In 2011 my goal was to cycle 5,000 miles during the year, but I ended up with 6,836 miles. Twelve months ago I decided my cycling goal for 2012 was “to have fun” and ended up riding 6,444 miles. Back in 2011 I was trying to rack up as many miles as possible and that meant I got most of my miles while cycling on the road. This past year I spent more time on off-road trails and, thanks to the 4″ wide tires of my Surly Necromancer, I also spent a lot of time riding in snow, mud and on the sandy beaches around Lake Michigan (OK, sometimes I was actually riding in Lake Michigan).
On September 7 of this year I hit the 5,000 mark and thought I would probably pass 7,000 miles before the end of the year. However, that evening I came down with a virus that knocked me off my feet for twelve days! On the thirteenth day I still had a fever, but my legs were hurting so bad I just had to get back on the bike—so I rode 72 miles. While it felt good to get back on the bike, my average speed dropped by over 15% (it might have been because I still had a mild fever). It took me another two weeks to fully recover.
Once I knew I wasn’t going to set a new record I decided to spend more time weightlifting. Though I’ve used resistance training in one form or another for ten years, I’ve never taken it as seriously as I should have—I lift weights to develop core strength, not because I enjoy it. However, a few months ago I bought a set of Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells and they work far better than I expected and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
I am 53 years old and work full-time. However, I have somewhat flexible hours so if I ride 50 or 60 miles in the morning it means I will be at the office rather late that night. All three of our sons are grown, so Cub Scout meetings and high school football games do not interfere with my cycling—and my wife is a very patient woman.
I often think about some of my friends who are in their 40′s but already taking medication for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. All I can say is, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” All of those diseases could either be cured or minimized by spending a few hours a week on a bike. How many chronic health problems in America could be cured by just diet and exercise? I’ve had friends die in their 50′s and I know the death certificate listed their cause of death as heart disease, but I have to wonder if it shouldn’t have read “suicide by inactivity.”
We all cycle for different reasons. Some ride for their physical health, others for mental health. Some people ride because they enjoy group rides, while others enjoy a quiet ride on the back-roads so they can work out their problems in solitude. Whatever your motivation for cycling is, I hope you can enjoy this new year on a good bike.
As the new year begins I want to thank God for my good health, Trek for making awesome bikes, and my wife for not looking at the American Express statements. On a related note, I have promised the love of my life that the next time my cycling results in me entering an ambulance I will tell her the same day instead of waiting a week (apparently wives like to know about stuff like that).