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The Long Road Back

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The Long Road Back

Old 04-03-17, 06:16 PM
  #1  
jyl
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The Long Road Back

I'm sitting at the Laurelthirst Pub, a neighborhood watering hole that is on my bike route from downtown Portland to home. When I pass the 'thirst, I'm about 19/20ths of the way home, so I will often stop for a pint in the sun. Same reason why, when taking the other route home, I usually stop at Velocult for a pint and a bike ogle.

But this time at the 'thirst is different, because while I am just stepped off my bike and on my way home from work, my legs are limp, my chest hurts, and I'm a little shell-shocked. None of which usually describes my state after riding 19/20th of the way home.

Its different because . . . this is the first bicycle commute I've done in well over a year. And this morning, when I got on my bike, was to be the first time I'd have ridden more than half a mile in at least six months.

Yes, I've become a non-rider. And now I'm trying to come back. I've started on the long road back. With rotund belly, spindly legs, atrophied lungs and somnolent heart, I've resumed riding bicycles.

This all happened because I started a new job in the middle last year. The job has me splitting the week in downtown Portland and across the river in Vancouver WA, and wearing a pressed suit, starched shirt, and tie all day. I just couldn't see joining the spendy gym in the Portland office building to use the locker room 2 days a week, and there is no gym anywhere near my Vancouver office. So I started driving to work, and there went the weekday rides. Then winter came, and brought snow and ice, and there went the weekend rides. The fitness went away, the inches and pounds came on. When I did get on a bike, I was disgusted and discouraged by my condition. Eventually I started actively avoiding my bike, out of shame or spite.

Eventually my wife, who normally thinks I walk on water, started muttering things about "you need to start riding", and "maybe you should exercise", and finally "do you need some new clothes?" That last really hit home, because I was spending extra time every morning looking for the remaining suits that I could still comfortably button, and my favorite jeans were too tight in the midsection and baggy on the thighs.

When I realized that my resting (like, first thing in the morning) pulse had gone from 45 bpm to 65 bpm, and I started to feel twinges of some old health ailments that I'd thought were long behind me, I realized that Something Had To Be Done.

I joined the downtown gym and put some suits and clothes in a locker. After all, I realized, a month's membership costs no more than parking downtown for a week. In Vancouver, I called my friend who runs the dance school across the street from my office, and begged her to give me a key and let me use the changing rooms and showers, as long as I promised not to be in the changing room when her ballerinas were.

Today I rode downtown. That's, um, a whopping 5 miles roundtrip on the 1980 Peugeot PSV. Tomorrow I'll ride to Vancouver. That's about 26 miles roundtrip, crossing the Interstate 5 bridge. I'll alternate the two every day. After a few weeks, I'm hoping to have the legs to actually go on weekend rides without hating myself. I'll start doing 50 milers again, and sign up for STP. And, when I'm all the way back, I'm shaving my damn legs. Wife hates that!
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Old 04-03-17, 06:46 PM
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For awhile I was ("training")haha with my buddy "psycho Billy" whom was semi pro at the time , no way could I keep up with the nut . Well anyhow when he wasn't ranting about how a entity had possessed him , he actually had some good advice (I thought) It went like this . First day (when trying to build up miles) 2 mi max, next day rest no ride , next day out 4 mi next day rest , like that in tell I was comfy with 30 mi . Eating is the key , this can be simple or complex . I like simple , so I would eat sometimes but not always a toasted muffin loaded with real butter , peanut butter and jam and a pudding cup . That digests fast , so then I would eat a bunch Walnuts they digest slow . Also wash that all down with water or a sports drink . Do this 1/2 hr before the ride . It worked for me . Good luck .
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Old 04-03-17, 06:49 PM
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Good on ya, @jyl! The road to being in shape is always steep and long at the start, but you'll get there for sure.
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Old 04-03-17, 07:09 PM
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Hi jyl,

Huh, well I certainly get it although I was/never have been at your level. I had a new job starting last October for a month near lloyd center that had me there from 6 pm to 2:30 am. This was my downfall as I was not prepared to ride home 8mi. uphill with the rats, homeless, drunks, rain, cold, wind etc. after 8hrs. on what seemed like a dead run at work. SO I wimped out and did not ride but 1 time and had my wife pick me up for that 1 time. THEN even when I went back to my regular routine at Sunnyside, I still did not get back to the bike as I had done 95% of the time for the over year and a half before last October where I had ridden the also 8 mi. each way most of the time, then of course the ice, snow, wind, rain, wimpiness etc. have been allowed to harpoon my efforts for the most part to the present day. AND to make matters worse I have my hands full with a couple of big new challenges so the prospects are grim "moving forward" as well aside from a Cannonball run to eroica Cal that I am not at all prepared for.

How about that Velocult event?
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Old 04-03-17, 07:24 PM
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It has been said that a journey of 1000 steps starts with a single nag. May your self-nagging, not to mention your wife's, be the start of greatness!

I confess I've been bike commuting 32 miles round trip for several years now, and prior to that a round trip of 25 miles plus car and train for three days a week. I also confess that since a bunch of life's conspiracies conspired with the weather to curtail my riding starting before last Thanksgiving, I've gained a few pounds and lost some conditioning. As they say, you win some and you lose some. I'd rather the wins and loses were the other way around. It catches up with us if we let it. Still, with the onset of spring (whenever it finally decides to stay) the commuting has started up again and progress is being made.

May your progress be made quickly.
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Old 04-03-17, 07:42 PM
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Hey, that's great, enjoy it!
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Old 04-03-17, 07:47 PM
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I was afraid you were describing a heart attack! Glad you're back on the bike before something like that happens. You hereby have permission to buy a new bike to keep you motivated!
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Old 04-03-17, 08:15 PM
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Yeah, it seems you kinda dropped of the face of the the earth there, @jyl. It's hard to think of you being fat and run down since you were a real horse both times I rode with you. But I'm just just starting to get my legs back after logging less than a hundred miles from Dec - Feb. (I got 87 in March alone! Woot!)

Fortunately for you, a month of 5, 10, 20 mile rides here and there is just enough to get you back in good nough shape for the Downtown Hotel Metric Century Ride, up here in Port Angeles, which you and @gugie are definitely going to come up and ride, yes?

Saturday, May 6. Of course you guys should get in touch with the rest of the PDX gang and see who wants to caravan up with you and join the fun. Don't worry about lodgings, all BF C&Vers get half off at the Downtown Hotel. (Yeah, first weekend of May is always a slow one here, so I'm happy to give the rate.)

It's basically the same route as the one @northbend posted about (starting with post #3 on that thread) when he came to visit on the HOTTEST DAY OF THE SUMMER last year. One nice thing on that ride is there are several 'bail-out' routes for people who want to skip some of the climbing and/or rough trails.

I'll start an invitational/promotional thread in the next day or two to try to drum up some interest.
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Old 04-03-17, 08:49 PM
  #9  
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Glad to read you're still in the game. I know the cool bikes you own are happy to see it!
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Old 04-03-17, 09:25 PM
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@jyl - I'm happy to hear you are making positive steps forward. This is an opportunity for growth.
I personally understand the decline in fitness, lack of riding and weight gain. I'm currently at my highest weight since I lost over 100 lbs. 8 years ago. I hate that I will have to be constantly vigilant.
The point is that you have a plan and you have it in you to make progress. If you miss a day or the week just sucks, don't trash your plan. Remember, it's not about perfection, but about progress.
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Old 04-03-17, 09:47 PM
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Sixteen years ago I switched jobs to a new location with more roads and even worse drivers. This new location was where I wasn't comfortable with the routes and the office bldg had a make-shift shower in the back end of a unisex restroom. I got to the point where I had no problem making excuses to not ride. Well time marched on and after 10 years I decided enough was enough and I did as you just did and climbed back on the old Zurich. Man was my first 5 miler was brutal and it took a few months until I was on the correct side of the power curve. Then some long time College friends, one from Portland gave me the skinny on Cycle Oregon. I told them I couldn't be ready in time to do 2014, but put me down for 2015. Well I made it and it was one of the best weeks I've spent on a bike in well over 30 yrs... Did last year as well and signed up for the 30th Classic Ride this year. Bummer is now I have to bail on that ride as I've got to get past this stupid DVT that has me sidelined for the time being. Not sure if I'll get my pedaling legs back under me come Sept. Best of luck on 'The Long Road Back' and keep hammering on the mileage, or as we say down here in SoCal; 'Smileage'...
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Old 04-03-17, 10:08 PM
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Hear, hear, I second the motion, time for a new bike!


Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs
I was afraid you were describing a heart attack! Glad you're back on the bike before something like that happens. You hereby have permission to buy a new bike to keep you motivated!
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Old 04-03-17, 10:35 PM
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Many pluses for you getting back on the saddle! All of your nice bikes deserve to be ridden. Due to a health issue, our crappy NW weather and a move, I had limited bike time for the past few month, but am back on track to some extent.

Cheers,

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Old 04-03-17, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs
I was afraid you were describing a heart attack! Glad you're back on the bike before something like that happens. You hereby have permission to buy a new bike to keep you motivated!
Originally Posted by merziac
Hear, hear, I second the motion, time for a new bike!
To heck with a new bike, I'd be happy if he just painted and built up this one:



Mang, less than a year ago we were both gainfully unemployed, riding un-meetings and Epic Tillamook rides on forestry roads. It's a steep curve getting back in the groove, but a cliff when you fall out of it. All those years of riding, though, the muscles remember. You'll be back leading C&V rides this summer no problem.
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Old 04-04-17, 02:16 AM
  #15  
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Glad to hear it, @jyl ! This winter has been especially brutal on the mind and spirit. I feel like I'd be right there in your shoes, staring down the barrels of consistently discouraging weather and long commutes and going, "Car, I guess." It makes me that much more thankful for my two mile one-way commute (with offshoots of more miles for volunteering or visiting other bike shops)--I know myself enough that speed and convenience that a car can provide often trumps a two-wheel ride or commute if the distance is past a certain point, which is probably not too much further than what I do now.

Keep it up. The weather is FINALLY getting better and all of our fun bikes are eager to get out there along with us, which is an encouragement. Reminds us why we like bikes, why we like to ride, and why we can justify enough N+1...
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Old 04-04-17, 04:11 AM
  #16  
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Glad to hear you're back in the saddle. I know the feeling all too well. Haven't been on the road in quite a while for a variety of reasons and just doing yard work now that the weather's changing is telling me I need to do something.

Broke my leg back in September and things are still a little stiff. But I'm hopeful I'll get back on the road soon.
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Old 04-04-17, 04:21 AM
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Wow does that story ring true! Great that you are motivated to return. My hiatus lasted 30+ years. Started riding again in 2007 from Aloha to Hillsboro, 9 miles one way. Had to use a mountain bike to get the gears low enough to climb Cooper Mt. Did 740 miles the first year and it was brutal but rewarding.

We are moving again later this summer to Fredericksburg VA from Alexandria. My ride is about 11 miles to
DC now. I feel in good shape but could still loose 15lbs. I dread the challenge after the move. Most, if not all my rides are commute miles.

I wish you and me good luck in our challenges to ride!

Oh, I started doing crunch sit-ups and leg lifts from my back. Initially, 5 is all I could do, now I do 25 each with out breaking my breathing. Huge difference in the core strength and helped deflate the tummy a bit. Now I do them if I ride or not, first thing in the morning.
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Old 04-04-17, 05:30 AM
  #18  
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If I bothered to write in a diary, I could accuse you guys of plagiarism. Mid 80's I road everywhere, all the time. Fast forward to last summer when my brother started piquing my interest by bragging about his bikes and rides. So I wandered into my LBS and found things had changed a bit from my Holdsworth. Carbon, Titanium, STIs ? As I an a sucker for cool, shiny toys, a test ride (the parking lot was a nice ride) led to my chasing down a want I wasn't able to swing back then. I wanted a Sachs! Turns out a local pawn shop had one at a price I was okay with.


Never rode it 12". Seems the chain ring was bent and the crank wouldn't turn without jamming against the chainstay. Having made the commitment to have a nice bike again, (but no carbon stuff for me!) I commenced to wander through the shop while the guys behind the counter discussed my prized, flawed, bike. I knew I was going to sort out the Sachs, but what to do in the interim?


As I cruised through the shop, studiously avoiding making eye contact with any plastic bikes, I hear a whisper. Not loud, but coming from the back of the shop. Moving back that way, all I found was a S-works bike hanging from the ceiling, no doubt to keep away from scratches and the like. Carbon, DI2, oh the bicycle blasphemy! But, after all, as I would never actually own something like that, a little taste would only confirm my belief that my Sachs was all that I needed.


Holy crap, was that thing cool! Weighed nothing, stupidly simple shifting, and I never felt a bike accelerate like that when I pushed on the pedals. See where this is going? Lycra, cleated shoes, areo headgear, indoor trainer for winter, diminished bank account . . .


I am riding again! The hills seem taller than before (seismic activity?) but already I feel better and having FUN!


And the Sachs? Went back to Joe Bell for refurb (classic Sachs team colors) and soon will be ready for a proper loop around town.


At 61 years old, it's nice to have a healthy obsession to feed. And my grandkids get a kick out of papa going for a ride in London (Zwift).


YMMV :>)
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Old 04-04-17, 06:02 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs
I was afraid you were describing a heart attack! Glad you're back on the bike before something like that happens. You hereby have permission to buy a new bike to keep you motivated!
Another one wiping their brow and breathing once again. Glad that you have started back cycling, as others have said, the first step, etc. Keep making just one more revolution of the cranks and thinking about the stop for a cool one at the 19/20th point. I had wondered where you were hiding lately, better reading the first ride back report than about some health issue or worse.

Welcome back jyl.

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Old 04-04-17, 09:14 AM
  #20  
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It helps to hear someone else is having similar struggles. Last week I did my first bike commute in 6 months. I try to ride to work (Oregon City to Tualatin) at least once a week year 'round, but a concussion from a fall last August kept me off the bike altogether for 3 months, then it was the holidays, a respiratory infection, a terminally-ill dog (who's still with us, stubborn little cuss!), yada yada yada. But there's this ride I signed up for in July (Oregon Bicycle Ride - a week long tour in the Cascades) so I HAVE to get in some semblance of shape by then.


Anyway, hang in there, JYL. I promise I will. Maybe we can get together for a ride some time.


SP
OC, OR


ps - Is that your bike in the pic above? WOWZER! An old Bianchi, rando-ized?
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Old 04-04-17, 09:45 AM
  #21  
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I was wondering what happened to you. It's good to read your story. You'll be happy about your journey very soon, even though you won't be in what you consider to be ideal shape for a while.

Some quantity of bike commuting is a lot better than none. I still only ride to work two days a week. I'll be improving this year in various ways. I'm glad I have the opportunity. For most of my adult life, it wasn't an option in car-centric suburban New Jersey where I lived for 26 years.
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Old 04-04-17, 10:36 AM
  #22  
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Thanks for the support!


My hiatus from cycling also had a social cost. I didn't see my bike friends, online or in person. Partly because I knew I couldn't keep up on rides, and mostly because of the self-loathing thing. it felt weird to drop by Velocult in a suit and tie with car keys in my hand.


Rode 13 miles this morning, Portland OR to the Vancouver WA office. Some short hills going up NE 33rd, then up north through open country by the airport, turn west for miles of relaxed cruising along the Columbia River by the sailboat marinas, then the slightly nervy crossing of the Interstate 5 bridge and through downtown Vancouver to the office, stash bike, go to the dance school to shower and change, and start work. It was great. Yeah, I was spinning instead of stomping, and the legs weren't very zippy by the end, but I watched the sun rise and enjoyed the fresh air. Took a little over 45 minutes, plus 15 for the showering and dressing.
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Old 04-04-17, 10:51 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by jyl
Thanks for the support!


My hiatus from cycling also had a social cost. I didn't see my bike friends, online or in person. Partly because I knew I couldn't keep up on rides, and mostly because of the self-loathing thing. it felt weird to drop by Velocult in a suit and tie with car keys in my hand.


Rode 13 miles this morning, Portland OR to the Vancouver WA office. Some short hills going up NE 33rd, then up north through open country by the airport, turn west for miles of relaxed cruising along the Columbia River by the sailboat marinas, then the slightly nervy crossing of the Interstate 5 bridge and through downtown Vancouver to the office, stash bike, go to the dance school to shower and change, and start work. It was great. Yeah, I was spinning instead of stomping, and the legs weren't very zippy by the end, but I watched the sun rise and enjoyed the fresh air. Took a little over 45 minutes, plus 15 for the showering and dressing.
That's the way to get back in the game. Spin. Coast downhill. Take it easy. It'll be harder this evening coming home as you haven't built up endurance yet. But you already know all this, just a reminder. And remember that it's ok to take a break now and then and drive. Recovery is when you build strength. Don't hurt yourself by listening to your ego and pushing when it hurts.

It'll be great having you back. The Portland gang misses you.
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Old 04-04-17, 11:09 AM
  #24  
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Good on you! I spent the past year riding far less than normal. in part to let chronic issues heal and settle out, in part because I chose not to ride Cycle Oregon and sink that money and riding time into the house (both well stent; no regrets) and maybe a little burnout. My weight crept up over the "do not pass" mark.

Saw the route for Cycle Oregon two months ago and signed up, knowing I would do it fix gear. Got on the bike every so often, but nowhere near enough. Started plotting to convert my oldest (to me - by far) to be a 2017 Cycle Oregon fix bear machine superbe. Now I am committed and have to ride!

Started going for winter LSD fix gear rides like it was 50 years ago and I was a racer except the rides were January rides done in March so I can peak as a retirement age rider at a weeklong ride in September. In other words, no rush. I don't need to be fast but I do need quality base miles. Friday I rode an out and back into the wind, 50 miles. Hard. Saturday, 10 miles in town, 9 back with the truck loaded from the farmer's market, Again, hard. Sunday, 70 miles out and back with little wind. Not so hard but I really felt it. Yesterday 10 miles intown, 10 miles back. Terwilliger was fun! Not super fast, but not slow and comfortable on the 42-17.

This feel s like early season training decades ago. I hurt. I"m tight. But my body is changing and it's exciting.

You are a few weeks earlier into this than I am. Keep it up; it is so worth it! And we will cross paths. I look forward to it. (Didn't we meet last fall at the classic round-up at Velo Cult? Me- full beard, wire glasses, TiCycles fix gear and space-case for names and faces.)

Ben
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Old 04-04-17, 12:05 PM
  #25  
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jyl- I was beginning to read your post and was thinking like others here, as if you had a heart attack! Anyways, good thing not the case but seems you're mildly out of shape. Just a hunch but with getting your breathing and cardio conditioned quick as two weeks, you'll be ready for the Alpes-Côte d'Azur :-)

As for myself, I missed all the X-skiing this winter but stayed on two wheels. Rather than spin classes, discovered clunker fixed gear riding in all weather elements. To heck with cadence. It was all about a 27 lbs. bike with 82 gear inch, mostly flat but toss in a few short grinds and only distances that ranged from 13 to 20 miles. Not one to keep tabs however average speed was 14 mph. Disciplined to go out but nothing significant yet now feel much better with an early start on the geared bikes. Much so even when in past winter seasons spinning. Good enough.
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