As promised my partner is back from his biking road trip and I asked him to share some thoughts.
As I rode from Quebec City to Saint John I had lots of time to enjoy the scenery and think as the kilometres rolled by. I consider myself as a distance runner first, so people often asked me what I thought about when I run and did I get bored in my training? My answer: for most of the kilometres I had no problem occupying my mind with thoughts of vacations, family, politics, the state of the world, etc…
Sure there were times in my training, near the end of a marathon or a couple of stretches on this trip that I would use my mantra and yoga breathing techniques to get me to the finish line, but for the most part the thinking time was very therapeutic and stress relieving. Mike refers to it as active meditation. So with that preamble here are some thoughts from my 800 kilometre trip, in no particular order:
1) Boy Canada is a beautiful country, and we are lucky to live here. As I left Quebec City one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, I looked across the St. Lawrence at old Quebec City and saw a beautiful view I have never seen before, despite having visited the city numerous times in my life. The vistas from the bike path along the St. Lawrence south of Riviere du Loup are wonderful, especially when the sun is shining. New Brunswick has hectares and hectares of rolling forests. Fields of vegetables, many with potatoes near Florenceville-Bristol, and some great paths and views along the Saint John River. I have been lucky enough to live in the Maritimes, Ontario, Alberta and have visited every province in my career. I have found something beautiful in every province. I have not been to the far north but it is on my bucket list. My advice, when planning your Victory Lap, get out and discover Canada. So much to see and no exchange rate. Each part of the country has something to make you say wow and our people are generally friendly and welcoming each in their own Canadian way.
2) My bike route covered a lot of the roads I took as a child when we travelled east from Ontario. It brought back fond memories of my family stuffed, literally, into an old 1970 ford with my poor father driving all those miles with 6 well-meaning but not always well behaved kids. What also struck me as I travelled this time was what a good route this was for biking due to the lack of cars but also how the roads were in pretty poor shape. Not surprising since the roads see little use now except for local traffic as travellers and transports now race to their destinations along the Trans-Canada highway. Many of the landmarks along the route I had remembered as a child, were now closed and boarded up. Sad but inevitable. I thought about it in the context of Victory Lap planning, despite our best planning sometimes things out of our control happen. I met one gentleman on the road who purchased a motel along the old route just before a large chain opened near the highway. He had sunk his savings into this property and unfortunately did not properly plan or research. He now has a 30 plus unit motel, he is lucky to rent 5 units a night. Not a business model that is sustainable and sadly difficult decisions will have to be made soon. Like everything in life including retirement planning, we can only make plans based on our research and the advice of our trusted advisors. Inevitably things will go wrong hopefully not so wrong as our friendly motel owner, but having a good financial and lifestyle plan with proper contingencies, will allow us to pivot when things go a little off the rails. Many people want to be footloose and fancy free in retirement, taking advantage of opportunities that come our way, however planning will allow you to have a little less stress in Victory Lap and make life a whole lot easier.
3) If I can pump up my chest for a moment, during our presentations, we talk about pushing out our “Best Before” date. The best before date is that period of our life after your principal career when you have time and the health to live life on your terms. Being healthy allows you to participate in activities that interest and challenge you. As I pedalled along I was feeling blessed that here I was in my mid-fifties, covering all those kilometres, including many rolling hills, still able to enjoy riding. I won’t lie to you staying fit and training is not easy, it does take discipline. Staying in shape requires some activity just about every day, in my case running, and biking. I supplement these activities with yoga and strength training, and dabble in other pursuits like golf, skiing, and curling. I know some of you may not have found an activity what works for you, but keep trying. I was lucky I found activities I enjoy relatively early in life which I believe has kept me healthy and hopefully pushes out my best before date. If I can give you one piece of advice, find an activity that keeps you moving. You may even find other benefits like making new friends, sleeping better, or finding a new goal to pursue. If you become a runner start with running to the end of the block, then running a kilometre and build to a 5 kilometre road race, most importantly you will get a runners high and if that happens all the better.
I will share additional thoughts with you in upcoming blogs have a wonderful week.