It had been cloudy with moments of brilliance and a near perfect temp of 70 degrees. By the time I got home though, the clouds started to thicken. It was looking like a good evening to take a nap. With rain heavy in the forecast for today and Saturday and with highs expected in the low 50’s I just couldn’t stay in. I suited up within three minutes of walking in the door, pumped up my tires, filled my water bottle and hit the road.
The idea was to take it easy after a decent 30 miles Wednesday night. I did make it 2 miles before I wound it up with a slight tailwind. I settled in at around 23 mph and I felt good. By the time I hit four miles I was glad I was out on the bike, that I skipped the nap.
I was amazed at how fresh my legs felt, even into that breeze I was holding 19 mph without really working too hard. I was down in the drops into the wind, feeling like the bike was perfect. It was gloomy out so I had my Serfas Thunderbolt tail light flashing away. It struck me how much space the motorists were giving me – even more than usual, and that’s saying something.
I stopped by the local bike shop to say hi to the owner. We shared a laugh or three and I was on my way. The last six miles were just as awesome as the first ten and even though I experienced a few sprinkles in the last three, I was glad I went. I felt like me again.
While I started out as a runner in 2001, I’m much happier as a cyclist. Recovery time after a hard effort can be measured in hours, not days and being a middle-aged male, I love having a “hobby” that I can blow a little silly money on. Not only that, cycling (be it road cycling or mountain biking) makes me feel like a kid again. I feel vibrant, young and more important than anything, happy. If that wasn’t enough (and it would be), I can drop weight on a dime if I choose. 20 pounds? Give me five weeks. When I started cycling and triathlons I dropped so much weight that I actually had to learn to eat more so I could maintain a decent weight. This is a good problem to have.
So here I am, more than three years later and I’m at a point where I need my time on my bike. No longer am I having to find the time to exercise nor scheduling my sessions. Instead, 90% of the time I can’t wait to get out the door and 9-1/2% more I manage to get out the door like I did yesterday and am vastly happier for having done so. That last 1/2 of a percent? Well, nobody’s perfect. We’re looking for progress, not perfection anyway.
The point is, while I did enjoy running and I lost a fair amount of weight doing it, cycling has become a part of my life. It’s become something I do to enjoy life more, not just something I have to do to stay fit. Much is made about this fad or that, about this diet or that. Vegetarian, Gluten free, fat-free, cholesterol free, sodium free… Cross Fit, Zumba, Water Aerobics, free weight training, machines, rowing. Much is made of “the best way” to lose weight and what you should adhere to for fitness, health, longevity and vibrancy… I’ve tried it all in the last twenty-five years but I didn’t find true happiness until I clipped into a set of bike pedals. I’m not suggesting you run out and drop $2,000 on a bike, shorts, shoes and pedals. I’m not saying that my way is the right way. I wasted a lot of years thinking that I needed to do whatever the quickest, best thing happened to be at the time to be fit. What I really needed was to find something I could love because that gives me an advantage: Desire. Find yours and the rest will work out in the wash. Then laugh at the fads.