Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It Is About The Bike!

A huge turning point in my life took place sometime around my 30th birthday.  For years, I religiously got up in the 4am hour and went to the gym before work.  I have a few OCD tendencies (my wife might say more than a few) so getting to the gym every morning was just a matter of creating a routine.

The night before, I packed my gym bag and gathered my clothes for the next day.  I had access to a shower at work, so I purchased a complete duplicate set of showering "stuff" and left it at work.  I would leave the house at the same time, get to the gym a few minutes before they opened and do my thing.  On my way to work, I would stop for breakfast at the same place and order the same thing (as I recall, it was a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich), every single day.  I had such an exact routine that it was almost impossible for me to miss a day.

The problem is that I am not sure it did any good.  I had a train-to-eat mentality.  I would justify eating what I wanted because I was spending time in the gym.  I even made efforts to "improve" on my eating.  My breakfast transitioned into egg whites and turkey in lieu of the full eggs and bacon (I still left the cheese on it).  I would trim and grill mass amounts of chicken cutlets and season with some BBQ sauce.  A side of white rice and I was golden.  Right?  Simple carbohydrates, lean protein, little or no fat and 10 hours a week in the gym.  That was supposed to be the answer.  Weighing in at 230 pounds would suggest that it wasn't.

Then, the tipping point.  I sat in front of the gym one morning waiting for it to open as I did every morning for years.  The girl with the key showed up, opened the door, turned on the lights and manned her post at the front desk.  All I had to do was get out of the car and get to work.  However, something was different on this day.

For some unknown reason, I couldn't get out of the car.  I had absolutely no desire to go in the gym.  I had even less motivation to put my hands around another weighted bar.  I simply lost any and all willingness to ever enter a gym again.  To this day, I still cannot explain why this happened.

While at work that day, I was telling the CEO about my experience that morning.  Roger was an avid cyclist and had just purchased a brand new, carbon fiber Calfee Dragonfly.  For some strange reason (it seemed strange at the time, but I can now totally relate), he had his old bike, a Chromoly Bianchi propped up in his office.  He wheeled the bike over to me and said to give this a try.

With all of the enthusiasm of a 4-year old on their birthday, I rushed home after work to give this cycling thing a whirl.  I had to overcome a few technical glitches at first.  Why won't my bike pump fit these stupid valves (I had never seen a Presta valve at this point)?  I can't keep my feet on these tiny little pedals (little did I know they were clip-less Look pedals).  A quick and humbling trip to the local bike shop solved my issues and I was on my way.

I rode for what seemed like hours and ended up two towns over.  After my return trip home, I jumped in my car and retraced my route with the trip odometer reset at the start.  8 miles.  Yup, that was it.  8 miles.  It didn't really matter that much, I was hooked.  This was going to be my new path to fitness.  However, as I soon discovered on a "steep" hill, 230 pounds was NOT the ideal weight or body composition for this activity.

It was time to do something drastic and downright was time to address my diet.

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