Hoping you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving in the United States.
Here’s some food for thought…
Hoping you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving in the United States.
Here’s some food for thought…
One of the biggest challenges in my journey to lose weight was exercising. This WAS a challenge for me because I loathe moving! But I knew if I wanted to get into some kind of shape, and feel better about myself, I would have to do this, because diet alone wasn’t cutting it.
However, the ideas of strolling on a treadmill to nowhere, or lifting hunks of metal for no practical purpose, were not appealing to me. I had to find something I would enjoy and stick to. That’s when I discovered long distance cycling.
Cycling gave me an excuse to get off my dead ass and be physical. I bought a bike and rode all over Albany. It was a lot of fun at first, I even rode to work a few times and saved myself a few hundred bucks in gas money. However, the allure wore off after a month and it was all because I’ve was riding with no purpose; no goal. Well, not entirely true. I had a goal and it was to lose weight. I guess for me that wasn’t enough. I needed a more meaningful goal, something challenging, but attainable.
That’s when I remembered the annual Saratoga Springs Tour De Cure race. I went online to read about the event. Lucky for me, it was still two months away. I had time to train for a one hundred mile ride, or what is called a century ride. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
I began training and quickly realized how out of shape my body was. There was no way I could reach a hundred miles in two months! Yes, I was riding around, but I was riding two hours tops. There was no way I could last eight hours on a bike. No way!
I sat down and thought about the race long and hard. I really wanted to do this. I wanted to challenge myself, but I didn’t want to kill myself to do it. So, I researched cycling online and found several helpful websites about training for a century. I studied the advice and thought some more.
In the end, I decided the century ride would be too much at this time, but I was sure I could do another called the metric century instead (62 miles). Just to push myself a bit more, I made the decision to train for this event as if I was going to do a regular century.
I rode my bike almost every day. Every day, I focused on breaking one of my records: time or speed. Then, as time went on, I saw improvement. I was up to 50 miles and doing great. That said, I had another challenge to tackle and then I would be ready for the 62 mile race. That was challenge was hills. Not little hills, but the kind that make your car say, “Fuck this, I’m going around!”
To accomplish this next goal, I joined with friends and together we decided to do the second highest peak in our area—we thought Thatcher Park was too ambitious. We all rode our bikes to Putnam Hill in Schenectady, NY. When we first saw the hill, it wasn’t that impressive. It looked easy even. Thus we started our climb and almost immediately, I had the urge to stand. All the advice I had read said that when you bike a hill, the last thing you want to do is stand—especially if it’s a brutal long climb. Not only is there no benefit, but you tire a lot quicker. It may give a good burst of speed, but when the hill is over a mile in length, no burst will help.
Ten minutes into the climb, I cursed the minute I came up with this idea. If one presented itself, I would’ve probably ridden in front of a semi-truck and taken me out of my misery. I hated myself that much.
Exaggerations and emotion aside, fifteen minutes into the climb, my legs were Jell-O. The Clif Shot Bloks I was sucking on for energy had more substance than my legs at that moment. It felt as though there was enough lactic acid accumulated in my legs to dissolve them. I wondered what kept them working, because I swear I lost all feeling from the waist down.
Twenty minutes into the climb and I was alone. My friends, who rode years before me, were pros. I’m sure they were having a nice cold one at some bar at the top—without me. My motivation became getting to the top to murder them. Thankfully, I finally saw the top. I was getting close. However, I couldn’t tell if God smiled upon me for love or suffering.
Twenty-five minutes into the climb, I reached the top and thought, “Thank you, God. Thank you. It’s all gonna be flat and downhill from here—Oh what the eff!”
At the top of the hill was a bend with an even steeper hill after. I saw my friends. They were half way up the hill already. Here I was huffing and puffing, and fighting the urge to throw up or throw my bike.
I drank the rest of my water and inhaled the rest of my bloks. I jumped on my bike and clipped in. I somehow managed to get to 25 mph. I wanted a head-start before the horrible climb waiting for me.
It was now thirty some minutes in and now I was cursing the moment I was born. The pedals got heavy again, and I started feathering down my gears until it went no lower. My life passed before me while I kept a vigilant eye, hoping to notice the horrible deed that deserved this kind of punishment.
Forty-five minutes in, I’m sure I passed out and a Good Samaritan drove me to the top of the hill. I don’t remember the thirty minutes of pedaling this loathsome hill, well past the point of wishing for sweet death. But when I saw that I had crested that hill top all I could think of was, “How the hell did I get up here?” I looked back. It was a long way up. So long that the ride down was starting to sound like a really bad idea.
We stopped at a convenient store to grab lunch and fill our bottles with a disgusting combination of water and Gatorade. I drank two and a half gallons of that stuff and I still wanted more. Walking was a challenge too. Not only could I not feel my legs, but bike shoes aren’t really made for walking around. So we finished our lunch and drank more water. Then, we prepared for the downhill run, praying we didn’t kill ourselves in the process.
The experience of riding downhill in a vehicle that weighs a fraction of what you weigh is daunting. You’re riding just as fast as the motor vehicles on the highway, with nothing to protect your body but a thin bit of plastic and Styrofoam. One pot hole and “Adios!” I was freaking out, but at the same time I was having the time of my life. I just climbed 1500 feet and now I coursed downhill at 60 MPH on virtually nothing. So yeah, it was fun!
The entire trek took almost four hours to complete. At the end, I was glad we did it no matter how painful it was. When I finally did my metric century, I was ready. I believe I could have done the full century without a problem, but it was too late to sign up for that. Instead, I focused on my 62 miles and made them count. I rode my butt off! I felt like Armstrong, without drugs, maybe. I flew past everybody. I rode up hills like they were flats.
When my training was all over, I saw nothing but amazing results despite the dreaded scale. I was proud of myself. I accomplished my goal within a year—something I never thought possible. Next year, I tackle the real Century!
Come back Wednesdays to read more by Victor and keep up with his cycling exploits.
Find out more:
Saratoga Springs Tour De Cure – http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR?fr_id=10193&pg=entry
Clif Shot Bloks – http://www.clifbar.com/products/clif-shot/shot-bloks
Renowned local scholar, William P. “high trousers” Pennypacker, 39, was briefly detained last night by Upper Merion Police. Responding to a resident’s call of a “suspicious, intoxicated vagrant-type,” constables arrived on the scene of 201.c Needshank Meadows Drive to find Pennypacker, professor of mass media and communications at a nearby university, blind drunk on the porch of what was, apparently, his own home.
“We arrived at the scene to find Pennypacker obviously grossly intoxicated, reeking of gin, and in a visible, hostile, agitated state,” said Officer Ullifschultz. “He was dressed in an outlandish Scottish outfit, and holding what appeared to be a set of antique bagpipes,” continued Ullifschultz. “When asked to produce photo identification, the suspect flailed out at my partner and with his bagpipes, screaming: ‘Ye gits! Sod off!'”
Pennypacker was handcuffed and briefly detained. According to police logs, the professor was searched and found to be holding a very large, empty flask. He was released early this morning, to the care of his graduate assistant, who has asked to remain anonymous (but what a looker!) and all charges were dropped.
When reached for comment, Pennypacker briefly appeared on his porch, where the previous evening’s activities transpired and pointed out damage he said was done to his expansive, ornate Victorian-style porch. “Those effers will hear from my solicitor, Galusha V. Peppes,” Pennypacker stated.
Neighbors across the street assessed a much different version of the story. Roger Kaputnik was quoted, “It’s the same goddamn thing every Wednesday night. Pennypacker has bagpipe practice which we all think is just an excuse to go on a bender with his boozy Irish and Scotch buddies. Then he comes back from whatever dive bar they practice at and he wakes up the whole block with his noise and drunken bagpipe playing. Frankly, we’re goddamned sick of it. It’s about time he was put in cuffs.”
For the record, the Scottish are Scots…not Scotch—which is whisky. We apologize for Mr. Kaputnik’s ignorance.
If you want to continue the shenanigans, you ought to be here.
November is not only National American Indian Heritage Month, as declared by Former President George H. W. Bush, but it is the month that houses the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (Nov. 25). Who can possibly have a problem with that?
You’d think no one. However, when I posted this article on my Facebook page the day that it cycled around to me. I got a seemingly nasty note from someone I consider a dear friend. We’ve been friends since girlhood, even sharing the same Brownies Troop. I love her like a long lost sister. So why the anger?
I don’t think the anger was directed at me. I think it was directed at the powers that be who have allowed this gender inequality to go on for thousands of years. We’re both one of the 1 in 3. We can both claim that ‘status’ several times over. Despite everything that has been thrown in our paths to beat us down, we’ve chosen to stand back up and continue. We both agree that humanity must make a change in how it raises their children. That starts with feminism – or gender equality, if you prefer.
As UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Nicole Kidman writes, “Imagine a world free from violence against women and girls. A world where equality and respect and justice are not just ideals, or possible for only a few women and girls, but the norm for all of us. Each of us has a role to play to make this happen. Play your part.”
I agree that we all must play a part. The earth is our home, and we are all human. We have invisible borders that keep us separated into groups that we continue to believe are more meaningful than the greater story of us. These borders and group affiliations only serve to separate us, and to keep us accessible to the abuse of those in power. That perpetuates domestic violence and rape, not of just women and girls, but of boys and young men. That cycle feeds the 1 in 3 women and girls will experience some form of violence in her lifetime. It’s time we make the change we want to see in the world.
Read Kidman’s statement on The Huffington Post:
The time has come that people stop accepting inequality. We hear the call from every corner. Whether it is based on skin tones or gender, the act of discrimination hurts everyone involved. Think about the unfair expectations given to boys and young men – not just women; that men cannot control themselves and have to rape. Think about not being hired for a job because you’re too dark complected, or your religion or lack of religion doesn’t set well with someone (my job was threatened for wearing a religious symbol of which the Human Resources worker doing my transitional paperwork didn’t approve), that your partner isn’t with whom they believe you should be (the news is littered daily with these stories – from denial of service to firings). It’s simply unthinkable that in 2014 we still have these social issues binding our society. I do mean BINDING. Sexism is archaic Discrimination holds us back by damaging the potential and opportunities available to everyone, and limiting the pool of human accomplishment. Imagine where we would be now if half the population wasn’t held back because their genitals made men feel they were inferior with hysteria…
The United Kingdom is on board with protecting their female citizens from a known predator who uses rape-culture to make conquests, just one of the many forms of discrimination (sexism). Why is this so important? It breaks the cycle of accepting patriarchy which has made ‘pick up artist’ rapists non-criminals. Yes, they are criminals, because they lure women with intent of using their bodies for sex, not with consent but with coercion. Read more at: This Man Became the First Person Denied a Visa Because of Sexism – Mic.
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” ― Albert Einstein
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ― Nikola Tesla
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” ― Jane Austen
"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass." — Maya Angelou
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” ― Winston S. Churchill
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ― Anais Nin
“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.” ― Nancy Rathburn
“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” ― Nikola Tesla