7 Lessons Biking 400-Miles Taught Me

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400. That’s how many miles I cycled last week. My mom and I biked across New York State with the annual Cycle the Erie Canal Tour. Buffalo to Albany. 400-miles. In eight days.

It was grueling, long and painful. But, we did it! There were plenty of times I wanted to quit and just stop pedaling.. My legs ached. My wrists hurt. I was exhausted physically. We kept going.

And not to mention the mental challenge of being in the middle of nowhere with just your bike, riding for hours. How do you keep your mind occupied for that long?

Despite how it might sound, it was actually a great experience. We visited little towns we otherwise never would have seen. We discovered a range of great bakeries and ice cream shops. Yum! We also accomplished something amazing. It’s not everyday you bike 400-miles.

This taxing mental and physical challenge taught me a lot about life in general and myself personally:

  1. You can do anything you set your mind to 
    I did a 190-mile pre-orientation ride along the Erie Canal Towpath my freshman year of college and ever since I’ve been determined to bike the entire path. Three years later, and two cancelled trips I finally did it.
  1. Make the decision and you can power through any obstacle in your path 
    Along our journey we hit some rough patches: slippery, muddy and sandy trails; steep hills; torrential downpours; thunderstorms; a bruised hand. But we made the decision to go all the way and not walk our bikes so that’s exactly what we did.
  1. Sometimes you fall, but you need to get up brush it off and continue on 
    On the forth day of the trip, in the last few miles to tent city in Syracuse, I fell bruised my hand and leg and scrapped my knee. It had been a rough day; an injury was the last thing I needed. Still, I got up brushed off the dirt, stuck a Band-Aid over my bleeding knee and pushed on.
  1. Trust yourself 
    I’m notoriously bad about trusting myself and tend to be a bit accident-prone. Trusting myself to make it through the sketchy patches of trail or up a steep hill is the only reason I made it through.
  1. SMART goals work people! 
    Goal: Bike 400-miles from Buffalo to Albany along the Erie Canal Towpath. Do it in eight days. Break it up to be about 50-miles per day. – It’s specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and we gave ourselves a time frame.
  1. Break your goals into smaller tasks 
    Everyday there was a set distance to ride and timeframe to do it in. We could stop whenever we wanted and ride at any pace we wanted. Breaking the ride into those smaller daily rides made the end goal seem achievable. It helps your brain wrap around what you need to do to succeed.
  1. Down hills are amazing 
    After the exhaustion of biking up that never-ending, 2-mile Canajoharie Hill, the thrill of wind in my face, speeding down the other side is amazing. Everything we threw at that hill was worth it on the other side.
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