Saturday, January 10, 2009

A New Year, A Renewed Set of Goals


Another new year is upon us and along with that comes looking back at personal goals achieved and setting new goals for the coming year of 2009. After many years of absence from self-powered 2 wheeled adventures, I found myself in a position of finally being "sick and tired" of being "sick and tired" due to being out of condition. This revelation came to me at "The Magic Circle's" annual beach trip when after two days of "bowling" on a Wii video game, I couldn't lift my right arm and had pulled a muscle in my right gluteus maximus. Disgust with myself finally reached the tipping point and I told my wife that I was getting back into shape.

Immediately upon returning home, I started shopping for a cycle as I had enjoyed cycling prior to getting married some 26 years ago. I knew that my ankles couldn't take the pounding of running anymore so cycling seemed the ideal choice for me. I finally settled on a Fuji hybrid at my local shop, Rolls Rite Bicycles. John Mudge, the owner, was great in walking me through what I was trying to attempt in getting back into shape and what kind of circumstances I envisioned riding. I left the shop with the hybrid convinced that I would be riding both road and gravel/packed dirt.

It didn't take long to discover that I was really going to be spending my time on paved roads so John took my new(old) bike back and I left the shop with a Fuji CCR3 road bike. My cardio condition had already vastly improved by this point and I looked forward to increasing both my frequency of riding and miles ridden. I set a goal of being able to ride from my office to my home by the end of July 2008. Depending upon the route chosen, this is a 18 to 22 mile trip. I pleasantly surprised myself by reaching my goal by the end of June 2008. My cardio conditioning had really continued to improve and I was averaging around 150 bpm for each ride. Anyone familiar with the area of the Great Smoky Mountains knows that ample opportunties arise for hill and climbing work so I was getting a very nice mix of decent climbs with long river grade runouts. I was also very pleasantly surprised to find that I was now wearing pants a full 2" smaller in the waist.

As fall 2008 came and went, my rides continued to become an important part of my daily existence. If I wasn't actually riding, I seemed to be reading about riding and all things related. I became aware of committees that addressed cycling needs at the State level and of legislation impacting cyclists at the Federal level. I also experienced a close friend have a terrible bike accident when he crossed over the rumble strips along the sides of the road while he was trying to avoid being hit by a 18 wheeler. I managed to cut my carbon footprint and my monthly gas costs significantly by car pooling to town with my wife and then riding home at night on the bike. Unfortunately, with the end of day light savings came the end of lots of week day riding.

With the sunsetting by 5:15 p.m. and my work not typically ending until 7:00 p.m., riding at night just became too dangerous on the small rural roads of our community. My riding became relegated to the new trainer I purchased, which is a post for another time. Still, the desire hasn't waned and I've been able to enjoy a couple of short rides on some of the more temperate days of late December and early January 2009. I'm looking forward to the new riding season and hoping to achieve some new personal goals.

I'm looking for more rides, long rides (gee, a century by the end of the summer would be great!), more weight control, less carbon footprint, and just generally being lucky enough to continue enjoying the great outdoors of the Great Smoky Mountains.

-- Zeke

BTW, the image in my profile is my ancestor Harry Yount, who was the first gamekeeper of Yellowstone National Park and is considered to be the Father of the National Park Service Rangers. If you are interested in that sort of history, check out this link: http://www.nps.gov/history/history/hisnps/npshistory/yount.htm and, just another postscript, Zeke is my nickname given to me by my physician for some reason known only to him!
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