This summer, I completed my first century, which is a 100-mile bike ride. I normally ride with friends or my husband, but this time, I was on my own. With a long road ahead and no one to talk to, my mind shifted to work, and I noticed a lot of similarities between riding and writing.
Here are 5 ways that riding a century is like content writing:
- Good planning makes for a good outcome: Riding 100 miles felt out of my comfort zone. So does writing about unfamiliar topics. For the century, good planning meant lots of hilly training rides and a hiatus from junk food. As a writer, good planning – through subject matter interviews and secondary research – helps me meet challenging deliverables.
- Divide and conquer to reach big goals: It took just short of 6 hours to ride 100 miles, which is a long time in the saddle. Mentally dividing the ride into manageable 20-mile chunks helped me focus on the experience rather than how far I had to go. Similarly, when I have a large writing project, I divide the deliverable into chunks to help me work efficiently. The success of meeting my goal motivates me to keep moving forward.
- Friends help lighten the load: I made a friend at mile 14, and we used a technique called drafting (taking turns riding in front of each other) to maintain a brisk riding pace. On multi-writer projects, I band together with my Aha comrades to strategize and problem solve, which helps me maintain a brisk writing pace.
- Don’t let challenges become barriers: My century was a supported ride, meaning rest stops and snacks every 20 miles. When I pulled into the 40-mile rest stop, there were no snacks, and I really needed food. Fortunately, I had an energy bar in my pocket, and it got me through to the next stop. In writing, it’s important to anticipate challenges, too. Raising questions early on and offering solutions for potential problems can save a project from stalling.
- Even when you’re cranking, take a breather: By mile 80, I was in a groove and wanted to keep going. But I didn’t know whether I had enough mojo to get to the finish line. So I hit the rest stop to refuel, which helped me make fast work of the final 20 miles. When I write, taking a breather also helps me finish strong. Letting a draft simmer makes it easier to pick off silly mistakes and tighten things up before submitting.
Cyclists, much like writers, can’t leave well enough alone. I’m always looking to sharpen my skills in both endeavors. Even though I’ve found a few practices that are working for me after a job well done, I still try to find one thing to improve upon for next time.