Here are 10 Lessons I have Learned from By Riding My Bike.
(Article graciously submitted by Gerald Rhodes. You can find out more about Gerald below.)
Cycling affect so many different parts of my life. It helps keep me balanced. It is my method of relaxation, my hobby, my downtime, and my primary mode of exercise. While I have given so much to cycling, biking has given me so much in return.
One. Cycling taught me how to create a weight loss system for myself
As I got back on the bike, I was able to develop a system to lose weight. I call it a system because I have been able to employ it over and over again.
We all know that life happens regardless of how much we try and control it. We have a bad week, the holiday season, we discover maple sugar. Whatever it may be, if you have a system you can put into practice, you can get back to where you want to be.
The first part of any training program is getting into a good habit. The cornerstone good habit for my weight loss system is cycling.
Two. Cycling taught me to be patient
Creating that system took a lot of trial and error. I failed multiple times before I found something that worked for me. I had to be patient.
My weight loss was also a journey. It did not happen overnight. Anything worth doing, is worth doing right, and takes time.
“Lose 40 pounds in eight months” is not a sexy or compelling tagline. But it is the truth. There are quicker ways of losing weight and none are sustainable or healthy.
I’m the kind of person who likes to do things right the first time. And the first requirement of a sustainable system is always patience
Three. I Learned to express my confidence
This shows up for me in so many different ways. First of all, I feel confident on my bike. I know I can complete any ride put in front of me. Miles, steep climbs, twisty descents, fast sprints (see lesson 4), I can handle it all. Knowing that I can finish what I set out to accomplish is a great boost to my self esteem. I have been on rides where I have been out of shape and I have been on rides when I had way too much fun the night before. Once I climb into the saddle, I know I can make it back home.
Instead of losing control of my weight all over again, I am able to arrest the backslide. Return to familiar routines, foods, and duration of exercise I know will produce results for me.
Second of all, I carry that sense of accomplishment into the rest of my life. If I can finish something on the bike, then the same thing must be true in other areas of my life. If ever I am struggling with something that is new or is uncomfortable for me, I think of cresting a hill, reaching the halfway point of a ride after two hours, or screaming downhill at 45 mph. If I can do that, then the same must be true of my next challenge.
The third is that I literally feel comfortable in my own skin. Let’s face it, I look great in my cycling kit! But seriously, I feel good about my weight and my level of fitness, especially for a regular guy approaching 50. Do I look perfect? Of course not. Do I look like I’m 25? Nope, not even close. But I am lighter than I was when I was 25 and in the best shape of my life. Yes, I still have that extra belly fat. I should have picked my parents a little better. I have the strength, stamina, and flexibility to crawl on the floor with my two little kids, and that keeps me young.
Four. Cycling requires me to prioritize and manage my time
When I first started to get back on the bike after a 12 year absence, I would ride for 20 to 30 minutes a day. I would usually ride after everyone went to bed (and after I had a couple of beers and a bourbon or two) so I did not give my riding much thought. Once I realized I wanted to accomplish a goal, everything changed. Riding 20 minutes every day was not moving the needle at all on my goals. I needed to go for longer rides. With a young family, that meant I had to make some tough choices.
The first thing I had to do was establish my priorities. The main reason I was riding was to be healthier for myself and for my family. And I quickly learned that it had to be in that order. It’s the same idea on a plane. In case of an emergency, I have to put my oxygen mask on first before I can help anyone else. Because if I stop breathing, not only can I not help anyone else, now I have become another problem. I take care of my health first, so I can take care of everyone else.
The second thing I had to do was manage my time. It was pretty easy for the day to slip away from you with work, errands, laundry, cooking meals, housework, you get the picture (and I know you know the drill) Once I started to plan my rides, not only was I able to hold myself accountable, others could also hold me accountable. Yeah, I know I am going to be gone from 6 to 8, but after that, we will be able to get it all done. If I kept waiting for the “right time” to go out and ride, everyone is met with anxiety and disappointment. Scheduling time to ride sets clear expectations and ultimately helps you manage your goals and follow through with your priorities.
Five. Cycling Makes me humble
Humility can be a great lesson for all of us. No matter how much you train, no matter how fit you get, on any given day, there will always be someone stronger than you out on the road. This is not said to be discouraging, it’s just meant to keep it all in perspective.
As I have said, I think I’m doing pretty well for a regular guy in his late forties. Exercising and riding my bike more than most. But last week I rode with a guy who just turned seventy and he kept up with me on a 40 mile ride just fine thank you very much.
Most importantly, I don’t think I am any better than anyone else. On or off the bike. It’s time for road cyclists to lose our stigma of elitism.
Six. Cycling reveals my character
It is often said that challenges like sports build character. I believe cycling reveals my character. Cycling does not create something from nothing.
Look at it this way. As I approach a climb, self doubt never enters my mind. My questions revolve around how fast I will climb each section, when will I stand or how long can I remain seated in the saddle, who I may encounter and help along the way, or how I will feel once I crest the summit. All of these thoughts and feelings have always been there, and cycling brings out who I truly am.
Seven. Cycling proves to me I’m powerful
It has taken a lot of time, but I have been able to improve my level of fitness. Along with that level of fitness comes power. Literal watts or calories can be measured with each pedal stroke. It’s part of the data points we love to geek out over after each ride.
Some of that power can be measured. Most of it can be felt. If you have ever stood up in the saddle and sprinted for a telephone pole, you can hear the whoosh of your rear wheel with every pedal stroke. Every pedal stroke releasing kinetic energy, as your cadence becomes faster and faster. That makes you feel powerful.
Eight. Cycling proves to me I’m graceful
Again, this has taken time, but I have been able to improve my pedal stroke. Most people can’t tell you what a bad pedal stroke looks like. You are just pedaling, right?
Then, you notice a cyclist going fast. Her cadence is quick yet effortless. It is not really two levers mashing on the pedals, but a well oiled motor that spins freely with balance and precision. The component of that part of power I describe as grace.
Nine. Cycling allows me to inspire myself and others
This is a big one for me. I have always been a coach and a teacher. It is one of the most genuine and authentic ways I can share myself with others and create value. When I am on the bike, when I am working with a client, I help people see the possibilities inside themselves. Goes back to revealing that you can be confident in yourself.
Inspiring those around me to make change is powerful to others.
What I have recently realized is that I am inspiring to myself. This does not come from a place of narcissism or arrogance. I am here to love and inspire myself so I may go out and love and inspire others. If I can do that for myself, then I can do it for anyone else.
My greatest gift is to go out and inspire others.
Ten. Cycling taught me a new found sense of freedom and adventure
The wind in your face. The sun on your back. Will it rain, will it snow, will it get to 95 degrees today? Who knows!? You take your bike and point it in a direction and go. You can go anywhere.
Sure, maybe today you only have time for a quick 30 minute ride. Or maybe you have time for something longer. Where would you go? A bike can take you anywhere you want to go.
That sense of freedom from being on foot, or relying on public transportation, or stuck in a car in traffic. You can take any road, any path, or make your own trail and make adventure your destination.
There are probably more things I learned about myself from cycling. Like the discipline of getting consistent with cycling so I can achieve my goals.
What have you learned about yourself through cycling. What adventures have you taken on the bike? Where will cycling take you?
About Gerald Rhodes: Gerald loves to geek out on cycling and blogs about his obsession. When he is not cooking delicious food, he can be found riding with other cyclists of all ages and abilities enjoy mountain rides around Boulder County. Or find him at http://geraldrhodes.com