My goal this past 4-day weekend was to pile on the miles on my bike. The July 4th long weekend promised to offer 4 days of opportunity to ride with no early rain in the forecast. The heat would be an issues so the critical factor was getting out early. This I did.
On July 4th I left home at 6:50 AM and cranked out a 48 mile ride. I went at a fair clip, averaging a little over 15 miles per hour on a hilly ride. Not bad, not great, but certainly fun. I went through 11 towns and made two short rest stops on my way. On the 5th I took it easy and did a quick 19+ miles and then worked at the bike shop the rest of the day. I decided that Saturday would be a rest day so I could breakfast with the family before going off to the shop. Sunday, July 7 I rode from my home to the bike shop and then did a relatively flat 26.5 mile ride with some people from the shop and some customers for our weekly Sunday morning ride. It was a great time. We left the shop at 9:00 AM and rolled along through 6 towns and conquered one steep hill on a mostly tree-shaded route. All told this came to a hair over 43 miles for me. When done counting, I had put in 111.5 miles, give or take a 1/10 or so.
Not heroic distance to be sure but it feels good to me. I enjoyed the rides. I enjoyed the solitude of the solo rides on Thursday and Friday and the camaraderie of the ride on Sunday. I really enjoy the fact that I can do these rides and could have done significantly greater distance. The heat was a problem for me all three days. The humidity was crushing and at the end of the ride on Sunday I was very glad to get in the shower and spend the rest of the day in air-conditioning. I still prefer riding in the heat to riding in the cold and I am certainly glad it is summer and the cold winter and spring are behind us.
I will try to get in some evening rides this week. With visitors expected for next weekend i have limited cycling opportunities for Saturday and Sunday so weeknight rides will have to happen. I have come to rely on the rides as a stress reducer and calorie burner. I would hate to not get miles in this week.
111.5 miles felt good. It is a good foundation for the High Point to Cape May ride I am hoping to do this autumn.
Given a more comfortable day, I think I am ready for my first 100-mile ride, my first Century… I would like something with less than 80% humidity and 85 degree heat.
I didn’t think I would get here. Two years ago, when I was so fat and so out of shape. That picture of me standing at the grill at our annual cookout, all 310 pounds of me… To be here now seems almost dream-like. Now I write about a 111-mile weekend and talk about 100-mile days and 210-mile weekends as something to happen soon, something I am ready for, not something in the distance, a plan, a goal, a dream.
111.5 miles is not so much for many riders. To me it represents a great distance traveled; far greater than the sum of 111.5 miles.
In April of 2012 I wrote about a 20-mile ride I made with a friend. I wrote about how those 20 miles equaled a thousand miles from where I had been. It was true then. It is true now. These 111+ miles are another step forward in my growth.
A few Thoughts from Working at the Shop
I seem to amuse the young people I work with at the bike shop on weekends. They watch this obviously fit man watch everything he eats, record it on the iPhone app, record the activities on his FITBIT, check his calorie intake versus his calorie burn while they wolf down pizza, pasta, Power-bars, and iced coffees laden with sugar. Almost everyone who works there is young enough to be my child so I can understand the disconnect between their perceptions and my reality. It is amusing to me. They light-heartedly tease me about it and I enjoy the banter. They are a great group and working with them has opened up my eyes to a great deal and reminded me of even more. I can remember being much like them. It feels good to have that reminder around me. I am also very impressed with their intelligence and knowledge and the respect they show the customers and their co-workers. I would like to think that if they are representative of the current generation we will be ok.
These are hardworking young men. They are on their feet all day, speaking with customers, stocking shelves, keeping the store clean and orderly. Yes it is fun talking bikes all day with customers and you can see the enthusiasm they bring to the job, but it is also tiring even for young people to be on their feet all day… All this just is to say I admire them. I doubt I would have been as good at what they do when I was their age.
And this is a roundabout way of bringing up the entire subject of respect.
When I was much larger and working on getting far smaller I started thinking that I would need to replace my bike. This thought process actually started back in 2010 when I had taken off about 50 pounds and I was working on getting ready for my first Five-Boro Bike Tour. I visited a great many bikes shops. I actually figured out one that it was close to twenty in total. There were three that I visited most and then I started to focus on the shop where I now work.
It came down to respect.
Understand that there is not much difference in price of bike X from Shop A to Shop B. What it comes down to is service, knowledge and, for me at least, respect.
As I said, I visited a great many shop. Many of them I visited when I was over 300 pounds. The sales people at many of the stores would try to direct me away from the road race bikes towards the hybrids or mountain bikes. At one store the fellow kept talking about beach cruisers. At some shops I was simply invisible.
At the three I visited most often I was shown more respect. The sales people would at least talk to me about the road bikes. As time went along, I found I was visiting this one shop more than the others. One of the shops is walking distance from my home, just a mile along the sidewalks and I still found myself driving the 18 miles to this shop. And it came down to the respect I was getting from the crew. I was greeted well. Not with the roll of the eyes you might get after visiting 15 times still just looking.
Finally, when the weight loss, the fitness gain and the bank account all lined up, I bought the bike.
And it came down to respect.
I admit I shopped around. I went to other dealers with the same bike to check out their clearance prices and the like. Now that I was lean some of the same shops where I had been ignored greeted me enthusiastically. It came down to respect. The shop that had treated me with respect, where they believed me when I said I had been a rider, was working on returning to a healthy weight and fitness, the shop that never once failed to answer my questions, and to take the time with me to understand my needs, is where I bought my bike.
I see this from the inside now. I see the focus on the customer. I see the mindset that we are there to service, to differentiate our shop from the others by excelling at understanding what the customer wants and needs and to meet their requirements. It makes working there something I am proud to do.
Never Play Games with the Way you want to Live
All along this Journey of mine I have faced crossroads. We all do whether we are on a Journey such as mine or as a normal part of a normal life. We face crossroads. On my Journey I have had many times when I could have taken a different path and maybe still had success, maybe not. I have chosen to stay the course at all times. I have chosen to not play games with the way I want to live. I never cheat on the way I eat. The way I eat does not exclude food so deciding to have something is really a matter of making it easier for me to avoid the trigger foods and the foods I consider less healthy for me.
I can have those foods but have chosen not to.
I listen to the diet experts tell you it is OK to have a cheat day. I know of people who plan their cheat day. Every Saturday or every third Sunday or whatever…
Then the weight loss effort fails.
And the person can’t understand it.
I understand it. You made not following the eating plan a reward. You made not following the plan something to look forward to. You made it a positive to not eat right, not follow your plan, to not stay the course. It became a reward to abandon the Journey. Soon the cheat day becomes every day and the plan and the Journey are left behind and the weight comes back and you wonder how that happened. I know this because it happened to me. It won’t happen this time. I won’t play games with the way I want to live.
I have a small piece of chocolate cake on birthdays. I plan for it. I reduce calories elsewhere or I increase burn or both. A piece of birthday cake requires a long bike ride or a hike to fit in and I reduce my other foods. Does this sound silly, strange, or obsessive? I am under my goal weight since last August 8th. This is how. I don’t play games and I don’t cheat on the way I live. I get out and I ride my bike, walk and hike. I eat right and I stay on the plan and I never abandon the Journey.
I cringe when I hear about “cheat days”.
Finding out what I want to be when I grow up just a little too late…
I wish I understood earlier in my life the old adage about loving what you do means never working a day in your life.
I certainly would not be in this career.
I might have decided to work in a bike shop. In my youth I was mechanically inclined and I can still do some basic bike repairs. I seem to have a knack for helping customers find the right bike for them and I find that I truly love talking bikes with people.
Too soon old, too late smart….
Here is what I will tell you: follow dreams.
Pursue your dreams with a passion. I dreamed of being lean again, being fit again. I pursued this with a single-minded passion. I am there, I am living it daily and I am never going back to where I was. Now I am working part-time in a bike shop. I didn’t even realize until I had started that I had the dream to do it.
Find out who you are and become the best version of that person you can possibly be.
And never give up trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.