"When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place."
Last weekend was abnormally hot for San Diego with temperatures along the coast near 90 degrees. Despite the heat, I decided that this might be one of the last weekends to ride due to the upcoming end of day light savings at the end of the month... so I left bright and early for a long ride.
The ride took me away from my house and up along the coast about 40 miles away. It was about the time when I was planning to turn around and head back home I started feeling a bit more exhausted than normal.
I’ve been riding all summer so it wasn’t that I was out of shape, but the heat that day had begun to take its toll on me.
I’m not a person who is easily defeated so I just put my head down and kept peddling while making sure that I fed my body plenty of liquids in order to try and stay properly hydrated.
After about 10 miles into my return trip (50 miles in total), my legs really ached. I was hot and I was really tired.
Soon all sorts of negative thoughts started going through my brain...
...Why did I have to go this far on such a hot day?
...What if I get in an accident?
...What if I run out of water?
...Am getting too old for such a strenuous activity?
Every thought was a negative thought and I knew that I needed to quickly change my attitude if I was going to make it home.
I decided that I needed to clear my head of negative thoughts and start thinking about positive things.
I began thinking to myself...
...yes 80 miles might be far... but I’ve ridden farther this past year... so I know that I can do the miles... after a season of riding I’m in really good shape.
...I won’t get in any accidents if I keep my wits about me and watch extra carefully for potential traffic hazards.
...I can and should stop every few miles to take in water. I wasn’t racing so I should just take my time... and ride safe.
...I’m still relatively a young man so why am I complaining?
I began setting small goals that I knew that I could achieve. These small goals might include riding to a stop light that I knew was up ahead a half-mile away... I knew that I could ride a half-mile... so it wouldn’t be so daunting...
I also decided to catch up with another rider and strike up a conversation. The conversation would take my mind off the miles ahead of me even if it were only for a short time. Plus I could draft behind the rider to help make the riding easier.
I now had the right attitude and small goals that would eventually lead to a bigger goal (getting home safely).
The last 10 miles were agonizing as I knew in the back of my mind that a decent sized hill still lied ahead of me on my way back home. There was no way around it. If I wanted to get home... I needed to climb that hill.
When I got to the base of the hill, I decided that I needed to attack the hill with whatever energy that I still had in me. Plodding up the hill slowly was only going to cause the heat of the sun to bear down on me longer... I was almost home.
After an initial burst of speed, I rose off the seat and put my full weight into each stroke of the pedals. I counted 20 revolutions of the pedals and then sat back down for 20 revolutions. I repeated this pattern over and over until I had reached the crest of the hill.
My house was all downhill from there so I was able to coast all the way to my driveway.
As I laid down resting later that afternoon, I thought about the important lessons I had learned that day...
- It’s imperative to recognize the current situation and plan accordingly. I had taken several long rides before, but never in this type of extreme heat. Before heading out, I needed to take a step back, review the situation, and adjust my plan accordingly. It was not very smart of me to remain committed to my original plan when the environment around me had changed.
- When things start to go badly, it’s very easy for negative thoughts to start ruminating throughout our brains. These negative thoughts can lead to bad decision making, a reduction in applied effort, self-rationalization, stress, self-doubt, and a bad attitude. Negative thoughts take away our will to fight and can cause us to give up and quit. We need to fight those negative thoughts... especially when adversity strikes.
- A big goal is simply made up of a lot of achievable small goals. I didn’t look at my goal being 40 miles to get back home. I needed to break it down to single miles and half miles. I just needed to worry about getting to the next stop light. Completing small goals is just the first steps in completing larger goals.
- We all need some help somewhere along our path. I looked for other riders who could help me to get myself back home that day. Ask the most successful people in the world and they will tell you that their success was a byproduct of surrounding themselves with a lot of great people.
- Even when we think that we have done all that we could do, spent all of the energy that we had, or left everything on the field, we can still reach down and find a little bit more. Successful people seem to find that extra little bit to get them over the last hill when it would have been so easy to quit.
One of the ways I tried to remain positive that day was to replay a new song that I recently heard over and over in my head. The song is by a young songwriter / artist named Jessie Rubens and it’s quickly becoming one of my all-time favorite songs (even though you won’t find it on any top 40 chart). I hope you like it as well...
Sure quitting is easy... but we need to remember to just keep our heads up and keep peddling and soon we’ll get to that place that we want to go...
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse, where we are absolutlely positive that we can.
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