5 Realisations from Cycling Serbia

“Speed propels the vitality of life. Attitude controls it. Momentum maintains it. Patience protects it. Leadership guides it. And entelechy unleashes it.” – A Wise Man.

Here we go again – another great PodVenture for Team Podstel.

We’re proud to say we’ve teamed up with iBikeBelgrade to cycle an immense 5-day, 250km loop around North Western Serbia.

And thinking back to the days spent battling punctures, break downs and injuries on another trip cycling 1,200 km around the perimeter of Tasmania on flimsy $80 push bikes, it’s hard to believe how far Team Podstel have come in just one year.

With nothing but the open road stretching out in front of me, I had plenty of time for reflection.

I’d like to share with you 5 realisations from 5 days biking Serbia which you can apply to your own life.

1. Find that state of flow and keep it.

Building Podstel from a backpack presents its fair share of challenges and recently, I’ve found it pretty difficult to fully live in the present moment.

In the wake of worldwide WiFi, isn’t it ironic that being connected 24/7 whilst on the road has made human connection a lot less, well, meaningful? Most of us are guilty of prioritising online communication above those who are actually around us.

But in re-connecting with nature and leaving the hustle and bustle of Belgrade firmly behind gave me the unceremonious and excuse the pun, kick into gear I needed to rediscover how to seize the day:

I found that special state of flow.

Cycling through one of nature’s great masterpieces enabled me to appreciate the full wonder of what it means to live and breathe, right now, in this beautiful world. With each revolution of the wheel, I felt all my worries fade far into the distant horizon behind me. I shook off the pain and I forgot the sunburn.

With every kilometre that passed, I started, to really see all the magnificent subtleties which can easily evade us, quite unnoticed, in this crazy world – the distinctive patterns on the rural buildings, the vibrant colours of the Serbian spring countryside, and the local people laughing as they worked the land.

So with mind, body and soul fully synced to the present, can you imagine the elation of hitting 40kph whilst hurtling around a downhill bend, to take in the full glory of the mighty Danube for the first time, set against a perfect backdrop of the most pristine of green forests and the clearest of blue skies?

So if ever you find yourself neglecting the here and now, this one’s for you:

Don’t think, just let it flow. Be completely engaged with who you are and what you are doing here and now. And Instead of calling it work, realise that it’s all play.

2. You’re only as good as your last man (or woman).

Solo success is nothing compared to how it feels to achieve together.

All of Team Podstel had different abilities when it came to cycling. Some could tackle those uphill’s without even breaking into a sweat whereas others wheezed and spluttered the whole way.

If you charge on ahead to win the race, look around you – who’s there to help you lift your trophy? So whether it’s building a start-up business or cycling around Serbia, what’s truly important is that all of you cross that finish line together.

From the years spent building Podstel and travelling the world, I’ve realised that no matter what you do in life, you’re only ever as good as your last man. The key to creating a true movement is collective collaboration, working together, towards a common and sustainable vision for all. I appreciate fully that everything that Podstel is today, is down to each and every single person who slogged their guts out to help create it.

3. Fear is easier when shared.

I can’t help but feel responsible for the well-being of those around me. So as we set out into unfamiliar terrain, unhelpful thoughts such as “what if our bikes break down?” and “what will we do if we get caught in a storm?” began to trickle into my consciousness.

But it’s the universe’s way of pointing us in the direction of what we should actually focus on the most. And don’t you feel alive when dancing at the edge of failure? Think about it.

Linear to this, the prospect of failing is much less scary, once you establish whether there are any consequences you can’t live with and work towards eliminating them.

When you’ve got the fear, taking the solo plunge into the depths of the unknown oblivion can be nigh on impossible. The solution is to appreciate the full force of strength in numbers and use this power to prop each other up. Spreading the fear out amongst the collective dilutes it much quicker than going it alone, and in witnessing the full spectacle of the sunrise, you’ll be glad to have rode out the storm together.

So what are you waiting for… lean on your friends when you need to and go conquer that fear! There’s no better time to act than the present.

4. Just keep on going.

Cycling is tough and so is life. Yes, it hurts, but you have to deal with it. With troughs, come peaks and with highs, come lows. Understand that pain is always a temporary sensation – the sore arse, sunburn and build up of lactic acid will all soon subside. What you will be left with, however, is the biggest sense of “I did it!”

I’d like to share something with you that has radically changed my life and how I view the world:

You have the absolute power to control every single thing in your life.

It’s all about your mindset and the only thing that is stopping you from achieving your dreams, is you.

When faced with a tornado in his pathway, the pessimist will eventually retreat, unable to move beyond the short-term obstacle. The optimist’s perception is however, wholly different. By throwing himself in the eye of the storm, the optimist sees vast opportunities, unveiling themselves in motion.

So with the clarity of the optimist and with a laser focus on your goal, there’s simply no stopping you. No matter what, you’ll get there in the end.

Remember, all this curriculum is there to extend and enhance your reality by giving you the confidence you need to leap out of your comfort zone.

5. Life will go on without you, whether you like it or not.

Whilst cycling through Serbian villages and observing tonnes of people living out their own complete and wholesome realities, I realised that each and every person I saw was completely and utterly oblivious to my presence or even my existence.

I can say, with certainty, that this was the most profound realisation of all:

YOU ARE NOT IMPORTANT.

A harsh realisation maybe, but true nonetheless. We are all so insignificant in the grand scheme of things and the world will go on without you, no matter how many hours you spend busting your gut for that promotion, how fat your pay cheque is or how many friends you have on Facebook.

But let’s not be too negative here, because this realisation is a blessing in disguise. Realising that you are not important in this world strips you of any added pressure. You’re naked. You no longer rely on the outcome of anything. And now, there’s nothing to prove to anyone, is there?

Given that the world will go on regardless, you may as well go forward in the direction of your dreams so they at least have the chance to blossom.

Wrapping it Up

Biking Serbia has profoundly affected me in ways which I couldn’t have anticipated when we first set out from Belgrade and I guess the overall lesson here is one which compliments Podstel’s ideology:

The true beauty of life is born out of new experiences which force us to take the leap into the great expanse of possibilities which lie beyond the borders of our comfort zone.

I really do believe that the world is, slowly, moving in the right direction. It’s no longer about what you’ve bought with your precious time, but rather, what you’ve done with it. Experience is, finally, taking precedence over materials.

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