Life Lessons Learned From Riding a Bike
Each time I take to the road on my bike, I learn something new about myself. Over the past two years, I’ve added to the life lessons learned from riding a bike. While most people see riding a bike as a fitness activity, I’ve come to see it as a profound teacher about LIFE.
Riding a bike or cycling as my more experienced friends call it, can be challenging. Learning to ride in various situations for 20+ miles at a time has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to accomplish more than I ever believed was possible for myself.
10 Life Lessons Learned from Riding a Bike
While riding a bike is a physical activity, the experiences provide great metaphors for living life in a new way. I’ve learned so many life lessons from riding a bike that I want to share.
I wrote about 10 Unexpected Benefits from Riding a Bike a couple of years ago. I’m still learning and my bike is still teaching me!
Whether you ride a bike or not—these are important lessons to live your own best life too.
I didn’t realize that riding a bike would teach me so much about life but it has and continues to each and every time I ride. Here are my favorite life lessons learned from riding a bike.
Get Comfortable with Discomfort
There are times when cycling, that you feel discomfort. This used to scare me and make me want to quit! My cycling mentor told me early on, that a huge part of cycling was managing discomfort.
There is a difference between discomfort and pain. Learning to handle some discomfort for longer periods of time, allows me to see more and spend more time out on the road on my bike.
In real life, being able to handle discomfort also allows me to experience and achieve more. Instead of quitting at the first sign of discomfort, I can push through and see what life is like on the other side.
For Every Uphill, there is a Downhill
In life, we often expect and want our lives to all feel great. Riding down a big hill is exhilarating, fun, and I never want it to end.
Yet, in life as in cycling, there are periods of life where we absolutely have to get ourselves up the hill!
When I roll along a road and see a hill up ahead, my first thought is that I can’t do it. My second thought is that I don’t want to do it.
These are reasonable thoughts since riding a bike up a hill IS hard work. Yet it’s always manageable. I feel such a sense of pride and amazement in myself when I crest a hill and see the view.
In our lives, it is often the “hills” we climb that teach us the most about ourselves. We gain competency and self-confidence by getting up a hill and seeing the other side.
Our lives will never be perpetually downhill. Yet, by pushing ourselves to get up the hills in our lives, we enjoy magnificent views, feel pride, get stronger, and eventually get to enjoy a downhill ride!
Find Your Tribe
After completing a tough ride yesterday, I commented to my partner, that as much as I like to ride, I really like the people I ride with.
To have a great ride, it’s important to be with people you trust and enjoy. That means being with people that are positive and that have my back. I also like people that challenge me to do my best on any ride.
My bike buddies do all that!
I realize that I also like the people in my everyday life to be like that too. If we surround ourselves with positive people that support us, who also challenge us to do our best, we get the most out of our life.
At times, I choose riders who are going a speed that is easy or comfortable. At other times, I ride with those that encourage me to speed up or go a little further.
And of course, if I’m having a rough ride, there is always someone that will slow down and make sure I am okay and stay with me until the end.
Look for that in your tribe!
Look Out for Others
There are a few riders in our group that are always looking out for the other riders.
They make sure every single rider is keeping up with the group. If someone is falling back, they will slow down and see if they simply need encouragement or if they need some actual help.
If someone isn’t feeling well, they will either call for help or slow down and make sure they get to a place where they can find help.
From them, I’ve learned how important it is to watch out for the other people in your life.
It’s so easy in life to be focused on our own journey that we miss signs that someone is slowing down or having some kind of problem.
They remind all the riders to drink water, to stay with the group, and to ride safely.
In cycling, these people always make sure everyone is keeping up or are getting help they need.
Everyone loves riding with them!
Know Your Limits but Learn to Push Them Safely
Cycling long distances has not come easily to me. I truly believe that my body likes to go slower than everyone else’s!
This weekend, I went for a 24-mile ride with my partner and my kids. I really struggled with the heat and not feeling good. It was discouraging.
The next day, I was scheduled for another ride, this time a 26-mile ride with hills. Up until the time I started pedaling, I was so tempted to skip the ride altogether. I just wasn’t sure if I could do it based on the day before.
Because of the ride the day before, I made some changes in what I ate in the morning and how I handled myself on the ride.
I made sure I drank more water, more regularly and I moderated my speed better. To my surprise, I had a much better ride and I was exhilarated after.
This second ride was much more difficult because of the hills. But because I had mentally and physically prepared myself better, I actually had a much better ride.
We all have limits at any given time. Yet, we can safely and incrementally push them in all areas of our lives. We don’t have to let one experience set our limits for good!
Don’t Go at it Alone
I often want to do things alone and it’s hard for me to ask for help. In cycling, you should never go alone because it’s just not safe.
So many things can happen on a ride that it is essential to ride with at least one other person.
For one thing, two people are more visible to cars and other vehicles! If you have a mechanical problem or a flat tire, it’s nice to have some help getting your bike fixed!
With a riding partner or group, you stay on track and rarely get lost. Other people can help you find your way.
Celebrate Your Wins
Every ride feels different and for each ride, I feel like I do something better or I learn something new.
For example, I may ride a few more miles than I did on a previous ride and that feels great. If I even get up and ride—that’s wonderful. I got to the top of a big hill, definitely a win.
When I handle my bike better or I shift gears smoothly, those are wins too. Riding a bike makes me so conscious of my body and the road in front of me. If I ride and my core is strong, then my hands and butt don’t hurt as much!
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
My partner can do multi-day rides that cover 150+ miles! I celebrate ANY ride that is over 20 miles.
If I only compared myself to him, I’d feel like crap about my riding. I’ve discovered that I must celebrate any improvement I make.
Another way to not compare, is to not compare how I look compared to others. Some riders are really fit and look better in their bike shorts than others.
It was a big deal to stop worrying about how I looked in my spandex bike clothes!
The important thing is that each rider is having their own experience and I am having mine. My journey, while often taken along with others, is still just my own and making comparisions is never helpful.
Don’t Let One Ride Define Cycling
I’ve learned not to define my biking experience by any one ride. Some rides are practically perfect.
The weather is nice, the company good, and my energy is high. Other rides turn out to be horrible. Most are somewhere in the middle.
Yet, for the most part, if one particular ride sucks, then we can look forward to another one. I have had glorious rides and I have had rides, where I was stuck by the side of the road, in 100-degree weather, with a broken bike.
However, I can’t say the riding always is bad or riding is always good. Just like life—there is always a combination of good and bad, comfortable and not-so-comfortable, and fun and miserable.
There’s Always Another Ride (Until There Isn’t)
Until the last ride, no matter what happens, there is always another ride. Of course, we don’t always know what is going to be our last ride, so we have to make the best of each ride we go on.
Riders quit riding for different reasons. While this could be a metaphor for death, it’s also the case that people quit riding because of injury, illness (theirs or a family member’s), or moving away from their riding buddies.
But no matter who you are, you will have your last ride. Make the best of it with these life lessons learned from riding a bike!
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Hi, I'm Sara and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having.