Friday, August 28, 2015

Better Than

"This route is defeating."  
I was talking on my ride this morning.  The route that I do 'regularly' was the subject of the conversation.

As I ride it, it is hard.  At least it is hard for me.  I just get going and then I have to adjust.  I am either riding up a hill or turning down a street.  Sometimes turning down a street and going up a hill.  I have no way to get into a steady pace or rhythm.   At least that's what I said.

And that's partly true.

The bigger truth is that each of those hills makes me want to stop.  It gets so hard to make it up and when I am at the top, I just want to stop.I want to stop because I feel like I should make it up the hill and then just go.  Really go.  Why not?  I am past the thing that was slowing me down.  The road isn't going up any more.  

But I can't just go.  I am spent.  I am unable to make my legs go round and round faster.   It takes me what feels like a long while to finally get moving again, and then I am adjusting to the road again.

"You can't "go"  because you can't "go" ... you just came off a hill."

But other people can.  Other people come off that tiny hill behind me and they can just fly. Fly almost like they hadn't come off a hill at all.

Therein lies my problem.  Once again, I am comparing me to what others can do.    Not comparing me to what I have done and what I can do.

I take it a step further.

I hear myself saying "I will never be able to."

When I step back, however; and really think about it, I have already done the things I have said I can't do.

I pushed my bike up the hills.  Nearly every single one.

Now I ride up them.  The whole way.

I make it further than I thought.  I did over 6 miles today and it didn't feel like I had gone that far at all.  I did 10 miles in one ride last week.

I am going faster than I was.

I didn't get to all of those things in my head on my own.  My wife had to point them out to me.  That's the problem with living in my head.  I can't see the bigger picture.   The bigger picture that shows that I am doing better. 

Not better than she is.

Not better than other riders I know.

Better than I was.

My number this week is 242.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Comparison and Accountability

Let me share a little secret with you.

I am using you.   

You read that right.  

I am pretty sure at least one person reads what I write here.  Maybe even two.

You are my accountability. 

Having you here makes me want to be honest.  To honestly share the good and the ugly.  I don't promise to have answers for anyone.  I do promise to be honest here however.

I come here to share my emotions, my experiences, my journey.   It is all mine. 

In my mind however, I imagine there's someone out there waiting for me to share one more time.   One more thing. 

And so I come here and give this to you.  Give me to you.  

When I first started riding, I shared with an amazing friend that doing this was hard.  Not just the physical part, but the emotional, mental part.  I was afraid to do this because I couldn't ride as much, as fast or as far as she does and has

I was shaking as I said that to her, shaking the way only a raw emotion makes you shake. The words unsaid, the words I couldn't speak out loud because they were a deeper truth than I could express, were that I didn't believe I ever could. 

Maybe my silence still shared that inner voice with her.

She spoke a simple truth.  

I can't compare myself to her.  Or to anyone else.  

I only have myself to be better than.

It has taken me 3 weeks to hear what she said.

I can only use myself as a measuring tool.  

A month ago  I wasn't doing anything.  3 weeks ago, I road 2.5 miles at an average speed of 9.3mph with an elevation gain of 232 feet - and 3 weeks ago my slowest average speed was 8.9mph.

Today, I rode 5.7 miles at an average speed of 9.6mph with an elevation gain of 524 feet. 

In 3 weeks I have ridden 49 miles.  

My motivation has to be me.  I can't do it to catch up to her.  I have to do it for me.  

And following that logic

All I can compare me to

Is me. 

Today's number is 244.   Maybe I am getting somewhere. 

Friday, August 14, 2015


"Nothing holds you back more than your own insecurities."

I saw this today and it really hit home.  

Recently,  I have heard some very hurtful things...

"Hey fatty..."
"Get off the road fat ass."
"Make room for REAL bike riders."
"Hey fatso, you're gonna break that bike"

I realized  I have been waiting for this, expecting it, dreading it. 

Someone yelling something hurtful at me as I ride.   I heard it so very clearly. I heard it so very loudly.

I almost turned around and went home.

Ten more pedal strokes and I realized something more.

No one else had said those things to me.  

It was the voices in my head.   My demons, as my wife defined it.

The voices that have been around for most of my entire life. The voices that always crop up and tell me I can't do it.  Whatever the "it" is.  

Twenty more pedal strokes and I pushed past it.  The voices tried to crop up over and over again.  Usually at the bottom of a hill.  

Two more rides this week and I still hear it.  I have heard it all my life, so the voices aren't going to shut off.  

But I have done two more rides.

I made it up two hills I had been having trouble with, and even, intentionally, added another hill.  That I made it up the first time.  To be sure it's not easy and the hills aren't really all that significant in the grand scheme of the hills this town offers, but they're my hills and I am conquering them.

I rode further in one ride than ever before.  5 miles isn't much, but it's my 5 miles.

My number is still 245.  To be honest, it was 246 earlier this week.  Maybe I need a new scale.  Or maybe I just need to keep trying. 

I am sharing here for no one but me.  I have to put it down so that I can see.  So I can see what I have done.    I am trying to get to the raw.  That harsh reality that goes on inside my head.   I suspect that in order for it to live there, the nastiness in my head needs the darkness and the quiet. I am hoping if I expose it to light, lay it bare for all to see, that maybe some of the evil that lives there will whither away and I will be left with a improved reality.  

Friday, August 7, 2015


I am working a plan to be able to ride.  Working myself into longer time on the bike, but not diving in so fast that I burn out, hurt myself, or become too sore to actually ride - I think it's called getting saddle time.  Yikes, a new language to learn.

Somewhere in my head I thought biking would be easy.  I didn't define easy, but I felt biking was something I could do.  People everywhere do it.  It wouldn't make me pound pavement or bounce along a road and cause knees and hips and oh my to hurt. 

I didn't know that at 47 I would be learning to ride a bike again.  Get on and pedal.  Brake to slow down. Pedal to go faster.  Simple enough when I was growing up.   Even after I crashed my bike and went headlong over the handle bars (no helmet either!) and broke my collar bone, I got on again and rode.  I was a kid.

I am well an adult now.  Boy have bicycles changed. It's harder than I thought.  I am surprised by that.  I am pleased that my joints don't resent the activity, but it's harder than I thought. 

First... there's the 'gear'.  Special pants/shorts with padding in the 'right places'. And made out of spandex (or something like that)  Hmmmm.

And shirts - some pretty crazy colors are available.  Also stretchy and breathable.

And a helmet - very necessary.

And fingerless gloves.  I like the gloves.  They make me feel cool.  And they reduce road vibrations.

And shoes.  Weird shoes. Kinda like dress shoes - slick and shiny looking.  But with velcro straps (no shoe laces for the chain wheel to catch) and a funky thing on the bottom that makes them difficult to walk in.

Which leads me to bike pedals...

You actually connect your shoes to the pedals?  WHO ON EARTH THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA!?  You are trapped on your bike!    Because if you don't unclip before you stop, you fall over.  Just like that.  FALL OVER. Yes, I understand the principle of 'clipping in' and THAT makes sense, but it brings out a bit of claustrophobia I never knew I had. With practice however, I am learning to get untrapped.  I mean unclipped. 

Shifting is different, but I will state right away that that is a GOOD thing.  Remember the little levers on your handle bar or down tube that you slid up or down just so far to get the gears to shift?  You had to judge how much to push it and hope that it was far enough.  Now you click this lever this way and it shifts up.  Click another lever this way, it shifts down.  Click this other lever over here and it shifts to the other chainwheel.  Pretty simple.  Except remembering what does what and what is up and what is down and what I need to do to get up a hill is challenging.

Hills... Today I made it up my nemesis hill.  The one I made it up the very first time I did my very first official ride on the route my wife created and chose for us - but have been unable to since.   My mind is a terrible thing.  It can make or break me and often times it breaks me.  Day in.  Day out.  I made it the first time because the route actually turns prior to getting to the very top of it.  When I originally saw how long the hill was I panicked.  And then I saw where I had to turn and poof I was off the hill and going on my merry way.   Since then, it has been an insurmountable hill.  I have gotten off my bike every ride since then to walk it.  Sometimes,  I haven't even tried.  I just get off, walk up, get on and go.  Sometimes, I go until I can't, then I get off.  The whole time I am certain that everyone in the houses I pass is watching me, judging me, waiting for me to fail and have to get off my bike and walk up the rest of the hill.  Who cares that it's 545 in the morning and they don't know me and they don't even live in my neighborhood to know anything about my patterns or habits to know when I will be riding by.  Don't throw logic at me!  I am certain they are waiting for me to ride by just to see if I make it.  Or rather just to see me not make it.

The last time I got to the hill, another thought popped up.  No one is watching me.  No one at all.  The only one watching me is me.  The only one judging me is me.  And I got off my bike.  And I began pushing the bike up the hill.  And I turned the corner and started to get on. I was now very secure in the thought that no one was watching me.  So I got back on my bike and started off again.  And looked up to see someone in their driveway, watching me.  I stumbled on my bike, a foot slipped off because it hadn't yet clipped  in and I heard him giggle a bit at my fumbling.  GAH!!!

Truth be told, he was just walking down his driveway to get into his car and go somewhere.  However, now I am convinced... they're all watching me.

Today, however, I made it up it without stopping.  I think I even used my gears right.  Way to go me!

Now to the vulnerable part of this post.

I am afraid to do this because I am afraid of failing.  Because the last time I tried, I succeeded.

Then I failed.

I don't trust success.

Some people took it upon themselves to point out that I had failed. Quite publicly in fact.  (
In one instance (described in another blod post) a woman stood in front of me and pointed out to me,  in public, with other people around, that I had gotten fat again and felt the need to inquire how it happened. The overwhelming emotions that experience, and frankly, the others like it that followed, were devastating.   I don't want to feel that again.


That's my number now.  It should be less.  It needs to be less.  I need it to be less.

I shouldn't let a number define me.  I shouldn't.  But I do. 

And so I will pedal and search for success again.  And hope success doesn't betray me.