Sunday, October 25, 2009

The view over my handlebars

This is what Island Beach State Park looks like when you ride it in the summer, early morning. Straight and flat. Peaceful. Easy to lose yourself in thought. And I did. Best therapy money can't buy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

Since I am self employed, and the powers that be have decided to punish the ambitious, I was able to spend most of the summer "on vacation" with my family down at the Jersey shore. Each morning at 6:00AM I'd ride Island Beach State Park. 8.3 miles in and 8.3 miles out. I'd try to maintain a 19 - 21 mph average. I considered this an intense workout for my 52 year old former smoker's body. I loved it. Then at 9:00AM I'd go back into the park with my 14 year old son and my 22 year old daughter and do another in and out with them. I loved it even more. We three approached this type of riding with fitness, performance and spandex as our priorities... It strengthened our bonds and gave us a sense of accomplishment.

Damn ebay!

The new Schwinn Super Sport was fine. I was rollin along, rackin up the miles as the months rolled by. Then one morning I returned from a ride and noticed my toes, rather the fact that I didn't feel my toes...winter was setting in.

Off to Diamond Cycle I went to buy a trainer. Again, I was very excited and had visions of grandeur pedaling and sweating and pushing to the limit on my trainer in my garage. You know, spring races are won here in the winter garage... I was to be a quite formidable force just like CLUBBER LANG...

Well, I gotta tell ya, riding a trainer in the garage in front of Good Morning America is awful! I decided to do interval sprints during TV commercials. Problem was there are way too many commercials in a row and I damn near died a pedalin fools death!

Still feeling like Superman and reading all the cycling magazines in the bathroom, I got the bug for a "real road bike." If you remember, I mentioned 5 kids, 4 dogs and all that? No new road bike for me, but wait! Why not a used bike!? Sure, they're all quite cared for and imagine how fast I could go! I just gotta get in the drops!....

Enter EBay. The magazines in the bathroom were replaced by a hand carried laptop, propped carefully on the wastebasket as I searched and reviewed, watched and bid. All winter... it's surprising I didn't drop my bowels...

Then one night, late in February; a new listing came in. Had all the credentials, fair price and not much action. I bid. I won. I shall fly.

I pulled the trigger

After slogging around on the old Schwinn Sierra, I made an interim jump to a 2008 Schwinn Super Sport GS. Oh, my God! I'll never forget that first ride on 700/28's !!!!!!!! I thought I was flying! Nimble! Light! Responsive! I was in Heaven. Come on you cyclists I see, I'll kick yer ass! Drop you like a bad habit...i got smoked...

No matter! I was thrilled with my new ride and my new found technical abilities. While I continued to ride every morning, I read everything I could get my hands on in the bathroom at night. Proper cadence, smooth pedal stroke, breathing, gearing, etc. I was a cyclist.

How did this happen? (or how I began riding again)

My first cardiac stress test was scheduled for July 8, 2007. I was 50 years old, self employed with a great deal of stress, five kids, four dogs, buildings, houses, no exercise and I smoked.

I decided I wasn't going to have a heat attack during that stress test, so one month before, I began riding an old bicycle ten miles around town every morning. I enjoyed it!

The sights, the sounds, the smells, the temperature changes. I was familiar with the experience, having ridden motorcycles for many years, but this was different. Each one of those sensations validated I was alive. I was much more connected to my surroundings. The sound of my breathing was something I was now "monitoring." The constant demand on my legs was euphoric and I felt like Superman the rest of the day. Every day. I was hooked.

That was three bikes and 4000 miles ago. I have since "upped" my pace, increased my distance, lightened my load and spandex without underwear is a lonely and wasteful experience on a bike...

Search This Blog