Perseverance Through Pride
Last week I spent the majority of my Sunday sitting on a thin triangle whilst running in mid air. A primitive device designed for torture and strenuous activity, more commonly known as a bicycle. I set out on my ride with a single goal in mind, a destination to arrive to only with the intent to return to my starting point. I had attempted this distance a few weeks prior, only to fail due to poor timing with the sunset. This time, I knew better, and began my journey with ample time to spare, and an enthusiasm for victory.
I'm a cyclist at heart, however my physical body is still attempting to keep up with my ambitions. I've been working at regaining the appearance I once held several years ago. Over time I had became complacent with both what I ate and what I did. In the past, I had held positions which required both physical labor and walking the entire shift. This generally kept my weight in check, and gave me a sense of invincibility towards calories.
As of June 2015, I got my first desk job as a web app developer at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire (UWEC). This meant no more physical activity which caused me to gain 40 lbs on top of the 20 lbs I was already overweight with. It seems fitting that I started my weight-loss journey two years later in June of this year. I've mostly kept it under control through major diet changes. I went from eating everything in sight to eating a plant based diet overnight -- a feat many fail at. Over the following months I learned more about my decision and can comfortably call myself a full fledged vegan. More on that another time though.
I've now lost 35 lbs since June, and feel fantastic, I'm well on my way to my goal. As I began feeling better I started riding my bike again, which is something I've been missing the last couple years. With the extra weight, riding became a chore rather than an activity of reflection and meditation which it once was for me. Now, I can enjoy my time on the bike, and get something out of it other than leg cramps. I know it's rather late in the cycling season to get back into it semi-seriously, but I'm glad I did. Anyways, back to the ride.
My route was from Eau Claire to Durand, a 30 mile ride each way. Thankfully, it was mostly flat due to the path being a bike trail. I have yet to build the courage for a long distance ride along the hilly Wisconsin roads. However, on this sunny day I made a mistake which would would cost me a great deal later on. I forgot to turn on my cycling computer till a little past 5 miles into my ride.
Due to my addiction to showing off on social media, I would end up making up the difference so Strava would display 60 miles. Those extra 5 miles made the last leg of my trip a very painful experience. The previous longest ride I had completed was a meager 40 miles. Still something to be proud of, but the exhaustion had not yet set in at that distance. I was not prepared for 65 miles.
Along the way I posted periodic updates to the few people watching my Instagram story. The first 40 miles were painless and went very smoothly. The following 10 miles began to hurt, but the final 15 miles were agonizingly painful. My legs were fine, but my neck and arms that were completely dead. This leads me to believe there is an issue with how my bike is setup, causing unnecessary pain. I'll have to get it properly fitted one of these days.
In those last couple miles, there were three factors keeping me going. Yes, I could've easily called for someone to come pick me up, but that was unacceptable. Pride was the major factor which deterred me. The shiny 60 miles ridden on Strava to boast to my friends, the veggie pizza I told myself I could get as a reward, and the audio book, Ready Player One, kept me going.
As I pulled into my driveway, I sighed with relief and parked my bike in the garage. After kicking off my cycling shoes, I settled in with a phone call ordering my veggie pizza. A satisfying end to a long day on the pavement.