Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the Bike Again

Back in June, I started working for a new company. Voxitas is primarily a business voice over IP company and I'm doing general software and web development. A couple guys at Voxitas have bicycles at the office and try to go riding as much as 3 times a week. Voxitas is in downtown Saint Louis so they ride down to the riverfront and take a bike trail there.

I finally brought my bike in so I could join them and schedule craziness ensued. I've had my bike there for probably 5 or 6 weeks and yesterday was only the second ride since I brought my bike in.

One of the guys who rides is an avid cyclist. He rides with a group on the weekends and is in much better shape on a bicycle than anyone else. All distance estimates in this post are based on his experience.

There were 3 of us for my first ride. I believe we rode about 12 miles in just over an hour. The trail is smooth and there is little elevation change. On the way back, with about 3/4 of a mile to go, we do have to climb a small hill that seems like a major challenge to me right now. This ride seemed pretty easy though I was working just about the whole time. The hill left me completely wiped out at the end and I was glad to get off my bike. 12 miles is what I was riding to work a couple years ago so I was pretty pleased to see we kept the same pace I had then even if it is a lot easier route than I rode back then.

My second ride was yesterday. There were only me and the experienced cyclist. We rode about 18 miles with me setting the pace the whole way. Those of you who know me know that I suck at pacing. 18 miles is half again as far as I've ridden at any one time in close to 15 years. I think we finished the 18 miles in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. With 80% of the ride complete, I remembered my Alexander technique training and tried to ride with less stress and tension - too little, too late. When we finished, my whole body was singing with exhaustion. Arms, legs, neck, back, feet, hands, everything was burning. Major blood vessels in my neck were radiating pain like they were fit to burst. My forehead was throbbing. Now, a day later, I can barely wait to do it again.

It is nice to finally be back on my bicycle. When I stopped two years ago, I had nearly passed out on my bike and I was headed in the wrong direction fast. So much has happened since then. I've taken a class in fencing. Studied capoeira for a month. Worked out with a personal trainer for about 6 months. Run a couple official road races. Discovered CrossFit.

Of everything, my trainer and CrossFit have had the most long term effect. My trainer helped me go from nothing to a functional fitness foundation. I probably couldn't have gotten there without her help.

And CrossFit changed everything. My whole understand of what it means to push and to work hard has changed. Mental barriers where I would just stop before, I now see aren't even mileposts to what I'm capable of. CrossFit is what I've missed most in the last nine months and what I'm most looking forward to doing again. I'm saving for my first pair of gymnastic rings and I'm fighting to overcome habitual lethargy.

It is great to be back on my bike. 45 lbs down, 30 lbs up. This is just the start of things to come but I'm optimistic, and until I hit the hill again, I'm happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Alexander Technique has been a huge gift to me - my particular sport being swimming. Check out their site at