Almost everything you need to learn in life your bicycle will teach you.

Last weekend’s lesson: Don’t count the hills.

The lesson came amid "The Endless Mountains 1000K,” 620 miles of racing in

Central Pennsylvania. It’s not only the distance covered over the three-day event that is so punishing. It’s the incessant, relentless parade of hills.

Event designer Tom Rosenbauer is a genius when it comes to creating emotionally, mentally and physically challenging experiences. Somehow, he managed to find almost 50,000 feet of climbing – roughly 1.5 times the height of Everest – in his home state. Of course, there are no Everest-like mountains in Pennsylvania. Instead, Tom strung together hundreds of smaller hills, long and short, step and gentle.

In other words, Tom’s quad-searing, knee-popping climb-fest imitates life. Every day, we all face hills. Some seem insurmountable obstacles; some are downhill thrill rides.

Because we are human, we are tempted to count them. And then we define the quality of our lives by the number and intensity of the hills over a given period of time.

Big mistake.

In Tom’s ride, if you think, “Oh, no! Not another hill!”, you will never finish. There is always another hill. And another. And another.

The secret of success amid the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania (and life) is to accept the hill for what it is: just another hill. A few moments of effort, a little pain, and it’s over.

It’s a miniature version of the kind of mental resilience we prize in Navy Seals, quarterbacks, emergency room physicians, and leaders of all stripes. Tackle the challenge. Recover. Do it again.

In a sense, these folks “ride above the hills.” They can absorb each obstacle with equanimity. They calmly persevere, all the way to success.

They don’t count the hills.

Blog Post -- August 2012