This is the sixth in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.
You’re probably riding your bicycle because you enjoy it. Whether you are seeking the thrill of a victorious race, trying to beat your personal best time, or simply pedaling because you like the feel of the wind in your face – it’s fun.
But it doesn’t always feel like fun, does it? Those days when the sun is beating down on you and the sweat is running into your eyes can be miserable. Just like the times when you get caught out in the rain and your shoes squish with each revolution of the pedals. Or when you have a flat tire and the flies are buzzing around your head while you change it. Or perhaps you didn’t bring enough water or can’t find a bathroom and are looking for somewhere to stop. No, it’s not always fun.
Ultimately, you will return another day to keep on pedaling. It is fun, though. You get a chance to really see the scenery that would just flash by if you were driving – as long as you remember to look up and take it in.
On different rides, Ashley and I have seen some beautiful views – rolling fields, blue skies filled with fluffy cotton clouds, and forests filled with green. Within just a few feet of us have been all sizes of bunny rabbits, a fawn, and a mother turkey with her 8 babies. In a field that we passed by have been numerous deer and even a flock of more than a dozen turkeys.
It’s easy to get caught up in the road just in front of your tire. You’re doing the work to be there. Don’t forget to take a few moments to look up every now and then and enjoy the view.
Ashley and I aren’t racing, so it’s not about competing with anyone. Even so, we have to remind ourselves to enjoy ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up trying to keep up with the biker who just passed us, which can just tire us out.
Pay attention to how you are feeling and ride at a pace that you can sustain. This can definitely mean that you take days or sections of rides to push yourself faster or further than normal, but don’t let others performances be the motivating factor for how you ride. Unless you are racing, it is just you and the bike and you are your only competition.
Share Your Ride
Just because you aren’t competing with someone doesn’t mean that you need to be alone on the road. Having someone riding with you can help the ride go faster – a long ride can take hours – so it’s nice to have someone to chat with as you go, or just to share the ride with and know that you aren’t out there alone.
You can point out the views and appreciate the beauty of the scenery around you. Or just have someone ready to share an encouraging word when the hills loom in front of you.
As with so much else in life, it’s better when shared.