Influence

My purpose in life is to Help Others Win.

If I’m not influencing someone in some positive way I get bored, and this is what has happened to my riding.  I’ve grown a bit bored.  I’m still riding, but not nearly as inspired.  In fact, I received an e-mail this week from one of you noting that my posts have dropped off and wondering if I was doing ok!  I’m muddling through but it hasn’t been easy.

“Leadership is Influence.”

– John Maxwell

This last week was interesting though.  I got the opportunity…well, FOUR opportunities actually, to help some friends win.  Four times I rode with a buddy whom, for one reason or another, had stopped riding, or needed someone to ride with them to keep them going.

  • Scott and I last rode together two years ago.  He introduced me to what has become one of my favorite routes.  Unfortunately, Scott’s holding down two jobs and has a wife and four kids – busy guy!
  • Steve and I have talked about riding together, but Steve doesn’t have a road bike and the schedules never seem to match up.
  • I learned that Ron was a rider because my daughter takes horseback riding lessons from his daughter.  I was spotted passing their house one day (on the route learned from Scott). Then I saw his bike, dust-covered and cob-webbed, hanging in his garage.  Ron’s wife invited me to contact him and “encourage” him to get started again (of course I did!).
  • Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 1.39.49 AMRiding with Dave was a complete act of providence.  He’s a client of our company and in the process of scheduling a testimonial video I mentioned riding and he invited me to bring my bike to the shoot.  What would you do?  Of COURSE I brought my bike and we had a great ride together (I then drove three hours home and rode with Ron)!

All of the guys had the same basic concerns… They weren’t ready for any great distance.  They would go to slow and “hold me up”.  They hadn’t ridden in so long, they would probably just frustrate me.

What a great joy to be able to ride with these guys!

In each case we took an easy pace and just enjoyed the time together.  Each trip was about 15 miles long, and completed in an hour (which was faster than most thought they would be riding).  We talked about what got us started on the bike and the value riding adds to life.  The added value for me was the opportunity to fulfill my purpose again.

“The people who influence you are the people who believe in you.”

– Henry Drummond

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Something Unexpected

On my Saturday ride I came across something totally unexpected…

(Evidently) the next generation of powered cycling has arrived – Hybrid Bicycles.  Have you seen these things?  They are absolutely ingenious, and in the right circumstances I am all for it!  I’ll explain that later, but first, let me tell you about the Giant Twist, Freedom I saw and the great man who rides it.

The mid-point of my Roanoke circuit is a gas station on US-24.  I don’t usually stop, but was a bit low on energy, so I pulled over for a Gatorade and rest.  While there an old-timer named Bud pulled in on a brand new Bicycle.  He gave me a warm smile and nod as he complimented my bike and entered the station.  I casually looked over his bike and upon his return asked about what I was seeing.

His bike is a 2013 Giant Twist Freedom; It’s a hybrid!

The Giant Twist Freedom.  Bud told me he had to get the Women's model because he can't get his leg over the bar anymore.  I told him he made a wise decision!

The Giant Twist Freedom. Bud told me he had to get the Women’s model because he can’t get his leg over the bar anymore. I told him he made a wise decision!

Bud explained that a hybrid bike has an electric motor with battery pack and speed control.  The motor doesn’t actually power the bike, it ASSISTS the rider.  He has two adult daughters that ride with him, and according to Bud, “They pass me easily on the flats, but on the hills I pass ’em then tell them to pick up the pace.”  I chuckled (remembering that immediately following this gas station are two of the more significant hills of this ride).

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The battery sits in the right pannier and the electric motor is in the front hub.

The bike has two panniers on the back, one being storage and the other a removable, rechargeable battery.  This battery feeds an electric motor built into the FRONT wheel hub.  That seemed an ingenious design to me.  On the left handlebar was a basic control with an LED indicating battery power and allowing Bud to choose one of three electric assist levels.  I noticed a gear shifter on the right handlebar but only a single rear gear.  The 7 speed cassette and derailleur are on the crankset.  Again… interesting design.

Bud volunteered that the bike retailed for $1,600 when he first saw it.  He made it clear he wanted the bike, but couldn’t afford that price.  Over the course of 6 months he waited them out and bought the bike for a little over $1,000.  Ah yes… under that wrinkled tan and John Deere hat is a shrewd wheeler-dealer.

I’m something of a cycling purist.

I’m not a fan of the recumbent bike (It’s a recliner people…with wheels!), or the motorized bike for that matter.  Some of you are too young to remember the motorized bicycle, but the premise was to put a small gas motor on a (somewhat) standard bike frame.  You would pedal the bike as normal, but at some point you could engage the motor, start it by pedaling, then simply allow the gas motor to power the bike for you.  I was never a big fan.  It seems to me if you’re going to pedal the bike to start the motor why not skip the effort?  Save your money and buy the moped!  (Again, for the young an explanation; a moped was THE scooter of the 80s and 90s… um, the NINETEEN 80s and 90s.)  However, I felt differently about the Hybrid bike.  Probably because it assists the rider, it doesn’t take over.  To me that’s the important part.  Cycling is, in some way, about the relationship between rider and cycle.

The Bottom Line…

IMG_5005

The LED/Controller gives Bud a read on battery level and a choice of Sport, Normal, or Eco levels of assistance.

Here’s the bottom line for me; the hybrid technology allows my friend Bud, an 80-something year old farmer whose wife of undetermined years passed away of cancer four years ago, to do something he enjoys with people he loves.  Without the assistance he wouldn’t be able to ride with his daughters.  The tears in those wisened eyes told me this was the most important part of his current life (and as a father of two daughters…I can relate).  In the end, that the most important thing isn’t it?

I left a few moments after Bud, and on the far side of the hills just past the gas station I saw something that made me smile.  A man wearing a John Deere hat riding a brand new bicycle.  I quickly overtook him and passed Bud on his hybrid bike.  As I passed he gave me that familiar nod and smile.  I simply asked, “Great day for a ride, eh Bud,” and closed with…

“Enjoy the Ride my friend!”

Check out the Giant Hybrid line of Bicycles

Context

When is a 12 mile ride as enjoyable as a 30 mile ride?

  • Happy RiderWhen your wife goes from the Dr. office to the ER to the 4th floor of the Hospital in a matter of 12 hours.
  • When you find out two days later that she has a football-sized mass in her abdomen and surgery is scheduled for the next day.
  • When you sit through that surgery watching a beautiful sun set on a warm day…from the waiting room couch of the hospital.
  • When you watch the next sunset from the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit.

It’s been a bit of a wild week.

One of those weeks you look back on and ask, “What happened?”  No one expects to hear the words, “It is probably cancer.”  Evidently, this week it was was our turn.  Everything changes with those words; schedules change, priorities change, time changes.  I entered last weekend watching the forecast and thinking, “Next week I’m gonna get a LOT of miles under the tires.”  Yeah… uh huh… It has been said, “Man plans and God laughs,” well, He was chuckling pretty good at me.

We started with the Dr. visit Monday (see point #1) and found a blood clot.  Wednesday morning we were told an ultrasound had found a mass (point #2).  Surgery was … when was the surgery?  Oh yeah, it was yesterday… um, I think that was Friday (Point #3).  Today was point #4.  By today I am exhausted, pent up, and just plain stir-crazy.  A friend of mine sent me some advice from her father-in-law, “go outside and take 10 deep breaths.”  Ah yes, the voice of wisdom.  I recognize that voice.

Mary was exhausted from visiting this morning and fell asleep.  My Chance!  I charged the phone, turned on MapMyRide, set up the tunes and hit the road quickly!  12 miles.  Technically, against my self-imposed minimum of 20 miles, but oh so enjoyable!

It’s all about context isn’t it?

My Constant CompanionIn the restaurant business they say the key to success is, “Location, location, location.” I guess the key to a great ride is, “Context, context, context.”  When I’m riding a lot of miles, a long, easy ride is beautiful!  When I am awash in life, a short ride, taken in a purposeful break in the action, can be absolutely gorgeous!

What’s the context of your life right now?  Is it perking along nicely?  A nice easy rhythm with lots of riding?  Or perhaps utter chaos…totally out of control?  Take a ride my friend.  Stop…breath…and hit the road (or trails).  I think you will find it time well spent.  I did.    Until next time…

…Enjoy the Ride!

Some Days are Like That

I woke up in a foul mood on Saturday.

Some days are like that.  My back was sore and I couldn’t sleep…on a morning when sleeping in was a possibility.  So I got up to do all that I had to do: a) skim coat the walls downstairs, b) mow the lawn (I hate mowing), and c) get in a ride before the rain came back.  I made breakfast for my girls and attacked the walls.  That went pretty well and the day began to warm up, so I decided to hit the bike before I mowed the lawn.  I figured I would rather give my best energy to riding rather then mowing.  (Who would agree to that?)  So about three o’clock I clipped in and took off down the road for a 30 mile ride.

Ever have one of those rides where it just doesn’t “feel right?”

Almost immediately I could sense that this could be a tough ride.  I just couldn’t quite sit right, I wasn’t comfortable.  I couldn’t get my right foot clipped in.  I found myself struggling into mile 3… THREE!  MapMyRide was all screwed up so I wasn’t being recorded.  I seriously thought about turning around, mowing the lawn, and just laying around for the rest of the evening.

Typical Rural Indiana RideBUT… that’s not what we do is it?  No, every rider I know tells themselves the exact same thing, “Just keep peddling.”  So I did, and the miles slid by.  The route I took starts with some good hills (for Indiana) and then flattens out in farm country.  The wind was generally in my favor and around mile 10 I started feeling a bit more relaxed and began to (moderately) enjoy the ride.  I noticed the deepening green of the grass, smell of the farms I passed along the way (I’ll let you determine whether or not that was enjoyable), and chuckled as the livestock quizzically watched me pass by.  I always wonder what is going through their mind.  What I imagine is often quite comical.

Things can change in a moment.

After crossing the steel bridge and ascending the hill I took the curve to the right and saw two horseback riders in the distance.  Robin and Katie StarksThis made me smile as I knew I would try to get a picture.  My girls love horses and, while I don’t ride them (my last ride was years ago on a horse named “Thunder” and that didn’t go so well), I do enjoy them.  The riders were gracious in stopping long enough for me to fumble around with my iPhone and get their picture.  We chatted a bit before I realized that I know these riders!  They are my friends Robin and Katie Stark!  We didn’t recognize each other in our helmets and (varieties of) riding gear!  That was great for a laugh and really changed the whole ride for me.  I’m not sure what it was, but something about being discovered on the road, and talking with them about the beautiful day for a ride (on horses or bicycles) infused me with energy.  The remaining 17 miles were really quite grand!

Cycling is a lot like life isn’t it?

Some days you get up and within a few hours… or minutes… you just want to turn around and call it quits.  But you know a couple things from experience; a) you can’t go back, you have to just keep going, and b) you never know what grand meeting might lay just around the bend.  Something always changes the day, the week, month or season of life.  The sun breaks the clouds and shines down upon you, a blessing arrives in the mail, a person pops into your day and says, “Hi!”  You would never discover that catalyst for change if you had given up and gone home.

In life, as in cycling, you have to “just keep pedaling.”

You never know what you may discover around the next bend or over the next hill.  You never know who will arrive to change your day, your month, your life.  You’ve got to just… keep… pedaling.  Until next time my friends, keep pedaling and…

Enjoy the ride!

Singing in the Rain

Ever felt the need to retreat?

The Definition of Retreat is…

(v.) “to withdraw or retire in the face of or from action with an enemy, either due to defeat or in order to adopt a more favourable position”

(n.) “a place to which one may retire for refuge, quiet, or a period of seclusion, esp for contemplation”

Some days life is just overwhelming.  You muddle through, you struggle on, you do all you can to “keep calm and carry on.”  At some point you know you need to do something productive, to accomplish something on your own terms, to demonstrate that no matter the adversity you have the moxie to make it through in grand style.  You want to raise your hands in triumph and yell, “I…HAVE… CONQUERED!”

Downtown Fort Wayne, East on Wayne Street.Tuesday night I had to just step back.  To find my retreat, my place of refuge and quiet.  I needed that time of seclusion and contemplation. But the weather was less than ideal; rainy and overcast with a chill breeze so it was off to the gym for me. I haven’t been to the gym in a while (still paying) so I slowly… who am I kidding, the proper word would be, “reluctantly,” made my way there after work.  In the parking lot it hit me, I don’t need to do something, I need to ACCOMPLISH something!  I don’t want to get this done, I want to full on CONQUER!  I pulled straight through the parking lot, donned my riding apparel and headed out for a 20 mile ride into the sunset over downtown Fort Wayne.

It was a glorious ride!

The pace was leisurely and I just loved the knowledge that I was one of only a handful of riders in all of Fort Wayne making the effort.  I was cold.  I was wet.  I was getting dirt all over the bike and up my back, but I was loving it.  By the time I hit downtown Fort Wayne the tunes were on and the lyrics were resonating through my mind…

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
And sooner or later it’s over
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s meant to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

(name that tune and that band)

At that moment, slowly cruising East on Wayne Street, I began to recognize that this was a special ride.  I could feel the freedom seeping into my bones.  From there it was the most enjoyable ride I’ve had in a long time (and if you read this blog at all you know that I really do love to ride).  By mile 15 I was beginning to sing quietly…

So much craziness surroundin’ me
So much goin’ on, it gets hard to breathe
When all my faith has gone, you bring it back to me
You make it real for me

When I’m not sure about my priorities
When I’ve lost site of where I’m meant to be
Like holy water washin’ over me
You make it real for me

(again, name that tune and that artist)

I could feel my stress melting away, each downstroke shedding it onto the sidewalk, each revolution of the wheels leaving it behind me.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been so physically relaxed on a ride, and I was beginning to wish I could ride on and on and on. When you find your freedom it is so very hard to relinquish.

By mile 18 I was full on singing…out loud…with earbuds in…yeah, you’ve heard it before.

I am alive in this moment
In this moment I am found
I am alive in this moment
In this moment I belong

(c’mon, one last time. name that tune and band)

__________________________

Sometimes the best thing you can do is retreat.  I don’t know that retreating is ever glorious.  To retreat you have to admit that in your own power you don’t have what it takes to be victorious.  You have to back off, lick your wounds a bit, consolidate your strength and recuperate.  Yeah, when the bike was back in the garage and the shoes in the closet again life came back with a vengeance.  It wasn’t shocking.  But I was stronger to face it because of my retreat.

I want to encourage you to retreat.

The world is full of picturesSlow down the pace of your riding for a day and just enjoy the rhythm.   Shut off the texts and e-mail.  Find your best tunes and either turn them up or turn them down.  Take a camera and notice all the great pictures around you.  More than anything allow yourself to be free, even for just a little while.  Trust me, you WILL dream something and it will be glorious!  If nothing else, and above all…

…Enjoy the ride!

Finding Passion

“If only everyone could be so lucky in life as to find that one thing that brings so much joy.”

These were the words with which my friend Erica greeted me in FB chat tonight.  She had just read my post Inaugural Weekend! and was struck by my utter happiness for riding again.  I’m not the fastest rider.  I’m not the greatest climber, and I definitely won’t ride as far as many, but I am a passionate rider!  Which is great, because…

Passion gives birth to Joy!

I’ve seen this so many times in life.  Find someone who knows their passion in life (and does something with it) and I will show you someone who experiences joy.  That joy may be fleeting, no one is exempt from the harsh realities of life… but passionate people know where and how to recuperate and revive.  They run to their point of passion!

“Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

What is your passion?  What activity energizes you, stirs your heart, forms the foundation of your dreams?  Is it Cycling?  Feeding the hungry or installing hot water heaters for widows? Proclaiming truth or raising a person’s competency?  Photography or assisting in the search for significance?  Pouring the perfect cup of coffee or serving an exquisite wine?  Making others laugh or consoling those who mourn?  It could be just about anything!  I provide this list because I know the people associated with these passions.  They are dynamic, life-changing people.

"Hello old friend.  We meet again." (Erica Guevara)

“Hello old friend. We meet again.” (Erica Guevara)

Erica’s passion is running.  Don’t ask me why, it is beyond my comprehension.  I have a very clear and well documented philosophy on running, “There is no reason to run unless you’re chasing it, or it’s chasing you.”  But for Erica running is…almost indescribable.  It’s been over a year since she has been out running (newborn triplets will do that) and she has truly missed it.  So, when she posted this picture on FB with the included caption I knew she was back out on the road!  And the Joy of getting back out there is something I can understand!

The point of all this is quite simple; find your passion and you will find Joy!  Without passion life is dull, a grainy black and white picture of nothing interesting at best.  But…

Pursue your passion and live again!

I leave you with these words from Erica, unpacking her personal experience:

“when i go for a run…i feel so connected to myself and who i am…who God made me to be…when i run i feel so close to God…He talks to me… i‘m sure that’s how you feel when riding…”

Yes my friend, that IS how I feel when I ride.  Until next time…

Enjoy the Ride!

Here We Go Again

This sounds like a challenge…and we all love a challenge, right? Why else are you riding if not (at some level) for the challenge! Why not join me in Endomondo’s National Bike Challenge?

Car-Free in the Christmas City

I wrote quite a bit last year about Endomondo’s National Bike Challenge. This year’s challenge begins May 1 and they upped the ante. Last year we wanted to hit 50,000 cyclists riding 10 million miles in four months. The result was 30+ thousand riders smashing to bits that 10 million mile marker. This year’s goal is 50,000 cyclists and 20 million miles in 5 months! We’re going to need the cyclists to make this one happen! Head on over and register. It’s really easy. Then all you do is track and log your miles. There are some really sweet prizes to be won as well. What are you waiting for?

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