Life is full of events, both events in which we have control over and events which we do not. This is true for everybody, from the most successful and confident people to the most disillusioned. It’s also true that all people will experience both positive and negative events.
There are a lot of cheesy sayings out there that get to the same general point. The one that sticks out in my mind is…
Every time I’ve ever read this statement, I imagine the author primarily referring to those “negative” events- the kind of events that can cause anxiety, and, when not properly handled, have long lasting negative consequences, including a reduction in confidence and self-worth.
However, I feel as if this statement can apply both ways. The same way the impact negative events can have on our lives can be minimized through the proper response, the positive impact of certain events can be truly realized, both with regards to life circumstance as well as confidence and self-worth, with the right response to a good event.
That is why it is important to celebrate accomplishments whether major or minor. When celebrated properly, a person’s accomplishments can reinforce positive perceptions they have about themselves- without doing so at the expense of others, the way so many mistakenly do.
I wanted to reach the 2,000-mile mark, celebrating the biggest cycling year of my life, at a location that is iconic as well as meaningful. I might have selected a place right in the middle of the Central Rocky Mountains, had it not been for the basic fact that it is November. While the weather has been warm, to the point that it doesn’t feel like summer actually ended, the month of November still comes with constraints. 70 degree temperatures will not change the fact that by 5:00 it will be getting dark. And, in the mountains, there is more risk for trouble, in the form of precipitation, wind, and chilly mornings.
Luckily, there was a reasonable place to host this event; Davidson Mesa, a moderate sized hill, that sits about 600 feet above town, roughly six miles East of Boulder.
The view of the Flatiorns to the West on a clear day is magnificent enough to warrant the Colorado Department of Transportation putting in a scenic overlook, which is particularly popular among tourists to the area driving from Denver to Boulder.
As is the case at the top of Vail Pass, the rest area is shared between motor vehicles and bicycles, as there is now a bike trail that follows highway 36 between Denver and Boulder. As a regular visitor to Boulder, I have ridden on this trail about a dozen and a half times over the course of 2016. So, it felt both scenic and meaningful to celebrate reaching this mile marker at the most scenic location along the trail between Denver and Boulder.
What makes events like this truly special is sharing them with others. For me, this meant even sharing the event with someone who had a more significant accomplishment, mileage-wise, than I did. In fact, I know that there are a lot of cycling enthusiasts who ride far more miles than I do, some even topping out at over 10,000 miles in one year!
2016 was a memorable cycling year for me, and the fact that I hit this milestone, 2,000 miles is only a small part of it. When I look back upon the year, that is now almost over, and think of the cycling I have done, it is about way more than numbers. It is pedaling around Niagara Falls
Over the mountain passes of New Hampshire
And reaching the ocean, after six days, to have a fresh lobster.
It is countless rides long the Platte River, Cherry Creek, and Route 36 bike trails. It is even commuting for work. This celebration for me, was about all those experiences way more than it was about reaching a milestone. In a way, I was celebrating a year’s worth of positive and healthy experiences on my bicycle.
And I got to share the event with others, some of whom joined me for the 25-mile ride from downtown Denver, and some of whom joined me along the way.
I even shared the event with a friend who was celebrating a more significant accomplishment than mine, 3,000 miles. The true way to celebrate our accomplishments, both big and small is to do so in a way that does not take away from the accomplishments of others. Knowing there are people out there who accomplish more, ride 3,000, 5,000, even 10,000 miles, and have gone to more destinations, some even riding across countries or continents, does not take away from what I have done.
I know I am not a super hero, or someone saving the world because I do some interesting bike rides that add up to 2,000 miles a year. And, I know my life will have some more significant accomplishments. But, I also know how to properly harness an event like that. And, it is certainly not by using it as a means in which to compare myself favorably with some people for an artificial self-esteem boost. Nor is it by dwelling on how much more others have done. It’s by simply being joyous, celebrating, being happy for others, but most importantly, allowing myself to be happy for myself.