My good friend NI has been after me to ride with him in the Hub on Wheels ride in Boston for several years now. He is a Boston native and justifiably proud of his city and “The Hub” ride. I was signed up to do it last year but the knee injury put the stop to that.
After I signed up this year, NI said “well seeing as you are driving up this way anyway why not sign up for the Discover Hartford Ride held the day before “the Hub”?”
So I did.
The “Discover Hartford” ride is 40 miles through the streets and parks of Hartford. I would guess at about 1000 riders take part.
I know very little about Hartford other than my friends MK and LS and their twin sons live in the area. I have only been to Hartford once or twice and those were brief visits.
It amazed me to see how beautiful the city is. The parks are wonderful and all over the place. The bike paths trace the rivers and hills and the city seems very bike friendly.
The ride was wonderful. The weather was perfect. My single quibble is the rest areas were not well stocked. Bananas and water. That was it. No “rest facilities” except at one stop where the bakery in the strip mall allowed riders to use the one bathroom. I hope that as the ride grows the rest areas will improve. Otherwise the ride was fantastic.
Until the last one and a half miles
No matter the distance of the ride, when I get within a couple of miles of the end I get a burst of energy. I start riding faster and my aches go away and I am flying. It was under this scenario that NI and I started our two mile run to the finish. We started riding faster, letting it all go, and not saving anything. We came around the bend with about a mile and a half to go and at about 20 miles per hour I hit a small, sharp rock with my rear tire. Just as I thought “I hope I didn’t damage the brand new tire” I heard and felt the BANG. The tire and tube had exploded. And yes, I mean exploded. We were in an underpass and the bang was dramatic with the echo. I had no problem bring the bike to a quick and controlled halt and was never close to crashing but with the tire totally deflated in an instant and the rim hit the street and was badly damaged.
With no repair possible (the tire had an 8 inch rip in the side wall) I had to carry the bike the last mile and a half of the ride.
For some reason, while not thrilled by this development, I had fun with it. I carried the bike, NI rode VERY slowly alongside me under his “no Cyclist Left behind” policy (a good policy by the way) as I walked , and we enjoyed the rest of the ride-walk. It is surprising to me how I now take some things in stride that at one time would have ruined my day.
The afternoon was spent finding a local bike shop (Center Wheel in West Hartford) and having lunch with MK, LS and their twins while we waited for the bike to be repaired. So glad my friends were patient and flexible. It was a great time eating and chatting with them.
I was lucky (?) that the shop had a used rear wheel in reasonable condition with a tire and tube also in reasonable condition and for a reasonable price they switched over the rear cassette (gears) and mounted it on my bike. If not for that I would have had to forego the Boston ride for the second year in a row.
I have to say I had a great time. I had a wonderful 38 mile ride, a 1.5 mile walk, lunch with wonderful people, and I have a great story to tell.
I will put Hartford on my Annual Ride list along with the NYC Five Boro Bike Tour, the Ride for Autism, the NYC Century and Hub on Wheels.
The Hub on Wheels ride is better than the Five Boro Bike Tour.
There I said it and I mean it.
It is more fun. It is easier to ride. It is MUCH less crowded.
The ride is fun. The city of Boston is beautiful. The route is enjoyable and varied some of the views are incredible. Part of the route takes you through one of the most beautiful, picturesque, and quaint cemeteries you will ever see. That one of the rest stops is in the cemetery is somehow fitting and odd at the same time. I can only say that this is one rest area you really want to stay for only a short time…
The ride started in a driving rain but about a half an hour after the ride started the rain stopped and soon the roads began to dry. For a long while it was simply a gray sky and then, with about a third of the ride left, the sun came out and we were treated to clear blue skies and some beautiful views. The last rest area was along the shore and it was magnificent.
The used wheel on the back of the bike held up and the ride was un-dramatic.
The friendship and the banter and the pleasure of the ride could not be surpassed. In contrast to the New York ride, the Boston ride seemed much more “lighthearted”. People seemed to be having fun. It is a much more hilly ride than New York and, at fifty miles, it is ten miles longer than New York and yet at the end of the ride I felt less worn down.
I regretted that we had driven in to Boston instead of riding in because I would have enjoyed another ten miles on the bike. All in all I had one of the best riding experiences in a large organized ride that I have ever had.
I hope to make the Hub on Wheels an annual event. It was fun. Fun is good.
The Weekend Behind Me
When I got home yesterday I could look back at a very good weekend. I had good meals and kept my eating in check. I had good company and many laughs. I got in 88.5 miles of riding and 1.5 miles of walking with a bike on my shoulder. I visited my old college and had lunch with one of my old professors. I spent the evening before with one of my oldest friends (SS) and her boyfriend (HH) and we smiled, we laughed, we had new experiences and we enjoyed each other’s company.
It was a joy to walk in the door at home and have the dogs trample me; the Younger One hug me, the Older One yell down the stairs and welcome me home and the Missus give me a hug and a kiss.
It was the sort of weekend that recharges you even though you are exhausted when it is done.
I could not help but reflect on what this all represented to me. When SS hugged me and realized she could grasp her wrist while hugging me… When Doc (my Old Professor) saw me for the first time without the weight and congratulated me…. When I rode 50 miles the day after riding 40 miles….
It is an amazing thing to me. I know it is me, I know I did it… Still I am amazed. I am continuing to do it. I am still on the plan. I am able to do things I could only imagine doing just two years ago. I now know for certain fact that I could do High Point to Cape May in three 80 mile days. I doubted it. Now I know I can.
I have found life. I have found living. It is not a “me” held captive in a fat body, unable to do, to go, to see, to enjoy. I am doing the things that other wish they could do and I am doing it because I made a choice, a decision to change my life.
This weekend was everything I could have hoped it would be: A great time with great friends doing fun things.
The cold weather is coming. I will soon be riding less. The Sunday shop rides will soon stop for the year and I will ride only when the weather is favorable. Mostly I will hike and ride the trainer and the rollers. I need three hundred miles to get to 2500 for the year. Next year the goal is 3500.
This weekend was a weekend of renewal. It was a weekend to discover how far I have come. It was a weekend to be comfortable in my skin, in my new me. It was a weekend that proved to be affirmation of all that I have been working towards.
When MK saw me for the first time since I was 305 pounds he shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said “who are you and what have you done with the rest of Mark”. I got a good hearty laugh. It was a wonderful feeling.
This weekend was so affirming. It was so strong a weekend for me. I cannot find just the right words to express it. It was a wonderful weekend and everything I wanted it to be.
The Weekend Ahead of Me
I am lucky I suppose. I have a wheel-set that I bought for my old bike just a few weeks before I tore up my knee last year. I don’t think it has 300 miles on it. After I injured the knee I bought the new bike and the old bike was retired to the bike closet.
That wheel set is now on my new bike and I took it in to the bike shop tonight to make sure I had done everything right in switching over the gears and so forth. I did OK.
The positive here is the wheelset I had sitting on the bike in the closet is a little bit better than the set I just took off due to the damage to the rear wheel. All in all I am coming out of this OK.
The best part is it means I can ride more this coming weekend. I would like to get in 75 miles for the weekend. We will see.
I am doing well. My mind is clearer than it has been in year. I am happier being me. The overeating that has defined so much of who I thought I was is under control. I still fight the urges and I do slip from time to time but never with the foods I shouldn’t eat. Maybe I have a bowl of cereal when a piece of fruit would have been a better choice but I don’t sit down to a tub of chocolate chip cookies.
I still have to remind myself to stay on course. I still have to push myself out of the chair and get outside. The reason I plan so many rides so far in advance is to make sure I stay motivated.
I will not be fat again.
I have to always tell myself this. I have to continually reinforce the mindset. Eye on the goal, follow the plan, continue the journey. I never leave home without my Fitbit because I want to make sure I am not deluding myself about my activity level. The Fitbit rode on my shoe for both rides this weekend as it does on every ride.
Visits from the Black Dog are further apart and are of shorter duration but they are not gone, perhaps they never will be. I understand it better. I know how to handle it better but the depression still hits.
I love the me I am now. This was not always the case.
I write about my cycling so much because it is the cycling that renews me. The successes and even the failures while riding are my energy. They build my confidence. The distances traveled. The hills climbed. All this is what adds to my ability to stay on the Journey, to follow the plan, to set and achieve the goals.
I will not be fat again