Her name is Sara Farley and she’s a cyclist. She wasn’t always this way. Not that long ago she was a slightly overweight stay-at-home mom living in the wilds of northern California. It wasn’t until her husband lost his job of 15 years in early 2013 that she realized she had been so focused on caring for him and their three children that she had forgotten to take care of herself. That all changed on April 1 of that same year when she put herself on a weight loss program (Weight Watchers) and started exercising.
Her 10-year-old daughter encouraged Sara to get a bike so they could ride together. She borrowed a neighbor’s mount and off they went. It didn’t take long before Sara was hooked and began riding regularly. She soon began riding with other cyclists including her friend, Luci, who was training for Cycle Oregon 2013. Luci tried to convince Sara to join her for Cycle Oregon 2014. Though Sara’s husband remained unemployed, she was able to attend thanks to a grant from the Mark Bosworth Fund.
By September 2014, she had lost a total of 50 pounds, bought herself a road bike and trained dutifully for the upcoming challenge. Below is a piece she wrote about what she learned preparing for the Week Ride, which, as Sara now knows, is every bit as much a part of Cycle Oregon as the ride itself.
As I am preparing to leave for Cycle Oregon I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve learned while getting ready for this ride. It’s crazy to think that 5 months ago I had never been on a road bike and now I have logged more than 1,400 miles on mine.
Lesson number 1 – If you have a passion or a dream then follow it. You don’t have to know how you’re going to achieve your goal or dream; you just have to start somewhere.
Lesson number 2 – Build a foundation and you will succeed. I didn’t start out riding 80 miles per day or climbing big hills. I started out riding 3-5 miles. That was a challenge for me at first but I slowly pushed myself and challenged myself mentally and physically each time. Hills that used to look like mountains now seem like bumps in the road.
Lesson number 3 – It’s ok to not know it all and ask for help. This process has taught me to be inquisitive and search out information. When you’ve never done something before how do you expect to do it without researching, reading, and seeking out people who have done it before you?
Lesson number 4 – Let go of the fear of failure. There is no such thing as failure. If I spent my time worried about the “what ifs” I would have stayed stagnant and never moved forward. Why waste my energy focusing on what could go wrong? Instead, I focus my energy on everything that can go right.
Lesson number 5 – Trust other people. My grandma is always so worried about me getting hit by a car on my rides. I am never worried because I have trust in the drivers around me that they will see me and drive cautiously and courteously.
Lesson number 6 – Enjoy your own company. When you’re out on a long ride you really have to like the person you’re riding with and when you’re riding solo you had better like yourself. I’ve had lots of great conversations with myself on long rides.
Lesson number 7 – Be present in the moment and be grateful. When you’re riding against a strong headwind, cursing the wind the whole time seems to make the ride longer and harder. Accept what is and just enjoy the moment and be thankful for the things that are around you. All of the sudden the ride becomes a little more enjoyable.
Lesson number 8 – Be kind to yourself. There are going to be days when things don’t go your way. Maybe you thought you should have done better on that climb or ridden harder on your ride. Don’t beat yourself up or have negative self-talk. What’s done is done and you cannot change it. Life gives us setbacks and speed bumps so that we can slow down and regroup, refocus, and then move forward with more clarity and strength. My motto for this ride has been “Believe it, see it, and be it.” I’ve believed in myself, I have set a vision of what I want to achieve, and now is my time to be it. I am grateful for this opportunity and thankful for what it has taught me not only about riding but also about myself and life.
Needless to say, Sara had a great ride and is even more enthusiastic about cycling than ever. And as she tells her story, she’s inspiring others to follow her lead. Here’s wishing her continued success!