Trans Atlantic Cycle

in8Motivation - The Journey of Life

The Journey of Life

Roger Holmes No Comments

This week, more than any other, I have been thinking about the journey of life. All of us are on it. Most people are moving forward, albeit at different rates. None of us are sure what the final destination holds in store for us. But if we set a goal and are truly honest with ourselves about working towards it, we can determine how much we enjoy the journey of life.

I reached a checkpoint on the journey of life this week – I committed to starting a business in New York City. Three years ago that decision would have engulfed me in fear and self-doubt. But not now. Now, I am ready. Life, as we all know only too well, is incredibly unpredictable, and can at times bring pain. I have witnessed that. But while we cannot change what the journey of life throws at us, we can certainly change our perceptions and our outlook.

in8Motivation

Don’t give up on your goals

 

in8Motivation (website coming soon), is something that I have been working towards for a very long time. The cover photo of this blog post was taken in the Nevada desert in late June 2016, when I was cycling alone across America on Trans-Atlantic Cycle. I remember looking at the road up ahead of me – US Highway 50 AKA ‘The Loneliest Road in America‘ – and how it stretched out in front of me for so many miles that I couldn’t see what lay ahead. It didn’t matter.

The desert, just like the journey of life, can be unforgiving if we allow it to be. That day on Highway 50, the temperature had risen to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun was relentless. There was no shade; no respite from the burning rays. The nearest services were over thirty miles away. There was nothing out there, and I had no cell phone coverage. But I was smiling inside.

My focus was so strong that I was able to get to the next town in spite of the dangerous conditions. All I had to do was to keep turning the pedals, keep sipping water, keep replenishing sun block, and keep enjoying the moments as they passed by. Using that approach, I kept turning those pedals and six hours later I arrived safely at the next town.

 

in8Motivation

We can choose to rust by the roadside, or pedal harder towards our goals

 

There were moments. They happen to us all. Moments when I wondered what on earth I was doing, what would happen to me. What if I pulled a muscle? What if I broke the chain and got heat stroke while changing it? What if? What if! Negative thoughts, fear and self doubt are sure to come along. But we are are defined by how we deal with fear and negativity. That day in the desert, as soon as I became aware of any negative thoughts or self doubt, I told myself that those thoughts were not real. I could choose what to think. I replaced the negative thoughts of failure with positive thoughts about my plan to establish a business in New York City. I’ve been pedaling towards that goal ever since. Fear of failure is not real, and we can learn how to switch it off.

I learned while out in places like the Nevada desert that motivation can be engineered. A key building block is meditation. With this approach on the journey of life, we can achieve just about anything we want to, and go as far as we want to. You make a goal, you make a plan to work towards it, and you don’t even contemplate giving up. Never ever give up. The only thing that will stop you from achieving your goal is you.

 

in8Motivation - The Journey of Life

Meditation on ‘The Loneliest Road in America’

 

The remoteness of ‘The Loneliest Road in America’ has great symbolism given the nature of my business. I was reliant on myself to get to my destination. It reminds me of a sign I saw outside of a church in Illinois: ‘The quieter we become, the more we can hear.” If we quieten the mind, the journey of life will lead us to great places. When we meditate, we quieten our mind. We can switch off or at the very least learn how to deal with negative thoughts. By meditating, we can delve into an ocean of pure consciousness, from where we can summon the most amazing motivation as we chase our goals.

 

in8Motivation

Reach for your goals – no matter how high you have to reach

 

I am currently working on Motivation Workshops, Guided Meditation for office environments, and am offering motivation coaching services on a one-to-one basis for clients who want to work towards personal goals. Those goals can be personal fitness, career based, weight loss, an adventure challenge like Trans-Atlantic Cycle, or simply to eliminate procrastination. We are all on the journey of life. Whether we freewheel, follow others, or blaze our own trail is entirely up to us. We have the power within us – it is an innate quality that we all have.

I will be talking more about in8Motivation very shortly!

 

in8Motivation - The Journey of Life

 

2016 – Annus Mirabilis :)

Roger Holmes No Comments

There is a theory doing the rounds that 2016 will be remembered as Annus Horibilis – a Latin term meaning horrible year. Whether it is or not depends on how you perceived it. Personally, 2016 was Annus Mirabilis, and I am looking forward to an even better 2017!

People are pointing to the election of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, celebrity death, continued economic uncertainty etc etc as evidence of some sort of perfect storm of negativity in 2016. That may or may not be, but I have learned by using The Paris Method, that I can feel good in most situations. If you rate your year based on things which are beyond your control, then Annus Horibilis will call again.

Last year, as 2015 was winding down I wrote a series of entries in this blog about meditation, inspiration and motivation. Anyone can talk the talk – but how do you walk the walk? I took a few hits along the way. Not everyone is going to be receptive to this kind of talk, and I had to learn that this is okay. People will chit-chat; some will speculate and others will even poke fun. But it shouldn’t matter. It didn’t matter to me.

 

At the dawn of 2016 I made a few decisions and used certain methods to stick with my convictions as the year progressed. And by doing this, 2016 was the best year of my life. I honestly believe it didn’t just happen by chance. I feel that I had a part to play in how my year panned out.

 

The basic decisions I made were to:

  • Meditate regularly
  • Be grateful
  • Think less about myself
  • See the good in others
  • Be positive even when it did not seem to come naturally.

 

Writing last year about this type of stuff, and publishing it on the internet was not an easy thing to do. There were a few reasons I did that. I wanted to see the year in totality; right from January 1st. I also wanted to see the progression, because I think that is great inspiration for the future. Putting it out there in the public domain also set a challenge for myself, and I used that as motivation to keep going.

 

I’m not going to go through all of the enjoyable things that happened in 2016, but suffice to say that it was a year that worked out really well for me. I helped to raise over six thousand dollars for a cancer charity, and encouraged dozens of men in their 40’s to go and get checked out for early signs of prostate cancer. I am really happy about that. And the best part is, right now I have plans in place to enjoy 2017 even more. It may or may not work out that way, but Im looking forward to it with optimism.

 

never-stop-exploring

Next year I plan on taking on another adventure challenge to test myself, and to raise awareness of prostate cancer. The adventure is going to be solo. It is going to be tough. And I am going to do it. Unlike my bike ride across America, I am not going to be fundraising for a charity this time around. I want the challenge to be more focused on what is really important.

 

If all goes well, I am going to start a business in 2017. I plan to finish the book that Im writing about Trans Atlantic Cycle, and have it published. And I certainly plan to explore and learn more about meditation and it’s benefits. That is a big one.

 

Whatever resolutions or decisions you make for 2017, I wish you well with them. I am not in the business of telling anyone what to do, but meditation has really helped me. I can appreciate things in a new way, and can sense the freedom to make positive changes and help others along the way. Keeping a promise to yourself is a beautiful thing. If you break that promise then don’t worry; just start over. Keep at it. You can make 2017 your annus marbles! Just remember…

Every waking moment is another chance to turn it all around.  

Trans Atlantic Cycle – The Motivation

Roger Holmes No Comments

As I cycled on The Katy Trail in Missouri, approximately two thirds of the way into the charity challenge of riding across America and Ireland; a new mantra came to mind: See the good in everyone – especially yourself. Thinking about that sentence, and all that it entails, gave me increased awareness of my motivation. From that point onwards, I picked up the pace and put myself in a position where I was able to reach New York City on my target date of August 14th 2016.

Missouri_Sunset

I had a beautifully peaceful and spiritual experience overlooking this Missouri River sunset – by connecting with my motivation

Later that same day, I crossed the great Missouri River. I stopped and stared in awe at the amazing sunset. That led to several minutes of beautiful quiet time, reflection and meditation. When eating my supper later still, I wondered if I would have even noticed that sunset and had that peaceful spiritual moment on the bridge, had I not been thinking about my new mantra. Having the conviction to hold true to a genuine motivation cuts out a lot of stressful and unnecessary thoughts, and opens the door for newer, more beautiful emotions and experiences. You can be self confident without being cocky. When you are sure of your motivation, you can see the world from a different perspective.

When I announced that I was doing Trans Atlantic Cycle to raise funds and awareness for The Irish Cancer Society, I didn’t give too much background, or explain my motivation for doing such an epic challenge. Despite some people telling me that I wouldn’t do it, I shouldn’t do it or that I couldn’t do it; I am doing it. My motivation is strong – because it came from within. I knew that I could do it – one day at a time.

For a long number of years, I bent over backwards to seek approval from others; probably because I doubted myself so much. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. Self doubt is a ball and chain that we must cast off. I was once dependent upon others to grant me happiness and contentment. I was willing to do things that were detrimental to my own wellbeing and peace of mind, in the pursuit of winning approval from others. I now see that for the folly that it was.

Two years ago I fell from an electric bicycle. The injuries were very painful, and the trauma was a heavy burden to bear. I slipped into self-pity which compounded things. It took a long time to find treatment, but I was eventually referred to Philip O’Rourke. During my sessions with Philip, I realized that I had to face my fear and get back on a bicycle. To do this, I had to look deep within myself, and start to build from the bottom up. When I eventually felt better, we discussed the possibility of doing a cycle to celebrate the fact that I was well again. A case of, “hair of the dog that bit you”. I started to think about doing a charity fundraiser. Philip is a cancer survivor, and had been given invaluable help by The Irish Cancer Society during his recovery. It seemed fitting that I should help the charity that helped the man who helped me. It completes a nice little circle of giving.

Cycling alone across America is by no means a decision that you come to lightly. I weighed it up. And then it occurred to me: there are thousands of poor souls in Ireland who are fighting cancer, or grieving a loved one, who would jump on a bike in a heart beat if only it would make things better. The realization that I was blessed and fortunate enough to have recovered from my accident was enough to inspire me to take on Trans Atlantic Cycle. It is a tiny challenge compared to what many others have to face.

When I realized that I could experience peace and serenity by counting the blessings that I have instead of lamenting the things that I don’t have, my view of life changed. Isn’t it funny that when we pledge to help others (instead of trying to impress them), that we actually find peace and contentment ourselves? And when we concentrate only on our own material needs, we oft times encounter discontent and unhappiness? And so, armed with this attitude and motivation, on June 14th 2016, against all the odds, I was standing at the pier in San Francisco with my trusteed Peggy, about to set off alone across the United States of America. I was happy, at peace with what lay ahead, and confident that I would have the conviction to complete what I set out to do.

I meditate every day while cycling. And afterwards I make a point of counting my blessings. Most days, the first blessing that comes to mind is that I have my health, and that I was able to get up out of bed and face another day. In the past, I focused on negatives. Now I count my blessings, and the gratitude that this brings always gives me a good head start to the day.

The quieter you become, the more you can here

I passed this poignant sign outside a a presbyterian church in rural Illinois. Such a powerful message.

I have faced many obstacles during Trans Atlantic Cycle. The Sierra Nevada’s came very early and were too much for my legs. It took three attempts to make it over Echo Summit. I was exhausted and had to rest for two days at South Lake Tahoe. The heat in Nevada caused all sorts of issues. I was dehydrated and had diarrhea in Utah. I was gasping in the thin air near the top of Monarch Pass, the 11,300 foot summit where I scaled The Rockies. I fell coming out of The Rockies. I was faced off by a mountain lion in Montrose, Colorado. I had to ask the police for assistance when it looked like I couldn’t find a place to stay late in the evening in Sacramento. I have had countless tough days. But one thing has been constant: my motivation to do this.

I believe that Trans Atlantic Cycle is 75% mental and 25% physical. I believe that if your mental attitude and motivation are right, you can overcome any obstacle to achieve your goal. There is always a way.

Brooklyn Bridge and Freedom Tower

Brooklyn Bridge and Freedom Tower in New York City. Both of these were difficult projects, but when completed they signify growth, freedom, movement and a bright future. I thought that was a very symbolic thought as I entered Manhattan.

I am writing this as I rest up in New York City, before moving on to Ireland, where I will ride from Letterkenny to Dublin, to the offices of The Irish Cancer Society. I am thinking about a few lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘IF’:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

Regardless of whether or not I complete Trans Atlantic Cycle, I hope that I am showing that even from the darkest place, you can find the light of hope. When I was asked to dig deep to find the will to face my fears and get back on a bicycle, I inadvertently found so much more, locked away inside. I am so much stronger than I thought I was. I have goodness within me. I discovered those things by finding silence and calmness through meditation. I learned to be able to give myself a pat on the back instead of flailing myself for no good reason based on what other people might think of me.

Trans Atlantic Cycle has been an amazing journey and adventure. It has been the most spiritual time in my life. I have seen the world from many different perspectives. Perspective is my favorite word. It is the first step in The Paris Method. Getting grounded and finding out about yourself in an unbiased way is a complete revelation.

No matter how fragile you may feel initially, you can build strong motivation to achieve your goals by using fundamental positives as the first building blocks. Rock bottom is the best place from which to build any strong foundation. A little over a year ago, I barely had the motivation to go out to the local shop. Now, I have cycled over three and a half thousand miles across America on my own.

I am not too sure what lies ahead – although I have an idea of what my future will be like. For now, I am returning to that silent, spiritual place which I get to by practicing The Paris Method, and whatever I discover about myself there, I know that it will be genuine, true and in my own best interests regardless of how others see it. I have learned to see the good in people – especially myself. I have been turning a negative experience (my bicycle fall) in to a positive outcome (raising funds and awareness for The Irish Cancer Society). But most of all, I have learned how to find peace. For years I searched frantically for it. I looked for it in other people, through vacations, in material possessions, inside bottles (thats a whole other story), and in many more ways and places. And all the while, it was there with me all the time, deep inside of me. I just had to figure out how to find it, and believe in it.

People have asked me if I prayed during my journey. I most certainly did. But I wasn’t praying for my needs, I was saying wordless prayers of gratitude for being given the time, the health and the energy to do what I am doing. I can honestly say that I breathed in every last drop of what my journey across the United States of America had to offer me. It was and is, a life-changing experience.

Thanks for reading. I hope that Trans Atlantic Cycle is the start of a spiritual adventure of continued personal growth, and I hope that I can continue to do a little bit to help others – instead of trying to impress them. That is my motivation going forward.

Trans Atlantic Cycle – The People and The Emotions

Roger Holmes No Comments

So, I am cycling 3,750 miles across America and Ireland to raise funds for The Irish Cancer Society. Trans Atlantic Cycle has so far been defined by people – great people. I am leaving a trail of new friends across the United States of America. New friends, who I am sure will become old friends. This challenge has also been heavily ingrained with emotions. The support for #TransAtlanticCycle is very much appreciated. I am a lucky man to have such good people around me.

Ray at Huckleberry

Ray Kim, whose expert advice at Huckleberry Bicycles really set me up well for the long road ahead.

In San Francisco, I met Ray Kim in Huckleberry Bicycles, who was amazing to deal with, and still provides support. I stayed with Fabi, Dylan and Brissa – such great hospitality. Tracey Cullen, a talented singer/songwriter, allowed me to use her music ‘First Kiss‘ in the video I made about leaving San Francisco. It is a beautiful song, and it was great being able to use it. It is available to buy on iTunes.

Donna contributed so much in terms of motivation and support, and made a generous donation to The Irish Cancer Society. Then there was Sinead, who went out of her way to help me, and hooked me up with Cheri and Jim in Carson City, where I was treated like a king.

Cheri_And_Jim

Cheri and Jim, who provided great hospitality at their lovely home in Minden, Nevada. They were great hosts.

 

1965 Mustang

Jim’s 1965 Mustang GT, which I got to drive! Not many men would hand over the keys of such a car. Thanks Jim

The Desert Angels – where do I even start to describe their kindness. I met these twin ladies outside of a grocery store in Dayton. When they heard where I was headed, they went home, packed up their motorhome and basically shepherded me all the way across the state of Nevada. I am still lost for words as to how I feel about their kindness, but it was epic, and has remained in my heart.

Desert Angels

The ‘Desert Angels’ M and Liz. These twins really saved me, by shepherding me across the state of Nevada

When all seemed lost after a heatwave swept through Utah, up stepped Grace and Bob. Had it not been for their assistance, I would surely have succumbed to the 110 degree heat in the Canyon Lands.

Things went a little pear shaped in Moab. Trans Atlantic Cycle hit the wall, to borrow marathon terminology. The heat and elevation combined with all of the long cycle rides, finally got to me. I had to remain indoors for two days as I grappled with stomach cramps, diarrhea, and a blip in form. I posted an online update from Moab in which I was a little cranky, but I am so glad that I did it. It is good to share the tough and embarrassing moments as well as the classic Instagram moments.

Once the heat subsided, I scaled the La Sal Mountains, and in doing so, crossed another state line; this time into Colorful Colorado, where I again immediately met some nice folks. Tony, Amanda and their kids were great hosts. While visiting their hillside house and strolling on their grounds admiring the views, I came face to face (around 40 feet away) with a mountain lion!. I back-traked, and once out of sight I ran back to the house. I was both shaken and delighted to have experienced this very rare encounter.

On the eve of July fourth, I met Randy Kerr; a gentleman, and a phenomenal athlete. At 60 years of age, he is competing in (and wining) all sorts of mountain bike races. His fitness, and his commitment to it, are a lesson to any cyclist. Randy doesn’t hear so well (a legacy from his Army service), but it didn’t dampen our conversation. I had the pleasure of riding out of Montrose with him, just after the Independence Day parade, and we rode the very scenic (and very tough) road to Gunnison, where we watched the town’s fireworks display. That was a special day. En route I also bumped into Brad and Chris, and spent a very enjoyable hour on their breathtakingly beautiful ranch in the mountains.

While resting in the homely Wanderlust Hostel, where Amy has created a lovely atmosphere, I met yet more nice people. Mike, who was en route from Atlanta Georgia for a new life in Denver, was a good guy, great company, and a lot of fun. I also met Ron, and hung out with him for a day or two. A retired federal employee, he forgoes luxury to vacation a little differently. Ron hikes. For hundreds of miles. And he hitches rides between trails. I don’t think I have ever met a more humble and genuine man, and that is exactly why he does what he does. The wild country and the low budget experience, remind him of how lucky he is to have his luxuries when he gets back home. Ron, if you are reading this, I think you should write a book – people would love to read it.

Mike_Reno

Mike, who was heading to Denver

Also in the unique Wanderlust Hostel, I met John, a pharmacist from Garden City Kansas, who was guiding his young daughter through a Colorado vacation. Watching how much time John spent with his daughter, ensuring that she was having a good time, was just a joy.

On my last night in the hostel, I met Natalie; a school teacher and adventurer from Cincinnati. Again, conversation flowed. We covered ground from health insurance, to outdoor pursuits, right through to spirituality. It was this topic that has provided a legacy now that I am out on the road again. Natalie, I wish you nothing but success and happiness. I also briefly met Kevin Record, from Tallahassee Florida who is riding across America from East to West. Kevin is also fundraising for a cancer charity. We compared notes and experiences, and although our meeting was brief, we will stay in touch on social media.

Kevin_Record

Kevin Record, who is going the other way across America. If only we had more time to chat. Kindred spirits

After almost settling in permanently at the Wanderlust, I finally made the move that I was preparing for. Monarch Pass had been looming large in my thoughts since I had left San Francisco. I won’t lie, had it not been for keeping some cancer victims in mind, I may have bailed out of that tough climb. My aunt Kathleen passed away in 2008 from Cancer, as did Jimsie in 2016, and those two, along with numerous others, were in my thoughts the entire day. At 300 feet from the summit, the climb was so steep and the air so thin, that I was literally gasping.

I rested for a time, and just like an apparition, along came Kawika Plummer, a trans-American rider from Hawaii, who stirred me up for a final push, and so I followed his back wheel to the summit. Kawika often rides up to 140 miles a day. I hope Im so fit at that age!

Kawika

Kawika from Hawaii, whose wheel I followed up the last 300ft climb to Monarch Pass. Top of The Rockies

I actually stayed on the summit of Monarch Pass for around 2 hours. I was just so happy to be there. Places like this are the Everest of the cycling world. Monarch is 3,500 feet higher than the highest summit on the 2016 Tour de France. I was feeling very emotional, as I remembered those who had been in my thoughts as I struggled up the mountain. It was a strange mix of happiness, sadness, achievement, tiredness and satisfaction. There were a few tears. And that’s ok, and ok to admit to.

sign_man

Top of The Rockies! Happy to finally scale Monarch Pass – Highest point on Trans Atlantic Cycle at 11,312 feet

And that brings me to another defining day. En route to Canyon City, I was riding US50 as it turned and twisted through a deep gorge, which followed the flow of the Arkansas River. The scenery was beautiful, but those steep canyon walls had a little menacing input into my adventure. Some rock fall rolled out in front of me, and there was little that I could do. Thankfully, the split second that I was airborne gave me time to accept what was happening, and I managed to roll with it as i hit the road. Peggy took the worst of the hit. Thankfully, after a few running repairs and a few days rest, Peggy and myself were back on the road. It could have been a lot lot worse in so many ways.

Poor_Peggy

Poor Peggy looking a bit worse for wear in Canyon City, CO

 

Cuts

Road rash after falling between Salida and Canyon City, CO

For my part, I escaped with some road rash and a few cuts. My hip is sore but there is nothing broken. A very nice French tourist (whose name I did not catch) dressed one of my knees on the roadside, and a lady called Diane gave myself and Peggy a ride into the nearest town. From the highs of Monarch Pass, there was a bit of a low that evening as I gathered my thoughts and rejigged my plans. I became even more determined to keep going and reach New York City. I have met too many genuinely kind and supportive people, and have too much support from family and friends to just throw in the towel. There is also the matter of thinking about all of the people who will benefit from the donations which have been made on Trans Atlantic Cycle’s behalf to The Irish Cancer Society.

I called to mind a mantra which I have been using from the outset of Trans Atlantic Cycle – every negative experience can have a positive outcome. And sure enough, after vowing to continue, I finally rolled out of The Rockies and entered the Arkansas River Valley, where once again, the people were friendly and kind almost beyond belief. I felt rewarded for making the decision to continue. I visited two hospices while riding through the valley; firstly Sangre de Cristo in Fowler, and then Arkansas Valley Hospice in La Junta.

Ark_Valley

The staff of Arkansas Valley Hospice, who gave me a warm welcome

It was just amazing to be greeted by these wonderful people who do such amazing work for their patients. These visits had a very humbling effect upon me, and added renewed determination which counterbalanced the hurt I was feeling since the fall.

In La Junta I was given hospitality by John and Kathy, whose caring nature and dedication in helping others less fortunate is quite simply staggering. I completely relaxed in their home, and added a few more names to the long list of great American people who I will be staying in touch with when this is all over. John and Kathy have such a profound impact on the lives of those they care for. Thanks must go to selfless Mary Palmer for the introduction.

John_And_Kathy

Denver Bronco’s fan John Mestas, and his lovely wife Kathy, who made me feel so at home in La Junta, Colorado

I was quite sad to be leaving Colorado, as it has definitely been my favorite state to have visited thus far. The scenery is beautiful and the people are really friendly and kind. So far, Kansas has been Kansas. Some people complain about how boring the landscapes are, but I really like them. The land in places is so flat that the cattle ranches, wind farms and corn fields stretch out as far as the eye can see. I was raised on a farm, so can appreciate the beauty and fertility of this land. It is vast, and it is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by so much of what others describe as so little.

Corn

One of the many corn fields in Kansas. They roll out on both sides of the road as far as the eye can see.

It has been very hot, even at night time. It is hard to know which is more comfortable; the heat at night, or the rattling of an air conditioning unit. My hip is also still troubling me. But it was good to cross another state line, and in doing so, change timezones once more. I am now only an hour behind New York City.

Kansas

It is always such a milestone when entering into a new state. But I was sad to leave Colorado

If anyone is in any doubt, this challenge is very trying. It is taking a lot of energy and sometimes I have to dig right to the bottom of the tank to find the strength to keep going. But, there is a two-fold benefit happening which cannot be ignored. Firstly, donations are being made to the Irish Cancer Society as a result of the effort that I am putting in. And secondly, I am meeting some truly wonderful people on my journey across America. Sometimes the experience becomes a little overwhelming, but it is all very positive nonetheless. I have spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts while traveling through this beautiful country, and have decided to write more extensively about the experiences after I have completed Trans Atlantic Cycle. There is so much to tell.

To make a donation to The Irish Cancer Society on my behalf, please visit the following page: TransAtlanticCycle

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