Read about Wildway's Marketing Coordinator Emery Elliott's experience of completing a 150 mile bike ride without any training. She did it, you can too.
When I first decided to join the Wildway team and participate in the BPMS150, Founders Kelli and Kyle warned me, “It is very challenging. You’ll need to do a lot of advanced practice and preparation.” But I had a crazy thought…
What if I did this thing with absolutely no training or trial runs? That would be pretty wild.
I thought doing this thing on-the-fly could prove that it’s possible for anyone and that everyone should try it. Maybe it would help more people join this amazing cause and aid in the money and awareness raised for the National MS Society. So, I ran the idea by them. They laughed and told me to go for it. They’re cool bosses like that.
I bought a used, 21 speed road bike circa 1989 from a guy on Facebook Marketplace, cruised it around my apartment complex parking two times to make sure it was functional then stored it in my closet, where it would sit untouched for the next 5 months. I bought the basic gear necessary for a 150-mile bike ride, according to Google and a cycle-enthusiast from REI: padded bike shorts, helmet, chamois butter, CO2 inflator, spare tube, etc. I read an article that featured a 92-yr old man completing the same feat and thought, “If he can do it, I can surely do it too.” I told my friends and family what I was planning to do, much to their worry and disbelief. Then, I went on about my life until April 2019. Those months flew by and the two-day excursion was knocking at my door before I knew it. Oh shit, I’m really doing this.
I’m a relatively active person. I go to the gym, I play sports, I ride horses, I skate around on my longboard. I am generally “in shape,” and have experience with intense exercise. So, don’t take this article as an excuse to go injure yourself doing something you cannot physically do. Wildway won’t be held responsible for any harm you cause yourself when you try to run a marathon tomorrow. That’s not what we’re endorsing here. LOL. I’m just a daredevil and annoyingly competitive person that wanted to test my physical and mental fortitude. So, when the day came, I loaded up my bike and got on the bus with Team Wildway to Houston and the start of the MS150. The following is my takeaway, lessons learned, advice, and recap of an adventure I’ll never forget.
Mind over matter.
It’s a thing. The power of your thoughts and strength of your mental resolve is and will always be more important than your physical ability. You’ve probably encountered many things that have instilled this concept in your life, but doing this ride really drove it home for me. Each time I thought my knees can't take another minute, they did. 99% of the time, you really are more capable than you think. At the end of the day, you have to remember that the brain tells the muscles and bones what to do, not the other way around. You can really accomplish anything you set your mind to.
We all need a little help along the way.
I won’t lie, there were times that I wanted to stop and wave down the SAG van (rescue vehicles that pick riders up and take them to the next break or stopping point). But every time I might’ve surrendered to that defeat, one of my team members would ride up beside me and make a joke. I’d think “Okay, we’re in this together. Keep going.” Each tempting consideration of getting off my bike and hitching a ride in the A/C was halted by a glance to the side and seeing a family at the end of their driveway waving signs and cheering me on. “These people don’t know I literally had no training for this thing but they’re still rooting for me. I got this.” We all want to give up at some point or another and we all need a little help from others to push on.
Remember the reason you’re doing this.
In the most painful moments of the ride- struggling up a seemingly-endless hill, crashing on a gravel ditch, etc.- I would remind myself why I was even doing this. I chose to do this for those who suffer from multiple sclerosis. I signed up to pedal my way from Houston to Austin, knowing someone would be helped by my efforts and the efforts of the other 14,000 riders alongside me. I hopped on a bike and rode for a combined 23 hours without any training, hoping that someone would read this and know they can do it too. As every muscle burned and every joint ached, I remembered this reason and I kept going.
It’s worth it.
Few things feel better than facing a challenge and overcoming it. It’s honestly addicting. I spent most of the 48-hour period of the MS150 wondering what I got myself into and wishing terribly I had trained. But all the doubting and second-guessing made the end result that much better. All the why’s and wtf’s were made worth it when I crossed that finish line 167.57 miles later. So, that would be my piece of advice to you: Get out of your comfort zone and try something that challenges you. It is worth it, I promise.
The MS150 ended up being one of the coolest, most fun things I have ever done, while also being one of the most rewarding and important causes of which I’ve been apart. I did it, you can too. Who’s in for next year?
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