Cycling the mountain highways is a different game than cycling the prairies. We started our cross Canada trip in White Rock, BC a number of years back on the first leg of our trip, ending in Calgary. The mountains came in on day 3 of the trip with the full day of going up. Whenever I am struggling with how difficult something is, especially when out on my bike, my go to thought is, “I cycled the Coquihalla.” For those familiar with that highway, you likely squirmed a little. For those not familiar, it is a pass through (over) the mountains. It is a challenging couple hundred kilometres between Hope and Kamloops. I relate this story because I believe there are a lot of correlations between the cycling trip and our mindset on hustle and the long game in any facet of life.
Hustle, grind, long game, long road, pushing forward, struggle, What do you think of when you hear the commonly used words describing anything from business, to sport events, to parenting, fitness, health, diet…well pretty much anything? Each word has it’s meaning but really the meanings are as individual as those who define them in their own mind. What vision do you have when you think of hustle, what about long game? Are they mutually exclusive or are they the same thing in a different package. This topic was spurred by a post and comments I read last week. Yeah, speaking of last week, I wasn’t well and thus there is a blog post missing from that week. Anyway, it’s about the long game and I am here hustling to get this post done between the other things I want/need to get done today.
So back to cycling. When your plan is to cycle across Canada in stages because of available/not available vacation time, it is a long game. I won’t get into the things that make it longer (life happens), but will focus on the cycling during a trip. We usually plan for 100 km days, planning to stop in a town for lodging and food at the end of the day so sometimes our distance is longer or shorter. On our last few trips we averaged just over 100 km/day. Let me tell you about the long game when you wake up day 4. I won’t go into details, but there is a morning or two between days two and four that feels really difficult (like maybe I had a stroke in the night, where am I? I think I am going to cry because…well I don’t know). Thinking of the day ahead feels insurmountable. There is a weakness, there is feeling tired and feeling like ‘really, I signed up for this?’ Yeah, it’s tough but you are committed to the long game.
At that point, hustle only presents itself as the push to get up and ready; coffee and breakfast do the rest. Once on the road, everything settles down and as the day goes on, the feeling goes. There is that morning or two that are really hard; the other mornings are, although not as bad, are tough too; but…coffee…and just doing it for the end game.
The hustle on our trips is mostly me. My husband lets me pace as I am weaker. I on the other hand hustle a lot of the time, just to not be a burden in slowing the pace, not having him feel like he could be going way faster if he didn’t have to wait for me and the big one, so he doesn’t think I am a wimp. Of course he still has to wait for me, and go slower but doesn’t always think I am a wimp partly because I try to mitigate it by pushing more. That makes me a better athlete and him…he needs to find someone else to push him. So, hustle comes when I push a little harder to go faster, when I push a little harder to get up the hill, when I say okay to 10 more kilometres, when I want to get off my seat but wait another 5 km before I have us stop; when I do what I need to do to get it done.
The thing I love about doing our trips is there is a myriad of opportunity for hustle (adventure and challenge) and there is more than one long game. There is the daily trip of 100ish kms, there is the whole 13 days of cycling on that leg, and there is the crossing the whole country goal. Each day can be different depending on the terrain, the weather (wind, rain, heat) and how we feel (didn’t eat right, overtrained, dehydrated from previous days). Still at the end of each day there is a feeling of accomplishment as that day’s goal was met. At the end of each trip especially when we drive back home on the roads we traveled, there is a crazy sense of how far we traveled by bike and how steep or long the hill/mountain. We haven’t finished the whole trip but I am sure there will be some of the same things to realize.
The same holds true with so many endeavours in life. Sometimes we look at the long game and don’t even consider it. Sometimes we plan, but don’t continue because things get in the way. Sometimes we are delayed and the constant questioning (doubts) of others brings us down. We might hustle then, or maybe give up. We may spend a lot of time and effort preparing/learning, but let fear halt us from going further on the journey. We may start strong and give up on ‘day 4’ because it is just ‘so hard’. Or maybe we commit, do the daily hustle, get to each daily end game and then get to the shorter end game feeling like that is enough, not reaching for the big dream (the whole country and beyond). Life changes and we move with the changes…this is not that…it’s about pushing through when we know we should, when we have a dream, a vision.
Each trip we face obstacles and struggles. It would be easy to give up and just tell everyone that, so they quit asking. It would be easier to just sit on the couch. But one doesn’t get anywhere unless one moves. Moving in the right direction is always the answer to getting to the end game. Sometimes it looks like hustle…but not always. For me, hustle is sometimes as simple as reminding myself I cycled the Coquihalla, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy; it’s still a long road with some hustle, but I can do it!