Physical Exertion.

Categories Big Picture

The Col de Bassachaux is a short mountain climb in the French alps. As a moderate cyclist, for me this ride is the perfect fit. Starting in Linga, in the ski resort of Chatel, it takes me about one hour and 15 mins to reach the La Haute Bise restaurant, at an altitude of 1,850 metres. 

Every summer I cycle up this Col. Sometimes once, sometimes three times. This year I did it twice. Each time I set off at 7am. By 9am I am back in my apartment, on the balcony, coffee in hand. Legs aching. I feel amazing.

The day ahead is always better.

I have listed below eight reasons why I complete this ride – largely taken from my internal monologue during this wonderful and enduring mountain ride.

1. Sense of Achievement.

This is perhaps the dominating motivational force in my efforts to reach the top and it can only be truly appreciated when I get there. On seeing the restaurant and its surrounding myrtle berry bushes, I know I have done something positive and meaningful.

2. Physical Challenge.

Challenge in all forms stimulates the brain and make us feel more alive. Being out of my comfort zone renews my confidence and courage. After this challenge I am more able to appreciate my down time.

3. Ducks in a Row.

When I take the time to do something deliberately very physical, I put the greater part of my conscious thinking on hold. When I finish this physical episode, my thoughts have been reordered. With my ducks newly aligned, I am more settled.

4. Physical Health. 

Where do we start. Stronger heart, lungs, bones, joints, muscles. Improved cognition and alertness. Reduced inflammation and physiological stress. The list is exhaustive.

5. Fitness Check In. 

I am not getting younger. Can I still do it? How does my physical fitness compare with this time last year? Am I living my life in way that is maintaining my level of fitness? I want to know the answer to these questions.

6. Mental Wellbeing.

Have you ever been for a run, swim or bike ride and then not felt better mentally for doing so? In a world where we are ever more in tune with our mental wellbeing, exercise can provide us with a miracle drug for the sum of time and effort.

7. Resilience.

When I complete this bike ride, I acquire a healthy dose of determination, perseverance and the ‘never give up’ spirit. I hope these qualities can transfer to other aspects of my life.

8. Pressing the Reset Button.

I have learned the value in pressing reset and recalibrating. We can do this in various ways and at various times. The month of August provides me with a clear line from which I can reset for the year ahead. Recharged, excited and ready.

Riding up the Col is my reset button.

The qualities I seek from riding my bike up the Col transfer beyond the physical domain. Confidence. Courage. Determination. Perseverance. Feeling better mentally. Reordering my thoughts. Reflecting on my performance. This bout of physical exertion is a fertile platform from which I can learn and adopt these qualities and find tranquillity.

With greater reflection on this bike ride, in relation to my work, I am further convinced what makes Physical Education uniquely valuable for every child is not only its propensity for physical development, but also for physical exertion and physical challenge.

I am not suggesting all children should invest in road bikes and ride up steep hills. But there is value (and I believe a growing realisation by stakeholders) that physical exertion should be a central component within Physical Education.

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