Saturday, October 14, 2017

On the road again, ready or not

Once upon a time—it feels like a hundred years ago though it's closer to twelve or thirteen—I reached a peak of physical fitness by bicycling to work, about six miles each way, through any weather Chicago threw my way.

Old Glory, ready to roll again. 
Depending on conditions, each morning I'd put on my black Spandex biking shorts, a black-and-yellow nylon shirt and a bright blue helmet, with reflective sunglasses to match, or bundle up in lined pants, jacket and gloves, and take off into the sunshine, rain, snow, sleet or whatever. My friends now wouldn't have recognized me.

Except for getting "doored" one time when someone was getting out of a car, plus couple of spills, I never had an accident. I got a cut on one hand one time and went to the emergency room for some minor patching but the next day I was at it again. Falling off my bike in front of others hurt nothing but my ego. 

My pace ranged from furious through bad weather to day-dreamy and leisurely, sometimes with my hands off the handlebar, when it was sunny and balmy, and racing through the bike paths weaving through Chicago's lakefront parks would have been an unforgivable affront to the gorgeous scenery.

I don't recall what triggered my pedaling frenzy, which lasted about three years, but I think it was more psychological than physical. I wasn't happy at my job and an hour of bicycling before and after work seemed to flush the toxins out of my head.

Now I realize there were great physical benefits too: My stamina gradually increased to the point I barely broke a sweat on my travels plus my weight dropped to maybe one hundred eighty five. One a six-foot-two frame, that made me damn near thin. 

Then came retirement. The bicycle I brought down from Chicago collected dust and lay buried behind other seldom used junk. But during my annual physical in San Antonio a month ago, the doctor broke the news: My blood sugar was elevated and I needed to lose about fifteen pounds through a reduced-carbohydrates diet and exercise. 

So out came the bicycle, dusty and its tires nearly flat, and off I went to pedal again on the paved road near our ranch. My maiden ride was a humiliating debacle. I could hardly ride for a mile without running out of breath and in fact—ouch!—had to walk part of the way home.

Could I be that old, fat and out of shape? Apparently, a resounding yes to all three.

So on a diet plus walking with the dogs for about a half-hour each morning, I've lost three pounds. Stew says he's lost six. I don't believe him.

I've cleaned my old bicycle and intend to get pedaling again. It isn't going to be easy and I'm going to wait for a few weeks before looking for those Spandex biking shorts.

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