It was COLD in NYC this morning. At least it was at 5:40 as I rode my bike down Park Avenue to the start line of the Five Boro Bike Tour. It was tolerable and there is a certain joy in riding down Park Avenue at such an early hour, having the street mostly to myself, feeling the city around me.
It was COLDER at the start line. The wind picked up and the building trap it and channel it right up Church Street. Add to that a temperature drop of 5 degrees between 6:00 and 7:00 AM as the wind started to come in off the ocean. Lovely.
By the start of the ride I was shivering violently. I had on tights and a thermal T-shirt under my cycling jersey and I had long-fingered gloves on over my half-finger cycling gloves but I was still freezing.
Finally, at 7:45, right on time, the ride started. It took a few minutes for the movement to make it back to me. I was right up front for the early start time but the charity riders were ahead of us.
Still, by 8:00 we rolled past the start line and the ride was underway. By the time we rode up 6th Avenue and in to Central Park I was no longer shivering and I was starting to feel better. Don’t mistake: I was having a great time as we rolled up 6th Avenue despite being so cold. Warming up simply made it better.
We rolled through the Park, up through Harlem and then in to The Bronx, back to Manhattan and across to Queens. The first major rest area was in Astoria Park, under the Tri-Boro Bridge. We then rolled south across the
Pulaski Bridge and into Brooklyn. Soon, too soon maybe, we had crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in to Staten Island. A little time at the festival and then a three or four mile ride to the Staten Island Ferry. That marked the end of the ride.
I then rode from the ferry terminal back up to Park Avenue. I changed at my friend’s apartment and then got the car and drove home, my two days in NYC were over.
How did it go? It went great. I had a wonderful time. I got to spend time with NI in the city on Saturday at the bike expo and then we had lunch with my Uncle. Later after basically just hanging out, we had dinner with my friend SR and her son, my good friend MR. A good Indian restaurant where I was able to find a good selection of vegetarian dishes. I had Aloo Gobi.
The ride, despite the bitter wind at the start was fun. A good ride, well run, well paced. There were quite a few crashes but I was not involved in any of them and I was able to complete the ride without incident.
I rode very well. I felt strong all day despite not sleeping very deeply the night before. I was able to attack on a couple of long hills and I felt very good about my ability to tackle the hills. Even the Verrazano was not too difficult for me and I maintained a solid 12 miles per hour up the bridge and hit 20 miles per hour on the downside.
My total riding for the day was something around 44 miles. I say around because my GPS stopped recording it at 35 miles, just as I finished crossing in to Staten Island. Oh well.
All together it was a very good day. Only thing I missed was having any coffee. I have had NO coffee today. I am really having withdrawal…
Reflections on the Day
So how do I view the day?
It was a grand success. I rode strongly, I rode smoothly, I didn’t walk a hill or struggle on any hills, not even the two killer bridge approaches, The Queensboro and the Verrazano. I was even able to charge up the approach to the Pulaski Bridge with NI, something out of the question just a few weeks ago.
To really understand where this ride fits in my history I have to compare it to the same ride in 2010. The route is very slightly different but not so much as to make the comparison moot.
I weighed about 260 pounds when I did the ride in 2010. I rode with NI and I think he will tell you that I struggled. Eventually NI had to ride on without me as I had slowed to a crawl and we simply lost sight of one another. Though I didn’t walk any hills I struggled on each and every one of them. My average speed was around ten miles per hour. This ride was 15 miles per hour.
The biggest thing I noticed as I did this ride this year compared to 2010 was the acceleration I was able to generate. I didn’t have that then.
I see this not so much as simply having lost weight but as a reflection of the full package. I didn’t just lose weight, I focused on fitness as well. I dedicated myself to a complete rework of the Body. I lost the weight and I improved my fitness, increased my stamina, built up my strength.
As we approached the Pulaski Bridge, NI rode up to me and said “New Bike, New Body, let’s attack that hill”. And I did. I was able to respond.
I looks at the pictures of my THEN and the pictures of me NOW… Understand that while I was about 260 on that ride, I had lost 50 pounds to get there. I then GAINED back every one of those pounds by the summer of 2011. From May of 2010, to the summer of 2011 I gained back 50+ pounds.
I had not changed who I was. I only changed what I ate. I was ON A DIET.
Now I am different. I am committed to a healthy way of eating, committed to fitness.
Reflecting on the ride in 2010 I see a man who wanted to not be fat but was not ready to make the commitment needed to make the life-change needed to make it happen.
PGB, a good friend, has said to me that he believes I will not gain back the weight because I have learned how to keep it off. I learned to change how, when and why.
I am now nine months at or below my goal weight.
PGB might be onto something.
The other thing that I think about is this: When I rode from the festival to the ferry in 2010 I was spent. I was worn out. Shot. I wobbled my way to the ferry. I rode tired. Even though it is mostly flat from the Festival to the ferry, I rode at maybe 12 miles per hour. Simply exhausted.
When I rode from the festival to the ferry today I rode at 20 miles per hour, I rode strong, with energy. I had plenty left. I say this honestly: I could have ridden another 15-20 miles. I felt that strong.
This is significant. This is wonderful.