The first post is twice as long as it should be. I’m just getting started and I have some catching up to do but I won’t apologize and will throw down over the next few days, the real entries in sequence of the last two months to where I am now. This post explains why I’m starting this whole crazy thing, and how much it is starting to mean to more than myself. I hope others can gain some motivation or direction from my path.
How many of us have been in top physical condition at least once in our lives? High School before we discovered how good pizza is? College before we discovered how good beer is with pizza? I remember being in great shape right before I got my driver’s license at 16. After that it was all about driving the car to wherever I needed to go. I grew up in the Midwest in an average to smallish town with a zero emphasis on sidewalks until reaching downtown and bicycling around with the hills, oh god the hills, I hated the hills!
Early August is when I had that sudden shot of inspiration for the next year in my life and as I thought about it, this blog. It was mostly from within me and wasn’t really from someone else, but that someone else’s suggestion was that last upside-down dusty puzzle piece from under the couch. All of the things I had been thinking about in the back of my mind were suddenly linked together with a common single solution. “Just get on the damn bike!” my mind shouted. That was it. I knew I could find some time somewhere. There were too many important things to do not to find the time. It’s a terrible term to use but the bicycle…is the final solution.
Well, officer, the deal went down like this. My wife’s friend’s husband is a huge cyclist. I will call him Rob3 because he is oddly the third Rob I have met since we moved out here three years ago. I don’t mean overweight or a giant but Rob3 is a huge cyclist because he took part in the “Ride the Rockies” event this year. That is a weeklong gathering of cyclists riding nearly 600 miles over the course of a week, in the mountains, up and down them, with most of them camping out along the way. I finally met him in early August. I asked a lot of questions about that event. It seems to me a pretty major undertaking. I had no idea it was not a race. Long story short, I used to ride a lot on the mountain bike back east and related my limited short tales of that experience. He invited me on a ride with him any time I wanted to go. I just had to let him know. My stomach looked up at me and…looked at me. I’m six-foot-three and later on, I discovered that in my work uniform, I weigh 241 pounds. I carry it alright but clothes are a bit loose. I looked back up and said, “I’m not sure if I’m ready yet for that but probably by the end of the month I could be. I’ll do it but I’ll let you know when.” It was one of those things people say at a cookout with the probability of actual occurrence being about 70%. Like rain, it could very well not have happened. The puzzle piece was the offer of a ride. It was out of nowhere. A general offer but it was the piece to everything. Just what did it link together? Everything. In a nutcase, here is the list:
-My profession of flying has not hired a pilot into the major ranks in any significant volume since before September 2001. That is twelve years of waiting. Some pilots have been on furlough for up to ten years waiting to be called back to United, American, Delta, US Airways, etc. They are all back now and retiring in volume indefinitely! It is now interview season and that suit in the closet needs me to fit. A fit looking individual walks better, feels more confident, does his job better, has a sharper mind to accurately answer questions with! Has a better handshake! All of those things would help in an interview. The whole point is, that the next level up in the profession, the major airline, is what my family needs. Badly. Being able to afford retirement at a regional airline is a long gone idea. The ability to just retire at 65 with my family taken care of rests with getting to this next level.
-Over 10 years and I really haven’t done any exercising beyond walking airport terminals and lifting my own thirty pound plus suitcase a small number of times a day. We had a baby in March of this year and a huge influence to my wife’s recovery is my exercise. If I do something about myself, the more likely she will do something. She even told me this. She feels more apt to get on the floor and stretch or go ride her bike or walk or just do something if I do something. It has been easy to justify doing nothing because I was doing nothing. I had no idea. It is difficult to get on that fitness program if all you want to do is sleep from wrangling two kids with daddy on the road in hotels. I don’t think she has had a good nights sleep since giving birth seven months ago. I have to do something to help her get healthier.
-So I have two kids. Any friends I have that enjoy going outside and experiencing life and looking for new things to do learned from the example of their parents. They went outside and took the kids, went on fun vacations and saw the country or other countries! It is a very enjoyable way of life. Daddy sitting in the chair and watching the reality on TV is a perfect example of that wouldn’t you think? I agree with you, getting out is a way to show the kids that life involves physical action and discovery. Sedentary life is no way of life. I would have a sad moment if they got to college and just wanted to sit around indoors the whole time being bored and read US Weekly all day. There’s so much more to do. Leading by example is a huge thing.
-After exercise I feel much better, and the end result is a more positive attitude because that is one less thing I have to worry about that day or that week, or ever. It’s not “when am I ever going to be in shape again or not flabby.” It’s when shall I watch the kids for my wife so she can do her hour of exercise or when can she do the same for me. The end result there is positive for both of us. I also feel more alert at work and I don’t feel as tired as before at work. A 14 hour duty day with 6 to 8 hours of flying within it will fatigue anyone, this helps a lot more.
-Two months in to this program of mine and I find out that I’m motivating not just my wife but my father. He just started the weight-watchers program at 72 and has lost twenty-five pounds. He visited recently and said that the next time we see each other we will both be significantly thinner. He sees what I am doing. He has that much more motivation.
-I turn 40 in November, and I will lose 1% of my muscle mass every year that passes. I can preserve my physical self by being on the bike. I have known too many people loose abilities that I take for granted just because they aged and were not active in any way. I don’t want to be in that situation.
-Improving my writing! I like to write, creatively too, however going through grammar school being told frequently how I should be able to write better. Given that my father has a presence in the area for writing and history was their basis for determining that. It just turned me off to learning the mechanics. So it has always been an issue to me to get order and punctuation right and to stay sort-of entertaining. Cars are a problem. One should look for one when crossing so one does not get hit by one. If I can learn to write in more favorable ways, I can embark on other projects after this and widen my abilities, like the three children’s books in my head I need to get out there.
So that is the list of what getting on the bicycle can do for me, or anyone! I am an all or nothing sort of guy so when I start something I have to reasonably go all-in, but that also hurts me when I find a reason to do the nothing instead of the all. Riding a bike? I’m not happy just tooling around the park. I’m doing this for a purpose so I am going to ride like it. I’ve always gone fast on a bike since I was a kid, why would I do otherwise? I also enjoy competitive things but my variable job schedule and family obligations have kept me from really doing much in that regard beyond some competitive online games. Everything else involved a lot of travel or expense to get in to or was not that interesting to me. But this is accessible, competitive when you want it to be and absolutely affordable. Something the kids can eventually do when they are old enough and they get to see me doing it and see that it’s fun. Now, there is one last thing that I can do after doing all of this for the family and the future, and that is to actually challenge myself. I want to give myself a good competition with this fitness result.
I am going to frequently Blog my whole 40th year and see how good I can become by my 41st birthday. Through the successes and defeating the down moments to keep going, It’s going to be one big circle just like a chainring. You know, the big front sprocket covered in grease and dirt from the past rides? Attention can keep that part in decent shape, enough to accomplish what you want to accomplish at any time. From getting winded going upstairs to answer the phone at late-39 to starting the fall 2014 Cyclocross season in Colorado, I will find out just how fit, enduring, powerful, light and good of a cyclist I can be by 41. This big circle of my life right here is the 40th Chainring. things might start slow, but I’m sure things will pick up nicely.