#bikehour – 2/2/2015 – “turning point”

February 3, 2015

I wanted to quit.

Last evening I felt like stepping back from the streak. I’d somewhat miscalculated the amount of ice left on the ground in Ottawa for the evening ride I had planned, and I was very apprehensive about falling. Muddled up in my feelings was the old familiar demons of “will I ever be able to succeed at what I’m trying to do” – referring to losing lots of weight and getting into very good shape. Sometimes it seems like you’re giving it 100% and it’s not enough.

I could excuse myself from my very public reporting on my streak: “too much ice. I misjudged. I’ll start another streak later.” But searching my insides, I found that in thinking this way, I was really looking for a way out.

I didn’t like that.

I’ve taken several steps recently to turn around this fitness & weight situation that I’ve fallen into post-my mom’s passing. I reminded myself yesterday evening how much work I’ve done and even a couple of specific recent steps, which should tell me all I need to know about how much I want to keep fighting and win. Don’t give up now.

It’s true, there was more ice on the ground than I bargained for. And I WAS very nervous about falling. But I knew that a will always finds a way. Let’s go to Forest Park, I thought, drive around there. I bet the circle there is clear. Will be a pretty boring ride – 10 laps around a circular ~.8 mile “track” – but, it’s infinitely better than cashing in. I drove up and surely enough, road there was totally clear.

24 degrees out with windchill lower, so it was cold. I dressed about as warmly as I currently have the ability to for a bike ride – again, another post later on winter riding apparel – and set out. I was in fact never vaguely chilly, let alone cold, during the ride. Granted that it was only 10 miles, versus 20 or 30 or 50.

Ride started out in a similarly crappy mindset. First, I’d forgotten to turn the tail-light on at the house, so I wanted to stop and do that. If you have the light, you should use it. Second, I experienced some issue with my front derailleur, which I still need to sort out. I could ride only in the small ring. Not a huge issue for now, but it does greatly reduce the gears available. Third, in my “full winter wardrobe” I felt fat and bulky, and pictured myself as a large fat man rolling down the street on a bicycle. “Who am I kidding” time in my mind. I was not in a good headspace.

Things changed not long after I entered the park. I reminded myself, you tend to view things very mathematically and objectively. Yes you’re not in the shape now that you want to be in, but let’s see how long it’ll take to get there. I’ve long viewed miles on the bike as “little calorie machines”. That is, (within common sense limitations) the more miles you ride, the more calories you are going to burn. YOU control your progress, to a significant extent. Progress doesn’t control you. So as I glided around the track again, and again, my mind worked, turning over models of average daily mileage versus net calories burned per mile versus calories in a pound. And as I continued taking silent circles, punctuated only by my breathing, around the track under a brilliant watchful moon, the ride turned into among the favorites I’ve ever taken. *I can do this*, I realized. It’ll be work, and effort, and it’ll be commitment, but I can reach my goal not in years or decades, but months. Things will gradually come easier as the weight ebbs away, cardio improves, weather improves allowing for lighter riding and further mileage, etc. I arrived at a few key dates in my head and accompanying milestones. I renewed my intensity and my commitment to see the work through. I can do this, and I will do this.

I view this ride as a turning point. In future there may – and almost certainly will – be others. For now, this one was huge.

The ride was also great for another reason which I’m not yet ready to make public. Sometime, I will.

Soon enough the 10 miles was over, and I was back home. There, in the bathroom brushing teeth and getting ready to shower & go to bed, I looked up into the mirror and I saw a winner.

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