Large & In Charge

Posted February 21, 2005 @ 5:31am | by S. Cutshall

Being large and completely out of shape isn't fun but there certainly are exceptions to this when it comes to riding a bicycle.

For instance, the first time I hauled my fat ass onto a Brooks saddle early last year the simple, unbridled thrill I experienced was amazing.  The feeling of moving efficiently was unparalleled... of being able to pump the pedals a couple turns and move forward so quickly was fantastic.  Sure, this was before the reality of how bad the saddle made my sit bones scream, how numb my wrists & hands became from the stem & handlebar setup... how my legs quickly felt like two big slabs of pork fatback filled with lactic acid and simply didn't/couldn't make another rotation of the pedals before I had to take a break, standing next to my cycle, bent over the top tube, arms-one over the handlebars the other over the saddle, knees shaking and legs on fire. 
But hey, ya gotta start somewhere!

My first part of my first ride was exactly 2 blocks before I needed, no, HAD to take a break.  My knees and legs would simply not pedal any further.  My wife, Amy, who is in much better shape than I needed a break too.  Her freshly purchased, Nashbar, el cheapo cyclometer looked up at us and in its own LED kinda way said to us, "How sad, you two just rode a whopping 0.4 miles at 3.9 mph". 
Yeah?  So what... we were riding!

We went everyday... actually every night for our ride.  At first it was "The Spot"... the part of the block where we needed to stop that first night.  Could we make it there again, further... how much further?  We measured our progress not in miles or even half/quarter miles but in-how we felt at "The Spot" and then eventually, "How far did we get past The Spot?".

By the 4th evening we flew by "The Spot" and actually made it halfway to the Hudson River-what was to quickly become our "New Spot".  Amy's cyclometer would read precisely 0.9 miles at the halfway point each and every night.

We always made it to the "New Spot" every ride from that 4th night on before taking our first break.   The break itself, we figured out, was becoming less and less necessary.

One month went by until our first break would be had at the Hudson River with Amy's computer reading 1.5 miles.  I took our camera that evening because I just knew we were not going to stop until we made it to the Hudson River.  It was, "in the air".  The night was ball-numbing cold, Amy and me were so excited we underdressed and didn't really notice it however Chloe reminded us the whole way there from behind Amy's Bridgestone 400 in her trailer, how cold it was.

Here's that moment captured in a photograph...


And here's Chloe's reaction to her Mommy & Daddy's big 'breakthrough'...


Quickly we figured out that they absolute best way to enlarge our ride times without breaking was to ride often.  Doh, right?  To two mostly sedentary people these lessons come slow and at a price.  The price was, we'd take a day or two off from riding and then go for a ride only to quickly find out that it was a bit like starting over... not that different than the first night with needing more breaks and earlier too.  Also, that our legs felt heavier and less able to go further... and that our sitbones hurt more quickly.

We were fast becoming aware that the way to go was to go often.  Not the easiest thing to do when 1) you're used to being a person who naturally sits on their arse making excuses, and 2) when work schedules change often and you have a-then-4 year old who has "other" plans for an evening.

We needed to keep doing this and needed to figure out a way to accomplish it.

As usual, it was complicated.

I recall having read somewhere that *any* big change in an adults life only becomes routine after no less than 3 months.  Much less for Teens and Pre-Teens.  It was some kind of medical/psychological study.

We're still trying to figure out how to ride everyday for 3 months so we can, too, experience real change.  Our last week of cycling netted us a total of 50.2 miles for those 7 days, the longest ride was 10.8 miles, our average speed was 9.5 mph and our fastest speed was Me: 19.9 mph and Amy: 14.7 mph.

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