What My Bike Taught Me About Business
I haven’t always been an avid cyclist, as of matter of fact, I’ve only been riding a bicycle regularly for the last few months, after not having ridden one for over forty years. So, what changed in my life that got me riding again regularly? A picture of me, taken two years prior, that disgusted me. The picture was of me sitting alongside my step-sister at a family gathering and I noticed the roll above my belt, the double chin and it all came back to me; I had been lying to myself about my physical fitness for several years as the bathroom scale avoided me. I had been listening to what all the professionals who tell you; don’t pay attention to the scale, pay attention to how your clothes fit and I had been telling myself everything was just fine, and it wasn’t. Things had to change so I started a walking regiment, changed my diet and started dropping the pounds and then there was a plateau for around a year then the up and down of the scale and I increased my regiment which included segments of running with the walk and the pounds started coming off and then another plateau and boredom with my routine.
While doing a maintenance assessment on property we manage, there it laid in the weeds, a bicycle. Its chain was rusted solid, both tires were flat, and the rear wheel had broken spokes. The hand grips were gone, the shifting levers and cables were gone, and I did what any good contractor would do; I placed it in the back of my truck with the other garbage I had collected and prepared to take it all to the dump. It had been one of those days where I was running late, and the trip to the dump would have to wait till the next day. In all the years in real estate managing and investing, I have donated dozens of bikes to charity organization who rebuild them for kids as well as tossing many more into a scrap heap to recycle but this bike was different. I did a little research on the bike and discovered it was a Bianchi, a very high quality bicycle, so I set it off to the side, disposed of the other garbage I had collected and the bike set outside for another two weeks until my wife reminded me it was sitting outside and asked what my intentions were with the bike. She smiled when I told her I was going to fix the bike up and start riding, looked at the bike, smiled again; good luck with that, and she walked away. I thought about it for a long while and decided to take the bike to someone who knew what they were doing. One week and three hundred dollars later, I had a rebuilt twenty-one speed road bike, that I had to ask the bike mechanic how to shift it, and I was now a cyclist. The next morning, I put off my run for a two-and-a-half-mile bike ride through the hills of our neighborhood and the surprise that waited for me at the end of the ride. My legs were shaking so bad, I needed the bike to hold me up as I walked up the driveway to secure my bike in the garage. I couldn’t ride the next day, but I rode the day after and then switched off every other day and then I did a six-mile ride, then a ten-mile ride, then fourteen. It was then, I shocked my wife, (after a large glass of Scotch), I was going to ride to the beach, an eighty-five-mile ride. She smiled, okay and why would I want to do that? I told her I needed to challenge myself and I had to do it for a good reason; a charity ride to support the veteran memorials throughout the county. She went along with it, thinking it was the Scotch talking, but when I set-up the Go Fund Me site and the Facebook Fundraising page and invited everyone on my friends list; the goal was set, and the training began. My first twenty-two-mile ride, I felt good until I went to step off the bike and my legs weren’t ready, and I fell over. The next time, I knew to wait till I had good footing and then step off the bike. Then it was time for a thirty-mile ride and then my first volunteer rider who would ride along with me, my wife was relieved I wasn’t going to be riding alone. Dan was no ordinary volunteer, he holds national track and field sprinting records for his age group and has been riding for years, but never over thirty miles. We decided to do some weekend rides with his riding buddy and halfway through the ride, I got a flat tire and didn’t have a patch kit or a pump and had to call my wife to rescue me. The following weekend, I was better prepared, and it was time for a twenty-seven-mile ride with hills. We made it but, I still needed a lot of training ahead of me, with only three weeks to get prepared and then another volunteer would join us for the ride. Jude, a Navy veteran, professional trainer and massage therapist is twenty-years my junior and ten years junior to Dan. This was our team, we would leave out on December seventh, Pearl Harbor Day. The morning we started our ride, it was thirty-seven degrees and it would be a long twenty-eight-mile ride before our first major stop. Dan and I would be facing the longest distance we had ever ridden, and the next five and a half miles would be a challenge, it was hill after hill after hill, we made it and for the next thirty miles it would be a smooth rail to bike trail. Then come the most difficult leg of the trip, the last sixteen miles we would be facing a head wind, coming of the Atlantic Ocean, it would be the hardest sixteen miles of the ride, and we made it. Eighty-five miles in eight hours and here is where my bike taught me about business.
- Prepare yourself, mentally and physically. I considered myself in fairly good shape, but I needed more education about what additional physical training I needed to have done in order to have completed the ride faster and less exhausted.
- Don’t try to be the Lone Ranger, I had planned to do the ride by myself but if it had not been for Dan and Jude facing the challenge with me, I don’t know if I could have finished the ride.
- Proper nutrition and hydration are key to success. I learned quickly the importance of electrolytes and hydration. It wasn’t just putting food into our system, it needed to be the proper food that our muscles needed.
- Additional team support was key to our success. The additional team support was our wives meeting us at key points and times to take on gear we no longer needed as well as having the food, water and special nutrients we needed to keep going.
- Key rest spots went along with hydration and nourishment. We needed to give our legs a rest and clear our minds.
- Having the proper equipment makes the job easier. Dan and Jude had clip shoes and peddles which locked their shoes to the bike, I just had running shoes. Sixty percent of their efforts were on the downward pressure of the peddle and forty percent was the lift which made them less tired. All my effort was downward pressure and by the time we made it to the end, my legs were through.
- Setting the goal and letting people know what our goal was had concreted the mission and we had the encouragement of our friends and families, supporting our ride.
- We are not settling on our success, we asked each other if we would do it again and it was a resounding yes, just not the next day. We have a better understanding of what we need to do the next time, make better time, prepare our selves better, have the right nutrition days before and keep training.
As you can see, our ride reflects a business plan. It was our first try and we were successful, and we will do it again, better than the first time. Who is ready to join us for the next ride to support a good cause?
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