In January I set a goal of 5,000 miles for the year. Last year I hit 5,364 but spent a lot of time on the bike to do it. Also, I was going 13-14 days in a row without a day off and by the time winter had rolled around, I was tired. I figured trying to beat that would be too much two years in a row and I wanted to work in at least one day off a week – but I didn’t want to short-change myself either so I settled on the even 5,000 with the caveat that it was quite okay to fall short of the goal if I had fun and increased my average speed…
Well, after my ride on the training wheels today I’ve only got 56 miles to go to pass up last year’s total mileage and I managed to stick to my one, even two days off a week. With my work, this is nothing short of amazing as I see it.
In the last three seasons, since I started tracking my mileage, I’ve managed to ride the equivalent of just over halfway around the world and burned off the equivalent of almost 1,260 burgers off of my gut – translated that’s 678,970 calories or roughly 193 pounds. 32 pounds more than I currently weigh.
And just in time for Thanksgiving!
To all of my American cyber-friends, have a safe and wonderful (and long) Thanksgiving Weekend.
Before I even get going, I won’t even blow smoke in the vicinity of anyone’s butt: If you like feeling like you’re dying a little each day, if you like the fact that the people you love run the other way when they see you coming (or hide), if you like feeling like a loser… Don’t get sober. Sadly following a program of recovery not only fixes all of those things, it fixes most financial woes as well – you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ve got when you’re not paying for court costs and fines, drunk driving lawyers, the alcohol and the rest of the general mayhem. In the last five years I could have saved enough to pay for a Ferrari, cash. Now, if you find that kind of misery fun and enjoyable, well have at it.
That said, the thought of a boring life is a distinct fear of many drunks on the edge of recovery – myself included, all those years ago.
The truth is, being a drunk fogs the thinking. I simply wasn’t capable of thinking my way out of the box I’d locked myself into, including the notion that a sober life is somehow boring. Unless, of course, you consider paying for the stuff you want with cash rather than having to finance a TV boring… Unless, of course, you consider having to wake up in the morning wondering how in the hell you got home last night and what you hit to cause that dent in your car “fun“. If you think fearing the moment when the other shoe drops to squash you enjoyable… You get the point. For alcoholics like me, at some point drinking changes. What was once fun becomes a cement weight chained to the neck. Worse, once you realize the weight, what comes next really sucks: Alcohol stops working. All of a sudden, it ceases to be the escape that it once was. That feeling it used to give you, that you were okay, ends. At this point I absolutely freaked out. Once the escape was rendered useless, all I had left was the misery. Shortly thereafter came hell on earth – and I started picking out trees…
That was the point I gave up the fight to keep drinking. I simply ran out of gas and I really didn’t care whether or not being sober was going to be fun or not. Whatever it was, it had to be better than what I’d become.
Fortunately, the last 21 years have been anything but boring. It has not been easy, but it ain’t dull either. All of the emotional pain that used to be a part of being on the right side of the grass, pumping air, is gone. I got into Twelve Step groups and have so many good friendships that it’s really quite hard to describe. Starting out, especially at such a young age, I hung out at clubs for recovering kids (they’re all over the place – dancing, DJ’s – everything you’d get in a night out, minus booze). Girlfriends came and went in that first year, then I wised up and took a year and a half off from dating until I could get myself fixed. I ended up rooming with a couple of sober guys and we helped each other stay focused on sobriety. Then I finally met a girl I could see settling down with. Four months later we were engaged. We moved in together and took our time putting our wedding together. We married, settled down (eventually), bought a bigger house, had kids, went through some marriage difficulties, and came out of that shining… I’m fortunate to love my wife more today than when we went through the honeymoon period. We put together one heck of a fun life together.
When I sobered up I never would have guessed that it would turn out like this. There have been ups and downs but the ups were never too high and the downs were never lower than the “ups” while I was drinking. Sobriety has been a lot of things but boring isn’t one of them.
One thing is certain though: Misery is refundable. All I have to do to stroll through hell again is take that first drink – it won’t be long after that.
I read a post, written by a guy who I’ve been following for quite a while now who is quite fast – a good twelve mile pace for him is around 7:30… I can’t hold that for more than four. That said, he had a tough run a while back and wrote that he always has a tough time finding motivation after a tough run – and I could relate, been through it at least twenty times in the decade that I ran exclusively, before cycling.
I’ve been cycling for a little over two years – three seasons now. I’ve had one ride that I might be able to call a bad ride. One. I’ve ridden in pouring rain, snow, sleet and oppressive heat – over 780 different rides and I had one bad one…and that one was “bad” because I bonked – but that was my own dumb fault for not eating enough and I rode with the wind on the way out.
On one hand, this is why I ride (and now run in the winter to stay fit for riding).
On the other I am not foolish enough to believe that this would be the same for everyone, it’s quite obvious that cycling is simply my thing“. There are several reasons I prefer cycling over any other kind of cardio-fitness activities.
First would be, without a doubt, recovery time. I can ride a century and be back to something that resembles normal the very next day. Anything shy of a metric century and I’m in good shape after a nap and some dinner. Try running even a half marathon and you’re out of commission for at least a day or even two. There were some weeks where I’d have a tough time chasing around after my kids in the back yard because I was recovering from a run… That simply wasn’t okay with me.
I’d have to put the speed of cycling at second. I love going fast, and there’s no arguing the fact that cycling feeds the speed demon better than running. Even going around a simple corner at speed provides a level of excitement that simply can’t be had with running, or (God forbid) walking.
The camaraderie would be on my short list but you get that in running as well so I’d probably call that square. I do get along well with the cycling community though. Nice folks, both sports.
Next is the bikes themselves. I love the bikes themselves. Mountain bikes, road bikes, they’re all good. Before I picked up cycling 2-1/2 years ago, the only bike that I had real miles on was an ’80’s suspension-less Murray 10-speed mountain bike – that I quit riding when I got my driver’s license in ’86… I think my Venge weighs less than the Murray’s wheels did (of course the Venge cost about 30 times more too, but please don’t misunderstand my pointing this out as a complaint). The things they do with the composite bike frames are simply amazing – and the way the newer bikes handle and the way the components work is nothing short of spectacular in comparison.
Heck while we’re at it, I like the shorts and bright jerseys too…and the jackets, gloves, leg warmers, arm warmers…
In a nutshell, I pretty much like every aspect of cycling. Given an afternoon, a day off, a weekend or a vacation, I can’t think of much I’d rather do than go for a ride.