The cycling season is winding down. Not done, not yet, never truly DONE but it is winding down. It is getting to the time of year when it will be dark when I leave for work and dark when I leave work for home. I will ride the rollers and I will try to get in rides on weekends until it gets too cold but the rides will get further apart and fewer in number until a few weeks go by and I will not have ridden.
I am looking back now at the season gone by and I am in awe of the year.
I have 2300+ miles on the bike this year. This is far and away the most miles I have ridden in a year in at least 18 years, probably more……
I started riding with the shop on Sunday mornings in late March or early April. It was chilly and I was out of shape but I pushed myself to keep up even if Two Bridges Road tortured me. I think I was often the slowest rider on the “no-drop” rides but I pushed on and I got better. BP and CB encouraged me and challenged me and I was riding better and better as the season warmed and my conditioning improved.
The 25 mile distance seemed so hard, so far, such a challenge at first. Soon it became easier and then it became easy. Soon my speed picked up and soon the less challenging hills became no challenge at all.
By May I had really improved my riding and my fitness and I rode in the Five-Boro Bike Tour. Forty miles through the streets of New York City. It was easy. There is a video of me accelerating away from my friend NI as we attacked a climb on a bridge approach. I never could have done that last year.
I continued riding as often as I could. Nights after work, weekends… Whenever I could find time.
In late May or early June I started working for the bike shop. I was nervous at first, not feeling knowledgeable enough, afraid of making a mistake and driving a customer away. I sold a bike my first day, three my second day. I have learned a great deal and I keep reading up on what we sell and I hope I know a little more. Now some customers come in and ask for me. Last weekend a customer that I worked with a month ago came in and bought a bike from our store. She told me that we were the most patient and helpful of all the stores she had gone to. You have to feel good when a customer tells you that.
I rode some of the Sunday rides with NP and others from the shop and they challenged me to keep up, develop, push myself further and harder.
I kept riding solo Saturdays and I continued to join the Sunday rides. Then one Sunday I was asked if I would mind leading the Sunday Ride Beginners/Intermediate ride. Imagine. Me. Leading a ride.
In June I rode the Ride 4 Autism in Central Jersey and had no trouble with the 50+ miles. I did the Bergen County Bike Tour in North Jersey the weekend before that with my friend SA. That was 45 miles. I tried to get in at least 50 miles every weekend and 75 miles most….
I went to Hartford for the Discover Hartford Tour (40 miles) and the next day I rode 50 miles in Boston. Then a few weekends later I rode the Fall Foliage Classic here in New Jersey. I also did club rides, shop rides, solo rides…
And though I haven’t gotten strong on hills yet, I have gotten better.
I find that I rarely stop peddling. That is, I don’t coast on the flats, take the little rest… I pedal. I pedal at a good cadence and I have learned to maintain the cadence. I remember the surprise in the eyes of one of the young men at the shop on a shop ride that I was riding at 20+ miles per hour on a flat section of road in the small front ring. Not bad for an old guy.
I am becoming a more skilled and knowledgeable rider. My handling skills, always good, have gotten better. I also don’t drift left that way I used to. That should make NI happy.
So here I am. 2300+ miles in to the season… Fit. Happy. Enjoying the bike in ways I have not in years.
When the cold weather and the dark mornings put an end to the Sunday Shop Rides for the season I look forward to hiking and walking and maintaining the weight loss and the fitness riding the rollers.
Come spring I look forward to riding the Shop Rides again. Maybe leading them, maybe just riding them. I look forward to the start of a new season, odometer set at zero waiting for me to start to build the miles. I will set the miles goal higher. I will set the distance goals higher. I never did get the Century in this year. One wrong turn and several missed opportunities. There is still a chance I will get it in this year but I am thinking next year is more likely. I have no doubt that I am capable. Now I just want to do it.
I am getting my old road bike back in shape to ride again. I hope to put some miles on it before the winter comes. The feel of steel… I loved riding that bike and now that I am fit again and in better shape than when the bike was built for me 21+ years ago I am looking forward to putting some serious riding in on it.
All of this. This is all because I can do it again. And I am not ever going to let myself get to where I cannot. This is too much fun, too important, too central to who I am, to ever let it fade to gray again.
I overate today. BIG TIME. I had breakfast. I had some apple cake. I had lunch. I had dinner out with Missus. I am feeling FAT AND BLOATED. I know it is OK. I know for absolute certain fact that I will be solidly back on plan tomorrow. I know I will not gain weight from this one excursion off the path I have chosen to take.
I would not have felt this way just a few months ago but I trust myself more now. I understand that I made the conscious decision to enjoy this special day. (25th anniversary) and that tomorrow I will be back to plan, back on the path, continuing on the Journey. I know I prepared for today. I was extra careful that last few days. I was 203.6 pounds this morning. I knew that today would be a day of over doing it.
Tomorrow I am back to plan.
Today I allowed myself some room to enjoy.
Trusting myself has rarely come easy when it comes to food.
Tomorrow I will earn today’s trust.