Author: Lisa Tilley
January 1, 2018. It’s just a calendar date. And this is NOT a story about New Year’s resolutions. This is simply about you.
For as many years as you’ve been pedaling, there are probably twice as many reasons you can list as your motivations to pedal. How did you even start? Was it serendipitous? Has cycling always been a part of your life? How much have you changed as a rider since your first time on a bike? Have you encouraged, inspired and supported others to pedal? Are you anxious to embrace a new goal, or three?
For me, I went to a brutal spin class, and afterwards I literally fell down the curb when my legs were too weak to carry me to my car. But I came back to that spin class. And again, and again. Our instructor eventually invited us on a field trip to the Texas Motor Speedway, which has a perfect five-mile loop. We borrowed or rented road bikes, and we learned some roadie basics. I never looked back. (I had no idea that in the years to come, I would finish my first Century ride with Bike MS, right there at Texas Motor Speedway! That really is serendipity!)
I bought my first, all-wrong, two-sizes-too-big-for-me steel bike (nothing wrong with steel, by the way) from Craigslist. I pedaled it thousands of miles, on which many of my “firsts” took place. Rallies. Races. SO. MANY. MEMORIES. Then, N+1 took over. I had my Cannondale, “Stormy”, and now my Specialized Ruby Comp “Sabine” and my luxurious gravel bike, a Specialized Diverge I named “Calypso”. Thank you, Bicycles Inc.! These bikes deserve more miles and memories than I have put on them so far. Enter 2018.
January 1, 2018 is just a calendar date, but if you participate in social media (or have walked into a supermarket lately), you know that the date provides significance to many. Looking back is extremely valuable in reminding you how far you’ve come, and stirring in you the dreams, desires and questions that remain unanswered for yourself. What are you capable of? How much does it matter to you to know the answer to that question? Where do you want to go next?
Looking forward, for the majority of us there’s so much more we want to do. Though cliché, simply starting is truly the hardest part. Do something painless to begin: write it down. Start by thinking about how and why you started pedaling in the first place. Ask yourself what you still want to do. Why haven’t you done it? What fears are enabling you to stay where you are? What hurdles must be addressed to be successful? Write those down, too. Then obliterate them.
By facing them dead on.
I raced my first endurance race with the Manly Bulge Bike Club, my forever bike family. I signed up for the 12-hour solo at the Tonkawa race near Crawford, TX. When I arrived the other racers looked fierce, certainly far more in-shape than I was, and they stood in the dark writing their numbers in black ink right on their skin. Out-of-shape and completely inexperienced, I was petrified. I put myself on the start line. I had a flat in the first turn of the first lap of the day. Being so new, I had to call for help. Hellish. The sun wasn’t even up yet. But I pedaled my 12 hours in a day that registered 113 degrees on the road. I managed to keep a great attitude and ultimately had a fantastic day. And I look back at it now as one of my fondest beginner memories.
Now that I’m in my later 40s, I am enjoying the pure freedom of caring very little about what I assume the general population must think of me, which—to be honest—stopped mattering to me altogether. It’s quite exhilarating to plan things out however I wish. But, how much time did I spend worrying about that make-believe stuff before? Too much. Get rid of that thinking as soon as possible. It benefits no one—least of all you. And if you do find that you have a hater or two, you are probably doing something right, something different, and/or something progressive. Hold onto that. It’s your power. It’s what makes you, you.
January 1, 2018 does not have to be the day you make a resolution, a new goal, or changes to your routine. Turn the resolution tradition inside out. Take some time to figure out what motivates you. What makes your devotion click? What lights an inextinguishable spark that fuels you for months to come? Is it something you failed at before? Something you have never tried that remains elusive? Answer these questions and build the ideal springboard for yourself.
It’s January 1, 2018 and I have a confession to make. Friends are sharing their yearly miles and their Strava Year in Review. I had a sucky year in the miles department, very successful elsewhere, but I admit I am envious of those mile numbers… So, I will work to make it so for myself. My desire is my fuel. I bought a new Garmin that works as a Fitbit, measuring my runs and my cycling miles. I look forward to my 2018 Year in Review.
In conclusion, January 1, 2018 is simply a calendar date. Your date-of-measure (the day you begin to make changes, or the day you are expecting a certain outcome) could be today. Or, you can take the time to reflect, analyze, know yourself, figure out what works, what doesn’t, and test a few theories and be far more intentional with your direction and goals. Your date-of-measure can celebrate other great milestones in your life, or even honor another person. What matters most is that your direction and goals are tailored specifically to you and a personal awareness of where you want to go.
One of the best mantras I have adopted for myself is: Start where you are, do what you can, with what you have (Theodore Roosevelt). I am learning tremendous things from sprints and hill climbs and endurance rides. I have found segments for all of those near my home. I have found effective options in the gym, and I have seen first-hand how gym workouts can benefit the bike. There is a myriad of resources on YouTube for every question you can possibly have, not to mention the cycling groups you are already a part of, as resources. Build your bricolage: something constructed or created from a diverse range of available things. There is confidence, convenience and power in building something all your own.
May the road rise to meet you! See you on the road!