Friday, September 12, 2008

In the beginning

As promised, today I will actually be talking about bicycling. I figured this was kind of important, as I had advertised this as a cycling blog. I started cycling in July of 2000. When asked why I started cycling, I generally tell people that it was because Trish and had bought a new house. After enjoying the puzzled look on their faces for a few minutes, I explain.

In the spring of 2000, Trish and I were living in our first home, a 1300 sq ft house in Frisco, TX. We were also enjoying our 1 year old son Michael. I say we were enjoying him, because we had finally moved past that point in raising a child, where you can actually begin to enjoy them. I know, I know. You're thinking, "What a terrible thing to say. Children are a joy. Blah, blah, blah." Well lets really be honest here. For the first year or so of raising a child, they are, to be honest, basically houseplants that you have to bathe and change. In that first year, you feed it, water it, and like a house plant, if you set it down, it's pretty much going to be were you left it when you come back for it. But around the time they celebrate their first birthday, they actually start to have a personality, they are somewhat mobile, which makes them entertaining if nothing else, and given that they have developed a primitive vocabulary, you can actually talk to them in some limited fashion.

During that spring, we had come to the conclusion that with the addition of Michael, we were now out of room in our small Frisco home, and we needed a bigger house. Towards that end, we purchased a 2900 sq ft home in nearby McKinney. We moved in on April 1st, April Fools Day. I should have seen that for the omen that it was. One of the things my son liked to do in our new home, was to crawl/walk up the stairs. It didn't take long for me to make the depressing discovery that I couldn't walk up the one flight of stairs, without gasping for breath and seeing a bunch of my ancestors gathered around, urging me to "walk into the light".

You see, there was a time when I was less than the well developed specimen of the male of the species that you see before you today. There was a time when I was what most people would call fat. At that time, I was 6'3", and conservatively, about 260 pounds. It would not be an understatement to say that I was a big boy. Given that my son was only 1 at the time, and I very much wanted to live long enough to see him turn 2, I knew that I had to do something. Running and jogging were not an option. Thanks to years of basketball in high school and college, my knees were absolutely shot. I couldn't run across my living room without my knees staging open revolt. I gave brief thought to swimming. However, with no offense intended to you triathletes out there, hereto after referred to as "crazy people", the idea of swimming lap after lap after lap in a pool sounds almost as exciting as staring at a wall for a couple of hours.

It was also about this time that Lance Armstrong was in the middle of winning his 3rd consecutive Tour De France. I thought that this was something that I could do. It looked to be fairly low impact on the knees. And how hard could it be. I mean, look at these guys riding their bikes around France. There's not a one of them that looks like he ways more than 140 pounds. A stiff wind comes up and they'd all blow away. Yea, I could definitely do this.

So I set out to buy my first bike. Trish was, not expectantly, resistant to the idea. And not without justifiable cause. It should be mentioned, that up until this point, I had had a documented history of getting all excited about something, buying all sorts of expensive equipment for that activity, then finding out that it is somewhat hard to do, and quickly losing interest. The closet full of chess sets, chess books, and chess software stands as example of this. As does the pile of learn to speak German software and Cd's. The list goes on. So my proposal that I needed to go out and buy a lot of very expensive cycling equipment, was not met with the enthusiastic response that I had envisioned. I wasn't too worried though. My capacity to whine, cry and beg, greatly out distances her will power to tell me no. Actually, that's pretty much how our son was conceived. After a relatively short 3 weeks of whining, she relented. (To me buying a bike, not to conceiving a child.) I purchased my first bike. I'll cover that experience in depth in a later post.

Having based my "how hard could it be" assessment of long distance cycling on watching a bunch of skinny Europeans and one skinny Texan on TV, I eagerly anticipated my first ride. While most of that first ride is an oxygen dept induced fog, I do remember riding about 3 1/2 miles, and being deeply convinced that I was going to die. Actually, it was nice to visit with those ancestors again. But to no ones greater surprise than my own, the next day I went out and rode again. And then I rode again, and again, and again. And then about a month later, around the end of August, I had my first crash. If you're like me, you morbidly enjoy the details of a good bicycle crash. And I'd like nothing more than to share with you the details of mine. The problem is, to this day 8 years later, I don't remember. One moment I'm riding my bike down the road, and literally the next moment, I'm waking up in the emergency room. The moments between those two are fuzzy, but we've been able to piece some of what happened together. Apparently, based on the forensic evidence, that being the 14" puddle of blood that we found in the road the next day, I smacked my head on the pavement. Thank goodness I was wearing a helmet. I hope I didn't confuse anyone with the medical term of "smacked". Once in the emergency room, it was determined that I had a severe concussion, and dislocated shoulder, basically one giant scab down the entire left side of my body, and a gash above my left eye requiring 11 stitches to close.

Let me dispel a myth right now. Chicks do not "dig" scars. As a matter of fact, they appear to be quite repulsed by them. What they do seem to "dig", is the ability to competently ride a bicycle without killing yourself. I say that because whenever I tell them the story of my first bike crash, instead of sympathy and the desire to gently hold my head to their bosom, I usually get giggling and laughter. I'll never understand women.

The doctor also told me to stay off of my bike for 3 months. I think he did this because if I killed myself on my bike before my medical insurance paid him, then he might not ever get paid. But once again, to every one's surprise including me, once I got the OK from the doctor to resume riding, I hopped right back on the bike. Even though I was riding only about 5 miles a day at that time, I had one simple rule. Every day that I rode, I would ride just a little farther than the day before. Even if it was just one tenth of a mile farther than the previous day, and many day that's all it was, I would ride a little farther.

The rest is history. Within 1 year of that first crash, I rode my first century. Within two years of purchasing that first bike, I went from 260 pounds, to 190 pounds, and in the 6 years since then, I've kept it off. Given that I am a notoriously lazy person, if I can do it, anyone can.

That's it for tonight. Ride safe this weekend.

Peace out.........Nearly Famous Fred

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

.....and you said you couldn't write! This blog is "so YOU"!