Jill here - the first time I rode with Joe was early March 2016, in Calgary, Canada where I lived at the time.
Now Calgary is usually under a lot of snow in March but in 2016 Joe arrived along with a chinook.
For those of you who don't know, a chinook is a warm wind that blows in from the coast, that works some kind of alchemical wizardry when it hits the base of the Rocky mountains resulting in a rapid rise in temperature.
Joe being Joe travelled with his bike so here we were in Calgary in March and it was warm enough to ride outside!
Now you have to understand that while I ride, I'm usually bolloxed (technical term) after about 2 hours. But I really wanted to ride with the great Joe Barr so we got suited and booted and hit a wide open prairie road.
What I'll never forget is the first hill. It was long enough and sharp enough to get my attention.
Immediately my heart rate soared into the high150's while I noticed, to crushing disappointment, that Joe's stayed at a mere 98! I locked my eyes on the top of the hill and said a quick prayer. To be fair I was just trying to hold it together in front of Joe.
But you all know, there's no fooling our Joe. Bless his heart, he responded by doing just one thing and saying another.
He lifted his hands off his handlebar and brought them down in an effort to show me where to grip. You know that classic Joe grip that gets him up every hill? Then he said;
"Ride the meter in front of you. Just look at it and ride that one meter."
On the descent he explained, when you're under pressure it's easy to focus on where you want to get to - the point where you think it will get easier - the top. But when you do that you inevitably speed up and expend more energy so when you do get there you're in the red. You're exhausted.
Essentially you've ridden a double hill - a physical and an emotional one.
I've thought about this a lot over the last 4 years. I've thought about it when I've faced some incredibly difficult parts of my journey, the death of family members, an international move or resettling back in Ireland. I'm thinking about it during this time of COVID-19.
It's damn good advice.
When you're under pressure you just want to get out from under it. It's human to gear up, speed up, push on.
What Joe is saying is yes to all of that but...just ride...the metre...in front...of you.
When you get to the top you'll be in better shape physically and emotionally and this is crucial because one thing we know from endurance and life, when you get to where you think it's going to get easier, you'll probably be asked to go further still.
Pace yourself folks, this is going to be be a long on. Just ride that meter.
When we're on the other side of COVID-19 and you're interested in hiring a motivational speaker. Check us out. We've got many more parables from the road of Joe.