6 Life Lessons Learned from the Bike Trail

 Lake Springdale, one of the scenic views on the Razorback Regional Greenway trail.  Photo credit:  Denise Grindstaff

Lake Springdale, one of the scenic views on the Razorback Regional Greenway trail.

Photo credit: Denise Grindstaff

By Denise Grindstaff, Guest Blogger

I’ve often wondered how some people are apparently blessed with the “desire to exercise” gene, as I don’t seem to have it! However, as the years go by and I place more importance on my health, I am trying to appreciate and be more intentional about exercise. A few years ago, I purchased a bicycle and began riding outside for exercise and enjoyment on the paved trail system in Northwest Arkansas. There is something about being out in nature and being active that makes my brain see things in new ways. Here, I’ve compiled six lessons I’ve learned on the trail that can be applied to life in general.

#1       Start. Sometimes simply getting started is the hardest part. Just do it!

Oh, the voices in my head that argue and try to convince me to stay home where it is nice and comfortable and the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold inside my house. But once I begin biking, I am always glad I did. In life, sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Although those voices that try to keep us still can be loud, once we get going, the momentum will take us farther than we could ever go standing still on the starting line, arguing with ourselves.

#2       When you get lost, ask for directions.

Our trail system is confusing in some areas, at least for me! When I was learning my way around (and still today), I would sometimes get lost. I didn’t have a map to tell me where to go. I only knew the general direction of the destination I hoped to reach. I learned quickly that if I would stop to ask directions from others on the path, I could arrive at my destination sooner and skip the part where I go down the trail to nowhere.

Sometimes in life we need to ask for directions from those who are a little ahead of us on the path, or who have more knowledge about the direction we want to take. The guidance will allow us to arrive at our destination quicker.

We also have to be wise enough to discern whether the person knows what they are talking about or not. We won’t make any progress if the person we are seeking advice from doesn’t have any knowledge of where we want to go.

#3       Pace yourself.

There’s always another hill! On one bike ride with a group, it became a joke when we kept thinking that we had pedaled up our last climb. Now I say regularly, “There’s always one more hill!” Use the downhill runs to gain momentum. And when you are climbing a hill in your daily routine of life, throw off any extra burdens you can let go of. Concentrate on breathing and moving ahead little by little. Rest if needed. Then buckle down, concentrate, and conquer the hill in front of you. 

#4       There will be times when you will be alone.

The times and places I like to ride aren’t always the times that work with others. I like to ride when it’s cooler outside. Some like to ride/walk/jog when the weather is warmer. I have been out at times and have only seen a few people when I usually see many more. That’s okay. I have learned to find my own rhythm and make it work. When we feel alone in life, we would do good to remind ourselves of our own style and appreciate the flow we have and the forward movement we are making, even when we feel alone.

 #5       There will also be times when you NEED people.

There is an old African proverb which says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” There may be times I can appreciate riding alone, but I have NEVER biked far without someone riding with me. It is too easy to talk myself out of making the extra effort. I enjoy having the companionship and encouragement along the way.

You may have heard the quote by the motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, which says that we, as individuals, are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.  For me, it is important that I surround myself with people who are going in the same direction and have the same values and interests as I do. I value time spent with people who are a positive influence in my life. They help me get outside of my comfort zone and do things I didn’t think I could do. They also help me ride a longer distance on my bike.

#6       Enjoy the journey!

This last one is so obvious, I almost missed mentioning it. Enjoy what you are into! Don’t let your pursuit of the destination make you miss the beauty in the course you take to get there. Sure, the destination is a highlight and the goal that you are working toward, but there is reward in the process itself. Look around. Stop to enjoy the still waters along the way. Rest is also a part of the journey.