The Vail Valley is a destination boasting an endless amounts of outdoor entertainment. Physical and mental fitness are essential to persevere throughout any given activity, even more so high above sea level.
Regardless of all the factors that can dictate our lives, what powers do we have to help us through the most trying circumstances?
Our brain is a magnificent organ that utilizes twenty percent of our blood and oxygen at any given time. In my experience, mindful breathing, mindful walking, and mindful meditation can promote a state of peace, tranquility, and freshness. The mindset we embody directly affects us on a molecular level and can be the difference between failure and success.
The manner in which we approach obstacles is indeed relative to the final outcome.
Smiling is proven to enhance your immune system by manifesting dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin which are all released into your bloodstream, making not only your body relax but also work to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. If we know better we should do better, right?
“Manifest destiny”, a phrase that surfaced in 1845, symbolizes the philosophy that initiated the 19th-century U.S. territorial expansion. The underlying theme of their mindset is that we are all more than capable of manifesting our own destiny. With a mentality like that anything is possible, our forefathers wrote a chapter in our history that we can certainly take great inspiration from.
I've always been fascinated of what separates professional and elite athletes from the rest of general public. When we’re approaching our VO2 maximum and are at the end of our metaphorical rope, what mechanisms do we have to exceed our previous limitations? Certain mechanisms such as breathing techniques, affirmations, and mindful movement aid our bodies to break down previous physical boundaries.
Regardless of the situation I've come to learn that it could always be worse. With this mentality we can achieve a state tranquility or freshness in the body instrumental to enduring physical and mental stressors.
Last fall, in a time span of forty three days, I cycled unsupported across the southern United States. To clarify, an unsupported bicycle tour is when riders are completely reliant on themselves to carry any and all necessary tools, spare parts, extra clothing, food, water and shelter. Acknowledging early on that we alone were responsible for our own failure or success established a sense of ownership for maintaining the ideal attitude. On one hand we were all in our mid twenties and certainly physically capable. On the other hand, we were full of blind ambition which may have enhanced our ability to endure eighty to one-hundred mile days on the road fully loaded with equipment and provisions. Sometimes we needed to block out what was going on around us to persevere through the seemingly impossible distances each day.
Replicating the environment, duration and intensity that we would be cycling was almost impossible.
Before embarking on this adventure of a lifetime I knew it was critical to do as much planning and preparation as possible. I absorbed as much as I could in the months leading up to our trip about every aspect of a extended bicycle tour. The more you know in any situation, the better you can be prepared, so I was happy to have invested my time wisely.
Throughout the researching process it became apparent that our mental and physical limits would be exhausted.
The word stretch is defined as making great demands on the capacity or resources of. The nature of what we were about to attempt would absolutely require a holistic methodical approach.
My two friends and I set out from the Pacific ocean in San Diego en route to the Atlantic in Savannah, Georgia with an extra fifty to sixty pounds of gear, food and water fixed on our bikes. From the beginning, having an unwavering mindset was essential to the trial and tribulations that we were about to endure.
Leading up to the trip I had primed myself by spending the summer in Vail training pedaling tourists around the village on a 2 person bike taxi. It was the ideal precursor to the physical challenge that lay ahead. Reminiscing all the times I had pushed my body to transport customers up, down and around the village would surely help my mind cope with the workload that lay ahead.
Each morning presented different challenges internally with our bodies and externally on the road. At the end of the day some days were harder and longer than others. Before and over the last year leading up to the trip, I made a conscious effort each day to stay positive and focused unconditionally. Mindset was a constant variable I could control throughout our days on the road.
We received outstanding advice while staying with a fellow who completed our exact trip three years ago. This man, Bob, assured us that at times our knees would feel like they were going to fall off. He said, “they're going to be fine and will stay attached as long as your focused”. It was only day 6 at that point but the advice resonated in my head frequently from that day on.
At times endless climbing and long uninhabited stretches of road tested our level of mental toughness. The severity of the trip dawned on us daily as we walked the fine line of malnourishment, dehydration and muscle tightness.
The incentive of the next town or quick break was often on my mind. If I do this then I get that. It was a simple, purposeful ritualistic mindset that I adapted with the passing hours. Thinking of all the people that were following our progress fueled us too especially when winds were blowing in our face at 20 mph or more. I became more and more grateful for just having the opportunity to climb the next hill or go the next mile. Progress was progress no matter when we finished or what lie ahead of us the next day.
On day forty-three we were one-hundred and fifty miles from Savannah and decided to aim to finish in one last push. It was a day where we had minimal elevation to gain and the winds were less than five miles per hour, a fantastic stage for a glorious finale.
Our last day on the road ended victoriously with a late arrival into Savannah and an overload of sensations. It took us fifteen hours from start to finish on that last day.Our mindset towards the end of the trip was borrowed from a church billboard. Grateful, thankful, blessed. One mile, one hill, one energy goo packet at a time we pushed ourselves to make it twenty-six hundred miles from coast to coast to Savannah, Georgia in forty-three days.
- Jake Posner