I sat on the curb disappointed in myself in Asheboro, North Carolina. I was well into the third day of my mountains to coast ride. Two hilly days were under my belt. Temps were in the nineties with humidity approaching the same. The forty-four miles on my third day were hilly, really hilly. The last eighteen miles beat me down. I was facing 26 rolling miles ahead. I chose to opt-out of the rest of the day’s ride. It was not fun. This was the first of things I learned about myself on this North Carolina adventure. Here are the five most notable.
- Life is about having fun. Getting off the bike was not about losing pride and not about being defeated. My decision to end the ride that day was about having fun. At this point in my life, cycling is about having fun and enjoying life on the bike. I had to concede that I had accepted a challenge that day that I might have been able to complete but at a cost of not being fun. Fun trumped challenge.
- Don’t give up on the challenge. I enjoy challenging myself. I find joy by living outside of my comfort zone. My week cycling across North Carolina gave me a new perspective on life challenges. I am fully in charge of my challenges, can set them, and adapt them. They can be big or small. Some pop-up on the spur of the moment. I did not achieve the challenge of cycling from the mountains to the coast. I did achieve many other challenges during that time.
- Embrace your age. Changes in my body and mind cannot be ignored. Getting on the bike in the morning facing a 60-80 mile ride takes more positive energy. I am a heart attack survivor. I am not the skinny young road cyclist. My left knee pain reminds me that my body needs more attention. Cycling is not so much about making the miles. It’s about accepting changes. It’s about mentally preparing for the day.
- Age is only a number. I find encouragement in the elder cyclists I encounter on these bike tours. It is not uncommon to talk to people in the 70s and 80s who cycle these events every year. This year I met a 90-year-old woman who cycled every day of the tour. She cycled coast to coast at age 88. The wisdom I hear from them is that you need to be active and live life to the fullest.
- You are never too old to learn. You can teach an old dog new tricks. This tour was a learning experience for me. I hate hills and climbing. I learned how to work my gears and watch my cadence on the first two days of the week. I did a lot of experimenting on day one. On day two, I refined my style and ended the day feeling accomplished. Every day presented a new day to learn something new.
Have Fun, challenge yourself, and live life!