By Lynne Beverly Strang
Since this blog began in 2010, I have profiled all kinds of entrepreneurs — but I’ve seldom featured a family member. Happily, I get to write about one for this post.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Emporia, Kansas to watch the Dirty Kanza, an annual gravel road cycling event with several distance options. Among this year’s 2,700 registrants was my husband, Jim, who owns six bicycle stores throughout Northern Virginia. At age 60, Jim was a first-time rider in the DK200, a self-supported, 200-mile endurance challenge.
With gravel grinding, cyclists usually ride on gravel, rocks and/or packed dirt. Typical routes are trails and backroads with little or no traffic – one of the reasons this type of cycling is becoming more popular.
Although I’m a long-distance cyclist myself, I couldn’t helping wondering what my spouse had gotten himself into when he set out to race 200 miles in one day. The dusty, hilly DK200 has just two checkpoints and goes through Kansas’ remote, rugged Flint Hills, described here as “the largest expanse of tall grass prairie existing anywhere in the world.”
Thanks to meticulous preparation and a disciplined training regime, Jim did great. He finished in under 16 hours and placed ninth in his age category. Not bad for a sexagenarian rookie.
While gravel riding and entrepreneurship may seem unrelated, they have much in common. For one thing, the sport tends to appeal to hard-working businesses people like Jim, who relish the opportunity to escape for a few hours of outdoor exercise in a quiet, peaceful setting.
In addition, endurance athletes and entrepreneurs share certain characteristics, including a desire to push themselves. As a spectator of the Dirty Kanza, I came away with these reminders about success:
Preparation is key. Fulfillment of a goal requires research, careful planning and a timetable. You usually don’t get the outcome you want if you wing it
Perseverance is critical. Some want to traverse 200 miles of gnarly gravel roads on a bike. And some aspire to navigate the pitfalls, setbacks and tough times that come with starting and operating a business. In both cases, you need a will to succeed.
You can’t do it alone. Your odds for success improve greatly when you join a supportive group of fellow athletes or business owners who share tips and ideas. You also need family members who encourage you to pursue your dream.
Age changes your perspective. As you get older, success becomes more about the journey than the destination. It may take longer than it did 10 or 15 years ago to crest a hill or cross the finish line. But each scenic view, each high five, is sweeter.
Congratulations, Jim. And congratulations to all of this year’s Dirty Kanza riders who took on a challenge bigger than themselves. You rock, literally and physically.