Being bigger than your average cyclist by 50 – 75 pounds, I like to play a guessing game with people I’ve just met: “So how much do you think I weigh, and what is my sport?”
Once people learn I’m a 235-pound road cyclist, they look at me and say, “Gosh, you just don’t look that heavy. But then you don’t look like a cyclist, either.”
But this is not about my struggle with my weight. It’s about how I made my weight my strength.
Until I discovered cycling, I struggled to exercise. I just didn’t like the usual pursuits. Put me in a gym or on a treadmill, and I’m ready to quit in five minutes. I tried using a personal trainer, and… well, let’s just say that didn’t work out. Golf, tennis, other sports… I’m no good at those, either.
But on a bike, everything is different! My “type A” entrepreneur’s personality revels in the constant attention that cycling demands just to avoid bodily injury. As I ride, I have an internal dialogue with myself that goes as fast as the bike: Avoid that pothole… Watch that car… Eye on the curb… Don’t hit that pedestrian… Look at that beautiful meadow… Oh, crap! Here’s a hill… Wow, look at the sunlight on the water …” etc. Then a little while later, I’m saying, “Damn! I just exercised for 90 minutes!”
Ten years ago, I began a painful transition from couch potato to cycling enthusiast. I realized I needed a reason to exercise, so I entered a team “Adventure Race” – paddle, run, mountain bike – and we were encouraged to name our team. At the time, I did a lot of heavy breathing because I was not in good cardiovascular shape.
I eventually got over the pain and went from riding 50 miles a year to over 4,000. Within five years, I was ready for Ride The Rockies (completed my first ride in 2009). Along the way, I fell in love again with the beautiful Alabama countryside near my home, found a way to socialize while exercising, cycled in Colorado, cycled from a Las Vegas strip hotel to Red Rocks park, toured Alaska, held the wheel of Lance Armstrong outside of Aspen, and saw the Tour de France on both Col du Tourmalet and at the Paris finish line.
Cycling is the only form of exercise I love. It has probably saved my life – or will certainly lengthen it – and has dramatically improved my quality of life. I have a sense of peace I now that I’ve found that not only makes a great difference in my health and in how I feel, but gives me such pleasure at the same time. I don’t care about average speed. Heck, I don’t even own a bike computer anymore.
So call me a casual, but enthusiastic, road cyclist who is very grateful to have the opportunity not only to Ride The Rockies once more, but to be blessed with the opportunity to share my experience with you all.