Five Things I Learned on the Bike

It’s the Tuesday following Pedal The Plains, and I have a terrible hangover. Not the kind of hangover you’re thinking, but the one where I realize it will be nearly a year before I get the chance to participate in this amazing event again. In a desperate attempt to cope with my comedown – and as an opportunity to relive my phenomenal weekend – I present a few things I learned on the bike this year.

The human body is amazingly resilient. I think certain people are scared of Pedal The Plains simply because it’s a three-day ride. They know they could conceivably ride 150 miles, but can they do it over three successive days? It’s one thing to put in a sixty-miler, and something else to put in another seventy the following day. But you’ll learn on Pedal The Plains that your body can do so much more than you give it credit for. Oh, and age is just a number. This year’s oldest participant was 89. Eighty-nine years old! And you think you’re not capable? Get on the bike, my friend. You can absolutely do this.

Training is everything. We opted to ride the century on Saturday this year – even though we were really worried about the 71 miles the following day – and I am so glad we did. The hours and hours that I logged on my bike through the spring and summer allowed me to recover better and not feel too rough on Sunday morning. And on Monday? I was amazed at how good I felt, and so much of that is due to eating right, hydrating well, and spending lots of time in the saddle this year. As I mentioned above, the human body is wonderfully resilient, but you have to treat it properly, too.

Cycling is relatively cheap therapy. This past year has been by far the hardest of my life, and while I know I’ll face other challenges in the future, right now I can’t really see much beyond the swamp of grief and pain that I’m swimming in. But on the bike, as I mentioned in one of my early posts, is the only time my body is moving but my mind is still – and it’s such refreshing bliss for me. It is literally impossible for me to be unhappy on the bike, even when I’m slogging through a ten-mile uphill stretch into a snappy headwind. Long rides are the perfect time to get your thoughts in order, and to rehearse difficult speeches you know you have to make.

Social media isn’t always evil. I am an avowed Luddite, and use social media and technology in the most minimal way possible. That said, I wanted to be part of this year’s social media scavenger hunt, so during Sunday’s ride I spent a bit of time taking interesting and funny photos, and posting them to Twitter. And guess what? I won a great prize, and was thrilled to be a little more active in promoting the ride.

Amazing ride volunteers. Thank you!

Amazing ride volunteers. Thank you!

People are generally good. We’re surrounded by a lot of negativity, and much of it focuses on bad people who do bad things. On Pedal The Plains, however, you find out quickly that people are generally good. From the incredible volunteers staffing aid stations in the blazing sun, to the people waving at us in the towns as we rode by, to the lovely homestay hosts who opened their houses to us, there are so many good people involved in this event. It is a pleasure to be surrounded by such generous spirits.

Above all else, a huge, heartfelt thank-you to everyone who makes Pedal The Plains what it is. Volunteers, staff, medics, emergency personnel, fellow riders, and all the wonderful, generous people in the towns we visited – THANK YOU! You made this weekend so special, and we’re so grateful for you. Thanks to Osprey for a wonderful scavenger hunt prize! Big thanks also to Linda and Richard Jensen in Fowler, and Chris and Kenny Casper in La Junta for opening their homes to us. And a special thanks to Pedal The Plains for choosing me as a Plain Pedaler this year; it was an honor and a pleasure. Can’t wait to see you all next year!

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By Elizabeth - 2016 Plain Pedaler

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