Earlier this month I rode in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. That is 205 miles in the saddle over two days, although some choose to complete it in one day. I have done this ride before so I knew what to expect. Two days on the bike gives me a lot of time for reflection and I would like to share, particularly with AIM students, some of those thoughts. I call them lessons from the road, which applies to my time in the saddle and throughout my life in general. Hopefully they resonate with you as well.
Don’t Quit Until You’re Done
For those of us who choose to do the ride over two days, there are various towns where you can camp overnight. The official center point is the 102-mile mark and riders can camp there at a small college. Others, like me, opt to put in a few more miles on the first day and stay at the 120-mile mark, which makes for a much easier second day.
That night I ate with fellow riders and I repeatedly heard, “Oh, that last 20 miles almost did me in.” They set out that morning knowing full well they were going to ride the longer distance so it should not have been a surprise. After talking to many of them, it dawned on me that they mentally finished at the halfway point when everyone was cheering and congratulating them for a job well done. For the last 20 miles they were riding in body only, having already finished for the day in mind and spirit.
How many times in our lives do we do the same thing? We set an attainable goal for ourselves and then we quit mentally before we are finished. We try to coast for the last 20 miles or the last class or the last effort that needs all of our concentration. I am going to always try to finish strong and I challenge you to do the same.
Watch Out for Those Around You
In this ride they cap registration at 10,000 so there are always fellow riders around you. It is not as bad as a Tour de France peloton but sometimes the distance between wheels can be measured in inches. It can take a lot of concentration to watch out for others, but the reward is a safe ride. I came upon more than one accident involving multiple riders so I know the risk.
As in cycling, it makes sense to watch out for others as we pass through life. Not necessarily out of a sense of danger but in the spirit of lending a hand. Do you ever notice a fellow student struggling and reach out to try and help? Do you try to help young people, or perhaps the elderly, during your day? Sometimes others struggle with tasks that seem routine to us so it never hurts to lend a hand.
Enjoy the Scenery
One of the most important lessons I learned during those hours in the saddle is to enjoy the scenery. I am not the fastest rider and I often hear the phrase “passing on your left.” While I will most likely never finish first in any of these rides, I definitely take the time to enjoy the scenery. Each mile brings a different view and, while pavement is not very interesting to look at nature, people and architecture definitely are. Whether high up on a bridge or deep in a forest, there is always something interesting to see.
Life can be hard and finishing a degree program can be hard, but I think it is important to look up every once in awhile and take in the scenery. It helps to put everything else in perspective.
These are my thoughts from the road. Finish strong, help others, and enjoy the scenery along the way. Do you have any life lessons that you have picked up on your journey? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.