Sharing the Road with Rudy : 3 life lessons for all of us

Rudy

“You are good. But, it is not enough to be just good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others.” – Gordon B. Hinkley

The sky ahead was turning different colors like an analog TV on its way out. Soon a pea green tint filled the sky in high-definition intensity. Alone against this sky Rudy was pedaling hard with a steady crosswind searching for shelter. Little did Rudy know he was ahead of the catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in the late afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. Soon he made it to the next town and was safe.

Rudy is not a tornado chaser, but a man with a mission to promote safe drinking water. I first wrote about Rudy in 2009 when he was doing his first Blue Planet ride and rode over 2,000 miles. Every year since that ride he has expanded his epic rides.

Yesterday Rudy started his 2013 tour by biking 75 miles. His self-supported solo bike ride will start in Michigan before heading down to New Orleans and then back north. The ride will take forty days and cover over 3,000 miles. As if 3,000 miles is not enough he then heads to the Baltics to ride an extra 4,000 miles in 60 days.

rudy

Last week I had the opportunity to catch up with Rudy. Anyone who has braved potholes, storms, and cars for days on end in the name of clean water has something to share for all for us.

Lesson #1. The Start is the Only Moment You’re the Boss Of

Rudy was just a normal person until he first heard about the Blue Planet Run at the Atlanta Marathon Expo in November 2006 and was shocked to learn that so many people lacked access to safe drinking water. That night he applied for the 2007 Blue Planet Run and ended up as one of the 21 runners selected out of 350 applicants. This effort kickstarted his annual epic bike tours.

Rudy did something sometimes we all have problems doing. He started. Last week I read Jon Acuff ‘s new book “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.” One of his biggest points is that we all need to do one thing – START! As Jon says “The starting line is the only line you completely control. The start is the only moment you’re the boss of” Anyone who has finished big has had a small start.

Rudy said starting every year is still hard, but once he has committed himself he has no choice, but to start.

Lesson #2. Slow down so you can taste the bugs.

Rudy says one of the greatest benefits of biking is the ability to use all your senses. To quote Rudy:

“Out in the country, folks were mowing their lawns and one of the greatest benefits of biking is the ability to use all of your senses. There are the refreshing smells of fresh-cut grass clippings and blossoms of flowering trees lingering in the air. Furthermore you can feel the soft winds of spring fly in your face and raindrops falling on your head. Then there is the amazing array of sound bites from all around you including, but not limited to, chirping birds, the loud sizzling sound of crickets and frogs.

And yes, you can even tantalize your taste buds from an occasional bug flying in your mouth, as you were just about to open it for a breath of fresh air.”

When you use all your senses you gain a new sense, a sense of awareness. We all could use reminders to slow down for some fresh air and the occasional bugs.

Lesson #3. Kindness connects us all..pass it on

In Rudy’s own words from his ride last year:

In Bacons Castle, Virginia I stopped at a local grocery store to buy lunch. With a chicken sandwich and a bottle of ice tea in hand I walked up to the counter to pay, but to my dismay discovered that my wallet was missing. I finally came to grips with reality that with 2,000 miles to go, I had lost all my cash, credit cards, driver’s license and medical ID cards. As I was about to leave, the store owner came out and handed me the sandwich I had ordered but could no longer afford. She had watched me panic and search as I was looking for my wallet and knew it wasn’t a ploy.

Two local men had overheard the conversation and Michael, a big bearded man walked over to size up the situation. He asked me what I needed and offered to pay. “It’s hot out there and you need to hydrate,” he said. We went back in the store where he loaded me up with several cool and refreshing drinks. I was very upset with myself for having been so careless with my wallet but at the same time now experienced care and kindness from several people that was truly heart warming.

Hearing stories like these from Rudy’s travels remind me that no matter how many miles one travels or how well-organized  you are, we all depend on acts of kindness to get through life. Here is a chance for you to pass on some kindness and help support Rudy’s 2013 Blue Planet Ride!

Go, Rudy, Go! Safe travels.

Blue Planet Network works to connect the public, funders, and implementors using an online platform and other creative tools to increase investment impact, promote collaboration, and radically improve water program planning, management, monitoring, and analysis. Since 2006, Blue Planet Network has grown from 5 to 96 global members, working in 27 countries. Blue Planet Network has supported its 96 members to bring sustainable safe drinking water sanitation to over one million people in over 2,360 communities. As the world’s largest open-access database of water and sanitation projects, Blue Planet Network enables its members to track water projects totaling $40.6MM. All data is openly available – from how projects are developed and implemented to what they deliver vs. original goals.