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Cycle of Grit Update

by: Colby Harris

Everyone knows the feeling of having the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. This teeter totter sensation of right or wrong, a never ending balance of options and opportunity. This negotiation with oneself is detrimental to the potential of ideas, dreams, and ambitions. Have you ever wondered what you could be capable of if you gave up all negotiation with yourself and went all in? Maybe you have a story that comes to mind, today I want to share mine.

May 12, 2023, I completed a 100 mile cycle to raise funds to offer an opportunity for underserved kids of Jacksonville to attend Grit Camp. How did I wake up one morning in February and decide to go on this wild adventure? Well, it just came to me randomly, like most great ideas do. We have been raising funds every summer since 2021 and have done okay, but I knew we had potential to impact more young people if we formulated a proper plan that had more substance to it. The idea was simple (at least in theory) - we would pitch sponsors on a pay per mile basis capping out at 100 miles, so every mile I cycled they would donate X amount of dollars capping out at no more than 100 miles. In my mind, I knew that if the money was on the table, then I would be pounding those pedals and finishing this ride. With nearly $20k raised by May 12, it was time for the 100 miles and I knew I had to get it done, this was non-negotiable from day 1.

I woke up the morning of May 12 fresh from a dream that I had already done the 100 miles, and then I realized, there was no escape and I had 100 miles still waiting for me. I hit the road with the mentality that the quicker I get through this, the quicker I get through this. I knew it would be absolute hell, but I also knew the many lives that would be impacted because of this valiant effort. I was buzzing pretty hard for the first 40 miles, but then I crashed. Mile 40 to 50 was more brutal than 50 to 80. Again, being non negotiable, after a break at mile 50 I got back on the bike and kept chugging. Miles 50 through 80 really weren't bad, I was on the home stretch! I was crushing it and had hit 80 miles in just under 6 hours. What came next was expected, but I never could have been prepared for it. I have never felt so exhausted in my life. Once I was at mile 85, I was dead. Completely spent, I had just pissed my cycling suit because I didn't even want to stop to pee (judge me if you please). This was that moment where I could give up, people would still applaud my effort, we would still raise 85% of all the possible funds - but that never once crossed my mind.

As I approached the finish line, we recognized a slight miscalculation in mileage and we needed 3 more miles to complete 100, and next thing I knew I was passing the finishing line for 3 more miles. Again, an opportunity I could have passed on, and claimed our 100 miles true, but that wasn't the deal I made with myself, I had 3 more miles to survive. After making a detour past the finish line, we got our 3 miles in, and after 7 hours and 22 minutes, I brought it home to Grit Headquarters. As I came into the finish line, I did not get that crazy rush of shock and disbelief. I did not feel some crazy sensation around the feat I had just completed - why is that? Through reflection in the last 48 hours, I have realized that I did not feel this overwhelming disbelief because I did not surprise myself. This ride was NON-NEGOTIABLE! I mean that so deeply and so powerfully! As a 20 year old, so many things in my life are negotiable and malleable. The world is my oyster everyday and I rarely hit a day with 99% accuracy, and until this passed Friday, never with 100% accuracy.

In February I made a plan. February, March, April, and into May, I organized logistics, made flyers, met with countless sponsors, and trained nearly everyday. As May approached rapidly, I started dreaming of this cycle and not in a good way. Although this project has been the most rewarding experience I have had in a longtime, it absolutely came at a price. The idea of riding 100 miles haunted me day and night, but on May 12, 2023, I completed the Cycle of Grit to its fullest potential with 100% accuracy. This has been an incredible accomplishment for me personally, but the overarching cause is what I hold closest to my heart. At the finish line, I had raised $19k that will be used to support over 60 kids with the opportunity to attend Grit Camp at no cost to their family. Although this was the main goal, Cycle of Grit was also meant to stand as an opportunity to lead by example. So many people thought I was crazy, so many people doubted me - and then I did exactly what I said I was going to do. Old or young, this feat is transcending and I know for a fact it has inspired others to build more grit and challenge themselves while making the world a better place. Through this reflection period, all I can think about is, what's truly possible when you go all in? What if you stop negotiating with yourself and go full tunnel vision towards that goal? That's exactly what I did, and I hope it inspires you to try it as well.

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