On any given Saturday morning there are endless options along the Colorado Front Range to enjoy the beautiful communities in which we live.
This past Saturday morning a handful of Denver Rescue Mission staff met just as the sun was coming up at the Mission’s Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado to cycle to the Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter in downtown Denver. While several in our group had experience with distance cycling, it was the first time some had tackled a Century Ride: 100 miles.
I’ve spent a good deal of time on my road bike the past few years – and in my experience, there are few better places to be challenged than on the seat of a bike. As with other aspects of my life, there are times when I need to ride by myself, times when I desire the company of a good friend and times when I’m happy to join with a group.
When I was training for a week-long distance ride last summer, I intentionally sought out a riding partner that was stronger and more experienced than I was and who would push me to be better. In life, when I surround myself with people who are more experienced than I am, I tend to improve my skill set faster. Likewise, when I’m always the “expert” in a particular arena, I find myself atrophying in that skill set – as I’m not being challenged externally to improve.
On a typical group ride it doesn’t take long before the cadence of the group falls in line, and the members begin working together. The ones who are better at climbing are found up front on long hills, pulling the others up behind them. Or in my case, sometimes they’re back behind me physically pushing me up the hill. J However, everyone stops once we climb the hill and waits for gravity to carry us down. My 250 lb. frame creates a huge slipstream for the other riders to fall in and effortlessly draft behind me. In both cases, one’s strength aids the others. While I’m not sure if my 250 lb. frame is a strength, I have learned what many of my strengths are – and try to find folks whose strengths look different than mine. In doing so, I benefit from a strength that I do not possess.
On long rides, one of my favorite things to do is slip in beside someone and catch-up on life. It doesn’t take a whole lot of intentionality, or any special effort on my part – rather simply deciding that as we’re both traveling along in the same direction, there’s probably some way that we can be mutually encouraging to each other. In life, some of the deepest encouragement that I’ve received has come from someone who simply slipped in next to me as we recognized our journeys were headed in the same direction.
I encourage you to find something that you really enjoy doing, and then find someone to do it with. Each of our lives is headed somewhere – and while I’m excited about the destination, I don’t want to miss out on what the journey has to teach me.