Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!

I think I have mentioned in an earlier post that I used to be the guy who didn’t train in the winter.  The idea of it seemed like something only crazy, addicted, insane people would do. People with an inexplicable amount of dedication to cycling. I had a casual barometer to riding. Was it too cold for shorts? Then not riding. Raining? Not riding. Had too much wine the night before? Not riding.  And then I made cycling goals. And I got faster. I climbed bigger hills and I made progress. I could be convinced to ride in the rain. As of this winter, I ride in the cold too. Bitter cold. 25° cold with a headwind but never in the dark. I wouldn’t ride in the dark based on the premise that “To ride safely, you have to make the assumption that cars can’t see you, then go from there.” That is in the daylight. In the dark? Well, that is asking for trouble.

Last weekend I had a big training ride planned. About 100 miles or so. It was supposed be a nice day, maybe mid 50’s and sunny. In my mind I am glad to put away the thermals and the wool. I was looking forward to it, even though I have had this lingering cough that I assumed to be allergy related for the past two weeks.  Then I got a call full of tough decisions about the ride.

B: “Hey, I have something to do on Sunday, so I can only ride on Saturday. Cool?”

Me: “Yeah, that’s cool. Saturday works fine.”

B: “Oh. Thanks.”

… The next day…

B: “… listen… about Saturday, I have to be somewhere by 2PM, so we have to be done with the ride by 11:30. I know that will be tough, but if we start early enough…”

Me: “…<sigh> What I won’t do for cycling. OK. No worries. It is supposed to be warm, but only later in the day. It will be dark, and cold… I think I will need to stay over the night before to get started that early.”

B: “Great! See you then. We will start at 5:30AM, should give us plenty of time.”

Long story short… at 5:30AM we rolled out, headlights and tail lights on the bikes over the very hilly terrain in the balmy 25° weather. At 7:30 we saw the sun rise over the peaks to the east while climbing a long Category 4 hill. My breathing was labored, more than usual. I couldn’t get it together. My lungs were on fire, hacking and coughing.

At 10:30 or so we realize we are behind schedule and cut the ride short, which was a blessing for me. I felt completely drained (No O2 going in the lungs, no power to the legs). The rest of the day I am still coughing and trying to get my breathing under control.

Sunday afternoon I realize that the coughing is persistent. It feels like Bronchitis. I go to the doctor, and sure enough, Bronchitis. Just over a month to the Gran Fondo, and Bronchitis? Ugh. I blame it on training in the cold, in the dark, at 5:30AM when it was supposed to get up to 50° that day. Thank goodness for modern medicine to get me back on my feet quickly. Prednisone and a Z-Pack.

Oh, and hopefully, no more cold weather riding. Seriously. I am done with the below freezing riding for this year. The novelty has worn off.

Excitement is building

It is now officially within the 45 day mark of the Gran Fondo NY. The nervousness has set in, the giddiness is wrapped around me like a shroud and I am set.  A lot can happen in 45 days. For some people, 45 days is a very long time. Many years ago I saw the movie “Super Size Me”. A movie about how a pure McDonalds diet would dramatically change your life in as little as 30 days for the worse.  The director Morgan Spurlock was so taken with the idea that 30 days of change in any way could have large consequences, he went on to direct a show called “30 Days“.

I am not down to the 30 day mark. I am at 45 days, I have an additional 2 weeks.  That is what I keep telling myself, but in my mind, I remember when the ticker on my PC desktop read “65 days”.

What has changed since I started this journey to be a better cyclist, to be more in shape, to train for the hardest season I have ever taken on? Well, quite a bit!

  1. I have lost weight.  Not quite the amount I wanted to lose to date, but enough to keep me encouraged. More importantly though, enough to help on the hills.
  2. I am eating better. I eat better foods, I read about eating better foods, and I eat them because they make me feel better, not just because some perscribed dietician said I should.
  3. I am in full-on training. Training rides over 100+ miles and 70 ft/mi of climbing this early is something that far exceeds anything I would have thought possible last year. Two large reasons for this are points one and two above.
  4. My stress levels are significantly lower.

I no longer feel trapped in my body, unable to break free from the routine. I used to feel the stress of life weighing on me like an anchor that I had to drag with me.  Cycling was my pressure release valve. I would ride to bring the stress from the red zone back to the green. Somewhere along the way, I started to love it like I did when I was a kid.

Last year I would have told you that my life was 100% improved from the previous year, with the removal of large amounts of negative energy from my life and building the foundation for a stronger, healthier “me”. I was amazed at all that I was able to accomplish. As much as I would never have thought it possible, this year is looking like another “100% improvement” from last year.