July 13, 2009
Potholes On the Road To Success
Most of you have probably looked back at a ill-conceived event in your lives and said "Well, it was a good idea at the time." I'm not going to say I regret for a minute my experience of the last few days, but a lot of my friends wondered why the heck I did what I did.
My friend Jim and I rode our bikes from Seattle to Portland this past weekend as part of 10,000 people tackling the challenge. The riders came in all shapes and sizes, all levels of fitness, and took all forms of self-propelled transportation, including a skateboard, a unicycle, and a scooter. All participants had the same goal in mind - cover the 202 miles in two days without falling victim to the course itself.
At mile 40 on the first day, I struck a pothole with my front wheel that temporarily siezed up my brakes. Thankfully I stayed upright and with a little maintenance, was back on the road again. At mile 73 on the first day, I hit a small compression in the road and busted a spoke. After adjusting the back brake to accommodate for a seriously wobbly wheel and removing the offending spoke, I pedaled 15 miles to a checkpoint where volunteer repair guys fixed my problem and got me back on track with a new spoke and a true wheel. At mile 186 on the second day, we stopped to help a woman who had gotten her second flat tire in just over a mile, and who had no more replacement tubes.
In addition to the mishaps in which we were personally involved, we also witnessed several crashes. Some resulted in minor cuts, road rash, etc., and others resulted in broken bones and ambulances rushing to the scene. All told, we witnessed or heard about (from other riders) over a dozen crashes. Once we confirmed there were people on the scene more qualified to administer first aid than us (doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc.), we continued on our way.
On Sunday, we woke to thunderstorms that quickly drenched us as we made our way southward. As we passed riders who had chosen to ride farther on Saturday (and make Sunday's ride less strenuous), we witnessed dozens of riders putting their bikes on the racks of their support vehicles and heading home, unwilling to endure the discomfort of the rain.
Just before we completed our ride, my son witnessed a young man running across the finish line as everyone else was coasting through on their bikes. Someone nearby jokingly asked him what he did with his bike. Turns out his bike became inoperable about eight miles from the finish line. Undeterred, he chose to run the final eight miles. Why? Because that's where the finish line was.
What do you do when faced with adversity? Do you survey the damage, fix what you can and move on? Or do you simply give up and walk away? The actions of the people we encountered this weekend were very telling. I suspect how they coped on that ride is exactly how they cope with the challenges life throws at them every day.
One more thing to think about: We could see the woman with the flat tire walking her bike from at least a half mile away. We were on a long, flat straight stretch and we saw no less than 75 riders zoom right on by her. When we slowed to ask what was wrong, we were amazed nobody else had stopped to help. On your own road to success, are you too focused on the finish line to help those less fortunate you encounter along the way?
True character is revealed through adversity. If you're struggling through this current economy, what are you doing about it? Waiting for our government to arrive in their support vehicles and throw your bike on their rack? Or will you run if you can't ride, walk if you can't run, crawl if you can't walk? Keep going - it's the only way to the finish line.
Make it a great week.
Our efforts stay focused on note holders. If you are a note finder, a note
broker, or anyone other than the actual note holder, please do not contact