Category Archives: Bicycling

Take a hike…

Published / by Tim / 2 Comments on Take a hike…

I’ve been a bicyclist, but for the last several months I have been a walker/hiker. The bicycle and I had a rough patch in our relationship last year. Pushing myself too hard and one close encounter with a Ford truck has me pretty skittish to get back in the saddle. I will get back to it. In the meantime I’ve been trudging about the forest happily.

Bicycling for me is an endurance challenge… I don’t ride fast and I don’t ride far, but I do like to ride farther than the everyday bicyclist. 20-40 miles is a nice ride. The problem is, for a ride of that length, I have to ride with cars and trucks on the roadways. As one rides on the roads, it becomes apparent quickly that many motorists either don’t care about or don’t like bicyclists. It makes for some frightening moments. Those moments were happening too often when I did finally quit riding, approximately nine months ago.

It then became evident that I would need to find something else to do toimg_2024 keep active and moving. Inactivity is bad. It actually hurts more than long bike rides in the cold. I was feeling the pain of sitting so I got some boots and started hiking.

When I began, I was treating hiking as a contest. I had to go faster and farther and prove something to someone. After a couple of months of that… I realized that the only one who cared about how fast and far I was going was me. It also seemed like I was hiking in beautiful places and missing it. So I chose to slow down.

I have done three hikes in the last two weeks. Those three hikes represent, to me, an affirmation of what I thought might be true. Hiking is best when it is savored. Hiking has healing effects when it isn’t a competition. Hiking can be therapeutic. As I consider my thinking and learning there are three things that are clear now about me and hiking.

img_2128First of all… I am stronger than I thought I was. I have never been very good at gauging my performance on a bicycle. I would pedal to keep up or pedal to catch up or pedal to get home as fast as possible. In the end, I would just be depleted. Not that I ran out of fuel, but emotionally I would be spent. I could never find a rhythm or sweet spot where I could just go all day. With hiking… that rhythm is easy to find. I went on a 7.5ish mile hike on Saturday. I went with the idea that I would walk with purpose, but I wouldn’t wear myself out. I wanted to get to the end and still feel like I could keep going. As I got going and my heart rate came up… I could feel my breathing syncing with my footfalls. I felt like I was leaning into the walk. and before I knew it I had walked 4 miles.

At that point I was joined by friends who are runners and in my estimation, more fit than I am. I was a little worried when they came running down the trail and told me they would walk with me. What had been a comfortable pace for me, I imagined would not be for them. 2 miles later, I was still feeling great. By the time we reached the end of my walk, I still felt like I could do the entire walk again. It was interesting to me that while we were still going faster than most of the other hikers on the trail, I was able to keep up, hold a conversation, and speed up when it was necessary to pass others. At the end of the walk, I was amazed to see that I had walked the loop 45 minutes faster than the first time I walked it and I wasn’t nearly as tired.

img_1893In addition to feeling stronger I have learned to appreciate the quiet solitude of the forest. The quiet of the forest is different from the quiet of a room. It is a bigger quiet. It is a quiet that has underpinnings of life and noise, but it’s not noisy. Much of the noise in the forest is that same noise I try to create at home in order to get to sleep. Running water, wind in the leaves, and birds singing are all powerfully quiet and soothing. Often, in my office after children leave, I sit in the “quiet” and try to get things done. The quiet of the office can be stifling, like a wet wool blanket over my head. It’s too quiet, too heavy, smothering… lonely.

Which brings me to the last bit I have learned. The forest is lovely for solitary walking and thinking, but is equally lovely when shared. Sharing a hike is different from other social activities. When I share a meal with someone there is usually continual conversation and interaction. Hiking with others doesn’t mean that you spend the whole time talking. I think the experience of it and taking it all in is the key to sharing a hike. I have been inviting people to hike now for three months. My family always goes and it’s great having them along, but I also like hiking with friends.

We had the privilege of sharing a miserable, rainy hike with another
family and although we were all drenched and chilly by the end, no one was complaining. I learned a lot about hiking that day and how to prepare better for things like unexpected downpours. On another occasion we got to spend the day with a colleague and his son. We walked, hiked, rode a tram and took mass transit. It was an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about my family and my friends. Those lessons are the ones that stick. They build relationships.

Hiking and therapy have come to be similar in my mind. Both are about self-discovery and building up strength of mind and spirit. My time in the woods is restorative after suffering the daily grind of work and politics. I go to the woods… to laugh… to learn… to live.

Who wants to come along?

 

The Dark is a great training buddy.

Published / by Tim

It is February. The annual Spring teaser is in full effect here in Oregon. It is wonderful being outside to work, play, train, write and enjoy the sun and its warmth. I feel that it’s time to start thinking seriously about the bike rides that I have planned.

It’s no big deal to jump on the bike and ride 20 miles. Almost anyone can do 20 miles. Besides being sore, they will probably manage to get out of bed the next day and not die. Running out and doing 60 miles (to me at least) is another story. Now that I have started the crazy talk about 100, or 130 or 170 mile rides, I think I better get serious about training.

I don’t see myself as an “athlete”. Bradley Wiggins is an athlete. Mark Cavendish is an athlete. I am a middle-aged dude who likes to ride his bike with his friends. Even though I’m not an “athlete” I’m a smart guy and from my experiences I’ve determined that this whole training thing is all about:

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I have been riding outside since the middle of January and many times I have been riding in the dark. I have noticed, riding up hills that usually pose a struggle in the daylight, tend to be easier in the dark. It seems that not “seeing” the hill, makes climbing the hill easier. I would not say that riding in the dark makes me faster. Rather, my mind is less able to mess with the rest of my body when it is blind to what’s up ahead.

The mind is a powerful persuader. When my mind has “visual” data to share with my heart, lungs and legs, it’s skilled at convincing them that they are supposed to be completely whipped at the slightest hint of a hill. If the brain can’t actually “see” the hill, the other parts have a much easier time ignoring it’s whining and moaning. The trick is to be able to simulate the dark in my mind even when the sun is shining. If I can convince my brain not to see hills, I think my overall riding can improve greatly. I have to convince my brain and the rest of my body, there is no hill. It’s all an issue of mind over matter.

That being said, the first battle to win is simply showing up. Having an event on the horizon is a great motivator. My first event ride is April 28. The ride is the Monster Cookie Metric, sponsored by the Salem Bicycle Club. This ride begins and ends at the State Capitol mall and takes cyclists out through the countryside to the north. The turnaround is Champoeg State park. It is, by all accounts, a lovely 62 mile ride. The motivation that drives me is not just finishing the ride, but having the fitness to ride it happily and without fear of failure. Training will get me there.

Getting a grip…

Published / by Tim / 3 Comments on Getting a grip…

This is a continuation of my last post, if you didn’t read the first post, you can go HERE to do so…

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TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX point SIX POUNDS ???

Yeah! Holy crap! Right?

And so there I am, about to cry, craving a coke to make it all feel better and realizing I am in a sort of pickle. Gaining weight took NO effort. I ate. I sat around. I grew. I knew, however, based on everything I’d seen, heard, read and done… losing weight takes effort and lots of it. HOW DID MY LIFE COME TO THIS?

I always have this feeling that people are reading this and thinking, “This guy is such a pig. How does a human being do that?” or “Poor fat slob… deserves everything he gets.” or “256.6? EEEEwwww!!!” I have that feeling, because it’s what I thought. My perception was that I was this fat, flabby, piglike pile of lipids and goo with no friends and no life and no one liked me…. WHAAAAA!!!! I pouted.

Pouting didn’t help. A week went by and the scale didn’t budge an inch. I recall a Friday rolling around and it was clear, warm, pleasant. I’d been messing around with riding the bike, but I had never really gone very far, very fast or with any real purpose. I threw a leg over and took off. I rode 5.7 miles. The next day I did it again. Sunday I did it again and then I realized that when you don’t ride consistently, there are anatomical structures that need time to adjust to the curious demands of bicycling. I took a day off, but really missed being on the bike. So it became something I looked forward to.

I didn’t lose any weight though. I felt stronger. I could breathe easier but the weight just stayed. Exercise is frustrating when you don’t see any change. I did start to listen to people who were saying, “Have you lost weight?” I wasn’t but people thought I was. Weird. Then I realized I felt stronger… and it occurred to me that perhaps muscle was replacing fat… which isn’t a bad thing.

I kept riding and stopped watching the scale. One week. Two weeks. Then, one morning, I was standing there waiting for the shower to warm up and saw the scale. I stepped on. It flashed and flashed and then said…. 250.8. It was a good morning.

I have ridden, gotten lazy, lifted weights, gotten lazy, taken long breaks, ridden some more and I’m losing weight slowly but surely. So there are some things I’ve learned.

Weight is one of those things that can be all-consuming and it shouldn’t be. I have the most success when I am riding regularly and not stressing about how I look or what the scale says. It really boils down to being sensible.

I’ve learned that consistency is a key. Consistently riding (or just being active), eating and resting make the most difference over time.

Ultimately the greatest things I have learned is that if I can set my mind to something I can accomplish the thing i set my mind to. Where there is a will, there is a way. And I have really great friends who love and respect who I am no matter what I look like. That’s pretty important as the story continues to unfold. More on that another time.

Stopping for a breather.

Published / by Tim

For me, riding my bicycle is aStopping lot like writing. It seems like I get myself into these kinds of activities with some regularity. Specifically, activities that, on the surface, look like they are easy, enjoyable, rewarding, exciting and energizing.

There is a certain romanticism around writing. Ask anyone and they will probably tell you that at one time or another they thought they should write something. It has a unique allure. Most of us know how to write, so it seems like it should be a simple task.

Riding a bicycle is similar. Ask anyone if they would enjoy riding a bike in some beautiful place and most will agree. Many will say that they have, at one time or another,  thought that going on a trip by bicycle would be fun as well. Bicycling is popular and many people know how to ride a bike.

It’s when either of these things becomes a discipline that they begin to look and feel different. Committing to write once a week on this blog was no small thing for me. I have tried in the past. It takes a level of dedication that I didn’t consider when I created this space over a year ago. I bought a road bike in 2013. I had every intention to take it on a 100 mile ride that year. I have yet to ride the bike farther than 64 miles in one ride.

I like to write. I like to ride my bike. Last year, when I decided to transition these activities from interesting pass-time to something a bit more serious, they took on a new level of difficulty and I pushed myself. Not being able to reach my goals was not ok. Everyone can write, but not everyone has the stamina to write a novel. People all over ride their bikes, but most of them would not venture to ride 100 miles in a go. When I started, I went at it with a fury. I ended up burning myself out and feeling like I had failed. Somewhere along the way I convinced myself that since I didn’t reach my goal in just a few weeks, I never would. I ignored the blog and I wanted to sell the bike.

Just a few months ago, Feeling frustrated and defeated, I started to think, instead of writing amazing stuff every day, why not commit to write something  weekly? Why not go ahead and ride a 100 mile “century” ride this year but don’t worry about maintaining an 18 mile per hour pace. The common theme was, instead of trying to be superhuman, I needed to do what I could do and see where that would take me. I needed to go at my pace, rather than someone else’s

I think everything in life is like that. We can do anything we set our minds to, but in getting to the end result we want, we need to be able to stop, regroup and recharge occasionally. I give myself a whole week to write one post. If I attend to it several times during the week, the writing is easy (well, easier).

When I’m riding the bike I have learned that it’s better to think about the end result than to think about the time it takes. I’ll not be doing 100 miles this year if I have to do it in under 5 hours. Instead, I have to give myself the whole day and permission to go at a pace I can sustain. I can do 100 miles in a day, of this I am certain. I can also write one blog post each week. I need to allow myself to take a breather now and then in order to reach my intended results. When I give myself permission to go at my pace, the activities once again become enjoyable, rewarding, exciting and energizing

Do you ever feel like you push yourself too hard? Can you see a way to give yourself a breather? What would that look like for you?

An obligatory New Years post?

Published / by Tim

Well, it’s 2014 and I made no resolutions, but there are five things I’m going to do this year to help promote my health and sanity.

5. Read a book each month. This is not to say that I will only read one book per month, but it is to say that I will choose a book that interests me and read it each month. Last year I read about 44 books and 2 of those were because I wanted to. Well, I suppose that all of them had the element of “want to” otherwise I wouldn’t have read them, but most of them were because someone else said I should. I didn’t choose them.

4. Limit my coffee and beer intake. Most of the time, around the new year, you see people “quitting” beer or coffee or soda or smoking or whatever it is that they enjoy but isn’t necessarily good for them. I am not a quitter. I can, however, work on self-discipline. Quitting something that you enjoy seems silly to me. I severely limited my intake of Coca-cola in the last 6 months and now I rarely miss it and I no longer crave it like I once did. I do enjoy a Coke every so often and I have a new appreciation for it. One cup of coffee per day is adequate and 3 pints of beer a week is plenty.

3. Keep a journal. I have been an on again, off again journaler over the last several years. I often attribute my lack of journaling to being too busy. I am of the mind that keeping a journal would have more benefits to me than this busy lifestyle I am leading. I see this as a way to slow down, reflect, enjoy and savor my life. This has become more important to me recently. I have felt like I miss a lot and what I don’t miss I can’t always remember. A journal can help.

2. Save some money. I like buying Christmas gifts for my family. I also like not having to pay a credit card bill. I did a good job of keeping spending under control in 2013, which is a minor victory for me. In 2014 I’d like to have 100% cash to fund my Christmas shopping. I have an idea about how I’ll attack this and perhaps in another post I’ll tell you how I plan to get there.

1. Exercise. I have two bikes and I am hoping to acquire a third this year. I like riding my bikes. I do not really have a “plan” for this, but I do have  couple programs I’d like to try out. Again, I’ll talk more about those in future posts (with this 500 words per day thing I’m doing, these “other” topics are precious).

Additionally, I am going to continue using Duolingo to pursue learning a second language. I am learning, or maybe I should say “relearning” Spanish. Once I feel adept I will begin learning German. Why? Well, why not?

So, What things are you going to do this year to promote your health and sanity? Share in the comments… I’d love to know.