Bariatric Surgery and Weight Loss with the Treadmill and iFit
|Me from 2011|
Instrumental in my weight loss was the treadmill. I found that I could stick to a structured program (iFit) with daily workouts that progressed in difficulty and length. I started with just walking. Gradually I began walking faster and longer. I remember when I first dared to try to jog. A year later I was running five or six miles at a time and up to six or seven mph for short periods. I never imagined that I would be able to run again and to enjoy exercise.
|Me in 2014|
Getting on a Bike AgainBecause I had reached a plateau in my weight loss I tried to think about what I could do in addition to treadmill running. I have a faint memory of a moment when it occurred to me that maybe I could try riding a bike again. I had had a colleague that had gotten into bike riding. I knew I didn’t want to be like him, talking about cycling all the time, wearing skin-tight lycra, and participating in events like the annual 160-mile RAIN (Ride Across Indiana) Ride. I got excited, however, by the idea that maybe I could ride a bike again for a few miles on the local rail trail.
My Early Love of the BikeThe bike had been a big part of my youth. One of my earliest memories was of getting the bike I asked for at Christmas: a purple Sears Spyder bike with high-rise handlebars, banana seat, and a slick rear tire. I loved that bike and rode up and down the country road in front of our house and down the side roads that led to the oil pumps in the fields of southern Illinois. I particularly remember the summer day that I decided I would ride further than the end of our country block where our church (Glenwood Church, Noble, IL) was – my father was the pastor. It feels like I went on a Frodo-type quest, but most likely I just rode around a country block. I have faint – and not so faint – memories of the adventures of that day. I know I came across homes where kids lived with whom I went to school and rode the bus. I had some lunch somewhere. A dog chased me at some point. And I went swimming with friends in their pond and nearly drowned.
|My parents and siblings (I'm the youngest) in Illinois in 60s|
We moved again. A new town. A new church. A new school. Sometime during high school I managed to buy a ten-speed bike. The Huffy Independence, as far as I can recollect. I was a bit athletic in those days. I loved playing basketball at the nearby elementary school outside court in the village of New Era, Michigan. I was on the basketball team at school; not really good, but I had a few moves and could make a basket once in a while. I was much better at one-on-one or pickup games. I went out for track, but I had no idea what I was doing or how to train. No idea about nutrition: We ate food based on how good it tasted and the pleasure it gave.
I loved that bike and I loved riding all over the country roads. Seven miles to the west was Lake Michigan. Here was the resort area of Stony Lake and further north the very popular Silver Lake with its famous sand dunes. I would take off on day-long adventures. At one time I had a girlfriend who lived some miles away and I could ride to visit her on a Saturday. One Saturday she said she was going with her mother to Muskegon to see an outside art and craft show at a park. I wanted to see her, so I figured out how to ride the back roads and make the 30-mile trip into Muskegon to spend some time with her. I think she appreciated my effort, though I think her mother didn’t like that I horned in the mother-daughter outing.
|Wayfarer's Bike Trip from Quebec to Ludington, MI|
I did take a few long trips. We had a youth pastor at the time, who was a cyclist. He had made trips to Florida from Michigan. He planned a long weekend trip for us that would take us north to his family’s cabin. On the long ride back along a busy highway, I remember he said he was trying to drop me and couldn’t believe that I could stick with him. There were also two summers of participating in bike trips organized by the Youth for Christ group in Ludington. Both were 1,000-mile trips over ten days; one from Val d’Or, Quebec to Ludington and the other from Interlaken, NY to Ludington: “We are the Wayfarers, we ride our bikes” our theme song went.
Lost Cycling to Getting an Education and Starting a Family
|Brown University Commencement 1996|
|My family, Christmas 2015|
Finding a Renewed Love of CyclingA year ago in the spring of 2015 I went to our local bike shop, Cycling and Fitness Warehouse in Richmond, Indiana. I spent more money than I thought I would need to. I got a Cannondale Quick 6 (I can’t remember for sure). I didn’t want drop-down handlebars. I had no intention of wrapping my hefty frame in lycra. I just wanted to ride a few miles every few days on the trail. The first day I brought the bike to a trail head and took off on my maiden voyage. After about ten miles or so I turned around and went back. It was a great experience! I could do it! The next ride I took off south of the city. I began discovering great roads with beautiful scenery. With the three rings on the front I could (just barely) get up the short, steep hills that lead up out of the Whitewater River gorge. It wasn’t long before I began yearning for a road bike and traded up for a Cannondale CAAD8 Claris.
I have rediscovered my love of the bike and the adventure of riding country roads. I began collecting kits for my cycling wardrobe. A few falls but not much damage learning to clip out of my pedals. I had to get a stronger rear wheel because of my weight (240-250) and the bumpy roads were breaking spokes too frequently. I love tech, so I have a Garmin Edge 810 mounted on my handlebars next to my iPhone. This week I will be adding a GoPro Hero4 Session action camera. All of my rides get uploaded to Strava. I proudly bore the cyclists badge of honor: tanned arms and legs but strange tan lines with pale hands and a visible line sometimes when wearing short sleeve shirts. I found rides I enjoyed around Richmond, Indiana. There are regular 30-mile and 50-mile rides; an occasional 75-mile ride; and one completed century ride (one ended at about 90 miles with a persistent flat and no more CO2 cannisters).
|During a late fall ride to Huston Woods in OH|
For 2015 I ended up riding about 3,000 miles (about 1,000 were actual road miles). While using Trainer Road and Zwift inside, I’ve been keeping up with a 100 mile per week goal. I am in the fourth week of the third phase of training. For those who know about these things, my Functional Threshold Power is 260 watts. Because I am struggling to lose more weight during training, my power to weight ratio is too low for me to admit to. While riding in Zwift, I can ride next to someone and see that my watts are nearly 100 more than theirs.
|Riding in California in 2015|
Sharing the Love of the BikeI have to admit that I'm somewhat of a loner when it comes to cycling. I don't mean to be antisocial. Our city has an active group that organizes rides through Richmond Cycling FaceBook group several times a week based in our LBS (local bike shop), Cycling & Fitness Warehouse. I made contact with them early on and pay attention to their plans and enjoy the post-ride photos and comments.
|Meeting with Dan Lee of SRAM/Zipp|
|First ride of 2016|
Where Do I Go From Here?Maybe this is a response to a mid-life crisis of sorts. To me it has been the beginning of the rest of my life: The anticipation and even suffering to prepare for the next ride, the next adventure. I’m struggling to keep my weight down and would like to lose another 25-30 lbs. People might be surprised to know that my additional struggle is with mild anxiety or agoraphobia about riding my bike outside. I can honestly, but deeply frustratingly, say that the hardest thing about going out to ride a 50-mile or 100-mile ride is just getting out the front door. I have to plan for it. I have to leave at first-light. I have to have long debates with myself. Sometimes I even first go for a walk outside before getting ready to ride in order to ease myself into being out. I feel great once I’m out. People here are generally friendly and wave from their yards and farms. There’s no better feeling than arriving back home after an adventure. I look forward to checking out my ride on Strava. My wife waits for me to come home and tell her about my ride. I peel off the wet lycra, take a soothing shower, down a freezing cold protein shake, and enjoy the painful reminders of cramps here and there, sometimes a little hoarseness, maybe a few scrapes and bruises because I didn’t get clipped out fast enough either the time when my chain dropped (first fall and was happy to know it didn’t really hurt) or I took too slow of a u-turn when I saw the high climb looming ahead with a couple of large dogs running through the woods (I picked myself up and headed up the climb with a canine entourage).
I’ve been out a few times this spring. It looks like this Saturday will be warm enough (and maybe wet enough) for a great adventure on the bike. I have my new on-board camera ready. I’ll be rested up from this week’s training rides. I plan to begin sharing information about these rides. Where will I go? What will I see? Will I get new personal records on Strava Segments? Will I have the guts enough to do the Ride Across Indiana ride this year? Will I get myself to start riding with the local cycling group? Will we buy the bike trailer for special-needs adults and I begin taking Suann with me on some Sunday afternoon jaunts on the local trail here or trails in Ohio and Michigan? Will my power to weight ratio improve enough that I feel like I could compete in some Gran Fondos or even official races? Will anyone read my blogs and look at the images or videos? It will be my therapy. It will be what gives my life focus. It will be what renews me, strengthens me, gives me pleasure, and may even give me a new way of defining myself as … an athlete.