A Fat Man's Journey (Working my way back…)

An Attempt to Journey from Fat to Fit in a Lifetime. Eat right, Eat less, Move more


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Ramapo Rally, Cycling and Reasons


It started with an injury

It is well-known that I love to ride my bike. I take every reasonable opportunity to jump on the bike and ride. I take the long way from A-B so I can spend more time on the bike.

So why would I give up a perfectly good Sunday to work the rest area of a large ride rather than ride in it myself?

It started with an injury.

In the early summer of 2012 I signed up to do the Ramapo Rally in New Jersey. I had heard great things about the ride: well run, well supported, challenging and beautiful routes. I heard the rest areas were well stocked, the volunteers were fun and enthusiastic and that a good time was had by one and by all. As I was just getting in to good shape and had just missed out on doing the Five Boro Bike tour (sold out before I registered), I was looking for a challenge and I figured the 50-mile route would be JUST the ticket.

June 22, 2012 is the date I registered for the ride.

June 23, 2012 is the day I went on a Club Ride.

Twenty-five miles or so in to the ride I dropped my chain, spun out and tore the meniscus in my right knee.

The ride was out.

The club was fantastic and refunded my registration fee. That is unusual. Most rides will not refund money and for good reason. The money goes towards planning and if everyone who had second thoughts about a ride got the money back it would be impossible to plan accurately.

Seeing as I had the injury and had JUST registered… They were very kind.

Now the thing to know is that I was able to walk, climb stairs, stand… All without pain. Cycling hurt like crazy.

So I offered to volunteer and I was assigned to a rest area. We worked like crazy that day. And I loved it.

Last year I did it again and I supplied 14 dozen of Missus’ home-baked chocolate chip cookies and three of my wonderful apple cakes (recipe below). It was a fantastic time. So, this year I did it again and supplied the same fresh-baked goods.

At the Ramapo Rally Rest Area

At the Ramapo Rally Rest Area

Yes, most times I would rather ride. Most times I would rather feel the road under my wheels. Once a year, for this ride, I love to give my time and encourage the other riders. I do a number of organized rides each year. Most years I try to do the Five-Boro Bike Tour, The Ride for Autism, The NYC Century, Hub on Wheels and The Turkey Ride. The friendly faces at the rest areas, the tech support from the local bike shops, the banana, the cookie and the refill of the water bottles are very welcome. They add to the experience in a very positive way when done well. They are usually done well. On my first Ride for Autism I was pretty shot when I rolled in to the rest area at the 40-mile mark. I had ten miles to go, had become separated from my friend, and was really wondering if I should take the SAG (Support And Gear) wagon the rest of the way. After stopping at the rest area, getting the enthusiastic greeting, getting some encouragement and a quick bite, I felt revived and was back on the road, found my friend and finished the ride with him. Sometimes the rest area volunteers are the difference in finishing the ride on the bike or finishing in the SAG wagon.

So my knee injury turned me in to a volunteer this one ride per year. It was the best thing to come out of that injury.

Sticking to it

I looked back at the blog post I wrote about the knee injury. I realized I am still doing so much of what I was doing then. Eating right, eating less, moving more. Yes, I have gained a few pounds back, I am over the goal weight I had set of 210 pounds. I am not thrilled with this but I am OK with it for now. The weight will go up and go down. I understand that. I just have to stick to the plan which has worked so well.

I find that looking back at the posts helps me. It reminds me of the steps I have taken and the steps I need to keep taking. I will never give up this way of life. I am not going back to eating indiscriminately. I am not going back to being a couch potato.

I am sticking to it and I am enjoying the life I have now.

Yesterday at the rest area I so enjoyed being a part of the cycling community. I know so many of the riders and I have even sold a few of them bikes. They recognized me and I recognized them and we got to chat, we got to laugh and we shared that thing that cyclists share. The love of riding.

So I stick to it because I love it. I know what I was. I know what I am now.

This is why I do it.

Saturday Mornings

If I leave my house early enough, 6:30 AM or around there, I can get in a nice long ride before I need to be at the Cycle Shop for the day. If I plan it right , I get to SmartWorld Coffee at a little after 7:00 to 7:15 and I have time for a good cup of coffee and a whole wheat muffin, a few minutes of relaxation and then I get back on and ride another 25-30 miles to the shop.

This Saturday past was just such a day. On the road by 6:40, at the coffee shop by 7:15, coffee and a muffin, a little chit-chat with a fellow sitting outside at the sidewalk tables and then off on my ride. 2 hours and 51 minutes of riding got me to the shop on time and I had 40 miles under my wheels.

A muffin, a coffee and a bike.... Life is good....

A muffin, a coffee and a bike…. Life is good….

It was exactly the type of ride that I love most. A solo ride at my pace, my challenge and a little break to refresh the body and the soul.

The simple fact is this: I work long hours at my full-time job and there is a good deal of pressure. The Sunday shop rides are wonderful and I love leading them. They are fun and I enjoy the groups and the individuals but the rides are not relaxing. I watch out for the new riders, try to remember the route, try not to lose focus watching out for the other riders and crash (did that, not fun) all the while watching the clock and making sure we are going to make it back to the shop on time.

It is the Saturday morning rides that refresh me, clear my mind, rejuvenate my spirit. When I am riding on Saturday mornings I am alone with my personal challenges. I am free to fight my way up the hills, blast down the other side, watch my cadence, keep the pace up, challenge myself to ride better, not just faster. I am free to clear out the cobwebs and fight my personal battles on my own terms. Flying along the roads of Morris County NJ I am able to focus sharply on the task at hand to the point that it is almost as if nothing but the bike and the road exist. I hear the cars, I see the animals along the roads, I feel the air and hear all the sounds around me but I am not thinking about work, or pressure, or deadlines or anything but the focus of the ride.

Alpacas and a Synapse....  The farmlands of New Jersey

Alpacas and a Synapse…. The farmlands of New Jersey

It is on these rides that I understand the adage that cycling is as close to flying as you can get and still be on the ground.

There are times I want company on these rides and I will ride with others if I come across them on the ride. I have a friend with whom I have done a Saturday morning ride and we had a great time.

Mostly though, Saturday Morning is my personal time. The time I get to be alone with my thoughts, my energy, my efforts and my needs. I can ride as fast as my legs will take me. I can attack a hill in my way, not worrying about keeping up or waiting up…

I can stop for the cup of coffee without concern for another rider and whether or not they like a coffee stop on a ride.

It is my most selfish time. On these rides I am accountable to no one but myself and the rules and laws of the road.

Soon enough I will pull in to the parking lot and it will be time to clean up and get to work. The Floor Manager of the Day will have tasks for me to do, there will be prep work for opening up, shelves to fill, floors to vacuum.

Soon the customers will come in and I get to talk about bikes all day and be paid for it. A great way to spend the day. There are joys in the job. Selling a youngster his or her first “good” bike, a man my age getting back into cycling and the smile on his face when he rides the bike in the lot, the husband who comes in with his wife to buy her a bike and buys one for himself as well after seeing how much she is enjoying the test ride… This is why I love selling bikes.

But it is the Saturday morning ride that reminds me why I love cycling.

Peace.


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The Monday after a Really Good Weekend


A Week can Change so much

A week ago, I was counting the wounds, measuring the damage and thanking the fates that the crash was not worse.

On the scale of bike crashes, mine was quite minor. I had road rash, a broken helmet and some sore spots. Overall, I was lucky. The was nothing broken and nothing requiring surgery to put right.

This weekend I returned to riding. I have never been the sort to be afraid to do something that got me hurt previously. If I were, I never would have fallen in love a second time. There was no hesitation to getting back on the bike. I never worried about it, never questioned anything once on the bike.

Saturday was the day of the most important ride on my calendar. The Ride for Autism. I first did the ride in 2012. Now it is my annual focal point. So appropriate that the ride would fall on the Older One’s 23rd birthday.  He was very excited that I was riding for him on his birthday.

It was also my first ride since the crash. My only concern was the ability of my body to rise to the occasion, past the bumps and bruises, past the lack of conditioning. There was no fear.

I love riding. No crash was going to change that.

My annual picture at the first rest area of the ride for Autism.  Missing NI

My annual picture at the first rest area of the ride for Autism. Missing NI

The ride was WONDERFUL! Sixty-two miles through the New Jersey countryside, past horse farms and cornfields, through small towns and along country lanes and orchards, rolling hills and long flat sections. It was a blast.

I was tired and sore at the end of the ride. The body was not quite ready but we managed, my body and mind, to get the full distance in. I might have been able to do the 100 miles. I am glad I did the 62 instead.

Overjoyed? The first time I did the ride it was the furthest I had ridden in 20 years. It was a slog. My good and true friend, NI, pushed me up hills. Exhorted me to push myself, nearly dragged me across the finish…. Last year I was very strong and we rode together well. This year I rode with a group from the cycling club as NI was unable to make it. WE had a good time. They rode better than I did but we finished close together and enjoyed lunch at the end of the ride as a team.

Yes, I was Overjoyed.

Saturday night I sent a text to my friend and co-worker asking him to lead the Sunday ride. My legs were tired and sore and tight. I didn’t think I would be able to ride on Sunday morning.

Sunday I awoke feeling strong and rested with no tiredness or soreness in my legs.

I lead the ride on Sunday. We rode Twenty-five and a half miles. There was one good hill and it let me know the legs were tired. On the downside, I blasted. I went in to the highest gear and spun like mad. I hit 40+ miles per hour and felt no fear at all. Only exhilaration.

Feeling Right

I am feeling “right”. I like the way I eat, I like the activity level, I like the way I look. Most importantly I like the way I feel about ME. The inside ME. I feel so right within my skin.

Yes, this is because of the weight loss. It is more because of the changes I need to bring about for the weight loss to happen.

Introspection, deep-diving one’s brains….

Has its place.

Just thought I would mention it.

The Sunday Ride

So, as mentioned above, I rode on Sunday. I led the Sunday ride with the able co-leadership of JS, one of the people I work with at the shop. I took lead, he was the sweep. The sweep is the fellow who ride along at the back of the ride to make sure we don’t lose a rider off the back…

We had nine other riders along yesterday. Nearly perfect weather for eleven riders to explore northern NJ.

What a fine ride. I think the good weather put everyone, riders and drivers alike, in good moods. We had none of the typical close encounters with drivers. No nasty long and loud honks of the horn, no close buzzes…. Several times the drivers stopped to allow us to cross a street or hung back until there was a good and safe place to pass. I cannot tell you how much that was appreciated.

Getting in the 25.5 miles on Sunday told me so much about myself as a person and a rider. I was sore from Saturday. Not painfully so, not “DON’T RIDE” sore, but the kind of sore I might have used in years past as an excuse to chill in the morning, have a lazy morning… I rode. I knew I could work the kinks out. I knew I WANTED to ride.

Felt great. Felt truly great.

Rides like this remind me why I love to ride. I am not a racer. I never was particularly fast. I can hammer it on the flats when the spirit moves me, but I was never a racer. I have never competed on the bike…

I love to ride to the best of my abilities, get out on a beautiful day, feel the road roll under the wheels, the bike banking in to a turn, the satisfaction of getting to the top of that brutal hill, enjoying the thrill of the fast downhill and enjoying the properly sore muscles at the end of a good brisk ride.

And I am able to do this now. Not three years ago. I couldn’t do it. Three years ago, Summer of 2011, I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t ride. I could barely walk up stairs.

While riding yesterday I thought about this. I thought about riding 62+ on Saturday and another 25+ on Sunday. Not bad for a man who was close to 320 pounds three years earlier. I kind of smiled as I thought about it.

The Journey… 88+ miles of cycling this weekend. Another 6 miles of walking. All in all a busy weekend. I have done more miles in a weekend that is certain. But it doesn’t matter. What matter is I what I did this weekend. What I will do the next weekend. What I CAN do now. All this is what matters. I can play with my children, take walks with my sons, work in the yard, climb the stairs, take hikes with friends, ride…

I can do this now. The Journey has brought me here.

All it took was deciding to take the first step.

 

Peace.

Not my best day

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Not how I wanted the ride to go.

Sunday Morning, feeling ready to ride

Sunday Morning, feeling ready to ride

I lead the Sunday morning beginner/intermediate ride at the bike shop. It is one of those things I really enjoy and today promised to be a great ride. The weather was great, the attendance was excellent and I had a nice route planned for the group.

Two miles in to the ride things went bad.

I crashed. Hard.

I lost my focus for just a moment, took a wide line through a turn, clipped a curb….

Helmets work. They really do.

Big dent in the lid

Big dent in the lid

I came away from the crash with some nasty scrapes, bumps, cuts and bruises, a wrecked helmet, a mild headache (no concussion) and a major bruise to my ego.

The bike is fine. A couple of minor repairs and it will be as good as new.

I was able to ride back to the shop while the rest of the group rode on and enjoyed a really nice ride in the country side.

Cracks inside the helmet.  This one is no retired to my bike closet.  A reminder that hubris is a bad thing

Cracks inside the helmet. This one is now retired to my bike closet. A reminder that hubris is a bad thing

OUCH.  My right elbow.  My right side is scraped from knee to shoulder

OUCH. My right elbow. My right side is scraped from knee to shoulder

I keep a first aid kit in my car and was able to tend to my wounds and then I went over to the nearby pharmacy and picked up some more stuff. After the manager arrived at the shop I was able to go in and shower up, get the rest of the wounds cleaned and bandaged and then I worked the day at the shop. Sold a few bikes.

Mostly I feel sore, stiff, and stupid.

I did what I always preach not to do. I allowed myself to become distracted and lost my focus. BOOM.

Don’t do that.

I am sure this is a lesson learned for me. Painfully, but learned.

Glad the bike will be OK.

To top it off, I broke a tooth tonight.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

BUT this is where working at the shop pays off for me.

Today a young man of 9 or 10 came in with his Dad. He got his very first grownup bike and I had the privilege of setting him up and helping him select the bike. I had the pleasure of seeing the joy on his face as he test rode the bike. I saw his smile when Dad said “let’s get it”. Later in the day I helped a woman select her first road bike. She discovered riding a year ago. A woman in her forties, she hadn’t ridden since she was a child. Then she decided she wanted to get fit and a year ago she bought herself a Hybrid. A friend talked her in to training for triathlons’. Her Hybrid just wasn’t going to cut it. After having a professional fitting done I worked with her for a little more than an hour. She was a little confused by the range of available options and we worked through it until it became clearer for her. Then we went outside and she test rode a bike. We worked on the shifting, how the brakes work, the differences in the handling compared to the Hybrid. When it was all done, she had selected a bike, was comfortable with the selection, and was excited about getting out on the road on her new road bike.

These are the things that put a shine on the day.

There was also a some gentle, touching moments to the day.

A mother and father came in today looking for a used children’s bike for their son. A child of about 8, he appears to be non-verbal autistic. He loves to pedal a bike. I helped them select one of the used bikes, actually one I had taken in the day before. A bike with 20-inch wheels, with training wheels already on it and in nearly new condition. This little boy, alone in his world. He lit up when he sat on the bike.

The father, in labored English, explained to me “my boy is special needs”. I told him I understood. He thanked me and asked if I knew where they could find help for their son. I gave him the email address of Autism NJ, the organization that benefits from The Ride for Autism. He, his wife and his son left with smiles.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe today was a very good day.

 

Peace.


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Family, Overindulgence, and a Ride with a Friend


Memorial Day Weekend with Family

Friday night was a visit to hell.

We drove from New Jersey to Virginia on the Friday night of a long weekend. Had to be done. No other option. It was hell.

The drive from Jersey to my brother’s home in Virginia is a five-hour affair on most occasions. For the annual Memorial Day weekend visit we typically leave at silly o’clock on Saturday morning, pull up to the hotel at 11:00 or so, rest up and then go to my brother’s home around 1:30 to visit a little before the festivities start at 2:00.

That would be normal.

This year was not normal.

This year we had a naming ceremony for the first member of the next generation, my nephew’s daughter, a two-month old bundle of love. This required arriving Friday night for the early Saturday service.

Six and a half hours of heavy traffic, much of it stop-and-go.

The Older Son does not deal well with this. I don’t deal well with this.

We survived.

Grand-Aunt Missus with Grandniece

Grand-Aunt Missus with Grandniece

The festivities on Saturday, both the naming ceremony and the cookout, were smashing successes. Visiting with my niece and my nephews, seeing my brother and his wife and all the friends I only see at the annual cookout, and meeting my Grand-Niece, all added up to pure joy.

The weekend was too short. I would have liked to stay longer on Sunday but obligations drew us home. We had to be back in time to pick up the dogs from the kennel. Other responsibilities had to be met.

But it was a joy.

Overindulgence

I thought about it carefully. Then I decided to allow it. I overindulged on Saturday. After a light breakfast, I allowed myself to eat and enjoy the foods at the cookout. Well, not all the foods. The stars of the menu are all red meat related. Ribs, Skirt Steak, Beef Chili, Burgers, Hot Dogs…

I brought a vat of Vegan Chili. It was very well received and went quickly. There were also homemade black bean veggie burgers made by AH, the partner of my Nephew G. They were delicious. And I had fruit, salads, brownies….

Oh yes, rum chocolate bon-bons…. OH MY they were good.

So I went way overboard.

And it is OK.

This morning I was actually down one pound from Friday.

Still heavier than I want to be and I am back on the plan and I am working it off.

But for one day…

It was OK.

A Ride with a Friend

I met ES when he and his wife AS started showing up last spring for the Sunday Shop Rides. A really nice couple. Pleasant to talk with, great to ride with. Bright, Enthusiastic and engaged in the rides.

Everything a Ride Leader could want from riders.

When they didn’t show up for the ride one summer Sunday I assumed that their children were home from camp and that was that.

It was more than that. ES had been involved in a bad bike crash. It took a great deal of focus and effort, I am sure, but he returned to cycling and it was my joy to be involved in helping him select his new bike.

ES and AS have rejoined the Sunday rides and it is once again a pleasure to ride with them. I didn’t lead the ride yesterday because I was heading back north from the family visit.

Riding Country Roads in New Jersey

Riding Country Roads in New Jersey

I had planned to do a 60 mile ride with the bike club in The Hudson Valley but I just could bear the thought of a 120-mile round trip in the car.

I was really pleased when ES told me he was available for a ride today.

So we met a the bike shop (a good midway point between our homes) and set out on what we originally planned as a 48 mile ride. Memorial Day Parades changed that to a 42.5-mile ride… It was Great.

I can’t speak for ES but for me… It was GREAT. We rode at a relaxed pace, took one long break and a couple of short breaks and chatted much of the ride when we could ride side by side. It was a ride with two personalities. The first half of the ride had nearly 2000 feet of climbing. The second half was flat to downhill…

I knew I would enjoy selling bikes.  I knew I would enjoy leading the Shop Rides.  I didn’t know that I would develop friendships with “customers”

Fun time. ES and I are well matched in our riding abilities. ES is MUCH better on the hills than I am but I am able to ride the rolling hills and the flat areas with him and he is patient about the long climbs.

I am working hard to be ready for the Ride for Autism. A ride like this is good prep….

Thanks ES.

My Attention

I have not been tending to this blog much recently. My efforts have been directed towards WORK and the Ride for Autism.

This ride is very important to me. Raising funds, getting people to join the team… So far the Team has raised $2,600.00. A wonderful thing. Wonderful and generous people have donated whatever they could and I appreciate it more than words can express.

It will be a fun ride. Some are doing the Century. Some are riding shorter distances. It is all good. The important thing is to show up. To engage. To make the effort. I appreciate it all.

So that is where my attention has been. Diverted from this important part of my life to another.

Today I rode 42+ miles. I am preparing to ride 100 in June 7th. I am doing this because The Older One cannot. I am doing this because I want other parents to have the resources available to them that were not available to us 20+ years ago.

To all who are supporting the team or have joined the team I offer you my deepest thanks.

Today’s Ride was beautiful.

June 7th the ride will be meaningful.Dannys team 2

 

Peace.


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Turns


Life

I was sick two weeks ago. I wrote about it. Just feeling normal again now.

Life has been interesting recently. I would like life to be a bit less interesting.

I love being who I am now. I have to tell you that.

I was never all that much a fan of me over the years. I have battled depression, fought off per self-image. I have been shocked when I was complimented on anything. I have been riddled with doubt.

I caved in to the negatives and I made them self-fulfilling.

I just don’t do that now.

And I like this about me.

Yesterday I led the shop ride and had a really good time of it. A group of seven of us left the shop at 8:30 in the morning and we did a 25 mile ride over the roads of Northern New Jersey. It wasn’t a fast ride but it isn’t intended to be a fast ride. It is a beginner/intermediate ride and we try to keep a moderate pace. Yesterday we averaged about 13 miles an hour while moving. And that is just fine. The important thing is we had a good time.

Living is what you decide it will be. I have decided life will be fun.

I am not going to live the rest of my life the way I lived the first 50+ years.

That Said…

I have been dealing with The Black Dog recently. I think the flu had something to do with it. Also stress at work. My “real Job”, not the bike shop job. The only stress there is I don’t get to work there often enough. Like Every Day…..

The shop can induce some stress. Trying to keep several customers happy at once when the store is very busy… But there are rewards. Making friends out of customers. Seeing a customer get on a bike after years of not riding and seeing the joy on their face as they test ride a bike. A customer recovering from an accident getting the bike of their dreams…

There are the rewards of working with really fine people. People who are passionate about bikes. Passionate about customers. Passion is something missing from my “real Job”. No one there has it. They go through the motions. They get the job done.

The Black Dog tends to hide after a couple of days with me at the shop. He can’t keep up with me. If I didn’t work at the shop I would surely go insane.

Recovery

This past winter was hell. Truly hell. I was depressed much of the winter. The cold kept me from riding. The ice, the snow, the rains, the grey… I gained a few pounds. Nothing terrible. I expected it but I did gain a few more than I thought I would. That gain is mostly gone now. I am riding. Eating right. I am doing the things I know will help me stay in the range.

I am recovering. Slowly.

My head concussion symptoms are fading. I do still have some trouble putting a sentence together once every so often. The owner of the shop asked me a question and I had trouble answering. He said for a moment he thought I was having a seizure. I think it scared him a slight bit. Just the way my mind works now. Sometimes the words get stuck on my tongue.

I am told by people with MD after their name that this is normal and it will pass. I didn’t do what the Doctor told me to do when I got the concussion. I didn’t stay in bed for a week with not TV, no computer, no books. I took two days off and I went to work. Why? Because I was afraid of losing my job. Because my company has an immature approach to illness and injury. Such is life.

The effects of the flu lingered longer than I expected. Two weeks later and I am finally feeling myself….

This is good.

So I can ride. I can eat right. I can work at the shop and I can save my sanity by doing so.

I am recovering from a lifetime of issues. These latest are just minor bumps in the road.

Rides

Ride season is here.

Next Sunday I will take part in the TD Five Boro Bike Tour

Me and 32,000 of my closest friends…

It will be insane but I am looking forward to it. There is only one reason I am looking forward to it. The opportunity to ride with my friend NI. We met through this ride and we have now been friends since 2010. I list him high on my list of good people and I only wish we lived closer together so we could ride together more often.

NI and I do five rides together. The TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, The Ride For Autism, The NYC Century, The Discover Hartford Ride and, Boston Hub on Wheels (the best of the bunch in terms of quality of the ride). I would do Montreal as well but it is out of the scope of my budget….

I cannot tell you how enjoyable rides like this can be when you ride with a friend and you can share the accomplishment.

Fun time.

I am a little discouraged with the fund-raising efforts for the Ride for Autism and Danny’s Team. I had hoped we would raise more than last year. I raised $1495 last year. This year we are at $1,118. Maybe more will come in. It is for such a good cause….

We do have 8 or 9 members of Danny’s Team now. This makes me very happy. That is a few more people who signed up for the ride and that is the primary fund-raising means for the ride anyway.

I hope to find a few more rides to do this year with NI.

Join us!

 

 

Peace


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Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days


March 6, 1997

I remember the day because it is the birthday of my college roommate and so the date imprinted on my mind.

I was just shy of my 36th birthday and I was in the hospital with chest pain. It felt like a fist was being pushed in to my ribs from the inside. It had started on a Sunday. I had gone to my father’s house to move some boxes of books from the house to the shed as he prepared to put the house on the market. I was young. I was big. I was strong. I carried two of the storage boxes at a time. 40-50 pounds? Something like that. Carried them across the back yard. One-hundred plus feet from the back door of the house to the shed. I made the trip 10 times or so.

Later that evening the discomfort started. Monday it was pain. I went to the Doctor and he sent me for an EKG and stress test. By the evening on Monday I was admitted. The EKG was “abnormal”. My Blood Pressure was high. The Doctor decided not to give me the stress test. In his words “this would be a bad thing to do”. Now I was frightened. When he told me not to worry, they would take very good care of me, I nearly started to cry.

That was March 3, 1997.

On Tuesday they transferred me to the hospital with the better cardiology unit. Morristown Memorial Hospital. They scheduled me for a cardiac catheterization and on Wednesday, March 5th I had the procedure done. I was pretty certain I would be having surgery by the end of the day.

I was wrong.

My arteries were fine. “Wide open” in the words of the cardiologist. No sign of any blockages.

The pain? The result of a spasming esophagus. The cause? High blood pressure.

On March 6, 1997 I started taking blood pressure medication.

Today I stopped.

The doctor said it was OK. My health and fitness are such that I no longer have high blood pressure. I no longer need the medication.

Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days after I started, I have stopped.

I wish I could tell you that the scare I had that week somehow transformed me then. It didn’t. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t go on a fitness kick. I continued to gain weight. I continued my sedentary ways…

It would be 15 plus years before I started to really change. It would take until December 27, 2011 before I would start this journey. Thousands of pills later.

After I started the Journey and after I had lost 75 pounds or so, I asked my Doctor if there was any chance I would get off the blood pressure medications. He replied that I might and we would see. When I went to him at 204 pounds, when he checked my BP and found it to be 116 over 62, when he found my resting heart rate to be 62 beats per minute he took me off one of the pills.

At my last check up, with my weight still under control, with my BP at 118 over 65 he said I could stop the last pill.

Yesterday morning I took the last pill.

Doc told me to watch my BP carefully and if it goes back up I am to refill the prescription and go back on.

I will do exactly as he said.

I hope, of course, that I do not need to go back on.

Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days

I am happy about this. It means so much more than simply not having to take a pill.

Back on the bike

The weather is slowly improving. It was very ride-able weather this weekend. Yes, a bit on the chilly side at the early hours I ride but it was very enjoyable.

I rode 17.5 miles on Saturday morning. Twenty-two and half on Sunday on the shop ride. A 40-mile weekend.

Nice start.

The long-range forecast is very good. Next weekend should be in the 50’s at ride time. I can see a 75-mile weekend ahead. At least that is the thinking today.

There is so much joy in me when I ride. Even the flat tire on Sunday did not dampen the spirits. I am pretty good at changing flats so it was only a few minutes lost. NP rode up and quipped “road-side flat tire clinic”. I smiled. It was fun. It is a part of riding.

This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing a friends return to the road. This friend had suffered a bad crash last year. Many months of rehab and hard work. He picked up his new bike on Saturday and he rode with me on Sunday. In his eyes I saw what cycling can be about. It is Joy. It is exultation expressed on two wheels. I saw in his eyes what I feel every time I am on my bike.

My friend came back from terrible injuries inflicted by others.

I came back from obesity inflicted by myself.

Very different Journeys and one cannot be compared to the other.

I can tell you that the feeling is the same.

I saw it in his eyes. I saw it in his smile.

The joy of being back on the bike.

Danny’s Team

Dannys team 2The ride for Autism is two months from today.

I am building to it. I still plan to ride the 100 mile distance, The Century.

I had hoped to raise $5000 but we are still at $1000. We are up to 11 team members riding all different distance. That has me excited. Even if we don’t hit the $5000 goal at least with the registration fee the 10 people who would not be doing the ride otherwise have added over $500 to the cause.

My son will never be able to ride a bike. This saddens me because I would so love to share the joy of riding with him. So I ride for him. I ride the Ride for Autism for Danny. I do all my rides with him in my heart.

He is my heart and my soul.

If you would like to help the Ride for Autism here is the website: http://www.ride4autism.org

If you donate I would ask if you would donate in the name of Danny’s Team.

If you are in the area maybe you could sign up and ride along with us.

If you only cheer us on in your heart I still thank you from the bottom of mine.

 

Peace


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Considering it all.


The Blog Turns Two

I have been writing this blog just a few days more than two years now. I have written about the pain, the confusion, the joy, the fear, the conquests, the failure, and the pleasures of this Journey.

I am so glad that I have done so. I the two years of writing this blog I have “met” so many wonderful people who have shared with me their Journey, who have encouraged me and consoled me.

I don’t write as often now. There is less to write about. I am in maintenance mode now. No longer fighting to take the weight off. The weight is gone. Now I fight to keep it off. I am holding steady in the fight. I have good weeks and bad (this past week was not so good) and the weight swing a few pounds up and a few pounds down. I am 209.6 as I write this today. I lost my streak of days under 210 when I hit 211 and then climbed all the way to 215 a week ago. Fighting the good fight, it is coming back down. I got careless around the holidays, went out to lunch and dinner a few times more than was prudent.

I could blame the weather. It has been nasty cold here and walking has been hard, riding has been (for me) impossible. Blaming the weather is the easy way out and it is also inaccurate. It still comes down to calories in versus calories out. I had to many come in for the amount that was going out.

Fixed that.

Back on Plan

Stay focused.

Fat is something I will not allow myself to be.

Thank you for reading this blog the last two years. I hope the blog will be worthy of your continued attention.

Dinner with Friends

On 7 January I went to dinner with “the guys”. PB, MT, TM, ND, SA and me. Italian restaurant. The same one where I eat my once a year pizza. I had a stuffed eggplant appetizer as my main dish and a vegetable soup.

Very good.

No dessert. Just coffee.

Good conversation.

I was quieter than usual I think. I listened much more than I spoke.

I was thinking about how difficult it is for us to all get together. We are busy with work and families. ND moved to Taiwan. Where once there were nine of us there are now six.

I was thinking about the friends who were not there. Joe was the first to leave us. We were closest of friends at the time he died. I am still trying to move on from losing him though it has been four and a half years. Wally was my closest friend for many years. He was the next to leave the party too soon. He left us less than a year after Joe. Then Chris left. Just this past year. I am still resisting the urge to pick up the phone and call him when we plan these dinners.

So I was quieter than usual for me. I listened to my friends and I interjected a bit here and there.

I really was just trying to absorb the evening.

Something I care about

Twenty-two and a half years ago my older son was born. First born child to Missus and me. A Boy!! Cute. All the right parts in all the tight places.

Big Ears

Danny and Daddy.  Danny is about 2 months old

Danny and Daddy. Danny is about 2 months old

Blue eyes

Lusty cry

Daniel

He was six months old when we first really became concerned but it was earlier that we sensed something wasn’t quite right.

He cried and screamed violently if Mommy wasn’t near. And he would cry that way for hours until Mommy was back. Friends who had so enthusiastically offered to baby sit now begged off because no one can really handle a baby who cries like that.

He didn’t sit up. He didn’t engage with toys. He became animated only when Mommy and Daddy were with him.

Eventually there would be a diagnoses though it took a long time to come.

Fragile X Syndrome.

From the moment of conception our sweet little boy was destined to have significant mental delay and behaviors in the Autistic Spectrum.

Danny about 9 years old.  He still has a wonderful smile

Danny about 9 years old. He still has a wonderful smile

For 22 and half years we have raised and loved this child. We have lost friends who didn’t understand. We have become estranged from family who wouldn’t understand. And we love our son. We often feel isolated. We often feel alone. Though we have loving friends and family who are wonderful with Danny and patient with the difficulties we face, it is not always easy. It is rarely easy.

In 2012 I saw a poster or flier or something that directed me to the Ride For Autism. I really no longer remember how I found out about the ride. My friends KG and NI agreed to ride it with me and as I had just started the Journey it became my focal point for my training.

I did the 50-mile ride. I struggled. But I finished and in so doing I formed a bond with this ride. It is now my most important ride each year.

It seems fitting (to me anyway) that the ride is June 7 this year. Danny’s 23rd birthday.

My inspiration, my light, my love. Danny

My inspiration, my light, my love. Danny

This year I am aiming to do the 100 mile distance. A Century in cyclist speak.  There are shorter distances and anyone can pick any distance.

The notion of doing it 2 years ago was laughable. I know I can do it this year. Build the base miles. Work on the weight and the fitness and the endurance. Do the ride.

There is no fund-raising required for this ride, just the entrance fee. Last year I thought I would try to raise additional funds and I asked people for donations. To my amazement, $1450.00 was donated by my friends and families and by some of the readers of this blog. I am profoundly and eternally grateful.

This year I am doing the ride again. I have put together “Danny’s Team”. So far there is one other rider  who has signed up as a member of Danny’s Team and there are several others who have told me they will.

I hope we put together 10 or so riders and that each of the riders is able to raise a few dollars from friends and family and that we, as a team, can raise $5000.00.

The purpose of the ride

  • To raise funds to be distributed to other tax exempt organizations that serve individuals with autism and their families
  • To raise awareness about autism in the community
  • To provide and opportunity for individuals with autism and their families to engage is recreation and socialization.

Seems like a good thing to me.

So here are the links if you are interested in knowing more. If you cycle and you are in the area I hope you will consider doing the ride and if you do I hope you will consider doing it as part of Danny’s Team

Ride For Autism

Danny’s Team Page

Danny’s Team Facebook Page

If you don’t cycle and you care to contribute I can only offer you my heartfelt gratitude and the assurance that the money is going to a worthy cause.

If you don’t wish to contribute or can’t, I understand and I  thank you for your friendship on this blog.  The friendship has encouraged me and inspired me and that has allowed me to get to this point in my Journey.

Peace