This Wednesday’s What-Not we’ll be looking at what it takes to make a great bike rider, among other things.
Reflect back upon those magical moments when one or both of your parents removed the training wheels from your bike. If you’re like me, learning to ride didn’t involve many safety features. I’m from a generation who risked life and limb, all for the pure pleasure of pedaling. We didn’t have safety helmets. We didn’t have reflective gear.
What we did have was mom and dad cheering us on, one parent running behind us, hands affixed to the rear bike seat as mom or dad guided us forward. Dad or mom would quietly lift away his or her guiding hand. Our front wheel wobbled back and forth before we got the hang of things. We might have fallen and scraped our knees. The key to riding well was we got back up and tried again, even if we were a bit banged up.
My first bike was purple with a banana seat. My dad ran behind me in our circular cul de sac. No sissy straight-aways for me. This five year old had to master the right hand turn, as our subdivision had a central, green grassy area – kind of like a park in the middle of our cul de sac, only without any playground material.
In order to handle all the curves, I needed to gain great balance. Balance took me awhile to achieve. Once I got it figured out, though, I flew like the wind. I could accelerate and stop as needed, all without losing my balance and falling over.
Balance is a critical component to cycling.
Balance is critical for more than staying upright as your peddles push you forward. Balance is critical in life. If you are an athlete, balance is critical in maintaining healthy relationships in the midst of your training schedule.
Many of you know my husband is a triathlete. He also coaches triathletes. But he is first a husband. I think this is the most valuable asset he brings to his clients, that he is first a husband. If a leader is to lead by example, Sam shows others the significance of the significant other. I love his philosophy, because it’s true. What’s his philosophy? His philosophy is to have a balanced life & training approach. If an athlete is training so much that he or she has no time for his or her family, there will be no one to cheer them on as they cross the race finish line. What’s the point of finishing something if there’s no one to celebrate with you?
I think his is a powerful philosophy. When you’re training for some of the distances that triathletes compete for, there is a serious amount of training involved. Countless hours of biking, running, swimming, and other cross training activities are necessary to maintain a high level of fitness and competition readiness.
If you are an athlete, I’m not suggesting you stop training. No. You probably love doing what you are doing, and that’s important. We need to have healthy outlets in our lives.
What I am suggesting is we all take stock of where we spend our time (athlete or no athlete), and how much time we give to each place and person we’re spending our time on. This doesn’t just apply to training schedules. Maybe you have a different hobby or endeavor you’re engaged in. The principle of balance applies in those areas as well.
I can honestly say my husband does an outstanding job maintaining balance and making me feel like a priority, even as he has trained for several IronMan competitions. For those of you that are not triathletes, that’s 140.6 combined miles of swim, bike, & run in one day. As you might imagine, that level of activity requires a significant training time investment.
Recently, I got to thinking about the importance of spreading this message about balance with others. I was prompted based on a Facebook post my husband wrote thanking me for “allowing” him to ride the Madison, WI IronMan bike course over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
While I appreciated his gratitude, to me, it was really no big deal to “let” him go ride the course. Honestly, it’s not because I’m some super sweet and understanding spouse. I can be nice, but not always! It felt easy to “let” Sam go up to the course and get some training in, because of all the ways he invests time in me when he’s not training.
The previous couple of days this past Fourth of July weekend, we spent bike riding together. I’m not Speedy Gonzalez, nor am I a triathlete, so it wasn’t as if Sam was getting some super sweat-soaked work out in as we rode together. Instead, we use our biking time as a way to connect and catch up with one another. I really enjoy the one-on-one time with him. The beautiful thing about riding together is there are no outside distractions. We leave our cell phones packed away and we explore trails together. Sometimes, it’s just quiet as we hear the whirring of our wheels as they crunch through the limestone trails. Other times, we talk and laugh with one another.
I don’t mind Sam’s training time away from me, because of moments like the above. There is never a question in my mind that I am his priority. Some of the fruit of Sam’s investment is his wife still thinks he’s sweet even when he has to train a lot.
I think another really practical way to achieve balance has come over time. Sam was patient and didn’t prod me into sharing his interests. Slowly, just by osmosis, I have gained an interest in running and biking. Swimming is for the birds, or fish, rather. I can’t yet embrace the swim. (I like to give Sam a glimmer of hope with the use of the word “yet”.)
If Sam would have forced the interest in all things triathlon, I would have balked. Sam kept encouraging me telling me I was going to run some day. I kept thinking, yeah, buddy – not so much. But Sam’s a smart guy. He planted a little seed here, a little seed there, here a seed, there a seed, everywhere a little seed until one day I thought, “ I have a great idea. I am going to become a runner.” Yeah, I’m full of great ideas!
One rainy, miserable March day I was spectating for an early ½ marathon Sam was competing in. It was freezing cold that gloomy day. When we got home from March O’Madness, I looked at Sam and said, “Let’s go so I can get sized & fit for some running shoes.” He looked at me a little dumb-founded. “Really,” he asked? “Really,” I said.
What’s the moral of this story? Plant seeds, and pray for rain to water them well. Who knows? Maybe your spouse or significant other will grow a desire to join you in all things triathlon. Training becomes much easier when your spouse understands a little of what you’re going through.
Until then, refer to the recommendation to invest more heavily in those you love than in what you love. You’ll be so glad you did as you cross the finish line to a multitude of family members and friends hugging and high-fiving you.
Is it difficult for you to maintain balance in your life?
If yes, what’s one practical step you can take toward achieving better balance?
Is there something your spouse or significant other is interested in that you can take an interest in as well?
Consider this an assignment. Go have some fun together.