Transformation is defined as “the act of changing in appearance or reality.” In this post, Part I, I want to talk about a transformation that is taking place within myself. Part II will discuss a transformation that I want to take place within my community, but am losing confidence that it may come about. Be sure to catch the sequel to this in the immediate future here at RAM!
After riding in the beautiful Blue Ridge foothills, and cycling on some very challenging climbs last fall in North Carolina at the Hincapie Gran Fondo, I was as excited about cycling going into the off season as I can remember. I left that event with a feeling of wanting to step my game up. So I did. Sometime in the middle of winter, as I began my off season training, I decided to go big this year. Do some serious riding this year, and sign up early for some major events. This was my answer to a reflection of the last couple of years.
As I reflected on the big rides I had completed last year, it genuinely smacked me in the face that I suffered through a couple of those. I decided I have to be true to myself, and that was the unfortunate reality! I bonked in the upper 90 degrees heat at the Horsey Hundred, and fought for nearly 40 miles just to finish. Then with no real big events scheduled through June, July, and August, I slacked off while my sons’ baseball seasons were in full force through the summer. Upon deciding to do the Hincapie ride in October, I tried to crank it back up, but being honest with myself, I didn’t work too hard. And it showed again. I didn’t bonk there, but the climbs were unlike the tough ones around here, mainly because of the distance. My true reflection revealed to me that on several occasions last year, I did not enjoy the past time that I claim to love in cycling.
I’m no fan of “New Years Resolutions,” because I think we mainly set ourselves up for failure, but at the start of this year, I made a very tough decision to transform my health. Not just for the enjoyment of my big bicycling events, but more for the pure aspect of being a healthy person and setting a good example for my children who happen to be growing up in an era of obesity acceptance. I reminded myself of how hard I had worked once before to become healthy after quitting smoking and gaining weight. Actually, like when I gave up the cigs, this decision was really not tough because it’s what I want to do.
Here’s my secret transformation formula. I’m a chips and dip fanatic, and I quit eating them. I even gave up popcorn and my favorite, pretzels! I also quit drinking all soft drinks, which I only consumed on occasion, but not any more. I have scaled back immensely on ice cream and cakes/pies, only eating them on special occasions (well, every weekend is special enough for ice cream). Another significant change in my eating habits is portion control. I commit to filling my plate only once at each meal, and don’t go back for seconds or thirds like I used to. That sums up the food intake part, the rest of my personal transformation has occurred because of my change in exercise habits. I now strength train my upper and lower body, cycle as much as possible, and even still ride indoors when I work late or the weather is bad, and I do stretching and core workouts regularly.
Well that’s the formula, now here’s the results. The bulk of my training rides last year were in the 25-35 mile range while averaging a pace around 15 mph, and this year I’m riding generally between 30-60 mile rides averaging over 17 mph and I even rode a pace over 17 mph for my first century ride of the year. I have gone down six holes on my belt, and now a lot of clothes that were too tight for years are almost too loose. I weighed 248 pounds on new years, and I have gradually dropped to 215. I still have some excess weight and stomach fat, so I’m nowhere near stopping. In fact, I plan to continue what I’m doing, obviously it’s working. I figure my body will know when to plateau on its own. My goal was to be around 200 in time for my toughest ride of the year, and it is now only about two weeks out, but I’m committed to my ultimate goal, which is to become healthy!
I’m happy I decided to make this transformation, it has renewed my passion for cycling as I can now enjoy a 100 mile ride event, rather than suffer through it, struggling to make it to the end. I keep telling myself, “I’ve still got a little ways to go!” I was given some great advice from cycling friend Jim Simes, from South Carolina, “keep telling yourself that. Always.” Please stay tuned for Part II to be released soon, when I discuss and offer a bike friendly update (or lack of) on my community. I will also give my perspective on the recent accident that claimed the life of another local cyclist.