Mature man crouching down, looking at bicycle, rear view

Anyone who’s read my column more than twice (if anyone has in fact done so, please write a nice letter to the editor so I know you’re out there) will know that I’ve spent the past four years struggling through parenthood and not riding my bike very much. I’ve had a few bursts of activity, but I’ve found it really tough to sustain my efforts. All the excuses I make are just that – excuses. There are many people far busier than I am who manage to train and race successfully. They set goals for themselves, and they make the sacrifices necessary to reach those goals.

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Now, I’m no stranger to sacrifice. I gave my children the last of the Cheerios this morning despite being ravenous myself. But I do find it tough to do things in half measures. And in my current stage of life, half measures are the standard currency.

For a few years before I had kids, I was able to dedicate enormous amounts of time to riding – and equally enormous amounts of time to recovering. I reached a very high level of fitness. It would be really tough to reach that level again. But instead of pushing myself to do as much as I can in the time I have, I tend to let inertia do what it does so well. As I’ve observed in past columns, a Cranky at rest tends to remain at rest.

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I do, however, enjoy an uphill battle, both literally and metaphorically. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a comeback. I always root for the underdog, especially if that underdog is me.

I also recognize that at 48 years of age, I’m running out of time to let things slide on the health and fitness front. People in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s can bounce back quicker than people nearing 50. And so I face a tipping point: I can act now and reverse the trend toward larger waistbands and loosely tailored shirts, or I can let go and begin the accelerating ride down the slippery slope of slothful living.

We all know that slippery slopes can be fun, but they often end in tears. So if the second option isn’t acceptable to me, I clearly need to act. And what better motivator than to do the Gran Fondo Whistler once again? Some readers may remember my column recounting my experience on this ride last year. I wished for death several times, but was cruelly denied and had to finish the full distance. I then had a fantastic restaurant meal, a large glass of wine and the best sleep of my life.

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I was in an untrained state when I did the ride last year and I managed to finish in five hours. So this year I’ve made a bold (and probably foolish) proclamation that I plan to cut an hour off my time. As you read this, I will either be elated for having reached my goal or crestfallen and sobbing quietly into my bowl of steel-cut oats. Regardless, I’ll take some comfort in the great shape I’ve whipped myself into – or at least, from the fact that my shape isn’t as round as it was before. Whatever happened as I sought to achieve my big goal, rest assured that I took advantage of the other half of the inertia axiom: that a Cranky in motion tends to remain in motion – even when pointed uphill with Vancouver behind him and a delicious meal in the village at Whistler at the end of the road.


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2 Comments

  • Bob D. says:

    Wow, that could have been me writing this column. Same issue: was riding high on cycling achievements (personal not racing) right before having kids. Found out I absolutely LOVE being a dad…but my waistline suffered along the way. Now that the kids are a bit older and your schedule comes back to you I attacked the issue a little differently. I discovered running which gave me the results in a shorter amount of time while having cycling being great cross-training. I’ve never felt better (I’m 54) and continue to enjoy mixing the sports.
    Good luck at the Grand Fondo!

    • James Ramsay says:

      Bob, thanks for the comment. I’ve mixed in some running as well and you’re right – it produces great results for the time invested. The other sport I’ve discovered in recent years is skate skiing. Amazing cross-training as well and a great workout. All the best and thank you for reading!

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