In another life, I weighed over 100 pounds more than I do now, smoked a pack plus of cigarettes a day and I was heading to an early grave. I only tell you this for context, not so you’ll be impressed. Encouraged, I hope so, yes.
Last year, as a result of a grave injustice, I lost my car. The events that perpetuated that were by a person who was a friend and betrayed me “Judas kiss” style. I could have become justifiably angry, but that means giving your offender power, and I will not surrender my joy to anyone, it is non-negotioable. The day my car was taken, I walked 13 km to where I had to be. Every step I declared victory. Yes, it was a difficult moment, but if you look hard enough, there is always opportunity and usually another motive. For me, that hidden reason led to falling in love with biking.
I first started biking last year in November. The first trip I made took me over 90 minutes (today it takes me about 30 minutes) and I thought I was going to have to hop on a bus. Since then, I huffed and puffed, prayed and yes, fell my way to approaching 1400 km travelled.
Today I trekked 86 km on open roads, took on hills that would’ve been impossible just a few months ago. It didn’t look pretty all the time, in fact towards the top of the hill in this labelled picture it wasn’t looking very good at all and I was pretty sure I was going to fall over. I didn’t quit. A quick check of my pulse showed a heart rate sailing close to 190 bpm. It wasn’t all like that, but the last 45 seconds were brutal. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it reverberating in my head. There were at least half a dozen hills like this for me. On the straightaways, we averaged 25 to 35 km/h. There was plenty of energy left in these 53-year-old legs after being reinvented last year! Don’t ever tell me it’s too late! 🙂
I realized today that even as I cycle across Toronto routinely and back 40 to 50 km, I’m not really cycling in the true sense of the word, I’m commuting. Today was cycling. Today was a whole other level.
Add to that overcoming fears because of a couple of very bad crashes I had experienced a while back as I found my legs on these new wheels, coming down at speeds of close to 65 km/h today. It was so hard not to tense up. Even as voices tried to convince me – you’re going to fall, you’re going to fall, remember what happened last time. As Joyce Meyer says – “well, if you’re afraid, then do it afraid. “
I could not have done it without my best friend, biking coach and companion Jeff Russo. He even surprised me today with a T-shirt from his recent trip through Texas from Lance Armstrong’s bike shop. Talk about a rite of passage. Jeff, thank you for helping me take my life back, maybe even saving it.
I hope that if you get anything out of this, it’s inspiration! Not that long ago, this ride would’ve not only been impossible, but I would’ve hated even thinking about doing such a thing. Last night, I instead found it difficult to sleep because I was so excited to get at this new challenge today. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it and neither was Jeff. But during the winter, I biked, a lot. In 20 below zero, in snow, and rain; whatever it was I biked. Today was the payoff.
Always prepare, do the work when no one is looking, like my other hero, my wife Susan Arruda has done for over 35 years and never give up! As always I have to thank my gorgeous, superhero looking and supportive champion in life, Susan Arruda, for hooking me up with your Raw Performance Fuel coffee bites, which picked both Jeff and I up, and some last-minute sewing touchups so I could strip my bike down to the most essential gear.