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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The Journey, The Shoulder, The Winter and the Coming of Spring


The Journey

Long time. How are ya?
This winter….

Despite the impression some may have, I am not done with my Journey. I took a break from writing because I wasn’t sure I had much to say. After this difficult winter, the pressures of my job (I got a promotion!) and the depression I have been dealing with over some physical issues, it just wasn’t in me to write. I am still working on a healthy life, eating right, moving more. I did gain weight this winter, a little over 20 pounds, but nothing like the weight I have lost and nothing that sets me too far back of my plans and goals or discourages me. I knew from the start that I would have successes, failures, victories and setbacks. Admittedly, this winter was not a victory and it was not a success. It is not how many times you fall that determines success. It is how many times you get back up. I keep getting back up. I am back up now.

The Journey, as I have said from the first, is a life-long thing. There is no final stop but there are many stops along the way. I know what I want from the Journey. I know what I want from me. I want to be fit. I want to be reasonably lean, 200-210 pounds. I want to eat right and still enjoy what I eat but in smaller portions and without snacking and indulgence.

I want to encourage other and to be encouraged by other. I want to recognize in myself the issues that have driven the obesity. Why I overeat if I let my guard down. I want to be optimistic but cautious and practical in my approach. I want to ride my bike, go on hikes, be comfortable in my skin and happy with the course my life is taking.

I see in some people a disturbing tendency to revel in the failures, misfortunes, missteps and pain of others. I feel sad for those people. Sad and twisted little beasts who cannot enjoy the success of others because their own life is hollow and riddled with failures they cannot see as their own.

When I learned that I am responsible for all that I am I was able to start this Journey and make of it what it is. It is a ride. I have had up days and down. I have lost weight, gained a little back, lost it again, gained a little back….. I blame no one because this is not an issue for blame. It is a part of life, my life, my Journey.

Anyway, Hi, I am back and I hope you will stop by and read a little….

My Right Shoulder

A couple of years ago while doing longer rides I started to experience pain in my right shoulder and between my shoulder blades. In 2013, while riding the NYC Century, the pain became so sharp that I nearly abandoned the ride at the 35-mile mark.   I continued on despite it all and I was able to ride 75 miles. It was a week before the shoulder stopped hurting. It has been a constant issue since then and it has really caused issues with my riding. Anything over 35-40 miles and the pain in the shoulder and between the shoulder blades became hell. The pain in the shoulder became a constant companion. Something like a dull toothache with occasional flares of eye-crossing pain. Since I crashed last summer there has not been a day without some pain in the shoulder. Since last fall it has been a steady presence.

I finally went to the Doctor about it last week.

The news was not good but it could have been worse.

Torn Labrum

Bursitis

Arthritis (this getting old stuff…)

 

A cortisone shot has helped with the bursitis. We are taking a wait and see with the rest of it.

The upshot is that I was able to ride yesterday for the first time in a long time. I did a short ride, fifteen miles, and I didn’t push it but I rode and I didn’t have pain in the shoulder.

This is a victory.

I am out of shape, carrying 20 pounds more than I want to, but I rode and it didn’t hurt.

It’s a start.

Winter

Maybe winter is finally leaving? We had snow just a few days ago. Not much, an inch on the lawns, sidewalks and cars…

But still snow.

My mother used to have the “winter blues”. Today they call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I too do not deal with the long winters as well as some. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have SAD but I don’t like the winters the way I once did. I didn’t do any cross-country skiing this winter; I didn’t ride my bike at all. I went outside only so much as necessary. And this has been the winter that refuses to end.

Yesterday made it to the low 60s and I rode my bike for the first time since last November. It is a grey day today but warm enough to ride and I will get in another hour ride today. Tomorrow I will hike with my friend PGB. Starting to get outside again. Starting to get fresh air in my lungs.

It is finally feeling like spring. Finally feeling like there will be warm sun on me.

Though my ride yesterday was short it was a great feeling. The wind over me, the legs pumping, the heart beating harder the lungs pulling in the air… I love the feel of sweeping through a turn, bike leaning, tires digging in to the road. I got that feeling yesterday and though I only averaged around fourteen and half miles per hour I did have short stretches of good speed. And it felt wonderful. It was the type of first ride of the year that makes you want to get back out the next day.

So, yeah, winter seems to be leaving and spring, though a little later to the party, seems to be bringing with it the excitement I usually feel when spring and cycling season arrive…

The Journey…

Peace


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The Cold of the Winter


Not a Fan

When I was a teen and then in to my early twenties I enjoyed the cold.  It rarely bothered me.  I would shovel the snow in a T-shirt.  I walked two miles after a blizzard to see my girlfriend when I was sixteen.  Winter was not a problem for me.

It is now.

I hate the cold.  Truly hate it.  I rarely ride in the winter.  I barely get out to hike.  I dream of a job transfer to the dessert southwest….

I haven’t cross-country skied this winter.  Not nearly enough snow most of the time and a little leery of it since my concussion last winter.

So I sit and wait for spring.

Winter?  Not a fan.

Plans for Spring

I have the usual bike ride planned this year.  I am doing the 5-Boro Bike tour again.  I went off the deep edge and paid for the VIP package so I can be sure to start near the front of the 32,000 riders.  Nuts?  Yes.

I am doing the Ride for Autism as I do every year.  It is the one ride it would hurt me to miss.  Eighteen people have signed up to ride as a member of the team.  I hope we get more before the ride in June.

I hope to lead the beginner/intermediate bike rides again for the shop.  If I don’t lead I will still partake.

I didn’t come anywhere close to my mileage goal last year.  I hope to get the miles in this year.  If all goes well I may be able to limit working at the shop to Sundays.  That would certainly make Saturday an easier day to get in the miles…  Maybe get some club rides in.  I haven’t ridden with the club in three years.  I pay dues…  I really should get out on a club ride or two.

Spring is only 6 weeks away, not matter what the forecasting rodent says….

Cooking

Udon and VEgetable Soup.  Perfect for this cold winter night

Udon and VEgetable Soup. Perfect for this cold winter night

This time of year there is a positive for me: I cook.  I make soups.  Pot upon pot of soup.  Today I made my “everything in the pot” veggie soup.  Whatever is in the fridge and the freezer and is considered a vegetable gets tossed in and I cook it until it is soup.  Today it was mushroom, onion, kale, corn, broccoli, sugar snap peas, tomato and tofu.  Cover with water, season, cook…

I served it with Udon noodles…  It made for a wonderful dinner.

Tomorrow I will roast some squash and make roasted squash soup…  Fill up the freezer, it is a long winter.

I also plan to bake some breads.  I am picking up a computer from a friend and I am going to bring him some breads to thank him for his help.  Good man.  Deserves some fresh-baked breads.

I love to cook.  I just wish I could get out of the house…  I need to hike… I need to bike…  Cooking will have to do.  And the treadmill….

My Weight

I am doing OK.  Not great.  OK.  I have put on a little weight, 10 pounds, this winter.  It is slowly coming down.  Lost 5 last week.  Want to lose 20 more by the end of March and then 20 more by June.

I sometimes stop fighting the fight.  I admit it is hard to always say no to pizza and cookies and donuts.  I do.  I still do.  But the fight is hard.

I have been fighting The Black Dog again.  It has had the upper hand recently but I can feel that I am pulling out of it.  Missus is so tolerant when I am in the cave.  She waits, knowing I will pull out of it somehow.

I have some very big decisions to make and I am struggling with the choices.  It isn’t always easy to know what to do with one’s life.  I am still trying to decide what to be when I grow up and here I am in my mid 50’s….

So eat right, eat less, move more….

It is always a struggle.  I will not be fat again.

A Little of my prose:

One advantage to being depressed is I write….

 

I wrote this last week.

The Photograph of the Moment

1/24/2015

 

Sitting on the hill, waiting to take photographs in old style with film, sitting on the ledge looking out to the valley with a camera ready in hand.  Looking for that moment when the light would be just right, the perfection realized, sitting still up on the hill waiting for the sun to set.

 

Sitting in the special quiet and looking out to the distance where a bird is gliding. Sitting waiting for that perfect moment in old style with film, when the moment would be just right, nearly perfect, sky and earth one.

 

Sitting, now watching as the sun begins to set, sitting on that ledge, sitting as the slight chill sends a shudder along the arms.  Sitting on that ledge as the sky begins to glow a softer light, nearly perfect, nearly right.  Sitting on that hill with the old camera in hand, film is wound and shutter cocked and the light is nearly there.

 

Sitting on the hill with the camera at the ready, sitting watching for that moment coming soon, with the sky now orange and the clouds now fringed with light, sitting on the ledge, feet near the edge, watching for that perfect moment, that perfect light. The sun now setting in amber, the sky now perfect, the moment is now and then nothing.

 

Sitting on the hill, the moment passes, camera hanging from the hand, the sky was perfect, too perfect to photograph in old style on film.  The moment committed to memory where it will stay in perfect light. Now standing, now walking away from the ledge.  

 

 

Peace


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One-Thousand Ninety-Six Days


I Awoke one morning

Though taken in July, 2011, this is pretty much how I looked in December 2011.

Though taken in July, 2011, this is pretty much how I looked in December 2011.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011.

I awoke that morning and I got out of bed.  Well, almost.  What I did was roll on to my left side and got my left arm under me.  I then swung my right leg up in the air and then down in an arc while pushing up with my left arm.  In this manner I propelled myself in to a sitting position.

Once there, I took my two blood pressure medications and prepared to push my body in to a standing position so I could start my day.

As I sat there, still clearing the morning cobwebs from my mind, reminding myself that I didn’t have work, that I was still on vacation, I came to a remarkable realization.

I was tired of being fat.

I realized I was ready to do something about it.

I was ready to change my life.

To this day I cannot tell you what clicked.

I only know that something did.

It was three years ago today.  One-thousand and ninety-five days ago.

I awoke that morning.

Finally

Where would I be?

I have no clue the course my life would have taken had I not altered my trajectory.  I wasn’t a little overweight.  I was morbidly obese.  I was FAT.  I was more than 100 pound overweight.  I was barreling towards an early demise.  Worse?  I didn’t seem to care.  I wasn’t doing anything at all to exercise.  I was eating a horribly unhealthy diet.  I was drinking Diet Coke by the case full.  10-12 cans a day was not unusual for me.  Five-thousand calories a day was not unusual for me.

I went for a walk.  I remember it as a cold and gray day.  Not sure if I remember that correctly but that is how I see it in my mind’s eye.  I drove to the High School track and walked one mile and I sat down and I panted for ten minutes afterwards.  And then I drove home.

Had I not done that….  What would have happened?

I took the first steps.

I haven’t stopped.

I lost weight fast.  I changed my diet.  I eventually gave up red meat and poultry.  I increased my activity level as I decreased my intake.  I lost the weight.  I have kept it off for the most part.

Had I not started this Journey….

I would not have made many of the friendship I now have.  I would not have developed others that have grown stronger.  I would not be in the cycling world.  I would not have the life I have now.  I might not have a life.  I might not be alive..

Where would I be?  I would be fifty-three and fat, assuming I did not succumb to high blood pressure and heart disease.   I am not trying to be dramatic here.  This is fact.  My odds were very bad.  My health was deteriorating.  It was getting ugly.

Here I am.

It has never gotten easy

I figured on this early on my Journey.

I figured it would never get easy.  It might get easier.  Never easy.  I was right.

The temptations are still there.  They still tempt me.  I made the mistake of thinking I could indulge.  I was wrong.  The weight came back fast.  I blew up to 235 pounds FAST.  I fixed it.  I refocused.  The weight is coming down.  The holiday season has been harder this year.  Not sure why but it has been.  It has not gotten easy.  It hasn’t really gotten any easier.

The traps are still there.  Portion size increased as it had to once I went in to maintenance mode.  The portion size increased too much and the weight started to climb.  Scaled that back.  Fought to control it.  Getting better at it.  Weight is stabilized and starting to come down again.

It has never become easy.  I expect it never will.

Beating the odds

I am beating the odds.

The odds said that I would gain back fifty percent or more of what I had lost within one year of reaching my goal weight and within two years I would have gained it all back.  The statistics are depressing.

I am beating the odds.  More than 2 years after hitting my target weight I am still within 20 pounds of it and I am back on the downward trend.

I slipped.  I gained some back.  I overate.  That was much more the issue than my activity level, though that two has slipped some.  Plenty of reasons but no excuses.

I will not give up or give in.

I am not going to fail.

I will not be fat again.

Where I am now

This is who I am and who I will stay

This is who I am and who I will stay

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One-Thousand Ninety-Six Days later where am I now?  I am fit.  I am off the BP meds.  My at rest heart rate is 64 Beats Per minute.  I can cycle 75+ miles.  I can hike and climb.

I am a “near” vegetarian.  I don’t eat red meats or poultry.  I still eat fish a couple of times a week but for the most part I follow a vegetarian diet.

I spend a great deal of time with my wife and my boys.  I have the energy now.  The Younger one likes to walk with me.  He counts my bleacher sets when we go to the school track.  The Older one likes to watch TV with me.  We also go for walks sometimes.

Missus and I walk together and have date-night a couple of times a month.

I work 11-12-hour days at my regular job and I work Saturdays most weekends at the bike shop.  I cut back on the Sundays.  I needed the rest… Come Spring I will get back to leading the Sunday Rides (I Hope).

Mostly where I am is in a good place in my mind.

Loving life

I am happy where I am right now.  Not happy that I gained weight back.  Mad as hell at myself about that.  Happy that I cared and stopped it.  Glad that I go it at 25 pounds and not at 75.

I am loving riding, hiking, walking.

I am loving having the energy to keep up with my boys.

I am loving the sense that I have control over this.

I am happy with the person I am now and pleased that the growth continues and I am still moving forward on the Journey.

I still have a plan.  I still have my goal.

I awoke on that Tuesday morning.

I am glad that whatever it was finally clicked in.

Peace


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Three Days


 Back at it.

I am back at it.  Three days.  Back to the plan, focused back on the goal.  Eating Right, Eating Less, Moving More.  I have pulled my calorie intake back to weight loss mode (sub-2000 calories) and I am making the point to do laps of the plant floor a few times a day.  Started Monday Morning.  3.6 pounds back off as of this morning.

I am not sure why I drifted.  Tired? Stressed?  Both?  Don’t know, and this is what concerns me.  For more than two years I was able to stick to it and then I drifted off and put 20 pounds back on much faster than I took it off.  Scary and frustrating.

Back at it.

Eat Right.  Eat Less.  Move More.

I know how to do this and so I am doing it.  I am making it happen again because getting fat again is not something I can allow or will allow to happen.  I didn’t like begin fat.  I was miserable, depressed, sad….

Since I lost the weight I have felt better physically, mentally, emotionally……  All ways imaginable.  Riding the bikes, climbing the hills. Hiking the trails and paths are all things I could do fat and I am not going to give them up.

I had gotten up to 230.2 pounds.  This morning I was 226.6.  Tomorrow? Well, who knows.  All I do know is I am back at it.  Eat Right.  Eat Less.  Move More.

I will get back under 210.  There is no option for failure.

 

Peace


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Time, Life, Moving along, a Reminder of the circle of life and Hikes and My Annual Maudlin List of Thanks


Time

I have been a busy fellow.

I have been working 11-12 hours per day at my regular job.  Many reasons.  We have much to do and the goals are high.  We have all been pushing to improve operations and we are making headway but it makes for long, long days.  I have stopped working at the bike shop for now.  I need the time off to rest on weekends.  The shop owner has been very good about giving me this time off.  I have been off from my regular job the last five days.  I burned off my last vacation day for the year on Wednesday and the plant has been closed since Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

This adds up to five much-needed days of rest.

Now I have the energy and the time to sit and write  blog post.  See how neatly this all fits?

Life gets in the way

I have been trying to get the time to work on this blog.  I know I haven’t posted in a long while.  Really I have been just too tired and too wrapped up in my day-to-day to sit and put my mind at rest enough to write.  It’s a shame because I love writing this blog and it just hasn’t been in me to write.

I have also gotten careless and lazy.  I haven’t been recording my weight or what I have been eating and the result is that I gained back 20 pounds.  I am very unhappy about this but I am working hard to take it back off and get focused back on the plan and the goal.  There  are a great many reasons and excuses for this.  The truth is I simply lost focus.  Life got in the way.  Work at both jobs, stress, a battle with the Black Dog…  I lost focus.  I am getting back to the focus now.

Moving Along

A co-worker at the bike shop, the fellow who brought me in to the shop as an employee, the fellow who sold me my Trek Madone two years ago, is moving along.  He has been at the shop two or three years and he has decided it is time to move on.  He has taken a “dream job” with a bicycle company and will be moving to the Midwest.  NP has been a source of support, information and inspiration for the last two plus years and I have enjoyed working with him the last year plus.

Missus and I met with NP and his Missus this morning at a mutually favorite place for breakfast.  It is actually the first time we have gotten together socially.  It was enjoyable.  We chatted about the shop, about his new job, the move to the new area, the adventures he and his Missus have in front of them.  We laughed a good deal, Missus and I enjoyed their company a great deal and we wished them the very best and asked them to stay in touch.  Missus sent them off with a couple dozen of her famous chocolate chip cookies.

We all meet people in our lives who in a quiet way help you move along.  NP was one of those people for me.  Though a far more skilled and faster rider than I am, NP never declined an opportunity to ride with me, never showed impatience with my struggles up hills, never failed to listen attentively to my dumbest questions.  He helped me a good deal to move along in my cycling life and along my Journey.

Now he is moving along to a great adventure and opportunity.

I hope we do stay in touch.

The Circle of Life

Wally and I met the first week or so of our freshman year of high school.  He introduced himself to me by saying (in a deep bass voice no 14-year old should have) “HI, I’m Big Wally”.  I responded “yes, yes you are” and a friendship was born.  We would remain friends for the next 35 years.

Thanksgiving Day would have been Wally’s 54th birthday.  He died in 2010.  It was a tough Thanksgiving for me in any case.  No friends or family for Thanksgiving dinner, nowhere to go for the holiday.  Just a quiet day with Missus and the boys.  That it was also Wally’s birthday made the day darker and harder.

The next morning I learned that old friends of ours were presented with their second Grandchild.  On Thanksgiving Day.  On Wally’s birthday.

My mood lifted.  I now have a happy thought to go with November 27.  I will always think of Wally on that day.  Now I will also think about my friends and their second Grandchild.

You can always find a happier memory to soften the harsh memories.

The circle of life.

Hiking

??????????MT and PGB and I went for a hike today.  Seven or so miles, some climbing, on snowy, slushy, sloppy, and sometimes icy trails.  It was chilly but not COLD and it was a good brisk hike that soon had us opening our jackets and taking off our gloves.

??????????

Though it was a gray day, it was not a bad day for a hike.  There were a great number of people on the trails with us today and everyone seemed to be enjoying the day.  I think everyone was also surprised as we were at the number of people out and about.

??????????

The hike was fun, pure and simple.  MT and PGB are intelligent and knowledgeable on a range of topics so the conversation is good.  The park we went to, Harriman State Park in New York State, is not all that far from us and it presents some challenging trails and some easy trails and some of the views are spectacular.  The three of us have hiked it together several times and PGB and I have hiked it together a few times as well.  I always enjoy the hikes.

??????????

Today was not a difficult hike but it was a hike that demanded our attention.  The trail was slippery from the recent snow and the warming temperatures had turned some areas to slush and some areas wore a thin layer of ice.  Concentration and attention to the trail was important today.  At the end of the hike I was tired.  I also felt great!

??????????

Cycling has become painful for me due to some issues with my right shoulder so I need hiking to tide me over while I allow the shoulder to heal (or not).  Last time I went on a hike with PGB and MT, about three weeks ago, I had some problems with an erratic heartbeat.  I have had the issue for years and it is not anything that I worry about.  It just flares up and saps my energy when it does.  That hike was difficult.  I was very tired and the climbs were difficult due to the heartbeat thing.  As suddenly as the flare-ups occur is how suddenly they stop and the next day I was fine.

The heartbeat thing hasn’t reared up since that day and it left me alone today.  I was able to climb and hike strongly and I felt good throughout.  So yes, I was tired but I felt strong and I came out of the woods energized.

My Annual Maudlin List of Thanks, 2014 Edition

I am thankful for my boys.

The Younger One is growing in to a pleasant young man who has a level of kindness and patience in him that he certainly did not inherit from me.

The Older One is loving, sweet and funny.  The last year has been difficult but he has settled down a little bit as the new medications have helped.  He still will always face challenges and life will always be shaped by his needs but the love we get from him and the beauty he brings to our lives is immeasurable.

I am thankful that Missus and I are still together after 26 years.  No marriage lasts this long without some major bumps in the road.  I am glad that we always seem to find a way to smooth them over.

I am thankful for my siblings. PCG, BMS, and PCS are good, caring and loving people.  It is an unfortunate fact that we are scattered across the country and we do not see each other as often as we would like.

I am thankful for my siblings-in-law. KBS, who has been in a part of my life for longer than nearly anyone I am not a blood relation to (except for JKN and KEB), and who is much more a sister than a sister-in-law, CBS, whose company I truly enjoy and who I wish we could see more often (if she wants to bring my brother along that is ok), and GG, with whom I know I would be close friends if he didn’t live 3000 miles away.

I am thankful for my nephews and my niece.  MS, GS, and NS are wonderful people.  Caring, intelligent, loving and committed.  They are proof that involved and loving parents raise good children.  I am proud to be their Uncle and thankful that they seem to enjoy spending some time with me.

I am thankful they have J, A and H in their lives.  I adore J and A and I am truly happy that MS and GS have such wonderful ladies in their lives.  I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know H but I look forward to it.

I am thankful for my Grand-Niece.  She is a real cutie and I am excited by the opportunity to watch her grow.

I am thankful that I have the world’s best Mother-in-law.  She is a caring and wonderful lady.  She has never once interfered in our lives but has always been there for us. I am thankful that at Ninety she is still with us and still sharp.  NC is a pretty great sister-in-law.

I am thankful for SR.  She is a Grandmother to the boys and a friend and advisor to us.  She is involved, supportive and loving to all 5 of her “grandchildren” and we are all better for it. And I am grateful that I have formed such a good friendship with her son.

I am thankful for our group of friends.  The last few years have seen our group shrink for a variety of reasons but those remaining are dear to me and I am truly thankful to have them in my life.

I am thankful for the 39 years of friendship with the girl with the yellow rose.  Everyone should have in their life a friend who will embrace you when you are down, smack you out of it and hold you while you steady yourself.  We are that for each other.  I never doubt that when I need her she well be there.

I am thankful for the 41 years of friendship with The Little Girl Next Door. I have not been the friend to her that I should have been over the last year plus but she has understood and she has accepted.  I am thankful that she is finding her bearings again after her loss.

I am thankful for The Teacher.  She is a good friend and though we don’t see one another often, I know she is there and I am thankful that she will kick me when a kick is what I need.

I am thankful that SS has HH and I am thankful that I can call them both my friends.

I am thankful CRF has MF and that they are both my friends.

I am thankful for the friendship with NI.  He is a true friend and a great partner in cycling crime.  The good times and the laughter do not seem to have an end.

I am thankful for the friendship of The Friends.  My hikes with PGB and MT and our occasional dinners are a critical part of my journey.

I am Thankful that MTT found UJT and that they have committed to a life together.  Though MTT and I are not as close as we were years ago he is still my third brother and always will be.  His joy in his life is a joy I share.

I am thankful for and grateful to BP and CB.  Welcoming me in to the CC family and their support, patience and encouragement is deeply appreciated.  They have helped me on my Journey in more ways than I can list.

I am thankful that when the new ownership of my company “cleaned house” I was one of the few left standing.  I see good things ahead and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to “show my stuff”.  That is all anyone can ask for.

I am thankful that I have seen the age of 53 and will soon cross 54 in good health and fit and trim.  The Journey continues and despite some setbacks and stumbles, it moves along. I am thankful that I have a family that understands that I need to cycle and hike and they are patient and forgiving of my time away from them to do this.

I am thankful that I can laugh and love and write and talk and can be with friends and family.

I am especially thankful that my friends and family have made it through since last Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for life and the richer place that it is because of the people who are readings this.

Back on the Journey, back on the path, back towards the goal.

Peace.


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Losing Myself


A Hard Stretch

I haven’t written in a very long time. I just haven’t had my brain in the game.

I will not make excuses. I have put on 15 pounds and I am not pleased with myself. I know why. I have been eating too damned much. And I know why I have been doing that. The Black Dog has won a few rounds recently.

I have been working 12-14 hour days at my regular job. I have been working Saturday and Sunday at the bike shop.

When I take time off on the weekend it has been for organized rides or to attend to family responsibilities.

What I have not been doing is taking time for me.

And I am paying a price. Maybe a very high price.

I am exhausted. My abnormal heartbeats have returned. I am not sleeping at night. If I had much hair I am sure it would be falling out.

It is hard to put to words exactly what I have been feeling. Almost numb but not numb enough.

Vacation would be good but I am out of vacation time.

This has been a hard stretch and I don’t see an end.

I took Sunday off this past weekend. I had hoped to do the Tour De Bronx, a nice relaxed pace ride around The Bronx, but shoulder pain is keeping me off the bike right now. I hiked instead. MT and PB, my hiking partners of the past couple of years, and I went on a hike here in North Jersey. 7 miles or so. Not too difficult. Fun. When the hike ended, we went to lunch and shared some good conversation. I didn’t really want the afternoon to end but they went their way and I went home. Reorganized and rearranged our bedroom. Relaxed.

Not nearly enough but it helped.

Yes, this has been a hard stretch.

Finding me.

The last couple of months I have had the sense that I am having trouble finding my center.

In the past just being on the bike has been enough for me to clear my mind, correct my mood, get me centered.

Lately it has not worked.

Riding has been painful. My right shoulder. The muscles between my shoulder blades.

I last rode three weekends ago. My shoulder still hurts. Deep in the joint.

Cycling never hurt before.

Now it is hurting every time I ride and I am developing a fear of the pain.

I am trying to rest the body, give it time to heal, give me time to rest.

But not cycling hurts the mind. I miss the feeling of the bike under me. I miss the rides.

The last time I was off the bike for any length of time was in 2012 when I injured my knee. I am not enjoying this right now anymore than I did then.

So I have to find a way to find me. A way to blow out the buildup of stress. Away to clear my mind. I need to find a way to focus on me so I can focus on my family, my friendships, my life that does not include working.

I have 15 pounds to lose.

I have a mind to refocus.

I have much to do.

 

Peace.


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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.