Posted by: Kara
It is hard to believe that this summer is coming to a close. Our week in Brockton has been full of joy: Reverend Montjane opened the Pearl Street United Methodist Church to us, we hosted a successful Climate Emergency Meeting and Green Forum during which community members discussed ways to plan a 10/10/10 event, and we attended a wonderful service at the nearby Temple Beth Emunah.
As I think back on this summer, I realize I have come to relish our long bike rides from town to town. I was not a cyclist before this trip. If you had told me two months ago that I could bike 100 miles in two days, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you had told me that for 50 of those 100 miles I would be pulling a 60-pound trailer, I would not have believed you. But that’s exactly what my teammates and I did.
I have started to draw many parallels between the challenges of a bike ride and the challenges we all face in our daily lives. Here are some of the most key lessons that biking has taught me.
Lesson 1: The key to overcoming any obstacle is to take it one step—one pedal—at a time.
Lesson 2: Prepare. Flat tires only stop you if you don’t have the right patch kits.
Lesson 3: Challenges—like hills—seem the most daunting when you are far away and fearful. They become significantly less steep the closer you get and the more momentum you build up.
Lesson 4: Bring friends. Not only will they provide you with laughs, but you can switch trailers with them when you get too tired and worn out.
Lesson 5: Exercise. It clears your mind. And endorphins are pretty great.
Lesson 6: Do not be afraid to ask strangers for help. We are all human; strangers have a propensity to become friends faster than you may think.
Lesson 7: Sing songs. (Preferably, but not necessarily, in key.)
Lesson 8: Stay close to nature—choose a breeze over an electric fan, your own legs over a motor.
Lesson 9: Whenever possible, bring food.
Lesson 10: The greatest uphills also provide the greatest downhill thrills.
The challenges I face on my bike are not that different from the ones I face in my “real life.” I can use the same strategies to tackle any obstacle: for example, write a research paper, patch a broken relationship or, as the Leadership Campaign has been doing, move Massachusetts toward 100% clean electricity by 2020. Campaigns, like long bike rides, go through peaks and valleys—periods when morale is high and when it is low, when the going is easy and when it is tough. With a dash of creativity, friends, and some fun, we can all reach the peak of the hill. And then enjoy the ride down.