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Ep07 Transcript: Lin Bruce Interview
Andrea Vahl: Who decides to take up the sport of cycling at age 60, committing to a cross-country bicycle trip after having never ridden more than eight miles prior? Lin Bruce does, that’s who. In today’s episode, we’re gonna talk about how Lin’s view of getting from point A to point B has changed and what it really takes to find fulfillment in midlife and beyond.
Intro: Hello Dreamers. Welcome to the Late Starters Club, giving you the inspiration mindset and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond. Remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
It’s Andrea Vahl here. I am the host of Late Starters Club, and I am super excited to have cyclist Lin Bruce on our podcast today. Welcome, Lin.
Lin Bruce: Thank you so much.
Andrea Vahl: So Lin, lives up in Minnesota and is a retired massage therapist, mother of 4, grandmother of 8, and wife of a retired librarian. And you were teaching, Oh no, your husband was teaching yoga, is that correct?
Lin Bruce: Right, That’s right.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. But you’re a self-proclaimed late-blooming cross-country bicyclist. Your first ride was in honor of your 60th birthday. So now an octogenarian. That’s awesome. You do not look at, at all.
I’m, I’m gonna say you look just, radiant. But 23 years since your first big bike ride. And we’re gonna dive into what it was like to have you get started, how you got started, and all of that. I’m so excited to have you on this show cuz it’s such an inspiration.
Lin Bruce: Thanks.
Andrea Vahl: So I like to ask people if you were to describe your life in one sentence, what would that be? .
Lin Bruce: Well, the sentence could get very long.
Andrea Vahl: [Laughter] Yeah.
Lin Bruce: However, I’m from an era where married women were stay-at-home housewives and moms, and that was the role that I carried out. And I have as my life has gone on and I’ve aged and my children have launched, I have found bicycling, which allows me to be bigger than I thought I could and gives me great joy.
So I would say I’ve gone from being a very traditional stay-at-home woman of a particular era to a woman who is testing her wings and loving the flying .
Andrea Vahl: That is wonderful. I love that. And definitely pushing boundaries. I think that people think that you know, people just coast and you’re not coasting for sure. [laughter]
That’s awesome. So what has been your biggest takeaway or the biggest key to your success as you started something later? I mean, people don’t think about taking up cycling, cross country cycling at the age of 60 and what was that key to doing that successfully?
Lin Bruce: I was approaching that 60th birthday and I was feeling as though I was going to be getting old.
At that time, I thought 60 was old. Well, now I’m 83, and so I don’t think that anymore, but I did at that time, and I really thought that there were no more possibilities in life and that things were pretty much over and I was just gonna slide downhill and to some boggy spot for the rest of my life.
And it really, it was a really, really, bad, flat spot in my life and I knew I needed to shake things up and I justified it because I was gonna celebrate my birthday in, in some way. And the same way showed up in a little ad I saw that said cross-country bicycle trip for women over 50 led by Woman Tours.
Well, I didn’t know Woman Tours at that time, but I do now. It’s a company that does bike trips for women. Very good ones. So they had this ad for women over 50, riding from California to Florida starting on March 13th. Well, March 13th’s my birthday.
Andrea Vahl: Oh, wow.
Lin Bruce: So I figured, huh. Here’s a sign. Here’s what I did. And better than that, this company was already planning everything and I could call it my celebration, so I signed up.
That’s how that happened. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: That is wonderful. And how did you, did you, you obviously trained and then for that, did you train for that ride at all?
Lin Bruce: I did, I did as training, as much as I knew training at when I had signed up, the farthest I had ever ridden was eight miles around my little town. So, you know, how was I going to do this?
Well, what I learned is that you do it one pedal stroke at a time, and that gets you on down the road.
Andrea Vahl: Mm-hmm.
Lin Bruce: And I did train. I had signed up in October. I live in Minnesota.
Andrea Vahl: Little chilly
Lin Bruce: Winter comes much earlier. And, and 23 years ago, you know, we got snow much earlier than we do now. So my training was on a stationary bike in the basement.
So that’s how I trained and I just figured that was gonna, that was gonna be it. Well, it’s what I had and that’s where I started. You know, I think sometimes you start with what you have and you do what you can with that. And then you move on from there. And the reality was, once I got on that trip with the training that I had put in, I, I got stronger every day because I rode every day.
So yeah, I, I trained. Yes. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: That’s awesome. One pedal stroke at a time. I love that, for sure. Yeah. So now what was the distance again? Total?
Lin Bruce: It’s over 3000 miles.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah,
Lin Bruce: That was the way to start.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s, that’s starting in the deep end, right there.
Eight miles to 3000. That’s, that’s amazing. That’s amazing. Now, have you gone cross country since then? Have you done that same ride or are you just doing different types of rides?
Lin Bruce: I have not done that same ride. Yes, I have gone cross country. I’ve gone from Washington to Maine. Down the Pacific coast. Diagonal on the US from Virginia to Oregon, and the bicycle world knows that route as the TransAm. Done the TransAm and I’ve gone down the Mississippi River and around Lake Superior. What I love is signing up for a commercial, a big, a long commercial bike trip every year.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah.
Lin Bruce: And sometimes they’re really long, but they’re not. You know, they’re, they’re significant for me still.
Andrea Vahl: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah.
Lin Bruce: I took one just this last year in 2022, and it was only 400 miles. It was crossed Iowa. It was not RAGBRAI. The weather was dreadful, cold and rainy the first three days, I mean, 40 degrees, and then it got up to 90 and it was aw, headwinds. Hills like you can’t imagine. You think Iowa’s flat. It’s not .
The point is that I am still riding and even with that challenging ride. A few days after it was done, I asked myself, So would you go back and do that again? And the answer is yes, I would. . Yeah, it’s still love it. Still love it. Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: That’s great. That’s great. And that leads us perfectly to our next question, which is if you could tell your younger self, maybe its earlier in the summer, maybe much younger self. What would you tell your younger self?
Lin Bruce: Well, I would tell my much younger self, my younger self as a new wife, a new person in a relationship that self-care is not selfish, that self-care. Allows you to have the personal stamina to do what you need to in your life and to deal well with whatever you encounter.
So I would say self-care is not selfish. Self-care is very smart.
Andrea Vahl: That’s great. That’s great. And I think I think as women we sometimes ignore that part and put ourselves last when we really need to be…putting that mask on ourselves first. Right? The oxygen mask on ourselves first, they tell us.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure. So I wanna dive a little bit into what prompted you. You talked a little bit about what prompted you to start this endeavor. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into that. You know, was your 60th birthday and you were feeling flat. What, what else was coming up for you to cause you to start this whole thing and keep going with cycling, you know, what changed for you in that?
Lin Bruce: Good, good question. Of course. I, as I said, I was heading that birthday. It seemed like it was an ending rather than a beginning. I needed, I needed a sense of optimism. Ha. I didn’t know what, truly, it was not that methodical. I didn’t know what I needed. I didn’t even know what I wanted. If maybe if it had been a rock climbing opportunity that showed up, you’d be interviewing me as a rock climber.
I dunno, , it was a bike trip and that, and that was just, just right. I was an active massage therapist at that time. I didn’t tell anybody what I was going to do because it felt like it was really selfish to be using all that time and all that money just for me. And I told my clients a couple weeks before, I had two kinds of responses.
“Lin, that’s awesome. Hurry for you.” And the other was, “You’re leaving me without massage for a month. , how can you do that?” Very angry. So out of those two camps, you know, all but one came back and I had the support of family. The biggest thing is that what thing that’s kept me going is.
It is so satisfying to me. Every day my agenda is very simple and I love the simplicity. I start here, I ride to there the next day I start here, I ride to there. And I do that day after day, and each day I reach the destination and all those destinations, clearly defined destinations, that I’ve achieved under my own steam.
I have pedaled my bicycle to get there. And all of those daily destinations, get me to the bigger one. You know, I, it is such an analogy, such a metaphor for taking on anything in my life. That I do a little bit. And then from there I do a little bit and, that moves me to my goal, whether it’s getting all the closets cleaned or getting thousands of miles across the US or building an empire. I haven’t built an empire, but I’m sure it’s applicable there too.
Andrea Vahl: I’m sure it’s still one stone at a time, Right? When you’re one brick at a time. Right, right, right. It’s, and I think that’s the thing that is so powerful is we don’t realize how, how these little steps. Continue to move us towards the goal.
And we feel like maybe we’re not getting there. We feel like we’re not moving fast enough or whatever that might be. But you look back and you are able to see that progress. And it must be very satisfying in a very linear way for you .
Lin Bruce: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Yeah.
Andrea Vahl: So tell me a little bit more. One of the questions that I like to ask as well, when you have felt overwhelmed in this endeavor, how did you get your mojo back?
Lin Bruce: Great because on every long bike trip there has been a point where I have wanted to call Bob, Bob is my husband of 63 years, I wanted to call Bob and say, “Come get me. I’m done” or “Meet me at the airport, I’m finished.” And I haven’t ever done that. I haven’t ever quit.
And the not quitting involves several, several things I think, for me. And that’s being able to find some humor. in the stuff that’s so hard and being able to at least smile about it or, you know, maybe some hours later laugh about it or maybe thinking and laughing. “We must be crazy to think that we’re working so hard and this is fun and this is a vacation. Isn’t that funny?”
And so that laughing and then connecting with other people. On a bike trip. There are other rider where on the rides I do, we don’t ride together, but we encounter each other and we can hear each other’s stories and we can commiserate and we can be confidential and we can support, or we can cheer loudly, whatever.
So I think the connecting and the humor and asking for help. That’s, that’s really big. I’m from an era where you didn’t ask for help. You know, in my family, if you couldn’t do it, you didn’t get to do it, so you didn’t ever ask for help. So that’s a big learning piece and a big curve. Still a still learning curve and the receiving help.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah,
Lin Bruce: That’s another hard one. “Can I give you some help?” “Oh, no, no, no. I got it. Got it, got it.”. , Take the help. Take the help. So the receiving the help and the connecting and asking for help and being willing to recommit as often as you need to. Oh, I can’t do this anymore. Can I do this? I can do this for the next little bit.
Can I do this? I can do this! Those things, that amalgam of those points. Help me get my, my enthusiasm back and my sense of confidence and possibility.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. I am a big proponent of humor as well. I do standup comedy on the side. I don’t know if I shared that with you.
Lin Bruce: Woo
Andrea Vahl: So yeah, I think that humor is definitely a fantastic way to get through hard times and we can all kind of laugh at some of the ridiculousness of that as well. That is definitely, probably not, a vacation that many people would wanna think about taking . Yeah, that’s great. That’s great.
Another thing that I like to ask, my guest is what is an assumption that a lot of people have about you that’s wrong? And it might be maybe about you or about you know, 80 year olds. I dunno, .
Lin Bruce: Oh, right, right, right. Good. Well you can, here’s the first piece. You can teach old dogs new tricks.
Yep. . The assumption about myself that isn’t true is that I am a super athlete . When I have a trip on the horizon, then I make sure that I ride and I’m very consistent. I’m very persistent . And I think they are, my strengths even. Yes, I need to be physically fit and as strong as I can be, and I am not a super athlete, and you don’t have to be to take up something. You can start and do what you can then learn beyond that. Gain beyond that. So it is that I’m not a super athlete and that I have more to my life than biking people now always say to me, “So when’s your next bike trip?” Will anybody say anything that to me once I am not cycling? Well, I’m not at point at all yet, but the point, my point is, you can keep on and you can keep on keeping on as you can to your abilities at that time. I think that’s a really important thing that I want to remember for myself and to convey to others.
At any age. I mean, you can hear it as a 20 year old and think, Oh my goodness, life’s gonna be done at 30. Well, you need to know that. I want you to know, I want you to see I am an example. That’s the advantage of being over 80. I am an example that you can keep on and that’s what I want you to know. But please remember, I am not a super athlete .
Andrea Vahl: That’s, I think that’s great because a lot of people assume that, “Oh, that’s good for that person, but I could never do that”, and that is totally not true. Right? People can accomplish these things just by taking these little, little steps and continuing on.
So I love that. Love that message. Now you have a story about a challenge you went through on your first bike ride? . Tell me a little bit more about that.
Lin Bruce: Yeah, I would like to, and I realize that I have a theme, it’s a big truth in my bike riding and my life is that the little bitty steps move you on down.
So my first bike ride. First ever bike ride going across the United States, and I was riding that day with a woman named Mary Dell, who was 70 and I was 60. And our riding pace was a good match. We matched. Slow, , slow, really slow. Our destination for the night was on the far side of a town that had on one side of the highway, a military base, and on the other side it had a really big manufacturing plant.
The agenda. We don’t call it the agenda, we call it the itinerary for the day was set with the assumption that riders would get to the motel at about 2:30. Well, Mary Dell and I are really slow. It was five when we got there. And at the edge of the town the plant was coming out and the base was coming out and there were tons and tons and tons of cars and trucks and I was scared to death.
I was absolutely terrified and I stopped and I said, I not going on. I’m gonna stand here if I have to stand here for three days or forever. One, I am just too frightened. I cannot ride my bicycle.
So Mary Dell said, Yeah, that’s a lot of traffic. That is a lot of traffic. And she took a look and she said see that patch of grass down there? You think you could walk your bike to that patch of grass?”
I walked my bike to the patch grass.
Mary Dell looked again, she said, “See that driveway? It’s about half a block away. Could you ride to that driveway?”
I did. I rode to that driveway. She broke it down for at least two miles into these little bitty increments until the traffic had abated and we were closer to where we were going.
But what I learned out of that, it was such a gift to have somebody stand with me. And help me. And that’s a big learning thing. Having someone stand with you and help you is a tremendous gift. And that by doing those little bits and the next little bit, I could get there and be in the midst of still being frightened, but be able to accomplish what I needed to . And that sticks with me. That’s been 23 years ago now. Still is very important to me.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that is just absolutely beautiful because like when we’re scared, , how much farther can we break those steps down , what is the smallest little chunk that we can accomplish and give us more courage?
Right. To keep going.
Lin Bruce: Right. Right.
Andrea Vahl: Yes. I love that. So that is just beautiful . Thank you. And thank you to Mary, Mary Beth. Was it?
Lin Bruce: Dell Mary Dell.
Andrea Vahl: Mary Dell. Thank you to Mary Dell for that beautiful lesson as well. And what a blessing to have someone walk with you in that space.
Cuz it’s, it’s important when we are afraid to have someone by our sides who can be our little, be a Sherpa .
Lin Bruce: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Andrea Vahl: So I love quotes. I think quotes are just so incredibly inspirational, and I would love to get one of your favorite quotes that you have that inspires you, and share that with our, our listeners.
Lin Bruce: My own words, this is short. I bring up for myself and they are. Keep at it. You’ll get there.
Keep at it. That’s, you’ll get there.
Andrea Vahl: That’s great.
That’s great. Easy to remember. I love that. Nice and short can be a little mantra as you’re, you know, doing whatever, whatever you need to do. And I think that’s beautiful.
So, Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for connecting with us here and inspiring our listeners. I know I’m inspired. I’m a late blooming athlete as well. I just started competing in some competitions and I definitely know how empowering it can feel, for health and for being healthy and everything like that.
So thank you for inspiring all of the people you do and all of all of the listeners here with that message. Where can people learn more about you? I know you do a lot of different things. You do some speaking, you have a blog where you’re also inspiring people there. Share where people can connect with you.
Lin Bruce: All right, I thank you. I’d like to do that. I have a website. The name is YesIThinkICan.com. Now that’s obvious. That’s obvious just what I say when I’m going up the hill. “Yes, I think I can!”. So YesIThinkICan.com.
Andrea Vahl: Wonderful.
Lin Bruce: I do write a weekly post, and it’s called Lin’s Bike Notes. You can sign up through the, Yes, I think I can [website].
Or you can just search for. “Lin’s Bike Notes“.
With regard to the humor, I wanted to add in that, during the pandemic, and it was hard, everybody, hard. I needed some humor. I make up limericks, and I asked my daughter to film them and put them on YouTube. So if you would go to Lin Bruce Limericks, there’s a whole batch of them you can take a look, but be sure you put in limericks. If you just look Lin Bruce, you’re gonna get a Marshall Arts expert. And that’s not me. Yeah. And, and the readers watchers here. If you belong to an organization that brings in speakers, please get in touch with me. I’d like to have a chance to talk.
I would. It’s Lin@yesithinkican.com
Andrea Vahl: Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you Lin. We’ll have all of these in the show notes as well, and thank you so much for your time and your inspiration today. And thanks to all of you dreamers, and get on your bike .
Lin Bruce: Thanks. Thanks Andrea. Bye.
Outro: Hope that was helpful, and make sure you grab the free guide. Top Tools for late starters on the website at latestartersclub.com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.
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