I set goals. The way my mind works I work best if I have a distinct goal. Something I believe is achievable but still a stretch. This is what motivates me. Pursuing the goal.
When I started this Journey I set the goal for weight loss at 70 pounds. Then I realized that I need something more aggressive and I set the goal at 95 pounds.
When I added cycling back to my life in March of 2012 I set the goal for miles in 2012 at 1500. Never came close. The knee injury saw to that. I don’t think I had 500 miles in when I hurt the knee in June 2012. It would have been easy to set the goal at 1500 miles for 2013. It makes sense. I tried in 2012. I didn’t make it. Setting that as the goal again makes sense.
I set it at 2500. Originally I set it way to high. I thought I might be able to do 400 miles but soon recognized I was being much to aggressive. 2500 miles it would be. I recognized that this was still a pretty big number. I do have a full-time job. My riding would be mostly on weekends and long weekend and the occasional vacation day.
I started early. I started riding with the Local Bike Shop on Sunday mornings. 25-mile rides. Saturday I would ride 25 miles as well. 50 miles per weekend. Then I started doing the large organized rides. 40 miles in NYC, 65 miles for the Ride for Autism, the 75 miles on NYC Century, 40 miles in Hartford, 50 miles in Boston. In between I continued to do the shop rides. 25 miles, 30 miles. 18 miles from my house to the shop. Then I started working at the shop. 18 miles there on Saturday. 18 miles plus the 30 mile ride on Sunday. Rides after work. 80 mile weekends. 90 mile weekends. The miles added up.
Somehow in June I had already reached 1300 miles for the year. 50 miles on average every weekend is how… From June 2 (1319 miles) to today I managed to put on close to another 1200 miles. Today I hit my goal. 2500 miles for the year.
I piled the miles on faster in the first 6 months of the year than I did the next 5 months. Mostly from working two jobs. Hard to get the time on the bike that I wanted but I still found a way to get in 1183 more miles.
2502 miles as of the end of today’s ride. Not my fastest ride. Not my longest ride. But it was a good ride with good people and I had a great time. You would have needed a crowbar to pry the smile off my face as I looked down at the odometer and saw 2500 on the display.
Others do many times the miles I have done. There are people I work with at the shop who have 2, 3 or 4 times as many miles. I admire them and I aspire to build to that many miles. Not there yet. Someday…
I ride because I love the feeling of being on the bike. I love the burn in my legs as I fight my way up a hill. I love the rhythm of my breathing as I settle in to a long pull of a line of riders. I love the feeling of the air as it sweeps over me as I ride along at 20 miles per hour. I ride because there is a feeling almost like flying when you hit your sweet spot and the bike becomes an extension of your body, the shifting of the gears becomes instinctive, automatic, natural. Even clicking in an out of the pedals becomes as natural as walking. When you hit that spot, when you have a ride where everything, your bike, your body, is working right then riding the bike seems the most natural thing in the world and you feel released from the worries and cares of life. I ride because I can. I ride because I remember when I could not.
Next year I am aiming for 3500 miles. Because I can.
There is nothing special about these distances. 2500. 3500. They are just numbers on the cycle computer. I have said it before. Many others have done many more miles. For me.. Well for me this is a great many miles and it is a goal met and surpassed. I am not done yet this year. There will be a few more miles. Maybe even a few hundred more.
I have been working at the Bike Shop on weekends since late May. When I was chatting with the Manager and the owners about working there they said they like my passion for cycling, my personality and the great story I have to tell. The story of hot I went from fat as a house couch potato to fit cyclist (my words not theirs).
Twice this weekend I had reason to share my story with customers. Both times I came away feeling good because I think I may have inspired two men to get back on the bike.
I was chatting with a fellow on Saturday. He was shopping for a bike for his son and getting another bike worked on. He is heavy-set. A big man, maybe six feet tall, 270 pound or so. We chatted about cycling and he related that in his younger days he had been a dedicated road cyclist. H loved to ride, to be out on the road and was fit and lean. Then Marriage, a career, children…. Soon he was out of shape and overweight. He seemed to really miss riding. I told him he should try to get back to it, get on the bike, build himself back to cycling shape and then join us on the Sunday rides. The conversation turned to how hard it is to lose the weight, to get fit again. So I showed him my picture. The picture taken in the summer of 2011. The picture of me standing at the grill.
Standing there with all 310-315 pounds of me. He asked who that was in the picture, knowing the answer I am sure, but asking anyway out of surprise that the lean bike shop guy in front of him was that person in the picture just two years ago.
“HOW” was all he asked. We talked about “Eat Right, Eat Less, Move More”. We talked about the Journey, the plan, the goal. BP, my boss, was listening in from the end of the counter. Bp said “you should have seen Mark back in the early spring struggling with hills and now he leads the rides”.
I won’t over dramatize. The fellow seemed genuinely impressed. He told me I am an inspiration. He now knows it CAN be done.
I hope he does it. I hope he joins us on the Sunday rides come spring.
The second time was today. This is a gentleman who comes in the shop from time to time. Has bought several bikes from what I was told. He also has let his fitness slide but her is serious about getting back on the bike but is afraid that he is too slow for the Sunday rides. Afraid his fitness will be too far behind and he will hold us back. HE questioned whether at his age (a few years younger than me) he would be able to get back to where he was as a rider. Again I showed the picture. That picture. I told him about the plan, the goal, I told him about my Journey. He grabbed my hand, asked me my name again, shook my hand and thanked me for sharing my story and told me he would do everything he could to join us on Sunday…
I love working at the Bike Shop.