Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change-
The first step on this “journey” of mine, was simply getting to know myself once again.
Before I competed in my first Gravel Worlds, I focused on “building strength” and training for the rigors of a 150+ miles gravel ride. A little over three years ago, I was struggling post surgery to get back into my cycling groove, needless to say I felt rather unprepared and woefully out-of-place. The week leading up to the chilly predawn start just outside Lincoln, Nebraska, I tried to imagine all the possible situations and challenges I could, and would encounter, and the associated mindset(s) I needed to adapt to them. I did not realize during the moment, that in doing so, I inadvertently found myself focusing on my true inner weaknesses – on the things that I need to improve, and on the behaviors that have eluded me for so long, that I pushed aside to compete, that did not come naturally to me … Anymore. Shortly after an early August rain shower, and two punctures, I quickly realized that I can allow myself to feel confident about my ability to deal with what the road had in store for me, for my life. Albeit not the strengths the stereotypical Lycra clad/carbon fiber cyclist, a little smile here and there, and a deeply rooted sense of humor kept two wheels up and spinning along into the evening.
Quiet simply, being yourself, being authentic – Is pretty inspiring!
Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm-
It is extremely difficult to discuss failure, especially for someone like myself.
Take a look around this morning – A lot of folks like to boast about their weekend triumphs. Raising my hand, I fully admit that I more comfortable talking about where I excel, rather than identifying any potential weaknesses I may have. Primarily – Navigation and attention to the provided cue sheets. Luckily these guys helped me out a bit:
150+ miles on the harshest of open roads is relatively “easy“. Failure on the other hand, is a painful and powerful experience. It’s not easy getting lost around Waverly, Nebraska. Making the conscious decision to swallow my pride and limp back to the starting point – Off course. However, being open and accepting of the moment allowed me to build an even stronger foundation, for the next time out – Omaha Jackrabbit!
In the moment, it may not seem like it, although each time we encounter a setback during a ride or “whatever” in life … We are that much closer to doing it right the next go around.
I would like to thank my friend Scott for sharing his inspiring photos from Saturday – Thank You! For more pics of the Gravel Worlds, please click HERE.
When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun-
Here’s to good ole’ Americana, caring friends + family, and Gravel Riding! Take care and have an amazing weekend!
Shine your soul with the same
egoless humility as the rainbow
and no matter where you go
in this world or the next,
love will find you, attend you, and bless you-
Here’s the real deal folks, when ever I hear that I should do “something”, my resistance ramps up. For example, as a child, when I was told I had to practice my hand writing (Catholic schooling – go figure), Guess what happened? I never wanted to, and I have the scars to prove it! It should come as no surprise, that when I was introduced to how wonderful yoga and mindfulness are … I threw up my defenses and prepared for a fight.
Although, “something” keeps pulling me back to center. I have studied enough texts, read many more books, attended enough workshops (not in Bulgaria though … ), and practiced enough to know that mindfulness and yoga help(s). However, yoga and mindfulness are not the magical cure-all to every challenge we face in life.
I fell prey at the Gravel Worlds one hot breezy day last August to one particular mindfulness practice notion – That by practicing mindfulness you will magically and instantly feel relaxed – Chill. That may happen, although as I learned, the hard way, most likely it will not. By simply smiling and being fully open to the present moment, is truly what matters. I don’t practice meditation to get better at meditation. I practice meditation to wake up to this beautiful world. Think about this for a moment please … Don’t practice to get better, simply be you.
Registering for a 150+ mile gravel ride and participating in a 150+ gravel ride are two different things. I lamented: I think, I’ll take a week off of meditating and practicing yoga leading up to the race, sort of like I used to say I’d taper my training and “carbo load” (<— whatever this is), the week prior to the event. What I found out was, the conditions of my environment did not have to be perfect, that it’s fine to practice informally, and for a blonde haired dude like myself – on a complete whim, even right now. I didn’t have to taper and load to have a good ride, and I certainly don’t have to wait until I have a spare 22 minutes during the day to practice mindfulness and yoga.
What if I’m not doing it right? I don’t feel a lot of warmth and kindness toward myself right now. I’m trying to fabricate and generate all this good will toward myself and, and … Damn it! I’m just not feeling it! Sounds familiar huh?
Artificial, fleeting feelings of self-love by trying to stay positive, race day pep talks … Dear readers, after all the abuse and pain I have subjected myself to, I have arrived to the conclusion that – It’s enough to simply have the intention to be kind to your self, simply being in the present moment, no matter what may happen next.
Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation-
By obeying our iGadget, our self-imposed deadlines, our rigorous training plans, our insatiable lust for material — and carrying the burden of the “stress” involved with each action — What gets missed during our daily lives?
What’s at risk, for me, when performance is my “goal” and “wasted” time my mortal enemy? The very real and tangible consequence of inattention. My single-mindedness points me on target, completing “whatever” task, although my friends, single-mindedness it’s a narrow path to walk on. Single-mindedness speeds by our own insights and imaginings, the many creative ideas we have that never see the warm light of day. Single-mindedness refuses detours or slowdowns to hear someone’s distress or requests – mainly our own bodies screaming for attention.
Being beholden to everything but our true selves, puts our own well-being at risk, and at what cost do we obey the tyranny of time? Performance and wasted time nearly killed me last year during the Gravel Worlds. My inattention to the beautiful and inspiring scenery led me down a dark path, not this year!