About two and a half years ago I bought myself a brand new bicycle. I researched and researched, stopping at all the local shops to find one that was just right. When I found the one I wanted, I knew right away. It was a beautiful bright orange racing road bike. I couldn’t wait to bring it home and start riding -going fast, looking good, and getting in shape.
Well, it turns out I did all of that for about two weeks. Then it was just on weekends when the weather was perfect. Eventually my bike just stood alone, forlorn, tires flat, taking up space against the garage wall.
Over time without really realizing it, I had let myself become this middle age, out of shape guy. I had some good starts, but I was in a slow downward spiral of eating too much, making excuses for not exercising, reading less and spending more time on the couch channel surfing.
I noticed it taking a toll not only on my body, but my attitude, my work, my leadership and influence, and, most importantly, my role as a husband and a dad. Finally I had had enough. It was time to put a stake in the ground and say, “I am not going to live like this anymore.”
On July 1, 2010 I wrote a one page declaration. As Napoleon Hill suggests, I have read that statement of definite purpose with power and conviction every day since. What has made those words a reality has been my trusty bike, believe it or not.
I went out to the garage one very muggy July day and pumped the tires up. I only went about eight miles that day but I enjoyed it. From there, like Forrest Gump…I just kept riding.
I knew that if I didn’t keep a large enough goal in front of me, and couple it with some accountability, that it would only be a matter of time before self-sabotage set in again. So I decided to do a 100 mile Century ride with Cure on Wheels over in Tampa. I rode in memory of my 7-year-old niece who died of brain cancer back in 1995 and I pledged to raise $2,500 to help find a cure.
That commitment set a series of things into motion that I otherwise would have never done and taught me lessons I otherwise would have never learned. I had built-in accountability to the organization and to all the friends who gave. I couldn’t let them down.
On Sunday November 7, 2010 I completed my first Century bike ride in some of the toughest hills in Florida. I cannot describe the sense of accomplishment and the deep inner joy that I felt when I crossed the finish line with my whole family and several friends cheering me on.
Training for a one day, 100 mile ride forced me to follow a highly disciplined training and eating regimen. I did what I needed to do every day, no matter what, and I was prepared for the big day. I committed to an audacious goal, and then broke it into bite size goals.
In a new and deeper way I have learned about setting goals, keeping commitments to myself and others, perseverance and determination. These are principles that carry over into all areas of life. Finishing the Century was a big deal, but who I am becoming as the journey unfolds is the real gauge for success.
The solitude of the hours spent on the bike give me time to think and pray and just be alone with God and nature. Starting each day with a clear head and a refreshed soul gives me a quiet confidence in my daily interactions.
Since July I have logged over 3,000 miles, raised $3,000 for the cause, I’m in great shape, have several new friends and I have learned new things and taken new risks. Looking forward, I will be riding with a group from Tampa to Tallahassee in February and then out to Death Valley for another Century ride.
Applying the lessons of endurance training to my family, work and spiritual life, I am placing bold new goals in front of me and staying focused on the daily mile.
Article by Mike Greenfield