Last month I rode in
The Last Gasp, a 60-mile bike ride across Cape Cod, MA to raise money for various charities. I trained for months. I ate well. I was ready.
On the morning of the ride, the sky threatened rain, but the sun fought hard to shine through. It was hot, especially for mid-September. The 300 riders were gathered, tires inflated, back pockets filled with Gu, and after singing the national anthem as a group, we were off.
My legs felt strong, the humidity loosening my muscles, not to mention a slight push from a gentle tailwind. The gaggle of cyclists thinned out with each mile, speedier riders eating up the distance faster. The first rest stop at mile 23 came quickly. After eating half a PB&J I was back on the road.
Folks along the route—Cape Codders with an interest in the charities as well as members of the community—cheered us on, bringing me back to the road. You see your mind wanders on long bike rides as the miles collect beneath you. Past experiences, long lost friends, and ideas for better, more comfortable bike seats pop into your head as cars whiz by, some too close for comfort.
I glided into the second rest stop at mile 43 still energized. Gulped down some blue Gatorade, a banana and was off. This last stretch was rolling hills and that tailwind was now a headwind. My legs stared to tire. I thought about stopping. I thought about thumbing it. I thought about my couch.
That’s when I saw people up ahead on the side of the road. Soon I was upon them, a father and three toddlers holding colorful signs. “Thanks for riding for my mommy!” read one sign, written in the scrawl of a child. That’s all it took. Like a shot of adrenaline, my muscles felt rejuvenated. That little bit of encouragement, that little reminder of why I was putting myself to this grueling test, was huge.
Like a coach yelling, “You can do it!” from the sideline, a teacher writing “Good work” on your English paper, or the simple words of a child, a little encouragement is sometimes all it takes to reach your goal.