Earlier this month my friend Godfrey and I set out by bike from Seattle, Washington and slowly made our way towards the Oregon Coast and then back inland to Portland. Over the course of five days of riding, we covered close to 500 km, conquered a range of mountains and powered through exhausting head winds. We met a colourful group of characters along the way including a rural doomsday cookie saleswoman, a personal tour guide from Boeing and some friendly 20 year old surfers making their way back home by bike to San Diego. Riding for 8-12 hours each day leaves a lot of time to reflect on things and it also exposes you to a bunch of different experiences and challenges. Here are four lessons we drew from our ride from Seattle to Portland.
What do you need when you are clawing your way up a 2 km incline on the side of a busy highway in the driving rain after riding for 10 hours straight? Persistence. What do you need when you blow up a tire and, after changing the tube, can’t get the wheel over the rim no matter how hard you yank it? Persistence. And what’s the most important thing you need to demonstrate to get that report done when your co-worker gets sick and the boss wants you to incorporate in a raft of updates AND demands you incorporate in an additional take-away section? You said it – persistence.
Ask for help
On our first day, Godfrey and I were lost in the suburban streets of South Seattle. We were spending an inordinate amount of time trying to navigate to the green bike lanes that Google Maps told us existed in the area. But we weren’t making good time and were starting to get frustrated with all the dead ends. Instead of trying to soldier on in silence, we asked a nearby cyclist for directions. Turned out he was heading in the same direction as us and helped guide us along back ways and secret bike trails all the way to our destination. Asking a stranger for help turned out to be a godsend for our afternoon.
Pinpoint small goals
Riding for 8 hours can be exhausting. It’s easy to get discouraged as you look at the little blue GPS tracker on your iPhone and see it move only a millimeter after a lot of effort. But by picking key milestones and breaking the journey into a series of mini-destinations, you can significantly up your sense of accomplishment. For me, each time I reached a new town or summit a big hill, I took a moment to reflect on the accomplishment. Doing the same thing in your professional life is wise. That might mean breaking up your day into a series of tasks that you need to complete. The key is to give yourself an opportunity to celebrate multiple successes on the way to a bigger goal.
It would have been a lot easier to aim to ride 60km days. But nothing is more exhilarating then making it farther than you thought you were physically capable of doing. Pushing yourself and hitting that far off target is an amazing feeling. Same goes for work – if you think the goals too easy