A great year about to end. Another year of opportunities ahead!
As I look back on 2023, I’m proud of a bicycle ride I did earlier this year along with my dear friend #RajeshWhig in Wichita Falls, TX called the Hotter ‘N Hell ride. This year it was hotter than hell as the heat index hovered between 104F and 112F (40C-44C) for the latter half of the 100-mile ride. BUT, I finished this year’s ride around an hour quicker than the same ride last year in cooler conditions. Introspecting what I did differently this year boiled down to a few basic life skills that if applied to your daily life can make a difference to you.
Planning and Preparation
I studied the route, distances between rest stops, wind direction, and other aspects of the ride and planned the cadence/speed of different segments to balance out the distance covered, and energy spent. Overindulgence or underindulgence can lead to a breakdown of your body vitals so I made sure I had the right nutrition and hydration before and during the ride. You don’t just hop on a bike one day and ride 100 miles. I spent a few weeks training to prepare me for the long haul.
Getting a bird’s eye view of the journey you are about to embark on in life, studying and analyzing the details along the way, and then planning how best to navigate the road ahead is key to reaching your destination in the most direct and optimal manner.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Around 40 miles in, we hit about a 10-mile segment of chipseal road (a tarred road made up of crushed stone) with strong headwinds that knocked the wind and rattled every ounce of energy out of me. This was at a point where I had planned on riding 25 miles non-stop. Given my physical state at the time, I had to bite my pride and change to a shorter distance so I could recoup and hit the next segment strong.
Life is full of twists and turns. Being ready to adapt to unexpected conditions or flexible to alter your plan, even if it comes at the price of your pride, will more likely than not result in you achieving a goal in a better state than if you had not adapted and changed course.
On a long, hot ride, time management is critical to finishing your ride while staying safe and healthy. How fast you ride at different time segments in the ride influences how hot you get and how much energy you spend. How long you stop at rest stops to cool down governs how ‘cold’ your muscles get. How many miles you ride non-stop between rest breaks determines where your endurance may break down. Thinking through and managing the ‘time’ aspect of all such factors is one of the primary reasons I was able to pace my end-to-end ride to finish an hour earlier than the year before.
In day-to-day life, time management helps you balance various responsibilities alongside leisure activities to foster a more fulfilling and healthy life experience.
Mental Strength and Resilience
Completing a 100-mile ride in extreme heat is not easily done without mental strength and a resilient attitude. There are points in time where I came to pretty much a crawl or hit a wave of dizziness. Yes, I did adapt strategies and manage the hydration and nutrition aspects of my ride, but every so often, I’d hit that mental wall that blocked me from moving ahead. It’s at these points in time where the mental strength and conviction of self-capability along with a resilient drive to finish the ride, took over and helped scale the imaginary wall.
We live in a world where stress, duress, impediments, challenges, and the unknown are a part of life. Conditioning yourself to deal with these adversarial conditions with strength, focus, and determination are keys to sustenance and success.
Support and Community
Rajesh and I rode at different speeds and so for the most part we rode solo. However, every once in a while, we’d pass each other or meet up at a rest stop. So, though we were sort of riding solo, the knowledge that the other one was out there riding somewhat alongside me and the few encouragement-laden meetups we had, made all the difference in the world for both of us. We ended up finishing within a few minutes of each other with a ‘togetherness’ feeling of comradeship like none other.
You don’t live life alone. There is always someone out there who influences, supports, helps, or guides you. And I’m sure there is someone out there who looks at you as their influencer, support, or guide. Building that network and nurturing relationships with the people around you will more than provide you with the necessary motivation, emotional well-being, and support structure for success.
A 100-mile ride in sweltering temperatures is more than a physical endeavor. It’s a journey that depends on a variety of life skills. However, each of these skills extends beyond the realm of cycling. So, whether you are braving the heat on two wheels or facing life’s challenges, preparation and planning, adaptability and flexibility, time management, developing mental strength and resilience, and leveraging support and community, are foundational for your success.