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Oct
03

Recognizing my Strengths and Weaknesses

I’m just starting to ride my bike again after having surgery in the spring.  The recovery time was supposed to be 6-8 weeks, meaning I couldn’t even look at a bicycle during that period.  The prognosis was that after three months I could get on my bike for shorter rides and slowly work my way up to longer ones.  It turns out that I must have read the surgical brochure for 20 year-olds, because it took my 47 year-old body over four months just to be able to ride at all.  I’m now at five months and get do only 20-25 miles four times a week with minimal pain – way below my normal average.  But, at least I’m riding, although I’m in horrible shape.

I live in an area west of Boston that has roads crowded with riders.  Like any self-respecting guy, I see each small encounter with other riders as a chance to show off.  I mark a rider ahead of me and time how long it takes me to pass him/her.  Well, that’s how it used to work.  These days I’m timing how long I can stay in front of someone approaching behind me.  I’m getting passed so fast that I can see the shift of light from blue to red.

As I unsuccessfully tried to catch someone on a ride last week, I remembered my first charity ride 4 years ago.  For those that haven’t done one of these rides, it’s like most charity sporting events.  A rider gets sponsors to support his/her efforts in the ride and then rides a pre-arranged distance, giving the money from the sponsors to the charity.  These are not supposed to be races, but a reasonable percentage of the riders that show up work hard to finish first.  My first event was a 25-mile race, er . . . ride.

I was pretty new to cycling at the time, aside from avidly riding a Schwinn Sting-Ray when I was a kid.  I shot out quickly after the start and found myself winded by the 200 yard mark (that’s 200 yards from the start, not finish).  A couple of miles in, along a long, tree-lined road, I spotted an unfit (read: fat) guy riding about a quarter mile in front of me.  I focused all my energy on the short-term goal of passing him.  After an incredibly exhausting couple of miles, I finally reached him, only to discover that he had been talking on his cell phone the whole time, riding with one hand on the handlebar.  What little testosterone I still had drained from my body at that point.

I was crushed.  I rationalized the experience with excuses about being out of shape, unfamiliar with my bike and a newbie to racing (oops, charity rides).  A couple of years of work later and I’m pretty sure I could pass that fat guy – as long as he rides with his cell phone in his ear.  I’ve also come to realize that there’s a huge gap between my abilities – skills, physiology and training – and many (perhaps most) of the riders out there.  It’s taken me a long time to accept it, but now I work to achieve good not great and certainly not best when it comes to cycling.  It’s just not in me.  There might, however, be a few things in life that I can be great at and maybe even achieve a best along the way.  I’m still looking.

 

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 October 3rd, 2006  
 Will  
 Cycling, Misc Thoughts  
   
 4 Comments

4 Responses to Recognizing my Strengths and Weaknesses

  1. Since I’m just now regaining full mobility and feeling in my left hand after riding the first 3 days of the 35th annual RAGBRAI (www.ragbrai.org), I completely understand what you’re going through.  Yes I’m the fat guy and unfortunately, the healing process (or rather the fact that I pinched nerves so badly simply from riding 200 miles) made me confront my condition.  I’m doing some things to improve but like you, I’ve dealt with the fact that I’ll likely not be the super hero anymore…but guess what, my kids (and wife) still think I’m one….and that’s really all that matters to me. Keep blending your blogging on biz, life, and cycling.  Like you, I spew everything into 1 blog and my readers appreciate that as I’m sure yours do.

  2. Since I’m just now regaining full mobility and feeling in my left hand after riding the first 3 days of the 35th annual RAGBRAI (www.ragbrai.org), I completely understand what you’re going through.  Yes I’m the fat guy and unfortunately, the healing process (or rather the fact that I pinched nerves so badly simply from riding 200 miles) made me confront my condition.  I’m doing some things to improve but like you, I’ve dealt with the fact that I’ll likely not be the super hero anymore…but guess what, my kids (and wife) still think I’m one….and that’s really all that matters to me.

    Keep blending your blogging on biz, life, and cycling.  Like you, I spew everything into 1 blog and my readers appreciate that as I’m sure yours do.

  3. Doug, Thanks for the encouraging words.  RAGBRAI, huh?  You are definitely the man.  I look at that ride every years and think it’s only for the insane.  Seven days, almost 500 miles.  Sitting on a skinny saddle hunched over a handlebar for 3 days/200 miles pinches more than just nerves.  Very impressive effort.  No wonder your family thinks you’re a super hero.   Congrats on the accomplishment.  Certainly something to be proud of.  Hope the healing continues quickly. Will

  4. Doug,

    Thanks for the encouraging words.  RAGBRAI, huh?  You are definitely the man.  I look at that ride every years and think it’s only for the insane.  Seven days, almost 500 miles.  Sitting on a skinny saddle hunched over a handlebar for 3 days/200 miles pinches more than just nerves.  Very impressive effort.  No wonder your family thinks you’re a super hero.  

    Congrats on the accomplishment.  Certainly something to be proud of.  Hope the healing continues quickly.

    Will

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