Biking to Life
Lately, there have been so many parallels to living life and doing good work with bicycling. Yes, bicycling. I love to ride bikes and for others, it may be swimming, hiking, or running? The point is that there is some sort of activity that helps you center. When things are off-center, how do you re-center?
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up in pain. My sciatic nerve or something was whack. Sitting, standing, walking all came with a certain amount of pain that was only exacerbated by doing any one of them for an extended time. The other thing was how this was affecting my Zoom calls, family time, and overall productivity.
As a guy that holds a space online preaching about how physical fitness leads to fiscal fitness – I was failing. My daughter intuitively knew something was up. I am not too vocal about discomfort because I don’t think it does much good to be negative or bring negativity into the room, but Rainey came and asked me to run with her. The thought of running actually pissed me off. I told her I wasn’t feeling well.
In my heart, I began to feel defeated. This went on for almost two weeks.
Next thing you know, my email dings, and it’s a reminder for the “Bike the Coast” bicycle ride. I had signed up for the 50-mile event months ago, and now it was just a couple of days away. Add to this the idea that there is a celebration of life ceremony for an old Suzuki Co-worker the same day. She died from Covid complication and many of my old teammates would be there. This would be the perfect excuse to miss the ride.
My wife and I discussed the options and weighed things out. We decided together that I would try the bike ride, even though it was one and a half hours away. Worst case… I could start the ride and turn back to the truck defeated. I tuned the bike, pumped the tires, filled the water bottles, charged the computer, and was ready to go. As Saturday morning greeted me, I was stiff to move from the bed. I brewed coffee and loaded the truck. The ocean mist was so thick, I couldn’t see the end of my street. This is not your average morning. I began to wonder if I was getting signs to stay home.
On the drive down, I began to get more and more excited about the ride. This was to be the first organized, large ride since the pandemic started. I was getting amped to see other cyclists en-mass pursuing our passions. I jumped on Facebook Live and began announcing the event and my progress. It’s a thing I do. It kind of forces me to be accountable to my goals if I know others are watching too.
Instead of riding as a team, I decided I would start the ride as a solo effort. I even got to the registration table after the first wave had left. I left in something like the 4th wave. It was 8:10 am when I made the first turn off the beach in Oceanside and followed a group at a warm-up pace through Oceanside. It was only 52 degrees out and the chill was real as I had chosen shorts and short sleeves banking on a warmer day further into the ride. What I needed was a hill.
The warmup pace turned out to be the pace for the group I started with, so when I saw the first incline, I pedaled away from the group and started my solo ride. I began to see a group, catch a group, recover, pass the group, see a group, catch a group, recover… and so on for the first 16 miles to the first SAG stop.
SAG Stops are rest areas that are supported with snacks, parking for the bikes, porta-potties, and mechanical assistance. As I got closer to the stop, I realized I was averaging over 16 miles per hour and had a good chance of catching the “Cats I Roll With” group that I ride with sometimes. They had posted on Facebook that they were on the ride. Sure enough, as I came around the corner to the stop, I heard a booming deep laugh of Kerry Smith – head of the Cats. I rode directly to his laugh – checked in with him to see who had made it, and only one other rider had made the event. We decided to join up and ride as a trio.
Having people to ride with is great. The energy of the group becomes a shared thing. One can lead better uphill, or through traffic, or just have fun. It’s contagious. We rode through Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, and Del Mar with a couple of detours on the route due to construction. The Bike the Coast team did a great job on adjusting the route and for the most part… signage made sense.
When we got to the turn-around halfway SAG stop, the three of us chose to ride through. We tapped into our collective energy and enjoyed the sights, the comradery, and the exercise. Along the way, I also made small talk with other riders. Having taken ibuprofen ahead of the ride, I was surprised by how good I felt on the first 30 miles of the ride. I was also surprised at the pace I was able to keep, especially in comparison to others on the ride.
As the three of us approached the last SAG stop at around 36-miles, I told the others that I would see them at the finish and that I wanted to take more ibuprofen, stretch and get a snack. That was the right choice as my back was beginning to talk back to me. I chatted up a few riders at the stop and gazed at the ocean which was finally coming into view with the mist burning off and the sun making an appearance. It was still about 58 degrees, and just before Noon… perfect riding weather.
I jumped into the last stretch energized, rested and motivated to see my friends at the finish. It was a successful ride. No mechanicals, great people, and a sense of personal accomplishment. Getting to the after-party and having lunch and chilling with the live music is a cool bonus too.
So what’s the message here? Simple. Don’t let life bog you down. If I failed to join this ride, I would still be sitting in my workspace, begrudging my work, feeling sore, and beating myself up for being lazy. So many times in life we fail to take any action and that failure eats at us more than if we would have taken the action and even failed at it. Once I decided I would at least try – knowing I could turn back to the truck – it became a mind-over-body event. The excitement of the event also dulled the discomfort. Just writing discomfort in this paragraph makes me think of stress coach, Andrew S Oakes and how he would say removing the stress (discomfort) excuse of my hurt back opened up the opportunity for relief.
I returned home a new man. I am full of new inspiration and energy to produce content and pursue the growth of not only business ventures, but relationships at home as well. Re-centering works.