One day I just took off

I USED TO BE A RUNNER. But in my early 20s, after a bad motorcycle accident, I developed acute back problems. Many years later, after my second lumbar surgery, my "running career" had to be halted. It was just too painful (and dangerous). I sat on my butt for a few years wondering what I should do to stay fit. In middle-age, you don't have that luxury. I quickly gained an extra 30 pounds of flab.

I considered mountain biking
I was disgusted with myself, and started looking for a less jarring way to burn calories and get some exercise. I came upon a road cyclist one day as he was making a left turn, in front of me, on a four lane highway. I sat in my car thinking he was crazy for riding in the road and competing with 4000-pound vehicles.

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But it got me thinking. I still had my old Haro mountain bike in storage, maybe I should dust it off and see how painful it would be to ride it. The next day, I did just that. I rode down the shoulder of the same highway where I saw the road cyclist. I pedaled hard and was delighted by the speed I was going. I was mesmerized by the wind in my face, the comfort of a pleasant summer day, and the beautiful scenery near the river.

Then, a car pulled out in front of me
I skidded--my knobby tires making a hollow groan. The bike fishtailed. I swerved. I managed a sideways slide in behind the car. I was shook up inside. My heart raced. I turned the bike around and rode home, much more slowly. When I got home I felt physically and emotionally drained and realized I had only gone a total of six miles.

I started to question my sanity
Was this sport too dangerous for an older guy? Should I keep looking for a better way to exercise? That road cyclist, dressed in the funny clothes, that I witnessed making a left turn in the traffic lane seemed so relaxed and confident. Why was I feeling so vulnerable?

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My fear didn’t last long
The next day I had the uncontrollable urge to go do it again! But, first I went out and bought myself a helmet. Maybe this would help my insecurity, I reasoned. Day two was much better. I mounted my old mountain bike and rode down the same shoulder, but at a slower pace. I kept my eyes and ears on high alert, carefully watching for errant drivers. It was a hot day, and I sweated so much my cotton clothes were saturated, sweat running down my face from under my helmet, but I completed about eight miles without incident.

I was hooked
I had just rekindled my love for bike riding that I had abandoned more than 30-years before. And the activity was virtually stress-free on my back. I rode that mountain bike around town for a couple of months, rapidly gaining strength, stamina, distance and confidence. Then, I made a big jump in faith. I traveled to Moab, Utah to ride a mountain bike in the red rock country with my son and a friend. It was a glorious experience that I wrote about earlier in this blog.

After Moab, I was pumped!
I came home and decided to buy a new bike. This time I wanted one that could transition from mountain bike to something more suitable on the road. I bought a Bad Boy, with an extra set of mountain bike rims and tires. Funny, but I rode it with the skinny tires nearly all the time. Then, a funny thing happened. 

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I fell in love with road cycling
Within three years I purchased two more bikes, both road bikes, and discovered a passion for road cycling that I never would have dreamed of before. I bought the silly riding clothes, which turned out to be technically remarkable and wonderfully comfortable. I took safety classes from the League of American Bicyclists and Cycling Savvy, and I advocate for safe riding and proficient bike handling. I’ve since ridden tens of thousands of miles, in 13 states--so far.

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I’m committed to safe road cycling, and bringing other latent athletes of a certain age, into the fold. It’s a great, low impact, fitness sport, and a whole lot of fun! I don’t plan to stop, ever. And to think it all started one day, when I just took off.


A ride for Jessica

RIDING A BIKE MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT for anyone whose ever put their butt on a saddle. For some it’s a fresh look at the neighborhood. For others, it’s a race through the mud. For me, it’s often a way to clear my mind, reflect on the day’s offerings, relieve stress and improve my attitude.

Last weekend was a difficult one. I traveled to Tampa for a memorial. There, I met with many other family members and friends to honor my 30-year old niece who had recently died from breast cancer. Saturday was a gut wrenching day of sadness for everyone. Jessica had little opportunity to enjoy her life or her husband. I left the memorial with a mixed bag of emotions: anger, sadness and a plethora of frustrations.

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Then, I went to my church

I was staying on Clearwater Beach and had the forethought to bring my bike along. I took two rides during my 4-day stay on the beach. They were both similar in distance and direction, but so different in experiences.

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On the first ride I cranked the pedals until my legs ached and my heart reached its limits. I felt only sorrow, the Florida heat and sweat. Visually, all I remember is the blur of cars, the shade of trees and the glare of water.

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Wherever you go, there you are

On my second ride I slowed down and took in my surroundings -- the smell of neighborhoods, birds that I couldn’t identify, and fish swimming near the surface in an inlet. I meandered around a bit, had a bite to eat, and climbed the same three bridges that I climbed on my previous ride, but this time I took in the views of the many waterways along the Gulf.

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I’ve discovered in recent years that, for me, cycling is an effective coping mechanism. I’m sure that those 70-miles of saddle time made my 5-hour drive back to Jacksonville a little more tolerable.

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We love you Jessica. Rest in peace.


Things more important than cycling

ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME knows that cycling is a big part of my life. When friends think of me, they think of bikes. In fact, I take full responsibility for hurting the Nielson Ratings on many TV shows, because I’ve motivated numerous couch potatoes to turn off the tube and spend time riding a bicycle.

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But I must admit, there are times when I don’t ride

In the interest of self-preservation, I try not to ride in severe weather. Living in Florida means that cycling is a year-round activity, however, we are the lightning capital of the world. Also, we do have the occasional hurricane, and we do have torrential rain storms that I’ve seen dump 9-inches in 45 minutes. During those times I let my bike rest, although I have been caught several times in rain so heavy that I’ve had to get off the road.

I also rest from the ride when I have certain physical issues. For example, over the years I’ve had a few back surgeries and several surgeries on my eyes. During these recovery periods I stay off the bike until I’m properly healed--although cycling, done right, often speeds the healing process.

One other thing that keeps me from riding, and even writing about cycling, is a family emergency. When my son was injured in Iraq, a few years ago, I was so preoccupied with getting him home that nearly all routine activities halted.

Likewise, for the past month, my 91-year old mother, who has lived with me and my wife for 11-years, took ill. We’ve all been consumed by emergency care, a hospital stay, a long stay in a rehab facility, and battling with health care professionals over something I’ve never experienced before, namely: Age-Based Health Care Rationing. (Something we will likely all come to know.)

My greatest cycling supporter

The good news is, my Mom is back home and is getting stronger day by day. She is getting in-home nursing help and is, amazingly, doing physical therapy on her own. (She says she’s not ready to leave this earth yet, because she’s not done harassing me!) In truth, she is my greatest supporter when it comes to cycling, and wants to know the details of my ride nearly every day. She’s a big fan of the Tour de France, watches it every year, and was supremely disappointed when Lance Armstrong failed us. It has bothered her too, that I haven’t been riding my bike this past month--she feels responsible. All this, from a woman who has never experienced the joy of riding a bike herself.

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So, there are certain things that will keep me off the bike. I’m never unmotivated, but I am sometimes preoccupied with life’s challenges. Today, I’m officially back to writing and back to riding. I’m looking forward to finishing up the final month of the National Bike Challenge with some decent mileage. And I’m looking forward to cycling during the cooler days of winter which are right around the corner.

And, of course, I’ll report my mileage to Mom every day!

(The above photo is me and my Mom at a century ride in 2006. Yes, I was a little heavier then.)


Berlin girl

SOMETIMES A RIDE IS NOT JUST A RIDE, IT’S BETTER. I started to ride into the One Spark festival this past Sunday morning, but it was so dense with pedestrians that I decided not to enter the zone. (It consumed 20 square blocks right behind that tallest building in the photo, and had 260,000 visitors by its end. More on One Spark.

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So, my ride turned random. I rode around town, from the South Bank to the North Bank, trying to avoid all the construction zones in this city, which is no easy task. As I was going through one rather ominous and shabby neighborhood, I came across a pretty, young, blonde woman who stood on the side of the street amid heavy construction vehicles. She looked entirely out-of-place--like a fashion model standing in a war zone. She was well dressed, and had a pink beach cruiser leaning against her hip. She was focused on a sheet of paper in her hands. I stopped and asked if I couild help her in any way. She looked up at me, smiled, and blurted out, in a strong foreign accent, Oh, yes! Thank you, for stopping. I can’t figure out where I am. She handed me the paper, which was one of those cartoonish maps the Chamber of Commerce often hands out. It had markings on it that I couldn’t make out.

She told me she was looking for a certain record store to buy some American rock albums for her boyfriend back in Germany. The person who gave her the map told her the store was in Five Points. The trouble was she had gotten off course and was about two miles away from Five Points--bewildered and a little nervous about her surroundings.  

Me: You’re from Germany?

She: Yes, Berlin.

Me: That’s interesting. I just came from a festival downtown called One Spark. They’re going to have their next festival in Berlin in September.

She: Yes I know! That’s why I’m here. I’m doing research for my company back home, so that we can get the most from One Spark before it comes to Berlin. I’ve been at the festival for three days, but today I was doing a little exploring. I’ve been to the Riverside Arts Market and San Marco, but this map is confusing. Right now I need breakfast, I’m starved! And I’d like to find the record store.   

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I pointed down the road, and tried to explain how she could get to Five Points, but the look on her face wasn’t too reassuring. I didn’t want to leave her alone in that neighborhood, so I rode with her to Five Points. She seemed relieved. We chatted as we rode.

She: This is so wonderful! I feel like I’m getting a bicycle escort. Thank you so much!

Me: Oh, you're welcome! I’m happy to do it. I was just out doing a little exploring myself.

We talked about the festival and her travel adventure. She remarked how wide open and big Jacksonville was--how it seemed everyone had a car and there were few bikes. She told me that in her neighborhood the streets were cramped and few people owned cars. I told her to be very careful riding in the city, because Jacksonville wasn’t exactly bike-friendly. We stopped for a few red lights--me all sweaty in my standard cycling gear, riding my road bike, and she in her very feminine pink and yellow tourist clothing, riding a pink beach cruiser.

Yes, we got a few looks.

We talked some more, exchanged pleasantries, and I introduced her to Five Points. I pointed out some restaurants, places she could ask the whereabouts of the record store, she thanked me again, and then we said goodbye.

It was truly the most enjoyable part of my two hour ride. It always make me feel good when helping out another bike rider. Berlin girl made a great ride even better.

My ride: Join me on Garmin


Remembering mountain biking in Moab, Utah

ONE OF THE MOST AWE-INSPIRING PLACES I’ve ever ridden a bike is Moab, Utah.

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The red rocks are breath-taking. The trails, and there are dozens of them, range from easy, to challenging, to treacherous. It was 2005 and I was, once again, getting serious about the bike. I was still riding my old Haro mountain bike that I purchased in Phoenix 10 years before. But I had the itch to achieve bigger and better things on two wheels.

My sons and I had talked about going to Moab for years. I wanted to experience it before my back problems got any worse. Now was the time, but after a year of planning, only one of them could make the trip, and so we took along another buddy, Kris, from Florida.

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Because Moab is not the easiest place for out-of-towners to get to, we flew into Denver and drove southwest over the Rockies. We rented bikes rather than shipping our own. That’s always a crap shoot, but we were lucky. A local bike shop set us up with some pretty decent Giant full suspension rigs—much better than the bikes we left at home. None of us were really strong cyclists at the time (some of us less strong than others) so we had an adventure ahead of us. 

More work than we imagined
The first day out the wrench at the bike shop took one look at us, and suggested we try an easy trail. “I think you boys will like Klondike Bluffs, he said. “It’s a little tamer than most.” We accepted his recommendation and headed north.

Klondike offers a little of everything for the mountain biker. You’ll encounter single-track, semi-technical sections, and slick rock sections that will test your climbing and downhill abilities. The locals consider it a starter course, I considered it moderate, and my ride buddies gazed up the trail and just said, “Oh crap!”

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The elevation ranges from 4700-5400 feet. It’s 15 miles out and back, and about 20 miles outside of town. Like most first-timers, we got a late start; there was no one on the trail, and even in September the day was heating up quite rapidly. It occurred to me that a person could really get into trouble out here if he wasn’t prepared. We took off, first on a gravel road, and then onto a badly washed out fire road. We struggled with the trail for hours, made a wrong turn, got hung up in a sandpit, and laboriously made our way up some slick rock onto a rocky plateau—the end of the “out”.

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We paused on top for a look-see. The view overlooking Arches National Park was spectacular and humbling! It’s just crazy beautiful! And the ride down was exhilarating! Loose gravel, steep grades and super fast slick-rock (complete with dinosaur fossils) made our return more technical that we expected. But we did it--two geezers and the kid--we made it! And we were proud!

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Be prepared, then have fun
In my opinion, to truly enjoy what Moab has to offer it’s best if you’re a reasonably skilled rider and in better that average physical condition. It’s not the place for first-time riders wanting to try out that new bike they got for Christmas. I also think you need to know something about how the bike works so that mechanical failures don’t leave you stranded. You should also have some knowledge about nutrition, proper hydration, and how to handle strenuous activity in hot weather.

A sad story
We returned to town that evening, exhausted, and walked Main Street to a local brew pub for a beverage and a meal. There we heard a painful story. The year before, a young female cyclist died. Not from some spectacular crash over a cliff and down razor sharp rocks (an image that kept popping into my subconscious), but from heat exhaustion and dehydration. The red rock canyons radiate extreme midday heat in July and August. She was alone, lost, and without anyone awaiting her return. Her body was discovered two days later by a small group of cyclists.

You can’t go into these canyons ill prepared. First, you should have a ride buddy. Second, you should have a trail map. Make sure you take ample food, hydration, tools and at least a patch kit and an extra tube. If you have a mechanical breakdown you’d better know how to at least apply a band-aid fix. If you get hurt, it’s nice to have someone who can administer some first aid. And don’t count on a cell phone—coverage is sketchy in many areas.

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Know your physical limitations
On day two of our Moab adventure my son and I took off for Amasas Back Trail, while Kris took in some other sights. Amasas is a more ambitious ride, 21 miles out and back from town, with a 1400 foot elevation gain, and lots of loose rocks and narrow ledges. By ten o’clock in the morning the temperature was already in the 90s, which means the radiated temps were well over 100--and there is no shade. We were both sore from the day before, and sweating heavily by the time we arrived at the trailhead. We started up the trail and within the first seven miles of the climb—after cornering a few ledges that were only a foot wide—we made a decision. We were too new at this. We were still fatigued from the day before. We were already overheated, and Amasas was probably a little more than we could safely handle that day. It would have to wait for our next trip.

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That was nearly seven years ago. Today, I’m in ten times better shape (although still with back problems), and I write about bikes and cycling. I mentor anyone new to cycling that’s willing to listen, and I’m eager to plan my next Moab trip. Next time I will likely spend a week. The first order of business will be the Skinny Tire Festival, a 100 mile road ride through the red rocks of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Then I’ll spend a couple of days mountain biking. I still have to show Amasas who’s boss.


Riding the road and blogging again, pain be damned

I'VE BEEN OFF THE BLOGOSPHERE RADAR for quite awhile. (Google nearly forgot who I am.) The main reason: I had another back surgery in September, a rather unexpected one, and I’ve been recuperating ever since. Lame reason? Maybe. I guess I could have kept posting, but… 

This was my second spinal surgery in two years, and that’s just a little too frequent! If you know me, you know that I lost an eye in 2007, and losing that eye required eight surgeries. I’m not whining, but all this medical stuff has conspired to keep me off my bike, albeit intermittently, for many many months. And it made me wonder: should I keep up my blog? Should I continue to ride my bike? I had to quit running in 2004, will I have to quit riding my bike now? And if I do, how will I diffuse my passion for cycling without going into a deep depression? 

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I have to agree with a wise man who once said: “Getting old ain’t for sissies.”
Part of my doubt and despair, was inspired by my surgeon who told me cycling was ruining my vertebrae. I didn’t believe him. We argued the matter. I have Degenerative Disc Disease, which is exclusive of riding a bike. I’ve had it for years. Riding my road bike actually relieved my pain within minutes. How could something that made me feel better be a bad thing? My argument made sense—to me. I did more research, and he apparently did too. The short story is, he changed his thinking on the matter—at least in my situation.

My physical therapist also agrees; riding the bike can be an excellent form of exercise for back patients when done sensibly. What does sensibly mean? For me, it means I’ll have to stay off Slick Rock Trail in Moab, and eliminate any crazy downhill or strenuous off-road riding. But I have been approved for the smooth, sensuous, mesmerizing call of the road.

I'm back... again
And so, I’m back on the bike. I’m struggling with some muscle pain, but I’m slowly working it out. I’m feeling better about myself, happier, more energetic, and I’m losing the weight that snuck back on during the past few months. Cycling is great for such stuff! 

I’m also back writing the Cycling Nirvana blog. And I’m on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Join me if you want to hear more about cycling, bikes, endurance, and safety from the perspective of an “older guy” with a bad back and a powerful passion. I'll do my best to keep up!


I was a ride marshal

THIS PAST WEEKEND I DROVE FROM JACKSONVILLE down to Clearwater Beach, Florida to participate in a metric century, a 62 mile ride along the gulf coast of central Florida. The weather was forecast to be sunny, 56 degrees at the start and over 70 degrees by the afternoon—in my mind, that’s perfect cycling weather.
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I enjoy getting in longer rides on the weekends. Century rides are normally my target, but this ride was special. I was going to be a Ride Marshal for the Ride to Defeat ALS, a one-day, fully-supported event that raises funds to fight Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Continue reading "I was a ride marshal" »


The human body doesn’t want to give up

I THINK MANY MIDDLE-AGED PEOPLE give up on their bodies too soon.

I was once a runner. I loved it for its health benefits, and I loved it for its simplicity. A T-shirt, shorts and a decent pair of shoes and I was equipped. I also like weight training. I’ve worked at it on and off since I was about 10 years old. But in recent years I’ve had to stop running, and I had to get incredibly conservative with weight lifting.
 
Why? Because at 59 years old, my body isn’t what it used to be.

A near lifetime of back pain

In 2000 I had my first back surgery, a spinal fusion. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term it involves installing screws and rods and brackets--and a long recovery period. Afterward, I continued running (with my doctor’s approval) until 2002 when I ran my last race, the Gateway River Run. At the end, I was in so much pain; I knew I had to stop forever. But I couldn’t imagine becoming a couch potato. I knew I had to do something to control my weight, maintain a healthy heart and mental acuity.
 

In 2004 I tentatively took up the bicycle. I rode an old Haro mountain bike around town that I’d brought with me from Arizona. I wasn’t new to the bike, but I had never been really serious about training. I soon discovered it was something I could do that didn’t hurt my back. So, at 53 I had discovered a new sport, and after a few months of “fooling around” with it, I got serious and went to Moab. Then, in 2006 I became a Randonneur.
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Ultra cycling will have to wait
In 2007 I had a series of eye surgeries to repair an uncooperative retina. Those surgeries weren’t very successful and left me with about 5% of the normal vision in my left eye. I was told at the time that my right eye would likely follow suit. The prospect of blindness horrified me! The work on my eye was extensive, spanned a year and a half, and recovery periods meant that I couldn’t ride my bike. I fought off depression, and for the next two years my new sport of cycling was sporadic, but I never wanted to quit. I had to get used to my new visual limitations, and so I chose to ride mostly solo, but I cherished every second of it.
 
The back came back
In March of 2009 I had my second spinal fusion. The long recovery period once again took me out of the saddle. (By now, I’m really getting pissed!) I want to take care of my body, but my body is making it a struggle.

I don’t often talk about all this stuff, because frankly, I’m embarrassed by it all. I sometimes feel like a train wreck, but I’m passionate about cycling and I want to stay mentally and physically healthy, and I believe cycling does that for me. Right now I’m riding 400 miles a month, with the occasional century thrown in, and would like to ride the Southern Tier—maybe next year. I also plan to ride the Hoodoo 500 as a Voyager, and I have aspirations to race in the Furnace Creek 508. Most of my family thinks I’m nuts (but then many of them think riding a bike 10 miles is crazy.)

My plan is to keep enjoying the most beautiful sport in the world as long as I can see, and as long as my legs can spin the pedals. My endurance is coming back nicely. I continue to add miles each month, and I have no doubt I will continue to improve. I’m probably in the best strength and cardio conditioning of my life. Of course not everyone needs to become an endurance cyclist, but in my opinion, too many middle-aged people give up on their bodies too soon. Our bodies are incredibly resilient. They need to be worked and stretched and pushed. In most cases they can be reclaimed to become stronger and healthier. A sedentary lifestyle will shorten our years and make our final years nagging and uncomfortable. I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I’m happy for one thing: I don’t know how to give up.

 

In Memoriam
Tom Milton will be missed. Tom died of a heart attack while riding the Devil Mountain Double Century on April 24th. Tom was the owner and designer of the Selle An-Atomica long distance saddle. He was an experienced cyclist--considered a cycling legend by many--who had ridden this 200 mile event many times. I knew Tom from purchasing his saddles. I found him to be a kind and pleasant man who was knowledgeable and very helpful regarding saddle design and long-distance cycling. He will be missed by many. RIP Tom.

 


Cycling delivers health, fitness, and fun

911 remember 700 I’M A MIDDLE-AGED GUY (with a few physical limitations) and I’d love to play football with the guys… but I’m smarter than that. I’d like to run as I did for the majority of my first five decades, but I have vertebrae issues. Golf doesn’t interest me anymore; I want a more aerobic activity. And tennis, well, I could never quite get the hang of swinging a tennis racket with any accuracy.
 
So seven years ago when I had to quit running, I spent some time looking for another sport to keep my weight down and my heart healthy. I couldn’t imagine what it might be—after all I had to care for a degenerating spine. So while I pondered my dilemma, I started riding an old rusty bike I had in my storage unit, and discovered I rather enjoyed it. A flood of memories came back as I peddled through our city streets. It made me feel like a kid again, at least until all those high speed cycling nuts passed me by in their goofy looking clothing.

No, I thought, cycling probably wasn't my new sport.
I'll just have to keep looking.

At first, I rode about seven miles on that old bike with knobby tires, and thought I was really doing something. I felt tired when I got home, but also challenged. I stayed with it. I added a little distance each week and I started really looking forward to my ride. Then, in late 2005, something came over me, and I treated myself to a new bike. I purchased a Cannondale Bad Boy, a kind of cross between a mountain bike and a road bike.
 
My love affair with cycling had begun
I set up the Bad Boy with the road rims and started chasing the roadies up and down the circuit used by many cyclists in my neighborhood. To my surprise, I began keeping up with and sometimes passing the guys on the road bikes—many of them younger than myself. I soon bought myself some of those funny clothes and a metamorphosis began. I was evolving into a roadie.

I’m a cycling nut, you don’t have to be
Since this is a blog post and not a chapter from my book, I’ll cut to the chase. Cycling is a sport that you can adapt to serve your physical, mental and emotional needs. It offers something for everyone. I’ve since added two road bikes to my fleet, and also bought one for my wife, who has also taken up cycling. I enjoy long distance cycling, and have become a Randonneur. (I have ridden my bike as much as 250 miles in one day.) These days, after my second spinal surgery in March of 2009, I’m back to riding several times a week, and typically covering at least 400 miles a month. I’ve lost 30 pounds, gotten my cholesterol in a safe range, and feel stronger than I did 20 years ago. But that’s my style and it may be a little extreme for many people.

My point here is that you can take up cycling and create a sport that suits your lifestyle, time constraints and health goals.

Cycling offers flexibility and choices

  • You can ride any style of bike you want from a beach cruiser to a carbon fiber road machine. Bikes come in every size and style you can imagine, including recumbents in 2, 3, and 4 wheel design.
  • You can ride solo (often my preference), or you can make it social and ride with a group or a local club.
  • You can ride long distances, or you can ride around your neighborhood.
  • You can take your bike on trips and ride in other states or other countries.
  • You can tour the countryside, or you can ride on behalf of your favorite charity.
  • You can ride during every season if you want to, and during the day or during the night.
  • You can push your body to its limits, or you can make every ride a leisurely delight.
  • You can wear cycling clothes (designed for comfort and safety), or you can wear your everyday duds.


Dianesbike2 700I've discovered the real deal
Cycling is the most beautiful sport in the world. It allows you to be outdoors in the fresh air, see the countryside, share good times with friends, and keep yourself fit without putting too much stress on your body.

To get started, get a bike, any old bike will do as long as it fits you comfortably. Ride it. Give yourself two weeks in the saddle to see how your body will react. You’ll have sore legs. You most likely have a sore butt, but my guess is you’ll be reminded of a time when you were a kid, out in the world exploring and having fun with your friends.
 
For me cycling is an adventure. Every time I go for a ride I see something I’ve never seen before. For me it’s more than exercise, it’s my well-being, it’s my therapist, and it’s my lifestyle.


For me, it's all about the bike

MPARK ENT I'm back on my bike again! This is good news. About four and a half months ago I had back surgery--a spinal fusion--my second. That's the bad news. But today, for the first time since early March, I rode 25 miles. I like to ride long distances, but 25 miles is a start. I was slow, pretty stiff, and tired when I got home, but what a great feeling to finally be back in the saddle.

I'm passionate about cycling. I'm lost without it. For me it means keeping my weight in check, while allowing me to eat whatever I want (within reason). It clears my head and my thinking. It gets me outside in the sun and fresh air. It's a tremendous workout without beating my joints to death. It keeps me in good vascular health. It lifts my spirits and makes me feel like a kid again. I'm not completely healed yet, so I'll have to ease back into the distance stuff, but I'm on my way, and feeling very happy about that!