The First Fifty Miles.
It's been years since I have been on a bike, and even longer since I have ridden for any distance. I do know one thing though, my love of two wheels has been unshakable over my lifetime. I started riding bikes at an early age, and was proud that at 5 years old I could handle my mom's bike. My first bike was a purple chopper with a banana seat and a bright orange flag that I learned to ride by having my Dad push me down the driveway. It was the typical scene portrayed in Hollywood movies time and time again. I took a few tumbles and lost some skin, but the desire to conquer two wheels was greater than the pain endured learning. Once I figured out how to balance myself, a new world was opened up.
Over the span of 37 years, I have had a few memorable times on my bikes. At the ripe age of six, I was riding my bike near my house when a neighbor showed up with a shiny new 10 speed. It didn't have 50 feet on it, and he was beaming from ear to ear. I don't know how I managed, maybe it was his knowledge of my excellent biking skills, and my persuasive personality, i.e.: begging mercilessly, that convinced him to finally decide to let me ride the bike, or he was just a complete idiot. I dropped my bike, and took hold of the shiny new 10 speed. I was so excited I didn't know what to do. I had to make some concessions though, like I would only ride it this one time, and I was only going to take it around the block. I swore on this and was given the all clear. With the rules understood, I headed down the driveway. It was magic. That bike was like riding a cloud. I was pedaling away on my one chance to ride this shiny new masterpiece. I approached the end of my street, and started to make the first turn. In a twist of fate there was a car coming down the street I was about to turn on. I went for the brakes and started pedaling backwards furiously. Unbeknownst to me, my friend had failed to give me one little bit of information, the brakes were on the handlebars, and not on the pedals. It was a small bit of information that held a lot of importance. I had never been on a bike that free wheeled, and never had to even contemplate the situation I was now in. My mind was going into overdrive. So by the time I get to where I am committed to the turn, I am pedaling backwards like a madman and not slowing one bit. There is an old man in the car staring right at me and I am staring right at him. We are on a collision course, and it's just a matter of time, which by the way has slowed to a crawl. I am pedaling backwards and negotiating the turn and watching the car come ever so close. Somehow I managed to halfway make the corner, and then hit the back of the car, leaving the bike and flying up onto the trunk. I did a complete roll as I traversed this gigantic trunk. I remember flying off the car as it screeched to a halt and landing on the ground. I didn't lay there long, as I got back up immediately. I took off running to the house, screaming the entire way. I ended up with a quick drive over to the emergency room to be checked out, and no knowledge of what happened to my friend or his bike. I do know that I was told from then on under no circumstances was I to borrow someone else's bike, and I almost gave an old man a heart attack right there on the spot.
A year or two later I had another great biking idea. I decided that I would see how far I could ride blind. I would pedal up to speed and close my eyes, coasting the rest of the way down the street. I had been up and down my street a number of times, and this time seemed routine, except I suddenly hit a bump. I didn't think that was too odd at first, but I decided to open my eyes. What I saw didn't last long. It was just the world going sideways, and then a loud crash. What I didn't realize was that the jolt I felt wasn't the road, it was the bumper of a car. I had run into the back of a parked car and didn't realize it. I held fast to the bike, and rode it right down to the ground. My head struck the pavement ear first. Unfortunately, this time the trip to the hospital wasn't just to get checked out. I had broken my right eardrum from the concussion. I remember running to the house screaming in pain this time. It seemed to be a theme of my childhood.
So it's been 30+ years and biking has been moved way down on my scale of priorities. After having kids, a lot of things moved down the priority list. Fitness has slid down the list as well. After years and years of working at a job where typing is the hardest physical activity, my body has rebelled. It's time to fight back. I want the body back that I used to have. I went out and bought a nice bike with which to fight the battle. My first mod was to add my GPS to the bike. I bought probably $20 worth of hardware thinking I was going to have to use most of it to make a mount. Turns out a $.20 piece, a few small washers, and a single bolt did the trick.
The first day was rough. I got in two miles, and was feeling every foot. I didn't want to overdo it, but then again, two miles. That's a warm-up for a lot of people I was thinking. How bad a shape can I be in. Well it was bad. By the end of the two miles I was gasping for breath and beginning to wonder if I was doomed to be overweight. One saving grace for me has been the love of two wheeled transportation, and I determined that this was just part and parcel of the fight ahead. I have worked my way up to 5 miles a day and a 30 minute ride. That gives me a 10 mph average, which is comfortable enough for me. There isn't a 20 foot stretch here that is level, so it's been a battle to keep from overdoing my ride. It took me a few days to find a route that wasn't too stressful. About the third night I was pushing myself fairly hard and came in with my heart beating so hard my chest was actually hurting. I figured that if it was a heart attack my kids would know that I at least died trying to get back into shape.
I have determined that I hate exercise. I know that I am not the only person. I see people who are so into exercising and almost feel a little jealous. It's not that I don't want to exercise, it's just that it's not what I call fun. Fortunately for me, and I really don't know how this would all play out, I enjoy riding. It's got it's moments where you are struggling up a hill, and your legs are burning, but for once, it's worth it. The freedom and feeling I get riding is the same as sitting on the motorcycle tooling down the road.
I passed the 50 mile mark the other day and am noticing some results. That's a grand total of 50 miles, which for me is a milestone. A small one, but one nonetheless. I can ride 5 miles and not be so out of breath I feel like dying. Hell I can even make it up the stairs at work without being winded. I have had a couple of comments that I might be losing some weight, but I can't see it yet. I know that it is going to be a long road, but I am determined to make this happen. There are a lot more miles in front of me that I am looking forward to.