Last year for the first time, I physically challenged myself harder than I ever have before, on BRAN, the "Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska." It took everything I had to finish the 450 mile ride - and I have never been prouder of not giving up - even after riding into a god-awful headwind for 4 hours one day.
This year, my husband Kumy and I, our son Samir, daughter Maya and nephew James rode, with support from my brother Mark (who rode last year.) Even though it was the first week in June again, it was a completely different ride. Last year was hilly and hot, this year was cool and mostly flat.
What stayed the same was the challenge of waking up at 4:30 am, getting ready for another day in the saddle and then hitting the road with the sunrise. Those moments before and during sunrise are just magical.
Along the way, we stopped and made new friends, saw beautiful parts of Nebraska just off the beaten path, met people from friendly small towns and ate way more pie than I should have. (Ask any rider - Nebraska, Pie and Bike-Riding form a sort of holy trinity.)
What I learned from BRAN:
Whatever else you're doing these days - don't wait to take on a big physical challenge. Push yourself to do something hard - whether it's running, swimming, walking or biking. Train for it, be properly dressed and outfitted, but do something that challenges you physically and mentally. You can't buy that sense of accomplishment. It changes how you see the world and how you see yourself.