To celebrate the start of the TransContinental Race, taking riders all the way from Belgium to Greece in a self-supported race through some of the most beautiful and challenging riding on earth, we have asked our long distance specialist friends to tell us what lessons they have learnt from racing and riding.
Long distance racing is an intense adventure that mirrors, in the short term, some of the challenges will all face in life. Great joy is accompanied with anxiety and discomfort, it’s beautiful but there isn’t always time to stop and smell the roses. Our FINDRA ambassadors know what they do is extraordinary but they live normal lives too.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my adventures is that the things I’m scared of never seem so scary in hindsight – in fact, I often wonder what all the fuss was about! That hasn’t stopped me feeling frightened – I often set out on an adventure terrified of what might lie in store, but I know from past experience that if I just face up to my fears, and carry on straight through them, I’ll feel much better on the other side. And this extends to real life as well. Every year I feel a yawning sense of dread as I contemplate my tax return – and every year, without fail, it turns out to be very straightforward and satisfying, once I actually get down to it.
Emily sets out to complete the TransContinental Race for a second time in 2017. A fan of cycling through the most extreme of conditions in Alaska and Iceland, this trip is going to be a delight
It’s very rarely easy, the trail or life. Never really smooth, we seek flow, evolving through life, finding our own paths and climbing our own mountains literally or metaphorically. Sometimes we’re high, soaring emotionally above the world and its problems but sometimes we’re low consumed by the drudgery of ‘normal’ life.
It’s like riding a bike -when the going’s good it’s perfect, when the going’s bad it’s tough as hell.
But the similarities don’t end there. They’re both doable, we find our way, navigate through, sometimes with style and grace and sometimes with brute force and ignorance. Either way, we must always move forward.
Rickie has recently completed the TransAtlantic bike race down the coast of Ireland and is preparing for her next big adventure
I think the biggest lesson for me on the Tour Divide was to know when to let go, stop fighting and accept help. Striving and battling are great characteristics in bike racers but it helps to know when you’re hemorrhaging so much energy keeping going that you are failing to move forwards! There’s always tomorrow.
After taking her own advice on the Tour Divide, Lee is having the time of her life adventuring in Peru.
I always feel like the races I do teach me an awful lot about life in a very short time. I don’t like failure and often only attempt things that I think are achievable for me. This year I had to scratch the TransAtlanticWay race after I acquired a repetitive strain injury. At first I thought “Shit! I failed, that’s embarrassing!”. Naturally, I was disappointed with my performance but then I realised that I was still happy that I went out there and gave it a bash. But would I have given it a bash if I had known that I would fail? No! But luckily we can’t look into the future! So I have learned that if we are given the chance to try something that we might not be able to do, we should still give it a go!
Since then I have worked very hard on recovering from my injury and making sure it won’t happen again, and now, although my injury is still not fully healed up I’ll be on the start line of my next race, the Transcontinental race. I’ll give it a bash and see what happens. I know it will be fun even if I can’t complete it.
I continue to be amazed by the life lessons I learn in adventures – they always seem to come at a time when I need them. My first big lesson on my first big adventure was a good one that’s really stuck with me in every aspect of life: “never quit while you’re crying”. In the middle of a crisis, it can seem unsolvable, but chances are you just haven’t eaten/slept enough, and once you take a time out to collect yourself you will usually find that you can figure this out. (Secondary to that is “never make a big decision when you’re hungry/tired/bleeding”… but that might just be me). My other one is fairly cliche, yet took me a long time to really learn, and that is “believe in yourself”. It’s no one else’s job to believe in you, so be prepared to be your own cheerleader sometimes. Especially when you’re attempting something really gnarly and – from an outsider’s perspective – crazy, it’s common to hear a lot of negativity from those who don’t think your challenge is possible, so you have to be resilient to external sources and maintain your belief in your success. Just remember to eat, sleep, breathe… you got this!
Jenny takes on the TransContinental Race for the first time in 2017, she’s a veteran of long distance adventures and totally has this!
That sometimes it’s ok not to have a plan and to just see where the day takes you.
It took me a few long bike trips to stop worrying about exactly where we were going to sleep or how far we were going to ride that day and to just enjoy finding out what the day had in store. Things tend to work out ok even if they weren’t exactly what you expected.
When something looks a bit too tough and overwhelming, just concentrate on the first little bit and start by trying to achieve that. I’ve found this on big trips where you can’t picture getting up and riding your bike every day for the next X weeks or you can’t imagine getting all the way across a continent. But it’s very true for life too.
Marion is about to travel to Mongolia for a month riding through Mongolia, China, Russia and ……. With her husband Ed. You can check out their adventures at www.welovemountains.net/
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