Give me hard, give me 10+ men and only 1 other woman besides myself, showing up on a Saturday morning in a parking lot with road bikes, to go hard. When I join the Cobblestone group road bike ride some Saturday mornings, I never know how it's going to go. One thing I always do know, though, is that they are going to push me, because they push themselves. They ride for 40+ miles out in the back roads of the country, where when you get left behind, there's nothing but empty fields and wind surrounding you on all sides.
To a person who has never ridden a bike (hard and fast with clipped in pedals) none of this makes any sense. But what does make sense to everyone is that feeling of what it's like to be challenged. It's one thing when you don't choose the challenge, sometimes life gives us trials to go through that are outside of our control. It's another thing when you wake up and know that you will soon be suffering through a challenge, by choice. It's a little bit harder to give up in the middle of a challenge you chose. Most of the challenges I have faced in my life were self-chosen because I knew that no one else was going to challenge me unless I challenged myself (I talk about that in this short 3 minute interview).
But one thing always is true. Whenever I am done with going on a long, hard, fast bike ride, I feel good. It's that feeling of earning something. I feel like I earned the rest of my day, I earned the soda I will most likely indulge in, I earned sitting on the couch for a bit, I earned my tiredness and being able to fall asleep as soon as my face hits the pillow instead of being restless. And yet even though I have earned the ability to sit at home and be lazy, I tend to find myself wanting to be even more productive.
It's like a high, I want it to keep going, it's addictive when you start to learn what it feels like to push your limits. You want to keep pushing and maybe it doesn't always result in you being fast or strong but it's taking that feeling of confidence that comes from being faster and stronger and applying it to other aspects of your life.
Sometimes it takes being defeated and worn out and not being able to keep up that gives you confidence, the fact that you tried and failed and still survived, means it's worth trying again, if only to see what your human potential is.