There is something about the lessons I’ve learned while riding my bike, and how those lessons apply to my life, that I simply haven’t found a source for anywhere else in my life.
When I graduated from college–with a B.S. in Exercise Science and a four-year career as a Division II soccer player–my at the time prospective father-in-law said something to me that stuck out to this day. This statement is part of why I love cycling so much. He said, “Brian. Congratulations on this achievement. Your challenge now is to take all the lessons you’ve learned about life, teamwork, and yourself, through your athletic endeavors, and apply them to life.”
The more I ride, the more I add to this list of things I’ve learned on two wheels:
1. It is in the hills, the headwinds and the pouring rain that if you are attentive you can sense that what is hardest to go through is exactly the same thing that will make you as strong as you are capable of being.
2. There is absolutely, 100%, no possible way to achieve a goal without flat out hard work and dedication.
3. Coffee is always a good reason to stop whatever you are doing.
4. As soon as you think you have worked as hard as you can, you realize you haven’t.
5. Pace is important for the journey. Fast or slow you still need to keep the bigger picture in mind so that you get where you are going.
6. Moderation is important, in moderation.
7. There are a fair number of limitations in life, most of which are self-imposed.
8. Comparing your speed and success to that of others around you will completely distract you from achieving the most you are capable of achieving.
9. If something is a big enough priority to you, you don’t find time for it, you make time for it.
10. If you have a bad day, it is important to reflect upon what choices you made leading up it. I believe most outcomes in life are a direct response to choices we intentionally make.
11. Despite how much you love doing something, it is still important to evaluate if that thing has adverse effects on other people in your life that you love.
12. Be confident enough in who you are working towards being to allow yourself the humility of what it will take to get there.
13. It is perfectly fine to be proud of your accomplishments, just don’t ever become prideful.
14. Most people live in fear, predominately the fear of actually putting their pride on the line and challenging themselves to even make an attempt at their dreams.
15. You can go further and faster with the right people around you.
16. They don’t know that when they call you crazy for doing what you are doing, they are simply fueling the fire.
17. Good music makes everything better.
18. You don’t actually get stronger during the challenge. You only get stronger when you recover, reflect and learn from the challenge.
20. If you don’t embrace risk and change, you thwart your real opportunities for progress.
21. Every day is a new battle with its new challenges. Having the mindset and willingness to fight through a challenge before you even face it or know what it is, is a key part to conquering it.
22. Remember that as hard as you have it, someone out there is hurting infinitely more than you are.
23. Drink lots of water.
24. Talk to other people and actually listen and apply what they have to tell you.
25. Bring the right tools with you, or you’ll be completely screwed.
26. Understand that your body will want to quit at times. There will be moments in every journey where it would feel great to simply quit, but those moments pale in comparison to the feeling of getting past them and achieving your goal.
27. If you are in a rut or on a plateau, change your routine.
28. Stop and watch a sunset every once and a while.
29. There are times when your perception of yourself is vastly different than others perception of you, but who cares what they think as long as you are being honest with yourself.
30. Reflect often on the lessons you have learned from your past, you will need them for your future.
31. Those who have prepared and those who haven’t will be separated quickly.
32. There is absolutely no substitute for putting in your time. You can want something as much as is possible and be as motivated as is possible, but sometimes the clock simply needs to tick for you to learn what you need to learn in order to get where you are going.
33. Take a huge deep breath every once and a while.
34. You are the best of your mother, and the best of your father, and that’s pretty darn good.
35. As much as you want to have people learn from your experiences, they most often have to go through them for themselves to really understand what you were trying to tell them, and that’s ok.
36. You can break through most barriers with sheer unadulterated willpower, at least I can.
37. Typically when you arrive at your destination, you realize that you could have pushed harder.
38. Balance is important.
39. The moment you realize that it’s not about you, you are able to find more energy to help the person right next to you.
40. Beer is a perfectly acceptable recovery drink.