Have you ever had something you worked really hard for? Or a challenge you overcame? I recently had an experience that reminded me of the value of good, old fashioned hard work!
It was 10:30 PM on the night before bike to work day and unfortunately, the valve of my bike tube broke off while I was pumping my tire. Air hissed out, deflating the tire completely. I was overcome by a moment of irrational anger and annoyance.
“This sucks! Now I won’t be able to participate in bike to work day which only happens once a year!” Then I quickly realized that duh, I had the power! I could change the tube myself.
Never mind that it was nearly 11 PM at night and I had never changed one before. I was determined to bike to work the next day. There’s no time like the present! After watching multiple YouTube videos and consulting wikiHow I felt like I knew what I needed to do. I was ready for the task at hand!
Step 1: Release the back brake.
Fortunately, I had to replace my brake pads back in February, and, thanks to my friend who works at the bike shop and the cold wintry weather that weekend, I was able to get a discount (practically free tune up) and had the chance to hover over the bike technician and watch him work.
As I tried out my new found skills in the bike shop under the technician’s guidance, I remember thinking, OK that was kind of hard. I guess if I have to I can try changing my brakes by myself, but if that fails I can just come into the shop.
Well…now I didn’t really have a choice, but fortunately I was able recall this experience to accomplish the task with no issues.
Step 2: Open the quick release and remove the back wheel.
Unlike the people in the videos I did not have a bike mount or a fancy garage so I simply turned my bike upside down in order to “easily remove the back wheel” as the friendly old man in the video told me.
Pull back on the quick release and…
THAT’S AS FAR AS I GOT.
That quick release was NOT quick at all.
The rear quick release, a lever which should allow you to remove the wheel was jammed pretty tightly. If you can’t take open the quick release, you can’t get the tire out. I tried EVERYTHING: Wearing gloves while pulling at the lever, leaning my ENTIRE body weight on the lever, trying with the other arm (if for some reason my non-dominant arm would randomly be stronger). I was at a loss for what to do. The darn back wheel just wouldn’t come off.
At this point I really just wanted to give up. It was really late at night, I had tried multiple times, I was following the instructions I just couldn’t pull the lever. I was so frustrated. Over the next 30 minutes I toggled between attempting to loosen the quick release, looking up tips online (try oiling the joint or make sure the quick release is tight enough when you close it – um…but I can’t even get it open!)…. and just flat out crying. I considered quitting about every 30 seconds.
And in case any of you were concerned about the level of struggle…let me tell you, my friends, the struggle was SO REAL! Here are some screen shots of emails I sent my sister, spelling errors and all. Of course, she didn’t respond until the following morning because like a normal person she was asleep at the time!
In between fits of crying and crazy emails, I was overcome by a wave of rabid energy brought on by sleep deprivation which fueled my determination. I really wanted to bike to work the next morning.
Eventually I opened the quick release after using a wrench to loosen the bolt slightly from the other side. After CONQUERING the quick release I had a renewed sense of energy and found it easy to remove the tire, change the tube and replace the wheel.
Long story short is that sometimes you think you’re unqualified or a task is “too hard,” but if you want it badly enough you can accomplish it.
Quitting is easy, but winners never quit…I felt accomplished and a bit delirious (perhaps for lack of sleep) after changing the tire and reassembling my bike, but now I knew I could do it if I were stranded on the side of the road.
I think if I had had the option of the easy way out (taking it to the store) I might have taken it. So, it was kind of good, although annoying, that the tube broke in the middle of the night when I had no other option and on a day (the night before bike to work day) that I was sufficiently motivated.
In a similar vein I remember a time when I changed the front headlight of my car by myself for the first time. It looked SO easy when my friend did it, but it took me over an hour – but now I can do it (not easily, but I could do it if I had to and I could also go to AutoZone and buy the correct light!)
I know these may seem like silly examples, but this sense of accomplishment can be applied to other areas of your life. I have several friends who are brilliant and can accomplish anything without having to really study – but at the same time I have friends, who while smart, do really have to work hard to get their dream job or into their dream school – and I have seen them want it badly enough that they are making that dream a reality. I know that hard work pays off, but it’s nice to be reminded by the results!
Sometimes when we feel like quitting we need to ask, “Am I really working as hard as I can? Or am I accepting an easy way out?” Hard work will always triumph over the easy route. I don’t say this to discourage those who are already working very hard, but rather to encourage you to keep it up! Life can be hard. Reaching your goals can be hard. If they were easy, they wouldn’t be goals.
The satisfaction that comes from achieving something on your own can’t be compared to anything else. It was a feeling I relished when I sped off on my bike the next day!
So how badly do you want it?