Friday, April 17, 2009

One Year Anniversary Approaches

Whew! What a non-cycling week this has been! Between finishing up taxes, end of year Rotary reports, poor weather early in the week, ongoing recovery from my computer meltdown, and an increase in work hours, this has simply not been a cycling week. It is a good feeling to be able to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” I suppose it would be fair for some to question my priorities this week as I’ve not been on the Fuji since last weekend. In fact, my normal daily reading of multiple blogs has even taken a hit. But, as we say here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, “sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.” I think the bear won this week!

I digress from this entry’s title. This coming week will be my one year anniversary of having returned to cycling. Many years ago, as in prior to marriage, I enjoyed the time spent riding and the benefits that accrued from the exercise. Cycling was a companion to my running and we rode, what I then considered to be, all over the place. In fact, I made that critical 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd impression on the lovely young woman destined to be my wife as I rode by her residence one sunny afternoon while she was getting her mail. (I still remember what she was wearing that fateful day. But, that’s a story for another time.)

Time and career marched on and cycling of the self-powered variety went by the wayside.Other exercise modalities (racquetball, step aerobics, etc.) dominated my exercise efforts. Somewhere along in my 40’s, even those efforts began to drop off with the predictable result being weight gain and poor cardio condition. The miracles of medications became my chief way of managing my cholesterol issues.  Breathing became harder and what used to be a hard day’s physical work became a hard couple of hours as I was worn out, tired, and bedraggled much sooner. Offering up excuses of “well, I’m not as young as I used to be…”, I accepted my slow decline to “couch potato-hood.”

MAGICCIRCLE Flash forward to this time last year: Our close friends (above) dating back to high school (the early 70’s for those counting) make an annual pilgrimage to Folly Beach, SC each spring. Last year’s event included a Wii video game. We were all quite smitten with the thing and had bowling and tennis matches galore each day. Well, the darn thing actually required some physical movement and that paired with the old competitive urges had me up and “bowling” and using other muscles that were apparently under the impression that a week at the beach meant a week of rest. Long story short, I couldn’t move my right arm without pain within 2 days and I ultimately pulled a muscle in my right gluteus maximus while striving for a score of 128. (I’m apparently not a very good Wii bowler.)

As I limped around the house and along the shoreline, my disgust with my physical condition finally rose to a crescendo in my head and, in a moment of great clarity,  I declared to my wife “Something is wrong with this picture! I’m getting back in shape.” So, this week one year ago, I purchased a new bike and started riding again.

My first day I barely made it to my local bike shop. I had 1 mile to ride and 1 minor hill  to crest before getting to my LBS (see, I can now use neat cycling slang/shortcuts). I thought my heart was going to explode through my chest and pull my lungs out with it! Fortunately, I stuck with the program and kept riding. I enjoyed what I consider to be a fairly rapid return to improved health. I set a goal of being able to ride the 20 miles from my office to my home by July 1st. I made it by June 1st. Today, I’m a not quite svelte 178 lbs. down from 209 lbs. and I really don’t think I’ll die from a heart attack anymore, Jim Fixx not withstanding.

I’ve managed to maintain my pursuit of better health. At my last doctor’s visit, my blood work was the best it has been since my 20’s. My cholesterol medication has been cut in half. I’m wearing pants that I couldn’t get into for years but, most of all, I’m enjoying exercise again. I’m still not growing new hair on my head, but hey!, hair is over-rated! I maintained my pace through the winter months thanks to a trainer and occasional good weather. I’ve rediscovered an interest in writing via this blog and the efforts of so many of the other cyclist bloggers with whom I’ve connected. My daily coffee companions are those folks on my favorite links listed in my blog roll.

Goals revisited: As I move into my second year, I’m looking forward to achieving new goals. I have new specific targets that include increased mileage/distances and an improved climbing ability, having a greater impact on my local community by helping bring to reality a bicycle/pedestrian advisory committee, and ongoing involvement in the virtual cycling community. I have truly been astounded at the breadth of cycling issues that I’ve discovered via blogging and the internet.

As I bring to a close this particular entry, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my appreciation to some folks that gave me a real and/or virtual “steadying hand on the back” as I enjoyed this past year’s journey. My wifeKatCapital (seen here on our recent HonorAir visit to Washington, DC) has been incredibly supportive of my riding and, “yes, dear, I really did buy a mid-priced bike, I promise!”, to the Wood-man, who has been incredibly patient and supportive in both answering questions and being a riding partner, to John Mudge at Rolls Rite Bicycle Shop for his excellent customer support, to my brother in L.A., who has been supportive of both riding and writing, and to Kent Peterson and to Jim at Cycling Experiences as they both gave me and this blog important “shots in the arm of vitality and connection.

If you’ve read this far and are still with me, I appreciate your interest and hope that you’ll return soon!

Until Later,

-- Zeke

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