I'll ask the question first so that you don't get bored by the end of the below story:
Are any VTMers riding the Hotter 'n Hell 100 this coming Saturday?
If so, hit me up and we can ride together. I average at least 18 mph alone and plan on hitting the 20 mph avg Saturday. If you don't want to keep up with that pace, then we can start together and maybe get a brewski post-race. If you don't know what the Hotter 'n Hell 100 is, just Google it. I'm sure they have a Wiki page that is at least slightly legit.
Le Story (French for The Story)
When I graduated in '09 I knew that I had to do something to not get fat(ter). In college I had options like Intramurals (football, basketball, inner tube water polo, etc.) and my schedule was open so if I wanted to go work out at 3 in the afternoon it was no biggie. If I wanted to run a few miles on campus when it's nice and cool at night, and if I had no money to hit the bars, I'd run. When I crossed the stage I knew that my future desk job would put me on the fast track to things like late nights and heart complications. I tried running again, but coworkers' complaints about their knees made me stop. Then somebody died.
It was an old friend of my mother that died. A crotchety man that we knew would outlive every sucker on this planet purely to spite our existence. The guy was actually pretty cool once you get over the fact that people are people. My brother and I were cleaning out his garage and came across an old Motobecane from the early 1980s. My bro immediately called dibs and I let it be. Some months go by and I'm gaining weight and nothing is saying that it will be any different. I'm married now. Working late as the low engineer on the totem pole pretty much takes it out of you, so exercise became a buzzword. By this point I had gained at least 15 pounds after trying not to sleep through Hance's boring spiel.
I asked said bro if I could borrow the bike. He gave it to me since he wasn't doing anything. The tiny seat and thin tires just looked funny to him, and I can understand that growing up on the same Huffys out in the country as him. I had a GMC Denali at Tech to get to school and back (until I got hit by a car) so it was familiar enough to me. I went out one Saturday morning not knowing a damn thing about how to ride for endurance, speed, or survival. I did 13 miles at just over 13 mph. I realized that it was the best exercise that I had done in about a year and it was some of the lowest impact exercise that I had ever experienced. So I started to ride.
I rode by myself around a little 10 mile loop for a month or so. My speed didn't pick up tremendously, but I got better at managing wind, hills, and hydration. I told my wife that I wanted to ride the Hotter 'n Hell 100 and I got the best motivation in the world: she laughed. She will tell you that it was more of a scoffing half-chuckle, but it hit me in the face. In High School they called me the Mandingo, and now my fat ass can't climb stairs without collapsing. A friend at work said that he had ridden it back in the day and that he wanted to do it again before he got old(er). We trained and both did the 25 mile route that year. It was the longest I had ever been on a bicycle. My speed was low and I was beat, but by God I did it. Step one complete.
I kept riding the Motobecane until I upgraded to a $350 internet bike that didn't fit at all. I've had ups and downs, ridden sag wagons and said to hell with the whole bike thing, but about a year and a half ago I knew that I was destined for a stroke or something. I weighed myself at 224 one morning and knew that something had to change. I was tired of being tired. I was disappointed at this point because 1) cycling wasn't making me lose weight and 2) if I rode for any length of time over an hour I would get severe leg cramps. More importantly, I decided that it was time to stop keeping track of my cadence by when my quads rammed into my gut on the upstroke. I knew that, no matter how hard I rode, I wasn't losing pounds. In fact, I was gaining.
Once I decided that I needed to eat right or, I like to say eat with my brain, the pounds came off. I've lost about 50 pounds since then and I feel like a champ. I've still got some more that I'd like to shed and it's on the way off. I sold my 1974 VW and dropped every dollar on a real deal road bike and I'm officially a cycling fanatic. I don't do local crits, nor am I registered as any category rider, but I do like to ride. I know that if I'm motivated to be faster, then I'll be motivated to be healthier. The driving force is to be a Dad that can still throw a damn football around for an hour with his kids, and then his grandkids.
If you're riding Saturday and wanna hang gimme a shout. I'll be in a BMC jersey with a white helmet. I ride a black, red, and white (Wreck 'Em) Felt and I'm doing the 100k. Amongst 13,500 or so cyclists up and down Scott Street before dawn at the worlds' largest cycling event, I shouldn't be hard to find.