Fit Recovery

Defining Fitness through Quality of Life – or Better, the Other way Around

I’ve heard and read a lot of stupid stuff over the years but my new doctor laid one on me that I hadn’t heard before – that the health risks outweigh the benefits of extreme athletics.  A friend of mine doubled down on that in a comment by sharing that she’d heard that not only do the risks outweigh the benefits, there are no benefits to exercising the way I choose to.

“Incredulous” is the best word that fits, for me.  Maybe “nuts” would be for anyone who actually believes as some doctors do. 

I am slim enough to be able to complain about five extra pounds, and actually mean it.  I am fit enough to keep up with my kids and teach them sports by doing, not by trying to explain from the sideline.  I have a zest for life that the vast majority of the world would be jealous of…. because I get to play for an hour a day and a few more on the weekends.

I ride with my wife, spending hours on the road together throughout the week.  The fun we have cycling together passes on through every moment we spend together.  We laugh together like we used to when we were just kids dating.  I no longer seek an escape from life through drugs or alcohol, I have a Twelve Step Program that I work diligently, and my bikes.  Either one alone leaves something to be desired.  Together, I feel like I’ve won the lotto.  Every day I wake up.

No benefit indeed.

Life is short, bikes are cool, and cycling is fun – and anyone who would put out the garbage that there is no benefit to cycling ten or twelve hours a week, when done wisely, is a quack.  Better, with a straight face, look at some poor, obese person who’s body is shutting down due to complications from diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and poor circulation then tell me there’s no benefit to riding a bike twelve hours a week.  How about someone who can’t leave their house because they’re too fat?  Someone who can’t even get out of bed?

The notion there is no benefit to a good bike ride is simply freaking nuts.  The idea that the risks outweigh the benefits is right behind it.

I wonder if the issue here isn’t about the definition of extreme, though.  While many could view what I do as extreme, mainly by duration of a weekend ride or perhaps by speed (with a fair bit of ignorance, I might add – I may be fast against the average Joe, but I am not fast against real speed), I find it hard to classify me as “extreme”.  Dedicated?  Absolutely, but extreme? Hardly.

The real issue here is laziness.  Labeling a fit cyclist or runner as “extreme” is lazy.  It’s measuring a fit person against a horrendously unfit populous to come up with an average that unfairly slants against a fit person.  Any doctor who would stoop to such a label for a fit person in their late 40’s who is so healthy they don’t take one prescriptive medication to correct a lack of fitness, is off (even if I would view the label as congratulatory anyway).

Life is about quality, and while I would definitely like some longevity, I wouldn’t trade my the happiness for an extra ten years on the back of 85, 90 or 100.

Now, if you would excuse me, I have a hundred miles to ride.  Chuckle.

I can FINALLY See…. No, Seriously.

Last week I was sitting in a chair, looking through a giant apparatus as the depth of my ocular deterioration was assessed.  The optometrist, highly recommended by a friend who knows eye doctor’s, quietly said, “One or two?”

“One”, I replied.

“One or two?”

“Two.”

And so it went until, BAM…  

I got a little misty.  I haven’t seen clearly at a distance for 27 years now.  Just a row of crisp, clear letters.  They looked so beautiful.  

There was once a train of thought that said if you wear glasses your eyesight will worsen because your eyes are no longer working to focus (or something like that).  Right or wrong, I bought it and simply stopped wearing glasses….

The optometrist asked gently, again, “One or Two?”

I cleared the frog from my throat.  “Could you go back to One?  Yeah, One.  I’m sorry, I haven’t seen like this in a long time.”

I left the office, having been told my glasses would be in within eight days…  I tried to forget so I wouldn’t count the days.  I was going to be able to see again.  It took only three days for the call to come in.  Talk about under-promising and over-delivering!

I picked up my glasses after my ride on Wednesday.  It’s like life is in HD.

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So there I stood as I put my glasses on for the first time and looked in the mirror…  I could read the signs clear at the other side of the store, more than 100 feet away.  27 years is a long time to go missing most anything beyond a hundred feet (my vision is still good enough to pass the driver’s license exam, but it’s getting iffy).  I wore my new glasses all evening, marveling at what I had been missing.  Even watching the Tigers play on TV….

I knock Wal-Mart on a fairly regular basis (though rarely publicly).  Their internet order security sucks, among other issues, but what they do right is make necessary items accessible to everyone.  I do not have vision insurance so when my daughter complained about her eyesight, we decided to take care of me while we were at it, but we were paying cash.

In 1990, the last time I owned a pair of glasses, I remember the cost for the appointment and glasses topped $750 but my parents paid less than $100 after insurance.  My daughter and I were taken care of expertly for 60% of what one pair of glasses and sunglass clips cost 27 years ago, and that is awesome.  So knock Wal-Mart I may, they do provide a necessary service and for that I am grateful.

I still marvel at details I can now see clearly that I never paid attention to.  The reflection of the lamp on the flat screen TV, the way the leaves and grass move with the wind, raindrops hitting puddles.  HD Life is awesome! 

REST!  Finally!

Gnarly yesterday, nasty today…  Two rest days in a row !  I don’t quite know what to do with myself!

Oops.  Wrote that line at 4 am, Tuesday.  Crazy thing, it didn’t rain much all day.  They, meaning the Weather prognosticators, pushed the rain off to the late evening.  So the title should be “REST!  Almost!

It was a wonderful evening for a bike ride. 

My ride was one of those solo efforts that brought me back to the specialness of cycling, the pure enjoyment of being out on the road with nothing to do but aim the bike and push on the pedals.  No worries, no work, no problems.  It was just me and my bike and a bunch of miles.

I love those days on the bike where nothing matters but the pedaling and looking around.  Speed didn’t matter, but hitting the corners sure was fun….

It was as good as they get, and I’m still wearing the smile.

The Very Definition of Justice

How often do you see a douche park their Beemer or Benz taking up two parking spots?  I’ve seen one jerk take four parking spaces before.  This is justice:

When that punk starts throwing his hands up in the air like a little baby, my God, I haven’t laughed so hard in a while!

Tuesday Night Club Ride; Sometimes Staying Dry is Simple Luck Edition

The Weather Channel showed a pretty decent chance of a storm – this is on the radar, not the touchy-feely 50-50 hourly report, it was “a big blob of green headed your way”.  

Then it showed the rain would stay to the west… then it showed we’d get creamed.

I loaded up and headed out anyway, figuring, at worst I could do the warm-up and check the radar again.

Two minutes from the parking lot and it started sprinkling.  I figured I was sunk…. but the spitting stopped.  Only two of us showed for the warm-up seven miles, and we were hit by the occasional tiny rain drop from time to time, but with no wind (!) and a temp warm enough for shorts, it wasn’t so bad.  

On arriving back at the parking lot I checked the radar, yet again, and the radar was ugly.  It showed we had a little less than an hour before we got wet.  Just long enough to get the 21 mile route in but if we did the 30, we would finish wet.  

I can’t remember being so “on the fence” about a ride, ever.  In the end, it was my cycling anniversary, six years, so I decided to at least do the 21 but check the sky at 15, the point of no return for the 30 mile route.

Long route written short, I stuck it out for the 30, had a great, fun ride and with the exception of a few drops of rain, remained dry.  Ten minutes after we finished, bike in the car, the rain finally hit us.  Not strong, but it was wet indeed.

Turned out two of the guys, Dave and Mike, wore their rain shoes…. They likely saved us.

I imagine Todd, Winston and Jesse weren’t as lucky as the rest of us.  They rode [their bikes] in and were likely just a few miles into the ride home when the rain started.

I needed that ride.  I had a rough but productive day at the office and I had some steam to blow off.  As any cyclist will tell you, there isn’t much better than a good bike ride for that.  As any recovering drunk cyclist will tell you, it sure beats… well, a lot.

Seventeen Simple Miles…

Finally.  The sun was out and it was perfectly mild… barely above room temperature, a perfect April day, even if it’s the end of May.

I prepped my bike and donned my Cavelo kit, pumped my tires up, topped off a water bottle with good old-fashioned H2O, put on my shoes and snapped my helmet on and out the door I went.  With the club ride this evening, the ride was just about enjoying the sunshine and the fact that I was on two wheels.  For an hour, the world wouldn’t be able to catch me.

I rode my normal route, into a fairly stiff wind first, and headed into town.  I altered my route and headed over to the High School so I could watch my oldest run the 200 meter at her last meet of the year.  After she ran I got back on my bike and headed for home.  I paid little attention to the computer and just rode easy, enjoying the tailwind and sunshine.

I love those weekday rides.  There’s no goal, no objective, no target speed, just enjoying the ride and feeling the sun beat down on my vitamin D deprived skin.

As f***ed up as this world can be, as long as I’ve got an hour for a bike ride so I can refocus on why life is good, I’ll be okay.

The Last Three Miles…

Four or five years ago my friends, Mike, Chuck, Phill, Matt and a few others, would take turns pulling me around on a ride.  I would do my share, of course, but they would take double, even triple the turn I could.  They didn’t complain, they just rode.  They put up with small mistakes I made as I learned how to ride with others.

Two years ago I could take longer turns up front but we are distance cyclists, and I would run out if gas after 80-85 miles and rely on my friends to get me home (this is due to the fact that I would go way too hard early in the ride).

Today I can do more.  I learned how to be a valuable part of a group.  I’ve got my legs and I love to put them to use.  I also know how to (and finally can) sit at the back for a few miles to recharge so I’ve got more for the end of the ride….

This weekend was a tale of two different rides.  Saturday we had plenty of heavy hitters so I spent the first thirty miles enjoying the ride and the second thirty making sure my wife had the best draft and chance of finishing strong.  Making sure my wife had a great draft meant I was often out if position.  She rocked it and I had fun.

Sunday, with rain in the forecast and a small window through which to ride, I spent a lot of time up front.  There were no one mile turns, three to five miles at a crack.  We had a small group, but that kept it simple and fun with plenty of room for talking back and forth.  Purely on the Fun Scale, Sunday’s 41 miler was where it was at – the only way it could have been better is if it had been longer but as we were cranking out the last eight miles we’d get hit with rain so it was decided we’d head for home…  With three miles to go, I took the front at 18 mph into the wind.  I cranked it up to 21 and held it there even though it hurt.  I took it all the way home and by the time we hit my road I’d had enough.  I’ve found that if I’m feeling a little melancholy about a ride being a little shorter than I’d prefer, all I have to do is pull for the last three miles.  By the time that seven or eight minutes are over, I’ll have had enough.

221 miles for the week.  12 hours on the nose, and about 13,500 calories burned.  While that’s all cool, what was really important is the amount of fun I had.  Immeasurable.

DALMAC - 2016 The Wall

July 2013 Lake Burton, Tiger, GA

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