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just like riding a bike… but it’s software bootcamp

 

At the end of May, like one of millions of other people who had been stuck inside for 3 months, I bought a bike. I am the kind of consumer who has to do countless hours of research before deciding on what I want to buy.

I’ve been considering buying a bike since I lived in Oklahoma (so at least since 2012!). I could just never convince myself to actually buy a bike.

As an anxious person, I had to ask several questions:

  • Where would I even ride a bike??
  • What if I spend all this money and never ride the dumb thing??
  • Is it worth it??
  • Do I even remember how to ride a bike??
  • What if I fall over and die??????
  • I can’t ride a bike because I’m so out of shape, right?

Outside of those questions, the time just never seemed right. I either couldn’t figure out where to even ride a bike — mountain biking never interested me — and I was worried that, as a fat person, people would just make fun of me.

But I figured, hey, the time is right! I’m stuck at home! New Hampshire is full of paved rail trails! I live 13 minutes from a rail trail!

So I bought a bike.

Though my heart was set on a Cannondale, I realized quickly that bikes were hard to come by at the end of May. So I went with what was in stock, and in my price range: a beautiful Jamis Commuter 3.

picture of a bike on a trail

On my first ride out, I fell in love with her.

It had been, at least, 20 years since I had been on a bike for any serious amount of time.

It had been, at least, 5 years since I’d committed to doing any kind of high or mid-impact exercise regularly (see old post about my dumb artery).

But here we are, about 3 months later, and I’ve racked up ~80 miles on my bike. It has not been without difficulties or lessons.

Which brings me to the point of this whole post:

What has getting back on a bike prepared me for my software coding bootcamp?

By teaching me to persist.

Getting back on a bike, after years of not exercising at all (see again: dumb artery), was hard. Really hard! My first ride was only 2 miles. I’m still only really averaging 4 miles on a ride, but sometimes work my way to 8 or 10 miles when I feel extra full of energy.

(it doesn’t help that I wasn’t properly inflating my tires for a solid month, which made riding super difficult and not at all fun).

The ride out is always tough. I can’t really explain it, but it’s like the friction is worse when I first start riding, but as soon as I decide to turn around and head back to the car, all obstacles and resistance are gone. It’s easy riding!

The lesson I learned was that, even if it’s difficult to get started, the ride back will be easy and relaxing.

Which, I realized recently on a bike ride, is exactly what my first few weeks at General Assembly were like.

The first few weeks were so brutal. I won’t lie, I cried. I felt like I was a bucket full of water that was full, and they were just pouring more water into the bucket, and pretty soon I was going to lose so much of my original water that I’d forget how to tie my shoes or something.

(It makes sense if you really think about it…).

But when we had labs, I could look at a problem and think, “Oh, I think I know what we need to do.”

And project week came, and I roughly knew where I needed to start, even if I didn’t fully know how the game worked (endless thanks to Jonathan for sticking with me and I didn’t understand the rules of Black Jack), or what functions I needed to write, or any of the specifics. I had a vague idea.

picture of bike handlebars at the start of a trailIt was like watching my progress when I was riding my bike.

  • One day I would go 2 miles.
  • The next time I’d get up to 3 miles.
  • And so on until I was at 10 miles in one ride.

The first time I was given a JS function, I felt lost.

  • But then I learned the syntax.
  • And then I learned array iterator methods.
  • And then I wrote a Black Jack game that isn’t perfect, but it WORKS.

So even if it’s hard, and there’s some resistance, I know the ride back will be relaxing and worth everything I put in to getting there.

In the grand scheme of things, in basic terms, being on a bike taught me to have a growth mindset. I didn’t stop riding the bike because it got hard, I just inflated the tires properly and went back out.

And honestly, there’s no better lesson to have gotten before starting a software bootcamp.

Persist.

You’ll know more and more every week.

Oh, and keep riding your bike. That exercise helps you think.

 

(also endless thanks to Anne and Caroline, my software bootcamp gurus who are helping me realize my panic is normal).