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Sometimes you just need to HTFU

Most of my riding this past year has been on the indoor cycling platform, Zwift. You can "ride" with other cyclists around the world at any time, pace, or distance you like. You can "climb" hills, where the smart trainer connected to your bike will increase the tension to simulate a climb. I love it because I can't get hit by a car or chased by a dog. I also don't have to worry about getting lost.

Many of these riders belong to Facebook groups that support different rides and "teams." I used to read comments in one group complaining that this race or that ride is "too fast" or "too hard." They complain about getting left behind, protesting things like, "They SAID that it would be a 2.0-level ride!"

Mind you, you don't have to join an organized ride. About half of my rides are riding on my own or doing specific workouts. I told one guy that perhaps he should do more riding on his own to make him stronger and use the tougher rides as a gauge of his fitness. He didn't like that too much. He just wanted to complain that some rides are just too hard for him.

Sometimes complaining is much easier than doing the work.

My advice? HTFU. The "H" in this stands for "harden." Triathletes know it well. It means "quit whining and focus." Essentially.

We all struggle sometimes. Life can be really difficult. Complaining about it might elicit sympathy from others, but sympathy doesn't make you stronger. It just gives you an excuse to stay exactly where you are.

Let me give you another example. When I moved to Lakeland, Florida, I was anxious to join various running and cycling groups. I heard about "The Saturday Ride," and my new friend Earl told me that although it was challenging, he thought I could do it.

I got up early one Saturday morning and met the group at Southgate Shopping Center. It was completely intimidating not knowing a single soul there. I also didn't know the route. The group acknowledged I was new and promised to keep an eye out for me.

About 10 minutes into the ride, it was full throttle. My heart never knew this effort. I gritted my teeth and struggled to stay on the back wheel. Even so, my body gave out and I was left behind with another guy--my future friend, Dave.

Two other future friends, Ted and Joel, would circle back and get us. They knew a short cut. They would guide us back to the group where I would continue to struggle to stay on.

Each week, I would get dropped. But I would learn the term "HTFU" and tell it to myself the second I saw a gap in the wheel in front of me. I would bite my bottom lip, give that little bit of extra effort, and close the gap. It strengthened me as a cyclist because it gave me the necessary edge to keep going.

This morning, a bunch of people on Zwift were complaining that the ride leader--a professional cyclist--was going too hard. They kept telling him to slow up and ride slower.

Some people were saying to find a group and ride at their pace. Others protested, "What's the point of a group ride, then?" Seriously?

I posted, "HTFU."

One guy sent me a private message telling me not to be so "mean." I replied, "The 'H' means 'harden.'" I assumed he thought I meant STFU instead.

He wouldn't have it. I honestly don't think he understood what HTFU meant. He scolded me on how we should be "supportive." I wanted to tell HIM to STFU because he was sucking the life out of my ride.

There are times in your life where support is needed. But there are other times when you need to grit your teeth and HTFU.

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