Biking with Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt (Wikimedia).

Years ago I saw a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that stuck with me: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Turns out she didn’t really say that, according to research by the Quote Investigator, who credits those words to Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich in 1997. But Eleanor Roosevelt did make a similar statement about fear in her 1960 book, You Learn by Living: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Those words are on my mind as I’m preparing to tackle some gigantic hills that will face me on what will be the toughest climb of my Oregon Coast bike tour on Wednesday. The route from Seaside to Cape Lookout State Park climbs at least 3,400 feet in total elevation, according to Google Maps, while other sources such as CycleRoute list it as a 4,600 foot climb. Either way, it’s far more than I’m used to doing on my humble rides around Hartford, Connecticut, and will be the maximum on this Northwest trip. To put it into perspective, today’s elevation gain to the Oregon Coast was 2,500 total feet, which is the highest I’ve experienced so far on this trip. The Adventure Cycling elevation map isn’t making me feel any better about this. Check out those wild spikes!

Elevation chart for Oregon Coast region from Adventure Cycling, Pacific Coast Map 2.

But Eleanor’s words (both real and imagined) are helping to calm my nerves about this. And it’s good to know that she also knew a thing or two about riding bicycles.