Last weekend, I participated in a 100-mile bike event in the Texas heat and wind.
Each year, about 15,000 cyclists converge on Wichita Falls to test themselves against the extreme conditions and see if they can cross the finish line without requiring a trip to the emergency room.
Having done this event for many years, I felt pretty confident about how to prepare and what things to tell myself in order to battle through the wind and heat. Even with experience though, there are entire stretches of the ride that can make you feel defeated.
Toward the end of the course, cyclists are routed through a stretch of Sheppard AFB and ride through what is called, Airman’s Alley. There, lining both sides of the street, are military guys cheering and screaming and clapping for you as you pedal through and on to the finish line.
What is amazing is that cyclists of all levels of experience and ability regularly report that those 15 seconds of the event are the best part of the entire weekend. They consistently rank it the single best part of the ride, even above the tremendous feeling of crossing the finish line and getting a medal.
I have to agree. When you have ridden many miles in the heat and relentless wind, yet the finish line is still miles away, it is easy to get discouraged. As you approach Airman’s Alley though, you can hear the wild cheering from a distance and it does something powerful to you. I think it has to do with encouragement. Suddenly, your whole body is flooded with adrenaline and energy that overtakes the fatigue in your legs and spirit. It is as if those 15 seconds of cheering literally bring you back to life.
It is the power of encouragement. I have often thought what a difference it makes in all areas of our lives. What would it be like to know that in the toughest times of your normal life, there are people standing and cheering you on, encouraging you to keep on going?
Encouragement is a wonderful gift to both give and receive. Are you feeling defeated? Are you down in spirit, feeling overwhelmed or hopeless? It is likely that even when you don’t see them, there are people in your life who are cheering you on. In difficult times, find these people. Seek them out, let them know you need their gift of encouragement.
Look around you and you will likely see people you too can encourage. Is there someone at work who seems stressed out? Do your kids come home from school looking overwhelmed or sad? It doesn’t cost anything to encourage someone. It doesn’t even take very long. Airman’s Alley only lasts about 15 seconds of a 100 mile bike ride, but it continues to be the most memorable part of the whole experience.
Never underestimate the power of encouragement! Sometimes by cheering others on, we too find a strength we didn’t know we had in ourselves.