Doing Stand Up

A thought just occurred to me. What am I supposed to do about biking when winter comes?

Also, my bike is making a noise dammit. Might need to be oiled somewhere. I should have kept up the maintenance, but you can’t get in to see anyone anymore. Also thinking about ordering new tires, just in case. And new brakes. They work, but they make a noise. I think it’s normal, but I haven’t replaced them in the 13 years I’ve had the bike. Thirteen years sounds like a lot, but in use, it’s much fewer years. What is the average that a person uses a bike in a year? I’m sure I’ve been below it, especially if you exclude people who don’t use their bikes at all and therefore effectively don’t have bikes. “A person who doesn’t read, holds no advantage over one who can’t,” as Mark Twain said.

They maintain airplanes based on miles flown, so how many miles have I flown? That’s what matters. My new app will tell me, at least going forward. My total miles 43.1. My longest single day ride was 10, since measurements began in the 2020s.  And that happened yesterday.

My new stem makes a difference. I still think the crank is too big, but I am able to raise the seat a little. My knees feel a little less strained, though it still feels like that’s where the muscles are that I’m using most. And that doesn’t make sense to me.

Is this really a blog post? Interesting thoughts in it? More like a journal. I don’t want to post things that are boring. On the other hand, I’m not a good judge of that, and I don’t want to give up writing, and no one reads this anyway, so why do I care if it’s good, or how sure I am of it.

Yes, another biking post, three in a row now, that could get old. On the other hand, reasons. I could come up with dozens of reasons to give up writing. Dozens.

Weird way to measure isn’t it? I could give up for multiples of 12 reasons. Is that so many more than multiples of 10? Depends on how many multiples.

Scores of reasons. Are scores more than multiples of 10? Or Dozens? Well, if you know that a score is 20, then you might say yes, but I would argue that they are the same. Infinity plus one is still infinity. Multiples of any amount, if you don’t define the multiple can be anything, and two anythings are always equal. That could have been the thesis for my senior project if I had stayed at Bard College, and stayed in mathematics. It would have been hilarious, if not right. Maybe I would have failed and then gone on to use the story in a lucrative career doing stand up.

I Rode in the Rain

It may be the reason I have struggled with depression much of my life. Could it be that simple? That I didn’t ride my bike enough?

It might be a little bit too early to come to that conclusion, I only just recommitted myself to riding, but I’m going with it.

I hated myself early, too early to know exactly when, but I remember saying it into the mirror. “I hate myself.” Probably 4th or 5th grade. Jr High School had it’s ups and downs, the last year of it, 9th grade, was my favorite year of school. I made friends I still have (or again, thanks Facebook). I played drums. I smoked pot. High school was tough though, which I often attributed to my own choice of schools, In NYC we had some choices. I chose Music over Drama (Music and Art over Performing Arts – two schools which later merged into one. The latter was the subject of the movie Fame). I chose distance over proximity to home, so, sometimes I’ve blamed the commute, 45 minutes each way by subway. Sometimes I’ve just blamed myself, and my own insecurities.

But in the summers when I was dragged to Connecticut by my parents, someplace I didn’t want to go, my brothers and I rode our bikes all day every day. We would start with 6 miles to a park and rec program in the town, where we would play softball and soccer and other games until noon, then we would ride back, more often than not taking the “scenic” route. We explored, we discovered.  We knew our way around better than our parents, every road. We would re-appear to take a dip in the Long Island sound when we got hot, and then back on our bikes. One year we decided to ride to an annual family weekend trip to Shelter Island. The rest of the family drove, but my brothers and I rode to New London, took a ferry, crossed long island, and took another ferry to Shelter Island. On the way back we averaged 20 mph for 20 miles  to catch the ferry back to New London which left only once an hour. My older brother led the way, I was next as our younger brother disappeared from view. I tried to catch up to tell our older brother we needed to wait, but I couldn’t. So we arrived on time, and as the ferry was about to leave without us, here comes our younger brother around the curve. He rode right onto the boat, as we walked on to the applause from other passengers. I’m remembering it accurately.  We were famous. And we were in really good shape.

I’d end those summers excited to return to school, a feeling which would last a week until I fell back into my more typical funk. I sometimes attributed my happiness during those summers to pot smoking, wondering if I would have been happy if I had smoked more consistently throughout my life, but now I see it was a combination of the two, with much more credit due to the exercise than I have typically ascribed.

I dreampt, back then, of biking across Europe or the US. I wanted to bike everywhere. I didn’t think that through, never made a plan, how I would climb the Rockies, or carry supplies, like a tent, a change of clothes, for example. But I believed. In those days I believed in possibilities.

So now I’m back, easing into a daily routine. I biked 10 miles today, not like the old days, but hell, that’s ok. I am also content to get through one Spanish lesson on duolingo and one on Mango each day and it’s doable. It will take me 2 years to get through them all, but what’s two years when I’ve spent decades in failure?

Even just that feels great. And I’m beginning to lose weight. Well, muscle weighs more than fat, but my stomach is shrinking. I even feel overmedicated for my thyroid, so I cut my dose. Regular exercise of one hour per day significantly improves thyroid function according to a study in India.

Was this all I needed to do to be my best self? All this time? Crazy right?

I don’t want to obsess about lost opportunities. Yes, it might have been nice to be happy for most of my life, but whatever. What else would have been different that I don’t want to be changed at this point? More importantly, it’s not too late. Does this mean I can actually be happy? Have I finally figured it all out?

I knew it would seem simple once it came to me.

So I checked the weather last night and it didn’t look like rain but you can’t believe weather people. I check every night, but I sometimes feel that when I start into a good routine, God throws obstacles in my way. It’s as if I’m not supposed to be happy, or maybe I’m supposed to learn to persevere, I don’t know. But I keep waking up, stretching, getting my water bottle ready, dressing up in my t shirt and shorts (I don’t wear “the uniform”) and socks and sneakers. I tie my shoes (I’m just trying to make this sound like a lot). And then I step outside to discover it’s raining. Today was one of those days. Once before I ran instead of biking, because I was scared to bike in the rain, but I hate running. I need to bike.

So, I did some internet research. Turns, out, you can ride in the rain. The skinny tires of road bikes actually don’t hydroplane. You just have to a little careful to brake slowly and not take turns too fast. So I went anyway!

It’s a little bit of an exaggeration to say it was raining. When I first stepped outside it was drizzling. Once I hit the road, it was wet, but it didn’t rain anymore. When I rode beneath trees, they dropped a little bit of rain they had been saving just for me, to reward me for my efforts (thank you, that was sweet), but other than that it’s not raining on me anymore.

Ride My Bike

Hello, I’m back.

Here’s what’s been going on in my life since the pandemic started.  I’m working from home, and loving it. Well, to be honest, I don’t love work, I’d prefer not to work, as you probably know about me,. But if I have to work, I like doing it from home.

I have also been put on a reduced schedule, accompanied by reduced pay. I accept this cause I know my company is suffering, and anyway I am saving some money by not traveling, by not commuting, by not eating out as much and because the colleges my kids go to have refunded some room and board since they aren’t using it anymore.

And while the “reduced schedule” is a little bit disingenuous for a salaried worker like me who is paid to get the job done, it has allowed me a little flexibility for goofing off without feeling guilty. So why has it taken so long to start blogging again, you might ask? Low energy. Depression? Why depressed if you like working from home so much? It’s like this. After a couple of months I realized I’m getting even less exercise than ever, and feeling worse than ever. It used to be I’d get some steps in just to go to the bathroom. The more water I drank the more exercise I got (for most people it’s the other way around). But now the bathroom is only steps from my desk, and I don’t even have to walk to my car of from my car to the office building. My efforts to feel good by eating less? Exposed as misguided. It’s not my eating that is to blame for feeling bad, it’s the lack of exercise. It always was.

What a wonderful realization. You know why? Because it means that if I start working out, maybe I don’t have to watch what I eat either, and can even enjoy eating again. That’s why most people I know work out, so that they can eat donuts without feeling guilty. It took me this long to realize it, cause I’m stupid. Don’t hate. I admit it.

I remember now that when I was young, when exercise was a game not a chore, I declared to myself that as an adult, I would never go to the gym just to stay in shape, but would continue to do things that were fun to stay in shape. And then I got a desk job. Maybe that’s why I hated working.

You can’t always find 18 people for a softball game, and I never did like running, but I did love biking. When I was a kid my brothers and I would ride all over all day. And recently, that is, 13 years ago (omg why does time go by so fast), I bought myself a road bike, not unlike the “10 speed” Peugeot I enjoyed then and up into my 20s. This one is a Specialized model and has 27 speeds.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was good value, compared to what some of the other models costs. And much improved over the standard of the 1970s.

But I didn’t ride it as much as I anticipated. Maybe because I didn’t buy the outfit.

Actually, I was suckered into buying padded gloves that I don’t use, and bicycle glasses that cost more than I was ever willing to pay for sunglasses that weren’t for bicycle riding.

I don’t use the glasses much either because I have a helmet that has a built in visor now, held on by magnets. Makes me look a little like a storm trooper.

Biking, however, has been more of an effort than it was in the past, and the bike never felt as stable and comfortable as I remember of my Peugeot. There was something awkward about it. Maybe cause I’m older, I thought.

But then came the pandemic. And we all got outside more. I started walking. I realized I needed to exercise more and concluded from internet research that there is nothing wrong with riding every single day. So I resolved to do so. I’m not the only one. Good Morning America just reported that bikes are selling out. If you want to start biking two months into the pandemic, you’re late! You should have started earlier. Guys are even buying pink and purple bikes, cause that’s all that’s left.

So when I started thinking maybe this bike wasn’t the right size, I wasn’t going to have many options. I was hoping it would be the last bike I ever bought, because, quite frankly, I kept my Peugeot a long time, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And if it is broke, fix it. But before I decided to sell it and buy the right size, I did some more internet research. I adjusted the saddle, and ordered a new stem to put the steering column a little further away, which hasn’t come yet, and I’m not sure that was a good move, and then I realized something else. The crank is too long for my short ass legs. Bikes are almost universally fitted with the same size crank, whether you’re six feet, or whether you’re five-six. And when I peddle, my knees bend to under 90 degrees and my knees sometimes start to hurt, and I need to get up off the saddle early in my climbs.

That’s not an adjustment you can just make. It’s an expensive thing to experiment with, cause you have to buy new cranks.  And most bike stores are either on limited hours or overwhelmed with business, or both. So, I can’t go anywhere to try things out, or get bad advice. Nor do I want them to give me Covid.

But I’m thinking of just buying a new crank and guessing about the size and putting it on myself. Maybe I’ll err on the side of too short. I don’t mind spending the money, but I don’t want to spend it twice. I don’t want to go shorter and discover I didn’t go short enough, like the opposite of women who decide to get bigger tits, and then go too big, But that’s a topic for another blog.