Yes, you read it correctly.  I actually cycled a part of the Tour de France.  I can’t say I ever had this event on my radar however, my brother is an avid cyclist and the Tour was on his. So, when I found out he and his wife were doing this I said sign me up.   What happened next was magical….

The start of the Tour was in Bilbao, Spain.  People lined the streets for miles and miles to see the caravan which is basically a bunch of floats followed by the actual Tour.  Wait, actually it was followed by 9 of us and then several hours later the Tour started.  Yes, we followed the caravan through the streets of Bilbao with everyone yelling and cheering at us. I will post a video on Instagram so be sure and check it out.  Let me paint a better picture.  Six of the cyclists were all wearing the same outfits which were these sleek black and blue biking jerseys and were riding your typical tour type of racing road bike.  My brother and his wife had “don’t mess with Texas” jerseys on and I was in orange.  So, to say I stuck out was an understatement but not only for that reason.  Do you recall the scene in Eat Pray Love where Juila Roberts is riding thru the country side on a leisure bike with upright handle bars?  Well, that was me.  In all my orange glory on a leisure eBIKE (forgot to mention that part of this) complete with a basket in the front where I had my fanny pack.  My water bottle was strapped to the back with a bungee cord (my sister in law also had the same bike).  Now that you have the correct visual let me share what I learned from that experience.    READ ON…

  1. Face your fears. The fact that I am not an avid cyclist was a little daunting but it didn’t compare to my fear about the actual terrain. Bilbao was described to me as hilly.  I learned this is like saying Oklahoma has light wind.  Bilbao has MOUNTAINS.  I wasn’t so worried about going up but the coming down was a whole different matter. And then I have this thing about heights on top of that!  If you have ever watched the Tour you realize these guys are flying not only because they want to but because of how steep the grade of the road is.  I just kept having this visualization of being an out of control cyclist and not able to stop or wipe out or…. It was nerve wracking getting ready that morning.  The anticipation was the worst.  When we finally got to the starting point, I had settled in a little bit and felt a little better about it but the underlying fear was still present. Tapping was very useful at this point and if you have never tried it go to youtube and check out some tapping videos.  If I had let my fear take over I would have backed out of the event and would have missed out on an incredible opportunity.  I was not going to let that happen.  Turns out I was so relieved to be coming downhill and not having to peddle that I didn’t mind the downhill so much and we also stopped before we got to the really big mountains – whew but I didn’t know that when we started.  I kept thinking about a lululemon saying I saw on a bag once – do one thing that frightens you a day.  I think I racked up several weeks or maybe months up on this adventure!  FYI- we only rode the first 30 km and then got to watch the peloton whiz by.
  2. Don’t listen to the negative comments. As we were riding thru the crowds (I wasn’t kidding that we did this), while most people were cheering and yelling positive things I would occasionally here a random comment like…. eBike – what?  (Three of us actually had one).  Also, who are they?  Of which I wondered who we were, too. And several other not so nice comments.  For a moment I actually found myself embarrassed for being there…an imposter and clearly a misfit.  But then I found my strength to keep going and just enjoy the ride and not listen to any negative comments.  This should be our mantra for anything in life.  How often have you started something you really wanted to do or needed to do that was sabotaged by one or two comments?  Amazing how thousands can be cheering you on but those one or two comments can really set you back.  This is where your resolve has to step in.  You are going to keep going No Matter What….
  3. Use the right tools for the right job. My ebike was a complete piece of junk.  It didn’t work on the lower settings and when I tried to change gears the chain would pop off.  At first, I could wiggle the gears and it would pop back on (and yes, I was changing gears while peddling), but eventually it completely popped off and got jammed forcing me to stop.  If the experience hadn’t been so awesome and the country side where we were riding so incredibly beautiful I might had just given up.  This made me think of so many people who start something with subpar gear.  If you are doing something that is so frustrating because of some gear then maybe you need an upgrade.  For example, you wouldn’t start a diet when all you have in the house are chips and sodas.  You need better gear – in this case – better food.  What about starting to run without good shoes?  It won’t take long for your feet to hurt and then you quit.  I’m not talking about going and getting the most expensive things before you even know you will commit but look at what is impeding your progress and make some small subtle shift to help you be more successful!
  4. When things are broken, get help. Back to my chain story.  When my chain popped off it was not just off, the whole gear piece was off (sorry, I don’t even know what that part of the bike is called).  It was a mess.  Thank goodness there was a sag wagon and this young lady jumped out to help.  She got the chain back on and another gentleman jumped in with some tools and reattached the gear box.  It wasn’t long and I was back on the road…. Almost like the Tour guys themselves.    Not exactly like them but I marveled at how important it was to have people enlisted that knew what they were doing when I didn’t.  Not only did I get to experience a high level repair job on the fly with a sag wagon but the young lady that jumped out to help turned out to be a force in women’s cycling herself!  If you are struggling with something then reach out for help. There are so many places these days to find answers but they don’t just land in your lap.  You have to make the effort and tell someone you need help.  Yes, I felt ridiculous with my orange jersey, eBike with a basket on front and a chain hanging off but I still asked for help.  If you are stuck and struggling, it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong all it means is you need the right people to help you and you have to ask!
  5. It takes a village. This is something you always hear but after watching and learning more about the Tour this really jumped out as a life lesson.  This team of cyclists have one purpose – to promote ONE guy to be the GC (general classification leader).  That means some of them are there to have the potential GC candidate draft off of them.  Some run water bottles to the others.  They are there to protect their GC contender and promote him in all ways possible. This role is called the “domestique”.   This doesn’t mean they don’t have moments to win a stage but the ultimate goal is having the GC win it all.  When it’s all said and done you don’t really hear about all the other guys.  You just know who won and have no idea what all went into that happening and all the sacrifices these other men did to help them win.  Take home point is we all need people on our team to help us push thru and help us succeed.  Sometimes we are the domestique and we need to understand that this is a very important role.  Who is on your team?
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