I never thought I would be interested in any type of exercise. Even as a kid, I loved sports and competing, but I hated the exercise that went with it. I dreaded football practices and the coaches call to run. I never minded the running while playing, but the running in practice filled me with dread. First of all, I am a big guy. Big Joe isn’t a nickname that was ironic; it is pretty much who I am. I am slow when running any distance further than 10 yards. Yep, I was a lineman. I also love bowling and shooting, two other sports not exactly known for their physical demands. That’s not to say that there aren’t any; you bowl and shoot better when you are in shape. I hated the exercising that came with those seasons as well. It’s not just running or cardio, I hated lifting weights. In my mind, I could never find the motivation to train. I was always good enough without training. That’s not to say I excelled at everything, but I was good enough that coaches never pushed the issue.
One day years ago my wife and I bought bikes. We thought it would be a great way to get in shape, always a constant struggle. On a normal blog, that would have been the moment of enlightenment and the story would jump to the “and we ride everywhere all the time. The end”. Not so much here. We went to Martha’s Vineyard and almost died while trying to climb the one small hill. Katie never rode again. A few years later my son was born. This caused me to look at my life a little different. I needed to make better choices and try to instill good habits. It is his life that is important, and I don’t want to be the dad that messes it up. I quit smoking when he was born. That was huge for a three pack a day smoker. That summer I started working a job that gave me days off during the week. I started riding the bike in an effort to find exercise that fit me. I started to ride, but not all the time. I still hadn’t found it yet, whatever it was.
I did my first charity ride last year. I realized that I had better train before attempting my first ride. I had a short lay off from my job and started riding most days on a Rails to Trails section off the East Coast Greenway. That’s when it happened. Out along the trail in the sun I found that thing that I don’t mind doing. Then I hit a hill and wanted to go back home. The first day I did eight miles and thought I was going to die. By the end of the summer I was able to ride the 25 mile Hartford Parks Tour. It was a big accomplishment for me, but one I took a little too seriously. I started to think it was the end of the journey, not a way point. I kept going to the gym to ride the exercise bike and told myself it was the same. Not so much.
This spring I got back out and realized just how far off the exercise bike was to the real thing. Since then I quit the gym and bought a bicycle trainer on the advice of a friend. Now I can ride my bike attached to the trainer when the weather turns against me. It has made a huge difference. I also decided that I needed more motivation for training and signed up for two charity rides this fall.
Things were going great up until my company merged with another utility and my contract was not renewed. This year I am laid off again and it is not a short term lay off this time. I have been riding as much as possible in an effort to clear my head when the job search gets rough. I decided that this blog will be a way to use some of my unexpected free time to chronicle everything that is going on with my riding, and my life. I am going to focus on cycling, but there will be some minor detours into all sorts of silliness, like life, unemployment, twitter, and whatever else pops into my head on rides. Hopefully I can learn something along the way…..