One of the most important moments in my life was my first bike ride on “the fake-speed.” The so called “fake-speed” was an old road bike, with Litespeed decals despite not actually being a Litespeed, that had been sitting outside unused for many years. One day I pulled it out of its resting spot, greased the chain and gears, pumped up the tires and went for a little ride. I had never rode a road bike before, and from that first moment I loved it! That was the beginning of a long adventure, and the gateway to learning many important life lessons.
I have spent a lot of time learning from teachers, professors, and books about many useful subjects like science and math, and these skills are valuable to me. But some the most important lessons I have learned, lessons that have defined my personality and helped me in every facet of my life, are lessons that I have learned far from from any classroom or lecture hall. They are lessons I have learned out in the fresh air, perched over two wheels. I think they can only be learned on the road less traveled, but they can be applied anywhere, and I would like to share some of them.
JUST KEEP SPINNING
It happens on many a big ride; I find myself far from the summit and already out of breath. My legs are burning, sweat drips down my face, and I suck in air at a frenzied pace. The climb only seems to get steeper, and around every corner that I think will reveal the summit, there is just a tougher section of climb. I begin to ask myself, “Can I make it to the top?” Knowing how much there is between me and the summit, it can seem overwhelming, but then I tell myself, “just keep spinning, as long as I keep the pedals turning, I WILL make it to the top.” This idea of mental endurance, and taking things one pedal stroke at a time, has proven to be essential in many undertakings of my life. Many problems in life can seem insurmountable, but yield to your mental toughness and just take them head on, one pedal stroke at a time.
IT WILL BE WORTH IT AT THE TOP
It can be tempting, at the base of a large climb, especially when you know it will be difficult, to say to oneself, “maybe I should just go home and not bother with this climb, I could be comfortable and relaxed on my couch right now.” Whenever I am at the top of a big hill, enjoying the splendid view I always think to myself, “I would have been a fool to stay home today rather than experience this! It’s not only the amazing panoramas and wonderful sensations that one experiences at the summit that make all of the suffering worth it, but it is really the feeling of the JOY of success.
It is tempting to seek pleasure by taking the easiest route, and this is what many people do. For just a minimal amount of effort people can take part in diversions like watching TV, or fishing for “likes” on social media, hoping for passive entertainment of the high of attention. Ultimately, the pleasures found on the easy route are empty and short-lived. A weekend morning spent asleep followed by an afternoon of playing video games is quickly forgotten and brings no value to someone’s life. One does not reflect upon such a day with pride many years hence. The fact of the matter is, anything of true value can only be attained through hard work.
The joy of success is hard won, but is lasting, brings value to ones’s life and is a matter of pride. There is nothing quite like that feeling of joy when you succeed as a result of your hard work. It is difficult to describe; it can only be experienced. What’s more, it is not a transient thing, you can treasure it as a moment of pride to reflect upon for years to come. An afternoon watching TV is quickly forgotten and brings no pride, but I will proudly reflect upon the triumphs I experienced on tough rides like the L’Eroica for the rest of my life.
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES
It won’t be worth it at the top if you don’t take the time to stop and enjoy it. As important as it is to push oneself, it is also imperative to take a moment to enjoy what is around you. Savor a cup of coffee and a pastry along the route as well as that joy and exhilaration on the top of the climb. Little pleasures such as these are important factors of what make a ride and life in general fun. It’s not always a race, and life has so many little pleasures along the way that it would be a shame not to enjoy them. After all, what’s the point of going on an excursion out into the beautiful countrysides that nature has to offer if you’re not even going to take the time to enjoy the view.
So these are some of the lessons I have learned so far, and I look forward to learning many more. I hope that I will get to just keep spinning, delight in the joy of success, and stop at many more little cafe’s on the road less traveled.