Ridin' in Iowa
I had just picked my Dad up from the Oakland airport. It was the day before Thanksgiving 2008 and we were en route to Redding some 3 hours away. As my Dad squirmed uncomfortably in the passenger seat of my Mini Cooper he said to me, “I’d like to ride my bike across Iowa. I heard about this organized ride that goes from the west side of the state to the east. It’s only 500 miles. I think it would be a nice thing to do. What better way to see Iowa, and it’s flat all the way. How hard can it be?” I said… great idea Dad, if you start training now you should be ready to do the ride by next year. Dad said… “Next year, I want to do it this July.” I’m not sure if I actually laughed out loud but I know I did in my head. I thought, he had completely lost his mind. My Dad, in his early 70’s is very fit and very tough, but not a cyclist. He owns a bike but it’s a cute little 40 lb bike built for riding to do errands around town. Certainly not meant to ride across an entire state. All I could say was… Dad, I really think you’ll need more time to train for this event. 500 miles with 7 days of riding and camping along the way is a long week. It’s not as easy as you think and by the way, Iowa is not entirely flat! Not by any stretch of the imagination!
In spite of almost zero training, in July 2009 we did the ride across Iowa, Ragbrai as it’s called. My Dad, Paula and Me. I went to keep an eye on them, as I was the only one with a clue as to what we were getting into. After the first day, both D & P were praying that the following days would be easier. They were not, there were lots more hills and rain and wind but they took it one day at a time and were thankful to see the end of each day.
In the end they both pulled it out. Failure was simply not an option for those two. They had a goal and they made it happen. It was amazing and I was incredibly proud to see them finish every day leading them closer to the end of the ride and to the reaching their massive goal.
My point – You can do anything you set your mind to. That was made clear to me in Iowa that July. We’ve all heard impressive stories of things people have done. Why not see what you can do?
Shakin' it up in Iowa
Routines are good. We all need some structure in our lives. However, keeping to the same old routine becomes boring and eventually stalls your fitness. Getting outside of your world or comfort zone can be exciting, stimulating and even frightening.
As part of your effort to have an amazing 2011, I propose that each of us tries something new at least once a week. It can be a new food that you’d otherwise pass up (like the okra curry recipe I’ll post tomorrow), asking someone to get together who you might otherwise dismiss. Go trampolining, get a new hairstyle, buy a sexy plaid workout top rather than the usual solid. Why not go for a ride on 40 lb cruiser bike instead of that carbon fiber racer you covet. Believe me you’ll get a workout!
Challenges don’t have to be big they just have to be something you wouldn’t normally do. Something that will take some effort and maybe some guts.
Here are some examples.
- While waiting for my friends on the street the other night, I let a scruffy man with a golf club sing me a song. When he approached me I didn’t look away or get angry. I stood there, let him sing his strange song, I smiled, shook his hand and give him a dollar (sure I wanted to rush home and scrub my hand but I remained calm). I did something a little frightening, but something good. (Fortunately, he used his club to illustrate his song rather than smash me over the head with.)
- My friend Mo just signed up for 2 weeks of early morning yoga classes. She’s normally the high speed, marathon runner, bike racer type. Now, one day into her yoga challenge, she’s not convinced it was her best move, but that’s the challenge. She’ll end up crushing the yoga class, but she doesn’t know that yet.
- Normally I don’t eat much red meat especially meats that seem more like pets than dinner. Rabbit, lamb, veal. But a few weeks ago I had some lamb. Initially I panicked when my date ordered it and immediately started working on my escape plan. Instead I dug deep and give it a try. In the end I didn’t like the lamb one bit, but I tried it and I learned not to do that again.
- The big one. Last summer I rode my bike the entire length of Iowa with my Dad and Paula. It was completely insane as we had not trained for the almost 500 mile ride. However, we all survived and the experience was beyond amazing! We learned that in fact there are no limits to what you can do.
The point I am attempting to get across is that when you challenge yourself you end up surprising yourself. You learn things, you meet new people and you find out what you’re made of. The confidence you gain encourages you to keep trying more and more, new and exciting things. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…it’s all about the stories. In the end all you have are your stories so go out and stir things up!