A year and a half ago I got this half-baked idea that if I had a new bicycle I could ride my way to better health so I went out and bought myself a a very nice, moderately priced hybrid street bicycle. I had every intention of riding at least five times a week as part my personal fitness program. At one time I owned a mountain bike and would go out riding quite often with my boys, but that was years ago. Well the first day I took my new bike out I really overdid it and woke up the next day sore as hell, especially my butt, that damn skinny seat was uncomfortable and as hard as hell. It took me several days to recover. After that I never got back up on the horse and my bike became a permanent fixture on the back patio. Believe me, I took a lot of teasing from my youngest son and his girlfriend about it. They used it more than I ever did!
Last month I did a little rearranging and early spring cleaning in the garage and actually moved my bike from the patio where it would be more accessible. As I expected, the move prompted more ribbing from my son. Well a few days into February I finally decided to put down my laptop, get my ass up off of the couch and try to do some riding to improve my health. You heard right, this 60 year old man has started riding to improve his health. It’s a big move on my part, as exercise is probably the number one thing I procrastinate about!
Having learned from my last experience, I decided to start off easy and not over do it. I figured I would build up my endurance gradually, very gradually. The first week I rode five times, I did 3 miles three days and and increased it to 4 miles the next two days. I’m embarrassed to say those first few 3 mile rides really kicked my butt! I was winded, tired, and sweaty as hell!
The following week because of the weather I only rode four times, I did 4 miles one day, then bumped it to 5 miles for two days, then up to 6 miles on the last day. So far this week I’ve done 6 miles once and bumped it yesterday to 8 miles. I’ll probably stay with 8 miles for the rest of the week and take it up to 9 next week. I know it’s not much, but it’s a start. The streets I’m riding are mostly fat and I’m determined to keep pedaling as much as I can, to maximize the workout. I do as little coasting as possible. When I reach 10 miles I’ll probably stay with that distance for several weeks and work on not shifting gears as much. I think riding 50 miles a week would be adequate. Who knows, I may even do a little longer rides on Saturdays.
And there you have it, my attempt at physical fitness. Now I just have to convince myself to stay with it. That of course is the tough part. I don’t know how many exercise plans I’ve begun in my lifetime that have ended in failure.I think my most successful period was when I belonged to 24 Hour Fitness. I would go to the gym at least five times a week. Because I got out of work at 2:30 then it was very easy to stop on my way home and workout. That lasted from 1990 until about 1993. Actually when my mom passed away in November 1991 the gym became my refuge from the pain I was going through. It took my mind off of things and it sure beat sitting around feeling sorry for myself.
Then in the spring of 1993 it all came to a screeching halt. My wife thought I was much too social while at the gym. She’d come in about an hour or so after me and find me talking to other members while riding the stationary bikes. The last straw came one afternoon when she came in and sat down on the bike to the right of me. I had been talking to a woman to my left who I had talked to several times before as we rode to nowhere. We were talking about the many biking trails up at Bonneli Park when out she invited me to go on a bike ride with her and her friends the following Saturday morning. I declined but the incident didn’t sit too well with my wife and I heard quite a bit about it for awhile. Our membership expired a few months later and that was the end of my gym period.
Actually I found it flattering that my wife was still jealous after all these years. (she said she wasn’t) For quite awhile I successfully worked out at home but in time that eventually passed. Soon riding my bike occasionally on Saturday’s or working in the yard became my only form of exercise. I have to say my gym period and the two years following them were some good years. I was in my early forties, weighed about 25 pounds less than I do today and felt good about myself. If need be I could even take my shirt off in public without fear of embarrassment. Yeah those were good days…
For the last ten years or so I’ve mostly procrastinated about working out and getting fit. Oh I start up several times, but lose interest very quickly. Why? I don’t know, I guess they just weren’t important enough to me. I was able to hang with the really important things like going back to school and getting my degree and quitting smoking, those were big. Last year I set out to prove to myself that I could be disciplined in writing five days a week, something I hadn’t ever been able to do and so far I’ve successfully done it. Now I have to do it with this fitness thing. Is it important? Hell yes! There’s a lot at stake here, my life!
As we continue to age, maintaining good health and fitness is a must. I don’t want to be a 60 something couch potato! And right now I’m halfway there! Worse yet I don’t want to be in my 60’s and wake up dead some morning! No way! I’ve got to succeed this time around, there’s so much to live for. My mother died of a sudden heart attack at age 64 and missed so many things. She never got to see any of her grandchildren graduate from high school or marry. I would love to see at least my #1 walk down the aisle someday and hopefully all of my grandchildren as well. I would love to get to know my great grand children. to do so I’ve got to stick with it.
I definitely have a great incentive! We all have our reasons for wanting to be fit! It’s up to each and everyone of us to do our part in maintaining our fitness and good health. So find something that works for you. Get out there and exercise! The time is now! That way, if God sees fit to grant us long life we will be able to enjoy that life to its fullest..