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Life lessons from Cycling

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I’m a doofus on both cycling and life, so take that into consideration.

1. Maintaining cadence is more important than sprints for long distances.

• This morning I watched in awe a bunch of folks sprint their heart out at the beginning of the Coastal Adventure Corridor, I was watching and maintaining my cadence and speed, and half-way in the route I had overtaken the weary folks I had seen earlier.

• Slow and steady as they say, turtle and the hare.

• Never underestimate maintaining the momentum for long term goals.

2. Pick your tracks accordingly.

• I normally would take the bike route over Cycling on the street. Yep, it doesn’t make me look cool, but the high risk of visiting the ER doesn’t appeal to me either.

• The Coastal Adventure corridor is another story altogether, the risk is still there, however the road was designed with dedicated cycle paths. This is where I grab the drop bar and give the pedals my steadiest cadence. On the slope, you hit it hard and you hit it fast, building on your previous steady cadence.

• Same thing in life, when you are young, pick your risks accordingly: no smoking, no drugs, no life changing criminal activities or unprotected sex. Learn as much as you can, your brain is a sponge. Maybe the casual drinks, or the unavoidable risk of falling in love. Then as you grow older, you grow wiser, you have your education, your brain fully developed yet still absorbent, you see good opportunities, pursue them with passion, take risks both in love, career or business. Then you hit 40, life begins at 40, you rain check where you are, who you are, what makes you happy. You get mindful of your cadence, you want steady momentum now. You want to be hyper aware you have 20–25 good years ahead to prepare for the next track in life. Don’t ask me after 60, I’ll write about it when I’m 65.

3. Shift early, shift often.

• Observe and adapt. Do you see an uphill ahead? Prepare to shift to low gear. Is your cadence dropping? shift and adjust. Don’t mind how you look, your not that important that folks are looking at your gear. Anyway what other people think is none of your business.

• Same thing in life, don’t let ego drive your struggle. Adapt to your environment in a sensible manner, fail fast. Observe the 80–20. Focus on the tasks that delivers the most impact. Err on the side of what is good however, don’t compromise your integrity.

4. Focus on the essentials. Be a minimalist.

• I still wear the inexpensive safety glass I got from the DIY store I bought a couple of years ago. Maybe a high end dedicated Cycling glass would look cooler, but in the end it doesn’t matter. I’d rather spend that on high quality cycle chain that improves reliability or a really good bike light to improve visibility and safety when riding at night. I also re-purposed an old plastic water bottle we got for free to hold emergency gear (tire levers, all purpose Cycling tools, tire patch) instead of buying a dedicated bottle cage utility tool holder.

• I have learned also to carry only the essentials, a phone, 10 bucks for the coffee + chicken rice and the occasional fresh coconut treat, a water bottle, identification card and an ATM card. I used to carry a lot more, extra clothes, extra tires, a camera, spare lens, rain coat, spare battery etc. Reality is, I can call a cab in the event if the tire can’t really be fixed, a phone is more than enough for the occasional pictures.

• Just like in life, we often have a lot more or do more than what we really need to. We have too many “things” to take care of. Leaving very little time to the really important stuff that really matter: relationships, your kids, learning new stuff, your health, a good sleep. There are 168 hours in a week, subtract sleep and work hours: 168 – (56 (8hrs sleep x 7) – 40 (8hrs work x 5) )== 72. Where you spend the 72 hours is the game changer.

5. Optimise your gear on the task at hand and your budget.

• Buy the best you can realistically afford.

• This is where you need to spend some time to research and choose and spend carefully your hard earned money. I opt for and wait for a good sale on quick dry shirts and Cycling shorts, these things dry very quickly and eliminates the need to bring a spare shirt.

• The task is to enjoy Cycling for long distances, so I opted for an older model (by a few years) Giant Defy for a great, great discount. It’s not the latest and greatest when I bought it, but if you really look into it and apply the law of diminishing returns, the extra feature you get with the latest model will only probably matter if your a professional endurance cyclist.

• In life, invest on stuff that really matters: improving your well being, great experiences with family, learning, and tools that actually improves your productivity. The rest is optional.

6. Plan in advance

• I usually prepare the stuff needed for cycling the night before. I prefer going in the early morn so that I’m back home when the rest of the family wakes up. It’s equally important I don’t disturb the sleeping wife by finding those cycling wear in the dark early morn. Nor dread the thought of forgetting to bring 10 bucks cash to buy on the food stalls. I have written a simple checklist on my phone to go thru every time and avoid forgetting something. I also make sure to eat something at dinner to fuel the next day ride and make a genuine effort to sleep and rest on time.

• I have seen people I admire who seemingly have endless energy or time to do great stuff have one thing in common: a todo list. Regardless if its analog or digital, those folks have a system, they plan ahead. It’s not rocket science, if you don’t plan ahead, the world tries to plan on you. Most of the time you won’t like the latter.

7. Telemetry is your friend

• At least invest on a pedometer if you can. Or download apps like Strava to track your progress. I hate the distraction of the phone while Cycling so I opted for the pedometer.

• If your keen on your cadence and rhythm, you can probably count or time this in your head but nothing like a dashboard to tell you the actual numbers.

• I love the calories burned data. If you already burned 1000 calories, go ahead and have an extra portion of roasted chicken or add a boiled egg. Your entitled 998 calories in this example.

• I’m also keen and curious on the heart rate performance during cycling, so I got a second hand chest heart rate monitor a few years back to track it during cycling and more accurately compute calories burned. I discovered it really doesn’t get exercised much regardless of the distance if you keep a leisurely pace. Maintaining a decent cadence and speed is more effective as the data shows.

• Same thing in life, wether your managing your finances, or managing something at work or your business, there’s nothing like actual numbers staring at your face. The numbers may not always look good, but it’s important data to at least understand why, and study what impacts those numbers. I guarantee you that knowing the cause and effect of things will make you a far better person as you see the world more objectively.

8. Check your gear

• Enough said. If something is critical don’t stop at double checking. Actually test if things are working the day before the ride. Batteries for your lights. Tires at the correct PSI. Does your brake still work. Clean the disc brake with alcohol on a spare cloth.

• If your using something like the DI2 electronic shifter, setup a reminder to charge it in the future or charge it once a month. I once forgot to charge the thing and fortunately the gear was set in the middle position when it run out of charge.

• Same thing in life, check yourself regularly. Are you on track on where you want to be? Check where your stress are coming from? Are they low hanging fruits (usually are) that just requires a bit of focus to address? Do you have enough to retire? Did you finish all the tasks you committed for the week? Are you prepared for next week?

9. Ask for help

• This morning I ended up in a residential area with a dead end. I thought it was the entrance to Pasir Ris Park. I walked up to an elderly uncle walking his dog and said good morning and asked where the entrance is. Apparently I missed the turn and also advised me a better route. I could have just googled it but I like to think the short chat was way better and faster than figuring out at which direction or street I’m in.

• Same thing with life. Admit to yourself where your weakness are. Hangout and ask help from good people and get their advice. Or look for help in books, actually now more than ever in history we have more access to help. You can buy great books that are cheaper than your high end latte or borrow from your nearest library.

10. Enjoy the ride. This doesn’t need an explanation.

Written by

Mobile Indie! The road to retirement. Views expressed here entirely my own.

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