the same path – in the other direction. Our riders will actually begin that morning in Eagle (6,600 ft), crank about 45 miles, and climb 4,000 feet to reach Vail Pass (before ending their 75-mile day in Breckenridge). It’s one of 3 passes they’ll conquer while climbing 20,000 ft and riding 280 miles in 4 days.

Our team will see the same gorgeous scenery the pastors viewed. They’ll have identical panoramic views from the top. I won’t be riding this time, but I’ve done some tough climbs. You learn stuff from cranking up those hills.

Climbing is hard. Maybe that sounds silly, but the truth in our culture is we’d rather have easy, avoid the hard work. We’d rather drive to the top and pose by the sign. We want the result without the sweat.

Learning, growing, getting incrementally a little better each day – those don’t happen when we take the easy way. We can, I suppose, coast down the hill and pretend we “cycled” Vail Pass, sit in the uppity coffee place and look-and-talk the part.

I wonder how often we do that, pretending, and looking the part, while skipping the hard work of actually loving others. Studying the bible. Following Jesus.

The view at the top is sweeter – somehow – when you earn it. When you invest the time and training, when you sweat and face the fear and maybe even fail a time or two, that picture at the summit means a whole lot more.

It’s one thing to look back at that steep twisty-turny path and think, “Wow, that really looks hard.”

It’s a whole other, much more satisfying thing, to think, “Wow, that really was hard…and I DID IT!”

The team gets built, relationships form and deepen, on the climbs. Nearly anyone can cruise downhill. It’s during the climbs and the struggles that we discover chances for servant leadership.

On the climbs opportunities arise to encourage, to slow down and help a teammate, to rest and talk and share the sacrifice together.

And at the end of the climb, the team gets to take the best, most satisfying photo of all. They get to look back and say, “Wow, that really was hard…and we did it TOGETHER!”