Bike Talk: What Cycling Has Taught Me

24 February, 2016

I believe that cycling has been the catalyst that has helped me come in to my body to learn how to instinctively listen to the push and pulls of life. For seven years now, cycling has been the most empowering journey of self-discovery and healing for me. From crashes, sprained wrists, break-ups, stolen bikes, and new beginnings, I have learned some of the most valuable lessons of life on the road.

Some days there are smooth rides and some days the ride will be slippery and you will fall. Get up and get on again. Where there are slippery roads, head winds, and challenging hills, there is a new scenery waiting. For those who are thinking about challenging themselves on the road, here are some lesson to carry you on the saddle and life.
Show Up And Do Your Best
People are often intimidated by group rides because they aren't fast enough, strong enough, or don't feel confident enough to keep up with the group. I've been here and have had friends in this position. It's tough to join a ride and have to struggle to pedal your way up a hill in the back while the majority of peers are showing off their beautiful climbing skills full of expressions and momentum. But this is part of the journey. I wasn't able to climb a hill without getting off to hike the rest of my way up for a long time, I still do! I do what I can though, and love my body for what it allows me to do. Like life, all we can do is show up and do our best.

Your Stronger Than You Think
Cycling is as much a mental activity as it is a physical activity. It's about the union between physical suffering and mental suffering. We all have fears to let go of and need time out to reflect. When it comes to life, we can find that we can endure whatever it throws at us. Be open to new challenges and endure through, you can handle a lot more than you know.

Listen To Your Body
I like a physical challenge but I have to go at my own pace. I learned a very hard lesson in my marathon training years when I strained my groin when I was trying to push myself to someone else's pace that felt unnatural. Testing yourself can be the goal, only if your ready to listen to your body. Getting hurt is not the goal so do what you're body says and ride at your own pace. We can't live judging our worth by comparing our bodies and abilities to the other person next to us. Life is a practice. Not a competition.

Cycling Is Whatever You Want It To Be
My thoughts on cycling probably differ from everyone else's, that's ok. Like I mentioned earlier, cycling is a mental and physical practice, but I think everyone should find their own meaning of what cycling is to them and share it. Take it for more than a ride, consider the breath work of climbing, calmness of your mind, and inspiration it gives you dialy. All these are important.

Be Present
Breath, along with with change, is constant, and being present requires us to breath. Cycling requires you to be fully aware of your breath and body in the moment. All the fears, doubts, worries, and past have no place in the moment of awareness. When I made the decisions to move from California to NY, leaving everything I loved and knew behind, I decided to let go of the past and not worry about the things that haven't happened yet. In this transition, cycling taught me that I'm not losing anything but I am gaining everything I ever knew I always had to get me through the moment.

Embrace Community and Connection
This means that after a group ride, I don't just leave without saying hello or introducing myself to someone new. I am an introvert by nature, luckily cycling provides me with the space to foster growth and community by interacting with other cyclists to share ideas or thoughts. When we embrace community we can make huge strides in our abilities when we challenge and help each other. No man is an island, man.

It's About The Journey, Not The Destination
With cycling, and with life, the beauty of the ride is not about the results (unless you're racing) but about the journey. Every cyclists knows that the journey on the bike is about the quality of life. Every time we get on that bike we bring with us a different challenge- mental, physical, and emotional- and the experience differs accordingly. Sometimes we feel physically strong, sometimes we feel our balance maybe be off, sometimes we're just too exhausted to go any further. To observe what is going on and learn form it is what really matters.

We may be unfamiliar with certain roads and conditions but it's always good to be open minded to new challenges and adventures. You may never know what scenery is awaiting you.

image via grindtv

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