How does one find acceptance of failure while on the bike? Here's my recap.
It was about 8 days into the tour. I was behind on miles and battling physically and mentally. Each moment of the day I doubted my every move. I tried so hard to ride my daily set goal of 100km (66miles), yet struggled. My bike was heavy and clumsy. I was always hungry and each night I could never get enough sleep. I’d wake each day dreading the miles that awaited me. After breakfast, and once I packed up, I’d call my family back in the states to assess the day.
“If you could up your mileage to 125 kms a day you will finish the tour in 30 days.” My mom calculated.
“You got this babe, just keep up the mileage,” Joshua would say with encouragement.
I was determined to complete the 3000km in the set tour time of 30 days. Feeling pumped and ready for the day I said my 'I love you’s' then headed out on the bike. The first few miles I was excited. “You got this!” I’d think to myself. The first few hours were okay too. “You’re doing fine, just keep going and stop stopping so much.” I slowly was becoming annoyed with myself. By midday, as the hills became steeper and the calories became fewer I became irate. “What ARE you doing?!?? There is NO way you are going to finish this thing!!! You should just give up.” I shouted out loud to myself.
Then it call came to a head. It was march 9th in New Zealand and March 8th in the states, International Women’s Day, which should have been an inspiring day, but was not for me.
“Did you see the post?” Joshua eagerly asked in excitement.
I had a rough start to my day. I was behind, as usual and I was stressed. I was pushing so hard yet making no progress. The miles goal for that morning was to tackle a brutal 130 km. The numbers proved that I needed to keep this pace everyday for the next 20 days or so. 20 days!!!! I couldn’t even think about doing this tour for 20 more days. F*CK, was the only word fitting for this moment and it still left me unsatisfied.
“Did you see the post?” Joshua asked again.
I broke from my pity party and said no. Looking at my Instagram account on my phone I saw it. Again, something that should bring empowerment, pride, courage, and tenacity but only brought shame and it was staring back at me. Royal Robbins, one of my amazing sponsors, had reposted my photo from speaking at the adventurer’s club with this caption:
“Thrilled to feature @caseofthenomads on #Internationalwomensday for her inspirational talks as a female adventurer as well as her current impressive journey of solo biking from end-to-end across New Zealand.”
Me? I’m the one they chose to feature! Wow, what an honor….but ME? Outta all the women of the world, they chose me? Wow, that’s big! My thoughts took over becoming dark and I began to crack under the pressure!!!
Oh man, I’m a failure. There is WAY to finish this thing!!! There are too many miles and it’s just too hard! I’m not a role model or someone to look up I’m just a looser! I won’t be able to carry out my dream of one day writing a book. I won’t give any more lectures or create blog posts because I’m a failure!!!
These thoughts sped in and out and round my head like a bee hive full of angry bees. Then the tears came pouring down. Endless tears. I spent the next 4 days straight crying, trying so hard to face the fact that I really didn’t want to. The fact that I would not finish the tour. And if I didn’t finish I would let my sponsors down, my followers down, my family and friends down and most of all I’d be letting myself down. I didn’t want to accept this. No one wants to accept that they can’t do something, right?!
To try to pick myself up I thought of others who have failed. My friend Roz Savage failed her first attempt to row the Pacific Ocean but came back the following year to become the first women to row the Pacific solo. And another rower friend Sally Kettle failed her first attempt across the Atlantic Ocean yet ended up setting a world record for rowing it with her mother! If these women could face and accept failure so could I?
As I went to sleep that night I decided to give myself some slack. No matter the outcome, no matter if I stopped tomorrow and no matter if I failed at least I failed at attempting to make my dreams come true.
The next day I awoke felling a bit better. I followed my same routines but with a sense of calm. When I called my family for the daily miles check I started the conversation off a bit differently.
“So I know I have tracked miles but I don’t want to talk about miles or kilometers anymore. There is to be no mention of miles at ALL, only hours on the bike. My new goal is not based around distance anymore but time. I will ride 10-12 hours a day or more and see where I end up. I will ride until the 30 days are up and if I only travel 100 km then that’s as far as I ride. I accept the fact that I will not reach Bluff and I will not finish the tour. You all have been the best support, so thank you for continuing with supporting my decision and for NOT mentioning mileage OR me reaching Bluff anymore.”
Things changed for me that day. I faced failure and I accepted it. And I did the next most difficult thing to accepting failure, I continued down the road knowing I would not succeed. I didn’t give up and I didn’t give in even though I wasn’t going to reach my goal or the finish. I found grace and gratitude for just having the ability to ride so many miles, to be able to attempt such a feat and that it was a privilege to be on the adventure. This carried me on for 20 some more days until I rode into the southern most tip of the south island port town of Bluff and to the finish line of the tour. I arrived 1 day past my original goal.
Now that I’m back in the states, a few months after the tour I look back to this moment often. It’s one of the many lessons adventure has taught me. I know can look at failure as a stepping-stone to success. I hope you all can do the same.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Royal Robbins for the amazing and empowering post! It was a humbling honor featured for International Women’s Day.
I think it's time to have some fun, we will be coming back to fear, acceptance of failure and running past empty BUT next week I'll show you one of my fav places on the tour....Hobbiton!!
Heart Shaped World
Sometime even the most difficult road gives its love!