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Monday, January 20, 2014

Cycling has parallels to life and offers a chance for teaching important life lessons

Cycling has parallels to life and offers a chance for teaching important life lessons
By:  Michael Lander
Cycling is one of many competitive sports, but for the majority of cyclists, like these on Mud
Island during the 2012 Bluff City Blues 100, it is something that they do for fun and/or
exercise.  Most cyclists, who ride in groups, and who participate in events like this, often
look out for one another, essentially working together as a team.

Life, in many ways, I think, can be just like a bike ride.  It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the parallels that exist between it and cycling.  I recently thought about this while I was on one of my bike rides.  Since then, I have come to believe that it is entirely possible that just about everything that I need to know about life, and about the world around me, (along with some very important life lessons), could easily come from the perspective of cycling or the vantage point of a bicycle.    

As with most bike rides, life in many ways is simply just a journey that each one of us get to take.  You never know exactly what you will end up seeing or experiencing and the road ahead can be very uncertain with many twists and turns along the way.  There are times when it will all seem extremely predictable, like you've done it a million times before, but at other times, it will feel very new and different to you and part of the thrill is in not knowing what will happen next.

Occasionally, you will also experience a little pain and a few problems along the way, too, but you can expect a little of this whether in life or while riding a bike.  In either case, it is best not to let this slow you down or stop you from riding, or from living, because, if you do, you just might miss out on seeing or experiencing something worthwhile just around the corner.

Cycling, as with life itself, is really meant to be enjoyed.  It is always good to take a little time out of your day to get away and to see the world and appreciate all the wonderment and beauty that is in it.

Also, through cycling, as in life, you can come to a greater appreciation of those around you.  If you ever ride with others, you learn about working as a team, having someone there to occasionally guide you, to point out hazards along the way, and who will let you draft behind them when you are tired, doing the same for them whenever you can.  Through this you come to understand the benefits of working together with others and looking out on one another's behalf.  How much better would this world be if the rest of the world did this in their lives?

It is through cycling, too, that you can find a way to help others in need, which can be one of the most gratifying experiences that you can ever have in your life.  Riding for charitable causes are certainly one of the best ways to do this and, through it, you get the satisfaction of doing something that will benefit others while improving your own health as well.

While it is often a good idea to protect yourself from danger, watching out and paying attention to the road signs ahead, taking precautions and minimizing any unnecessary risks that are out there, this should not prevent you from living or from enjoying a good bike ride either.  Life is meant to be lived and every now and then it is necessary to take some calculated risks since success and happiness are sometimes only found when you are willing to do just that.

With cycling, as in life, you can also sometimes feel like you are being pushed to your limits and that is not necessarily always a bad thing either.  Progress, improvement, and growth often only comes when you are forced to meet or exceed your limitations.  You must, however, always be sure to take care of yourself with adequate rest, nutrition, etc.  No one is ever served by anything that negatively impacts you and your ability and performance, long-term.

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, there are times when you will still experience disappointments and failures regardless of how hard that you try.  It is during these periods that you need to seek some inspiration, motivation and help from others.  Like on any ride, there are some parts that are easy and fun and some that are not, but you often get more from the tougher and more challenging parts, so try to learn and grow from all of these.  And if or when you fall, you should do your best to brush yourself off and to get back up and ride again, since failure only comes when you surrender.

For success in life, and in cycling, you must come to value hard work and training and try not to sweat the small stuff.  Focus instead on the important things and on what really matters.  The finish line for any race may be your ultimate goal, but in the end, what is most important is that you just did the ride and that you enjoyed yourself along the way.

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