I write this off the back of a very special 6Points Challenge event in Mallorca. Riders unite to cycle four compass extremities of the island plus the highest and lowest points. It was my third time taking part in a 6Points event, twice in Mallorca and once in Menorca. If you like riding a bike even just a little bit, or just a good craic, then you should join. https://6pointschallenges.com
In the lead up I feel an anticipatory cocktail bathe me with doubt as to my physical capacity to take part and ride over a hundred kilometres for consecutive days. I have an injured forearm and seem to have had a winter plagued with bouts of bugs and Covid. No excuses, but it stirs up the never-far-away uncertainty that most of us have. In the aftermath of the event, a flush of exaltation is the reward – the digestif that will last for weeks.
Now it runs into my fingers and this oozing of words.
I am typically the slowest rider. I arrive late in the afternoon, grateful to the little posse that has hung out with me. They have been good company and have advanced their bike-balancing skills riding slowly uphill with me and sprint trained chasing me downhill. That’s how it goes on a handbike.
As we rode into the finish on the final day, a group of riders came back out to meet me. We rode the final hundred metres together, into and through the inflatable finish arch, to cheers and applauds from the large crowd gathered around.
But I felt SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE with the fuss on my arrival.
“You’re in the 6 Points Family”. Bryan, the loveable founder of the event embraced me.
I was congratulated by lots of lovely people, many saying “You’re an inspiration”.
I was showered in this compliment for the duration of 6 Points.
As I am for much of life.
Each time I hear it, I smile politely and change the subject.
I am like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a learned response to the words.
The previous evening, I was crashed out on the hotel bed recovering before dinner. My friend and room-mate lay nearby on her bed.
“Does it bug you that people say you’re inspiring all the time?” she blurted. “It’s non-stop. I don’t’ know how I’d feel if I were you”.
I like it that she has asked.
I imagine that she can see me squirm, wriggle and retreat inside, that she notices my lack of “thank you” and how I change the subject.
“Yep,” I confess. “I don’t know what to say. It makes me feel like I’m in a show, playing a role of inspiration. I’m just doing what I love like everyone else. I like to fit in not stick out”.
I believe in inspiration though: it is a fuel that we all need to propel is forward. My speaking & coaching business is called Inspire and Impact so I cannot shy from the term!
However, I would like to drop the discomfort and deflection and self-deprecation I sense in myself when I hear the words “You’re an inspiration”.
I would like to change my response.
I would like to find new words. I would say “Thank you”.
And I would continue.
“But you just see in me something that you have in yourself. You are greater than you think”.
The night before I was paralysed, I infamously said “I’d rather be dead than paralysed. I can’t imagine anything worse.”
But I love my life.
And I retract those words.
I became inspired by traits in others that I had never seen in myself.
I was inspired to live life on terms I hadn’t planned on.
It makes me happy if something I do inspires another. Truly.
Inspiration means being stimulated to do or feel something.
A fabulous thing.
But next time you are about to say to someone “You’re inspiring”, pause.
Ask yourself “What is this person or situation inspiring in me?”.
If you like, tell them specifically what they are inspiring in you, knowing they are not different from you, but that they have just reminded you of something.
But more importantly, tell yourself and look at what you can do about it.
When we feel inspired, we are receiving a message.
A famous message once spoken by Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh.
“You are braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
Smarter than you think,
And loved more than you know.”
The fact that I am paralysed with an adventurous streak means that I have this quote hanging invisibly around my neck. The braver I get with life’s quantum maze of possibilities, the brighter the sign lights up.
Reflect on what or who inspires you and why. Then get after it.
I am inspired this weekend by many. By…
A who sleeps barely a wink and just gets on with what needs to be done.
B who works tirelessly in his retirement to create 6Points
C who is passionate about photography and leaps from feet to floor with camera embraced
D who offers his brain and time and skills to tell stories of refugees and wait, another D who bundles love and care from a support car
E that sailed around the world a few times, and I think there was an R and a few others that did that too.
H who had knee arthroscopies and pain but goes for it anyway and invites all his mates
I who works hard at a dull job to provide stability to loved ones
J who bundles treats and water and laughs and loves with others in the support car
K who has radically changed their life and only started riding a bike a month or two ago
L …I know there was one that inspired me
M who bakes cakes and wraps each individual slice up with love
N who effuses care and coordination and positivity to everyone and everything
O who supports and crashes and recovers without complaint
I am inspired by all of these people and it reminds me to keep stepping up, to believe in what we can create and do collectively, to follow our passions, to effuse positivity and love, that sometimes we have to dig deep and work hard to overcome. And if any of you 75 riders or support crew read this, the list is longer and no-one is excluded and you will see these traits echo within yourself.
We are all connected.
Inspiration is the fabric that weaves us all together.
Thanks 6Points for the collective fuel of inspiration.
As we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, then go after hanging out with more of those that help you towards that inspired version of you.
Entering 6Points is a good place to start.
P.S. There are many more handbikers our there, all brave and stronger and smart in unique and different ways. Some of them will be able to ride the Muntanas group as fast as the fastest of you! If you are a handbiker, get your biceps to 6 Points next year. You will love it and 6Points will love you.