Lessons Learned...Along the Way
by Jake Jacobson

When I was in my mid-thirties, I went on a trip. Now, this was not an ordinary trip! I got on a bicycle in Portland , Oregon , and proceeded to ride over the rivers and through the woods to Portland , Maine . Yes, I said I rode a bicycle all that way. You may ask why I would do such a silly thing? Well, I guess you might say I had a wild hair, or felt the need and could not fight it. Whatever the reason, the trip was indeed a Great Adventure.

Once the decision had been made to do the trip, I started doing a lot of training rides. And so, it seemed only natural for me to ride the 12 miles to work every day. Some of those days I would arrive soaking wet … because of the rain. On other days, I would arrive soaking wet … from sweating. Fortunately, my workplace had a shower room, and I made good use of it. On the weekends, I was up bright and early and on my way. After those weekend rides I would arrive back at home in what kind of condition? That's right, soaking wet!

There was something I discovered while doing all that training. At first I had to force myself to get on that bike every day. But as time went by, getting on that bike got easier and easier. I actually got to the point where I looked forward to my daily rides. And so it is with anything you want or desire. Once the goal is set, the work it takes to reach that goal becomes easier the more that you do it.

Well, the day finally arrived that I would begin my adventure. I had quit my job, sold my car, and I was ready. Or so I thought! With all that training, I figured it would be a breeze. After I had been out on the road for a few days, I found out that I really had not been ready. At the end of the day, there was no soft bed to climb into. Instead, I had to set up the tent and roll out the sleeping bag.

In the morning, I had to pack it all up again and get back on the bike. When the weather was nice, I rejoiced and got back on the bike. When it was rainy, I grumbled about having to put on all that rain gear and got back on the bike. There was a lesson here. No matter how good or how bad the conditions – on a bike or in life – you just have to keep on going.

I really learned to appreciate the tough times, such as riding in the rain or climbing a steep mountain pass. Now, I did not say I liked them, I said I learned to appreciate them. They prepare us so that we can enjoy the good times, such as a sunny day or the long downhill coast on the other side of the mountain. Those are our “Rewards” for going through the tough times.

Probably the most challenging part of the trip was the “flat” plains of the Dakotas . They are definitely NOT flat! Those gently rolling hills are more frustrating than a steep mountain climb, because they just keep going on and on.

In fact, the mountains were my favorite place to ride. Although the climb to the top was sometimes very strenuous, the goal of that long coast on the other side always kept me going. I learned that if I thought about the long climb in front of me, it could be depressing. But, if I thought about just making it to the next bend in the road, it suddenly got easier. And so it is in life. If you focus on small goals, the long journey to your destination becomes much easier.

After three months on the road, my trusty steed and I finally rolled in to Portland , Maine . On my odyssey I had been through a number of states, a Canadian Province , and even Ottawa , the Capital City of Canada .

Although I had finally reached Portland , Maine , I felt kind of sad. I had reached my goal and the great adventure had come to an end. It suddenly dawned on me that there was one more lesson here. Although I had reached my goal, I had accumulated a wealth of experiences, met some wonderful people, and had learned some valuable lessons.

So, here is my advice: Strive for your goal with all the gusto you can muster. But, make sure you really ENJOY the journey. That is what makes the destination so precious.

Whether you are on a journey, or living your day-to-day life, just remember that there are many wonderful experiences and lessons to be learned … along the way!


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