Guest AuthorSabih Kidwai

My first century ride !

By | Sabih Kidwai | Director Learning Solutions, Talent Management & OD at Schneider Electric Greater India

This year I have picked up a new sport – cycling and have been riding on weekends for around 40 – 45 kms. Few days back the group proposed for a century ride. This was quite a stretch for a cycling novice like me. Nevertheless I took the challenge and finally completed the ride. Here is my learning from the experience.  

Size of the challenge helps you focus : When I confirmed my acceptance to the group for the ride I was deliberately non committal and mentioned that I will ride ‘as much as I could’. Asim, my mentor for this sport and the one responsible for pulling me in this would tell me “Sabih Bhai, it is all in the mind – you can do it if you decide !”. I would keep rationalizing it in my mind that this is only to motivate me but the reality is that one can’t do without having the right physical strength and practice. As I look back I realize that I was able to complete because the size of the challenge pushed me to converge all my mental and physical energies and stand up to it. Which otherwise would not get focused as sharply. So in reality the size of the challenge helped me synergize my physical and mental energies to achieve the goal.

Team matters : I was riding with a group which had mixed experience level and we all kept talking to each other of our strains, difficulties, efforts and commitment to live up to the challenge. We would all share learnings from past, tips for endurance, advise for safety and security or practical guidance to avoid dehydration and cramps. The realization that all of us are in it together and are dealing with similar fears but yet committed to complete became a great source of inspiration. 

Encouragement works : At many steep stretches of the long ride for me, I would lag behind and would ride much slower but then one of the more seasoned riders would slow down to ride with me for a while and reiterate that “I am doing very well and this was a fabulous performance by some one with so little cycling experience like me”. Being an experienced HR professional I knew in my heart of heart that this was their effort to motivate me and keep me going. But what I realized is that in spite of that “Wiseman awareness” – Encouragement works !! There were multiple occasions during the long and strenuous ride when I almost decided to call it off but this encouragement kept me going

It helps to keep an eye on the larger goal : Since the group had mixed experience and enthusiasm levels there were also some who at various stages of the ride decided to quit, take a cab back or where ever possible catch hold of a relatively slower moving tempo or bike and agree with the driver to let them hold it for some distance to ease the effort for a while. There were also occasion where some took a relatively easier route by avoiding the flyovers and thus efforts of the ride. When the going was getting tough, I also got the temptation to follow suit. But then in my mind I debated on why should I do that and the larger question on why am I riding at all ? The answer was that I wanted to break my mental and physical barriers and build my self up for larger challenges in the sport and life. If that was the larger goal then these temptations were meaningless and thus I continued ! 

As I reflect back I am reminded of the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how the power of spirit and character is built”. I believe this experience will help me to sharpen my spirit and character to take bigger challenges in life ahead. 

Republished with permission and originally published at Sabih Kidwai‘s LinkedIn

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