What Training for a 100 Mile Bike Ride Taught Me About Setting Goals

It was either crazy or foolish. I told our congregation I would ride my bike 100 miles in one day to raise money for a pending deficit. The deal was this: 1. I ride 100 miles; 2. They pledge what they can to help ease our end-of-year deficit.

Bicycle Ride

So I started riding. And riding. …And riding.

The pledges started rolling in until they totaled almost $26,000. And my bike wheels started rolling until I was riding 100, 125, 150 miles per week.

Over those many, many miles of bike trail I have learned some lessons about major goals that roll right into the rest of life:

  1. Give people something to rally around, and they will respond. If we had just simply said, “Please consider decreasing our deficit by making an end-of-year gift,” we probably would not have received a fraction of what will be taken in as a result of this ride. When people had something to rally around, the response was quick and generous, with “lead” gifts paving the way.
  2. When you set a goal, announce it out loud to a group of people. It’s hard to go back on a goal that others have heard come out of your mouth. In fact, chances are that you will achieve your goal.
  3. Learn from others who have gone before. When I set out to train for my “century” ride, I did all kinds of research to find a training plan that would work for me. Without doing that, I may not have been ready, or I could have injured myself, or I may have had to “reinvent the wheel.”
  4. Enlist a partner. When I announced I would do the ride, I encouraged anyone who could to ride along with me. I made special mention of it to the four young men in my mentoring group. One of them, Justin Fricke, took me up on it. Justin is a self-proclaimed “weekend warrior” who’s been training both alone and together with me…and blogging about it. When we ride together the time goes much faster and our common encouragement and support helps when muscles fatigue and bodies get tired.
  5. Stick with it. Blogger, Seth Godin, talks about “The Dip”: pushing through that time when others might just quit. There have been mornings when I have felt like staying in bed, when I haven’t felt like pedaling any further, when I feared yet another steep incline (in Florida inclines aren’t natural…they’re bridges over roads). Yet I couldn’t let all those people  down (see #1), and I couldn’t let myself down.
  6. Get support. Often, to accomplish a goal it takes more than individual fortitude. It takes help and support along the way. A group of young adults in our congregation are going to be the “support team” for our century ride. They will meet us along the way with liquids, nourishment, encouragement, and anything else we might need. It really helps to have someone cheer you along as you set out to accomplish your goal.

Don’t shy away from goals that stretch you a little…or a lot. If I can ride a bike 100 miles, there’s so much you can do, too.

What advice do you have to help accomplish a big, hairy, audacious goal?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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