Today was Day 30 of the Cycle of Lives 5,000-mile bike ride across America. The entire month of September has centered on this event for me. Here’s what I have learned:
- I don’t know if 53-years old is young or old. On the one hand, I can bike day after day, 8, 10, 12…even 15 hours at a time. I finish most days completely spent, and yet I can bounce back only hours later and do it all over again. I feel strong; my energy level is high, my optimism is unwavering, and my resoluteness is locked-down tight. But, on the other hand, the soreness runs deep, I want to push harder to finish sooner and stronger each day but most times I can’t, and there’s no denying that the guy looking back in the mirror looks older than he acts and feels. Sometimes the old guy in me wants to quit, but thankfully the young guy in me wins every time.
- No matter how you look at it, biking almost 3,000-miles in a month is a lot of miles. There’s no denying that. Who could imagine doing something that insane? But, when measured against other people doing endurance biking, I’m just a middle-of-the-packer. No matter how big the accomplishment, there are people making my numbers look small. This offers more proof of my belief that we need to only measure our accomplishments in relation to our goals and dreams, and not against the accomplishments of others.
- Hot is relative. I’ve biked almost 350 hours in September and most of those hours have been in temperatures well above 90-degrees. No day’s high temperature for me in September was below 90-degrees; many days were well above 100-degrees. I always say I like the heat. Well, I certainly got what I asked for.
- We live in a big, open, mostly desolate and empty country. There’s so much open space. And, there’s so much to see. It’s impossible to take much in beyond the road ahead when you’re biking up to 150-miles a day, but if you take the time to look, there’s endless things to see.
- If you talk to people – even those people who at first glance may seem to have nothing in common with you – you’ll find out that we are all pretty much the same; we work; we are grateful for certain things, and we complain about other things; we eat, drink, laugh, and cry; we are mostly too busy to stop and talk to each other; and we all have had some connection to cancer.
- You never know your limits until you try and find them. Mine are close by. I’ve brushed up against the wall of finality a few times, but thankfully, my limits are miles and miles further down the road than I ever thought. I don’t necessarily hope to crash into that wall, knowing it’s there is keeping me enough in check.
- I would be nowhere near this far down this road, nor this fulfilled, nor this inspired, if it weren’t for the family and friends that fill my life. I am a fortunate man, and I feel more grateful now than I ever felt before, because I have received so much help, care, and support of so many amazing people. It’s hard to feel alone, even at midnight on a lonely highway in the middle of nowhere, 150-miles into a 17-hour day of biking, when thoughts of these friends and family are flowing throughout me like the blood that powers my body and mind to keep moving forward into the dark and quiet night.