I get a little bit of blowback, from time to time, about not riding more often outdoors through the winter. The All Seasons Cyclist used to hit me every time I wrote a post like this as a matter of fact. Truth be told, I could ride outside a little more, if I lowered my expectations a lot and bundled up a little better. About those expectations though, that’s a bigger problem than Just bundling up.
See, I have a built-in inner ass-kicker that won’t let me go slow except under very strict circumstances… Say I’m out for a Friday recovery ride with my wife, no worries, I can turn the ass-kicker off. It is, after all, a recovery ride and they have their place in keeping me fast – maybe as much as my interval days. Winter riding hasn’t qualified so far though – I want my ride to be a workout so cruising around the sixteen mile block at twelve miles an hour on the mountain bike just doesn’t do it for me. Add to that the reality of having to rebuild my mountain bike from the ground up every few years due to riding in the snow and salt and that I hate the cold – I’m just not the guy.
That said, depending on the group with which you ride in-season, if I’m going to keep up (and hopefully better, spend more time up front) come April, I have to pay the piper one way or another.
So I put in maybe 80 or 90 hours each and every winter on the turbo, cranking out the miles so that come Springtime I can comfortably hang with my friends. This isn’t the only way, of course. Many people will hit the gym, swim, weight-train at home, run… Whatever the choice, the fact remains: If I want to have any chance of enjoying the beginning of the season, I must pick my poison to keep my fitness through the winter. This is not so lofty a goal as maintaining my weight either, though that is a nice benefit. No, I work hard through the winter simply because everyone else I ride with is.
I tried taking it easy last winter (well, easier) and I paid for it till June. I was shortsighted. The thinking was, I worked really hard all season long, and I did get quite fast, so I thought it would be okay to maintain that fitness with shorter spins on the grinder than the year before. I misused what time I did put in on the trainer. I took it too easy and wound up shorting myself. When the beginning of the season rolled around I had to make up for the deficit. Fitness being a cumulative deal, I actually had to work harder than my friends to catch up while they were working to get into summer shape.
This year I changed up. I took a few weeks of leisure before absolutely hammering the trainer. I’m working on harder gears at higher cadences and greater durations with the hope that this Spring I won’t have a gap to close. We shall see how that goes.
Hey, on another note, what is that glowing orb in the sky?!
The temps are supposed to be creeping up. Spring is only a few days away after all. Well, technically spring is a month away but we should usually be able to get in an outdoor ride or ten in March. Unfortunately, normal temps are about double where they are currently so we’re pretty much stuck between a rock and an iceberg here in the northern U.S.. It sucks to be us but that doesn’t change the fact that sooner or later, it’s going to come time to ride and I had a choice to make about that: Be lean, mean and ready… Or be heavy, cranky and slow.
Unlike the last three winters I actually took some time off this year. Only three weeks or so and I still managed to ride on the trainer two or three times a week. Also unlike the last few years, after that short time off I decided to start throwing in an interval workout a couple of times a week. I also had managed to put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas – not much, but I probably had a good ten pounds to work off before I can don the Lycra once again.
I started working on the weight about a week before I went on vacation to Florida. I don’t have to go on restrictive diets anymore, I don’t really have anything left to give up that’s detrimental to my weight. I don’t gain a whole lot over the winter and once summer rolls around I know I’ll be fighting to keep weight on. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that if I go into the spring playing catch-up, the season just isn’t as fun. One way or another, because of how I like to ride, I’m going to have to get up to speed. I can either pay now or pay later, but I will pay.
My “diet”, if you can call it that, is simple: On days where I can, I simply skip lunch. I don’t go entirely without, I’ll have a granola bar or a banana, something small, to tide me over till dinner, but it’s as simple as that anymore. In fact, I only ate lunch one time on vacation. I’ve already peeled off some of the weight, my legs are toning up and what little gut I did have is starting to fade away. By the time we can actually ride I should be good to go.
I’ll take a minute to examine the other way to do this because I know how this will turn out without even bothering to go through the motions. Say I’m ten pounds over my ideal weight (that would put me between 175 and 180) and I decide to sit on my laurels and just deal with shaping up when Spring finally gets here. With a few good weeks at 150 miles each I would have no problem dropping ten pounds if I simply stick to my normal winter diet – weight isn’t the problem at all… Where I would get into trouble is with keeping up with the guys I ride with. See, when Spring rolls around and outdoor riding commences again I get ready quick by doing intervals on every incline that I see on my normal routes. If I’m working on dropping weight at that time, getting those intervals in really sucks so I end up backing off a bit after a week. That’s where I get into trouble. Once the weight is gone, then I have to get my speed back up to par so I can comfortably keep up. At that point I’d have times where I started to question whether or not keeping up was really all that necessary. I’d get to thinking, “Hey, maybe I should just concentrate on riding with Mrs. Bgddy this year and let the speed go. From there, it’s a downward spiral and making excuses that I’m too old for that shit even though the guys I can’t keep up with are anywhere from five to fifteen years my senior.
No thanks, that’s not for me. I’ll take the trainer and work now so that I can enjoy the season rather than wait and play catch-up (or worse) later.
When I woke up Tuesday morning it was 80 degrees warmer where I was staying, in West Palm Beach, Florida than my home town. It topped out at an 82 degree difference. I played tennis with my wife in the morning, went to the beach as a family, went for a short bike ride, played some more tennis, ate dinner and played cards till it was time for bed. Wednesday, it rained in the morning but the sun was out and it was in the mid-60’s by the time we were on our way to the airport.
The next morning, I woke up to this:
Admittedly, that was just the windchill but still, that’s an 85 degree difference in 24 hours. Not only that, I went into the office to find my carpeting completely saturated, my pipes had burst the day before and there was a small glacier in my parking lot because of it. Thursday was spent cleaning up and letting the plumbers fix everything… My day was spent with the front door ajar so they could get the vacuum hoses in to get the water out. Needless to say, I didn’t get a ride in on the trainer. Friday was no better because I was way behind at work after a week off and the flood/glacier debacle at my office. Oh, and this:
Finally, yesterday morning I was able to don the cycling shoes again and put in an excellent 26 miles in an hour on the trainer.
Missing two days, I still managed to burn more than 3,500 calories last week with all of the tennis, bike riding and my one indoor cycling workout (I didn’t include golf because we rode in a cart). That’s my kind of vacation right there. If I didn’t lose a bit of weight, I stayed the same… I know for a fact I didn’t gain any weight.
But wait, there’s a bombshell here. My wife and I didn’t take our bikes to Florida. The logistics were just too much. I know I made it sound like we did in a post, but I didn’t want to publish the fact that we were gone and our bikes were home alone… We were going to rent bikes but decided to save our money because we had a garage full of bikes to ride… The only hitch was the type of bike we had to choose from:
I spent my vacation pushing that at 16 mph. Now, the idea was to swap out the pedals for my Keo classics, get all duded up in my best Tuesday night kit and have my wife take a photo of me for the blog but it just didn’t work out – we were way too busy having fun to mess around with all of that for a photo (one of the beautiful benefits of ADHD – I have fun at a hellish pace too).
In any event, I took Bella to her swim meet yesterday afternoon and I’ve got Josie this morning (it’s a two-day meet) so I can head home early, get my ride in and then head to the bowling ally.
As for the leisure bike, my previous statements on them stand… They feel like riding a La-Z-Boy on the short, slow treks. Trying to put some pedal down over a distance, they are less comfortable than a 3″ thick gel saddle on a $4,000 race bike after a 75 mile ride (that’s really not good). As I like to say though, it sure beat polishing the couch with my butt.
Forgive me. I’m pretty fired up so this turned into a bit of a rant. That happens when my government starts discussing ways to track how much television I choose to watch. Seriously.
The info-babe* on the news yesterday morning touted a new study that shows we may need to change our diet… Hold your breath – Yet again.
I turned the TV off before the story aired.
Have you ever noticed that there’s a new study that comes out suggesting dietary changes so often that you can’t possibly finish the food you bought to follow the suggestions of the last study that’s been replaced by a shiny new one?
Look at coffee alone! It’s good! No, it causes cancer! No, it’s good again because they fudged the cancer study! Drink it in moderation, then a month later, as long as you’re under a gallon a day (an exaggeration of course) it’s all good! No wait, it’s bad again! Oh, hang on, now it’s great again! Coffee drinkers rejoice, at least until next week when it’ll be bad again. They need to do a study on the stress caused by their incessant changes, methinks.
Forgive me for not caring anymore.
What I missed, because the info-babe teased it as a new study, was that this was the US Bureaucracy chiming in by claiming we should be eating a plant-based diet. Of course, that’d be stupid because I am, and forever will be, on a meat-based diet. I would literally eat a horse before I would go on a plant-based diet. I would raise puppies and kittens and eat them before I give up meat. Hey, come to think of it, maybe that’s the real reason the Chinese communists eat dog…their government wanted them on a plant-based diet maybe? Point is, this isn’t some new study. This is the government laying out what they want to force us to do… BIG difference.
Look folks, I was raised by a nurse who knows a fuck of a lot more about nutrition than some damned bureaucratic mess that wants to be everyone’s nanny… Not only that, my doctor, during my last checkup, said (and I quote for you bureaucratic twits who might be reading this), “Whatever it is you’re doing, keep doing it”.
So I’ll tell you something chatting class, including all of the info-babes*, bureaucrats, legislators, ad-nauseam; you need to go on an ass-based diet. Meaning, specifically, eat my ass. I’ll even get you a silver spoon, you dopes.
Your report didn’t even take into account the more than year-old information that too little salt is far worse for the health than too much by calling for taxes on those snack foods you deem high sugar and “high salt”. Here’s an idea:
God Almighty! Keep the Change.
See America, they always get elected with platitudes: “We need to transform America”, Americans need to eat better to beat this obesity crisis”, is what they say on the stump. Unfortunately that bullshit always ends up looking like this: We’re going to force you to do what we want – and if you don’t eat right and watch too much TV (the report calls for federal TV tracking devices too), guess who doesn’t get that angioplasty. Make no mistake folks, this is the Obama Administration, Big Government at its finest and better than half of you voted for this shit. The advisory committee works under the Department of Health and Human Services, or the directing body of Obamacare. One way or another, they always come up with a way to take away everyone’s freedom. “You’re too stupid, we have to tell you how much TV to watch, and track it for you“? “You have to eat plants”? This is the best these idiots have to fight obesity?
Now, here’s the best part of the report I linked above from the Washington state Free Beacon (oh, the irony):
DGAC concluded that in order to achieve its goal of a population-wide “culture of health,” personal health must become a “human right.”
“In such a culture, preventing diet- and physical activity-related diseases and health problems would be much more highly valued, the resources and services needed to achieve and maintain health would become a realized human right across all population strata, the needs and preferences of the individual would be seriously considered, and individuals and their families/households would be actively engaged in promoting their personal health and managing their preventive health services and activities,” they said.
Now let’s look at what that last paragraph really means when you take away the fluff (we’ll just gloss over the fact that in the Bill of Rights, we are born with our rights, they are not granted by the government – it matters):
“In such a culture, preventing diet- and physical activity-related diseases and health problems would be much more highly valued than people’s freedom, the resources and services needed to achieve and maintain health would
become a realized human right across all population strata be paid for by the people who will be forced to comply by being tracked and taxed, the needs and preferences of the individual would be seriously considered though the freedom to do as one chooses must be given up entirely for “the greater good” of what the bureaucracy believes is best, and individuals and their families/households would be actively engaged in promoting their personal health and managing their preventive health services and activities, or we will tax them into complicity if they don’t do as they’re told” they said.
Folks, call your Congressman. Immediately. Especially if he or she is a Democrat… This is their fault, make no mistake.
* I use the term “info-babe” loosely and is intended as gender non-specific. I recently referred to Brian Williams as an info-babe in one of my posts so don’t head to the comments section to whine sexism. If you’re still offended after my taking the time to explain the context, kindly piss up a rope. If you’re a woman, that would be one helluva feat, though a bit messy. Wear a raincoat maybe?
This is going to be a tough topic to tap-dance around so if you have a difficult time accepting personal responsibility or if you’re one of the people who would rather lay blame for personal emotions at the feet of “society”, this probably isn’t the post for you. You’ll probably be better off searching for inspiration elsewhere. It’s not that I refuse to recognize “society” as a contributing factor, I’m just not one who places “society” very high on the importance list, certainly mountains below that which I can control. For instance, “The dog ate my homework” would be way easier for me to use than “society made me feel bad about myself”.
With that out of the way, someone whom I care deeply about recently told me about a “problem” she had that kept her from going to the beach on a recent vacation of hers. She didn’t go down to the water because she felt “self-conscious”. She is, as you might guess, not a small person but she’s not all that big either, so the fact that she had a tough time going down to the water at a beach really threw me for a loop. It broke my heart. I told my wife about what we’d talked about a while later and explained my thoughts about the matter… She suggested that I say something because it was a good point and I did… That’s why the abridged conversation is ending up here.
Being overweight is a type of prison. Put simply, one can’t participate in many of life’s activities, whether due to lack of range of motion, the inability to sustain the activity over a length of time… Let’s just say there are a number of issues there. A perfect example would be having to sit out of a family hike on vacation. This is a form of prison. The person isn’t trapped by walls or bars, just their own body.
Then there’s “I’m self-conscious” and this is a little more insidious than not being able to hike around the block (let alone a couple of miles over the Appalachian Trail or something of that nature) and because of that, it’s worse. Like putting yourself in prison, a second time. Anyone can blame feeling self-conscious on something outside of themselves and with a little willful suspension of disbelief, that might even work for a small period of time. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that one can only BS themselves for so long before it finally catches up and simply stops working. The problem with that line of thinking is that, using myself as the example here, I can’t control what society does any more than I can make the wind change direction. If you’ve heard of the serenity prayer, it’s pretty simple. Other people, places and things are what I need the serenity to accept, the things I cannot change. I am the one thing I need the courage to change, and I need wisdom to know that this is as tough as it gets. Therefore, if I’m going to know peace I have to do it through changing me. Anything less is an exercise in futility.
Here’s an experiment to prove what I wrote is true. If you are of the self-conscious type, go to the beach, strip down to your swim suit and walk confidently down to the water. Let a spouse or friend know exactly which people thought that you were ugly. On the way back, stop and ask them, each one, if they even noticed you on the way to the water’s edge. I’d bet only 1 in 4 even noticed you in the first place. Then ask those same people if they think you don’t belong in the water because of your weight. You should be able to see where this is going. Eventually you will have to realize that you are projecting your thoughts and fears onto other people and then blaming them for confirming what you feel.
You feel self-conscious because of the way you believe other people perceive you. It’s not them, it’s you. You are putting yourself in that prison and there isn’t any societal shift that’ll save you from that.
Don’t react. Take Action.
When we take action, we break the bars of the prison.
All too often we put off doing something that will be good for us because we’re afraid, whether over results or any number of things… Maybe we’re getting up there in years so getting started hurts a little (I’ve heard this one dozens of times), maybe we just don’t know how to start or to keep it going. Maybe it’s just hard.
Whatever it is that’s holding you back, the answer is not “out there”, flitting about, it’s not in someone treating you better, it’s not in “society”… It’s within you. To take a page from my other program, the answer is “one day at a time”. I won’t overeat today. I will exercise today. I won’t eat sweets today. If we can maintain this, just for today attitude, tomorrow never comes and before you know it, you’ve been living a changed life for 8,130 straight “I won’t, just today’s” in a row and you’re wondering where all of the time went and how you ever lived the way you used to.
I know this works. This is my experience, with drinking and staying fit and remaining tobacco-free. “Just for today” is a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card. Use it.
Nobody wants to admit defeat to something as innocuous as a bottle of beer when they’re just 22 invincible years old – I didn’t. The truth was though, if I wanted to make anything of myself my lack of control once I took a drink was going to have to be dealt with. I chose the Twelve Step method because it works, no matter what detractors might say. Or more technically correct, it works if you work it. I spent the next half of my life trying to be the best, most useful person I could be, to God and my fellow members of “the program”.
I managed to pick up along the way, a most amazing wife, two glorious daughters, have a decent couple of vehicles that I can be fairly sure won’t break down tomorrow (they’re both new and under warranty), I have a great house with a wonderful two-acre yard and live in the country where cycling is exceedingly safe, easy and tolerated. I am fit, active and healthy. The promises, a guarantee if they’re worked for, have far exceeded my expectations and even my dreams.
At the heart of the program’s (and ultimately my) success is a simple truth: If you sober up a horse thief, a horse thief you still have. If I were to simply quit drinking, cold turkey, no help, at 22… I still would have been a mess with only my best thinking as a guide (my best thinking at the time sucked, in the event you didn’t get that already). The Twelve Steps, worked, are a path to betterment and the people in the program are a part of that as well – imagine a course at a university where the professors outnumbered the students six to one. That’s AA.
Of course, it’s not always perfect, not much in life is, but it sure beat trying to go at this alone.
The photos above were taken just from the last couple of years, they don’t come anywhere close to encompassing all of the awesomeness I’ve experienced over the last 22 years, it would take a whole lot more photos than I could fit in one simple blog post to cover that but sobering up young, and learning how to be a productive member of society comes with rewards too great to quantify. It’s a reverse country song, and for that I am grateful. What was once loneliness, misery and hopelessness, with time and a whole lot of work, has become happiness, joy and giving.
For anyone who would wonder, “Why choose to sober up young?”, put simply, it’s like cheating. I’ve had 22 years to right a sinking ship, I’m in the beginning of my most productive years on this planet and I have all of the tools necessary to make the best life I can.
One word, should be two: Lifeproof.
This is the post I wrote on my phone after a wave crashed into my phone.
Incidentally, and equally important, this is the same phone and case that survived a 20 mph drop from my bike as well. Butter fingers.
Lifeproof: Expensive as hell and worth every penny if you’re active and have to take your phone everywhere. No plastic sandwich bags, no worrying about sweat, just slide it in your back pocket and go.