Riding Lessons


Throughout my years of riding, during which I’ve covered thousands of miles, I’ve had a lot of time for thinking and contemplation.  And I’ve discovered that you can learn a lot about life from riding a bike.  The following is a list of lessons I’ve learned, and they apply equally to both riding a bike and life.  At the present time the list contains one lesson for each year of my age.  But it’s not comprehensive because, hopefully, I haven’t stopped learning.  So I may add to it from time to time.  But for now, in no particular order, these are some of the things I’ve learned so far from behind my handlebars.

  • You can’t finish a ride if you don’t start it.  Just get on and start pedaling.  It’s not complex.  Everything else are only details.
  • Riding a bike is freeing and fun.  Life should be too.
  • You can’t relax your way to happiness.  Don’t sit too much. Get out and ride.
  • Look up while you’re riding and see the scenery. You might be surprised by the beauty that surrounds you.
  • You can’t fully know what it’s like to ride a bike by being told about it by someone else. It must be experienced.
  • Everyone rides at their own pace. Go as fast or as slow as you want to go. It doesn’t matter how quickly you get there as long as you arrive.
  • If you don’t occasionally push yourself you may never know how far or how fast you can ride.
  • Preparation is important. Check your bike and yourself before you go.
  • Take care of your bike and equipment.  A little preventative maintenance now is easier than a major repair later.   Treat your health the same way.
  • Don’t judge other riders who you meet along the way. You don’t know how far they’ve already ridden or how much farther they have to ride.
  • Finding your passion is important. Riding a bike might help you find it faster.
  • When riding on a tandem or with someone else, pick your partner well.
  • Don’t be afraid to be alone. There can be value in a solitary ride.
  • You will encounter bumps and obstacles along your route, but you can choose how to react to them. Your choice will determine their importance.
  • On a long distance ride, a consistent moderate pace outperforms short term sprints.
  • You don’t have to ride straight through. Split long routes into shorter distances.
  • Take breaks along the way. Rest is more important than you think.
  • Sometimes you have to get off your bike and walk, and that’s alright.
  • Be cautious, but not overly so. Sometimes fear and hesitation can prevent a crash. But at other times they can cause one.
  • Sunrises are worth savoring, so get up and ride early more often.  And then make the most of your day.
  • Enjoy your bike the way you did when you were a kid. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you.
  • When looking down the road, focus on where you want to ride and not on the things you want to avoid.
  • Unless you’re riding in a race, don’t compare yourself to other riders. There will always be others who are better and others who are worse. Know that they don’t define you.
  • When you are riding in a race, win without boasting and lose without excuses.
  • A smile usually goes a long way, both on and off a bike. But when you smile while riding, watch out for bugs.
  • You will not get healthy by riding a bike. It helps, but good health requires a more comprehensive approach.
  • Some things, like the weather, are not under your control. But bad weather doesn’t need to ruin your ride. It can be tamed mentally. Only attempt to control what you can.
  • Sometimes riding an uncharted path leads to surprises and delights you may not have discovered otherwise.
  • However good or bad a bike route is, it will change.  So practice patience.
  • If you really want to ride, you’ll find time for it.
  • Give yourself time to become familiar with new terrain.
  • It is okay you want to ride around the world.  But it’s also okay if you don’t. There are lots of places to ride locally.
  • Everyone gets lost once in a while. Stop and ask for directions.
  • Every ride is different. Value the variety when riding, and in life.
  • Value the hard work you put in on the uphill climbs, and enjoy the rewards on the downhills that always follow.
  • Just because you can ride more doesn’t necessarily mean that you should ride more.  Moderation can be vital.
  • Use common sense. If you value your brain, wear a helmet. If you don’t value your brain, wear one anyway.
  • Worrying is like riding a stationary bike. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
  • You don’t have to keep track of your mileage. Not everything that can be counted matters, and not everything that matters can be counted.
  • When you get to the furthest distance away you’re only half finished if you still have to ride back.  So pace yourself and know your own limits.
  • Needing help is not shameful. Just ask. You may be surprised by what you receive.
  • When you see other riders on the side of the road who look like they need help, stop and offer.
  • The destination is just a tiny portion of the ride, so don’t get ahead of yourself. Pay more attention to where you are and less on where you want to be.
  • You’ll get out of a ride what you put into it.
  • If you pedaled as hard as you could, be satisfied with the effort even if you didn’t ride as far as you had planned.
  • Being physically unable to continue riding and giving up are two different things. Learn the difference.
  • Don’t be afraid of the quiet, interrupted by just the sound of your breathing and the wind rushing by. Enjoy the silence. There is too much noise in the world.
  • Be ready for what may happen and plan ahead.  Before you have a flat, practice changing your tires.
  • A good bike doesn’t always need to be expensive. Appreciate and make do with what you have.
  • Regardless of their experience level, everyone has something to teach you.
  • Deferring your happiness until the future is a terrible idea. Some rides don’t last for as long as you plan.
  • Bad things sometimes happen to good riders, and the odds are that at some point you will crash. Your actions can either mitigate what happens or make things worse.  Just do the best you can, and then accept the outcome.
  • If you crash, get back up and start peddling again.

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