To anyone who is bored easily; tune out now.
I'm Mike, I live near Jefferson City, Missouri and I just recently found the Bike Forums, and since I'm always in search of information about anything that interests me, I am completely and utterly hooked! My creds for the Clydesdales group are impeccable; I go about 265 on a given day. But that is where I am now, not where I was when this long strange trip began.
I took an early retirement from the U.S. Army in 1992, after traveling on three continents, always with a bicycle to get around (the same one!), at least until my car got there. I've ridden somewhat in Europe, of course some in the U.S. and a LOT in Korea. By the nature of being in the military, I was pretty fit, but even at 12% body fat I weighed 225 lbs. But I got out of the habit, gained weight and all of the things you can imagine. Then in 2001 I had a heart attack (yeah, I know, too young). Then to make things more interesting, they said I had an arrythmia as a result of the MI, so now I've got a defibrillator. Want to talk about what it's like to not want to breath too hard 'cause you might set the darned thing off???? Anyway, I lived with that until February 2006, weighing 330 lbs., when I found myself in a hospital for the second time in three months with a slinky inserted in my groin while they peered at my chest through a magic camera. I decided then and there that when I got out of that hospital I was going to do something (or die). And I didn't want to die.
One week afterward I started working on my old (1991 model) department store mountain bike. New tires, grease everything up, adjust everything and I'm ready for my new adventure. Off to the Katy Trail, which is a total of 5 miles from my apartment, mounted up and rode one mile out (perfectly flat, wonderfully packed chat) and had to stop because my heart was beating so hard I knew I was going to die. But I didn't. So I turned around and rode back to the car, where I KNEW I was going to die. But I didn't. And so it went. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat. Not everyday, and definitely not for huge distances, but besides the suffering that goes along with trying to whip yourself into shape came the revival of the love that I had always felt on two skinny little tires.
After a couple of months, I bought a new Gary Fisher Advance, nothing fancy but a good solid bike with all the features I wanted (including a bulletproof frame, which is important 'cause I'm also qualified for Clydesdale membership 8^) and it was new and dependable. More miles followed, with me racking up just over 1,000 by the time the year was over. Did some outside and a good deal of exer-cycle riding this winter, and started again this Spring with the hankering to also hit some hills and roads (trails are great, but you go out and back, not to someplace, then someplace else, then home without ever seeing the same scenery twice). So in June of this year the GF was joined by a shiny new Specialized Sequoia (not the Elite, hey I'm broke!) But now I haven't got any excuse; if I can't ride worth a darn on the roads, it's me, nothing else!
So where am I now in the great race of life? I've lost 60 pounds. My cardiologist smiles when she sees me. I've had 8 inches taken out of some of my dress shirts and can now buy new ones at a store that doesn't have a 'Big and Tall' section. I don't have to worry about how far I park from my office because I'm afraid I might not make it up the hill. I've got almost 2,000 miles so far this year, and ride around 100 miles a week right now (but the light's starting to go away quick in the evenings). I rode my longest of the year last week at 45 miles with some really nice (??) hills in the middle, finished with an average of 14.5 mph (this was on the road). I alternate between the trail, roads (city and country) and occasional bursts of gravel roads. I consider a ride of less than 15 miles too short to bother with on most nights, and wonder why I see all these other cars with bike racks and no bicycles??
I've already gathered a lot of inspiration and information from spying on the forum for the last couple of weeks, and had to get more involved. So, I'm here, happy to be here, and looking forward to learning from my large and in-charge comrades in human-powered transport.