Life is always easier if you're in the right gear.

Cycling: It’s What’s for Life

I’ve been sick for the last few days. Out of nowhere, it hit. I went to work Thursday, like any normal Thursday, but within a few minutes of arriving at work, I knew this was not going to be something I could work through. An hour later, I was headed home. Two days later, and I finally began to feel human again. It’s been a rougher than usual cold and flu season for me. I’m ready to be done.

This morning, as I woke, I felt much better. I decided it was time to get serious about certain areas of my life. Areas I’ve been saying I was going to get serious about for years: eating healthy, drinking less of the bad stuff and more water, and dropping the nagging 40 pounds left from my last pregnancy, which was only a mere twelve years ago. Yes, it is time.

This meant that I would need to squeeze in a workout today. No more waffling. I had to do it. My day was going to get busy and I didn’t want to get to the end of the day and not fit it in…again. This meant, I either went to the gym or went on a bike ride. As I munched my whole wheat cereal, I weighed my options. The gym would be faster, but a bike ride would burn three times the calories. Then I looked out the window and saw brilliant blue sky. There’s no way I was going to the gym. An hour later, I was rolling out.

Today was a day for riding alone. I wanted to clear my head and just exist on the bike. I wanted to be able to pay attention to my body and the bike without having to worry about other riders. It was also a day where I just wanted to ride the greenway; no surprises, no challenges, and no winter side-of-the-road gravel to contend with. As I always do, I mentally set a distance goal. Today, I figured matching my distance from earlier this week would be a good target. I wasn’t sure how realistic it was since I hadn’t been well, but it was a target.

It felt good to be out. I rode all the way to Blue Heron Park without stopping, except to take off my windbreaker. I made it there in exactly an hour, which was the same pace I was riding at the end of last summer. Not bad after almost two months of inactivity. It had been raining earlier, so the path was wet, but this was no problem since I put fenders on the bike at the end of summer. Because of the rain, there were fewer people out on the path. It was a good route for someone just wanting to cover the distance and think.

Once I arrived at Blue Heron Park, which is 10 miles from my starting point, I stopped for ten minutes to have a Fiber One bar and some water. I also took some pictures of my bike, and of the blue, blue sky. The cloud formations in the sky were amazing. I didn’t stop to get any more pictures than these, but as I rode, the clouds puffing across the azure sky provided a nice relief from the glare of the sun off the wet pavement.

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I rode a little bit past Blue Heron Park, almost to Suncrest Road. My cyclometer is not working, so I was going from memory on the distances. I’ve ridden the greenway so many times, I’m surprised I don’t have the mileage memorized. I knew that Suncrest Road and back is over 20 miles. On the way back, though right about Hawthorne Park, I started feeling the fatigue set in. I think this might have been what my son experienced on our last two rides. I wasn’t cold, like he was. It just felt like the push in my legs was gone. I wasn’t in pain, I just couldn’t push any further. I slowed my pace and kept pedaling, but I knew I was going to either take much longer getting back than I had time for, or I was going to be in serious pain later. What to do?

Fortunately for me, I pulled up at the bus stop at just the time the bus was coming up to it. (I had abandoned the greenway and was taking surface streets to cut the distance short.) I had a couple of dollars, so I flagged the bus down, put my bike in the rack and paid my fare. As I collapsed into the seat, I realized how happy I was. I alwaysfeel better when I’m on my bike. It doesn’t hurt that it is a serious calorie burn and also effectively reduces the risk of cancer.

Here are my workout stats for today’s ride:

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Hi, I'm Cat A.Olson, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. I had five weeks of radiation treatment and I rode my bike to nearly every treatment. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm finally getting serious about losing weight, and riding really fast with the cool kids.

I ride every chance I get, as fast as I can, for as long as my body will allow. I'm learning how to embrace challenges like helmet hair, padded pants, clipless shoes, flat tires, bugs in my teeth, and...ugh...hills. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier and a lot more fun when you're in the right gear.

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