I walked over the wet, tiled floor and approached the scale that I had last stepped upon in June. I had no idea how much I weighed. But if I had gained any weight, I figured it couldn’t have been much.
On December 17, 2010, I weighed 193 pounds. It was tied for the most I’d ever weighed. While my encroaching waistline did not engender concerned comments from loved ones, I knew that I didn’t want to gain a single pound more and set a new precedent for myself.
What makes December 17th so special? It was the day after my fall teaching quarter had ended, so I finally had time to commit myself to a more rigorous exercise regimen.
By mid-February, I had lost about eleven pounds. I distinctly remember the digital readout: 182.4 pounds. With the help of a retinue of Lifetime Fitness Indoor Cycling instructors, I managed to maintain the aforementioned weight into the spring. I had worked so hard to lose those pounds that I was afraid of gaining them all back once I was left to my own cycling devices and forced to challenge myself over the local terrain.
Luckily, I was invited by one of my spinning instructors, Walker Ashley, to participate in my first group ride. With a couple of exceptions, I never rode solo again.
From the time I started cycling outdoors in 2011, to last Monday, when I cycled 21 miles outdoors, I rode slightly more than 1500 miles. I switched from a ponderous aluminum frame Fuji to a light carbon-frame Look. I also started riding regularly with the Highland Park Lifetime Fitness Cycling Club. As a result, I was pushed to ride farther and faster than ever before. I participated in my first group ride—a 51-miler in which I was dropped by the peloton and limped back to my car ignominiously, in the rain. I participated in many more 50-plus rides, including the 100K Lifetime Fitness Gran Fondo and the harrowing Vino in the Valley Ride—both of which I have written about in this column.
When cycling club ended and the weather began to turn, it was time to start cycling indoors again.
After my first spin class in more than five months, I was curious to see whether I had gained or lost weight after all that effort outdoors.
I walked across the wet, tiled floor and stepped on the scale. The readout: 182.4 pounds. Almost as if by some miracle, I weighed exactly, to the tenth of a pound, what I weighed last February.
Looking back, I realize that all of this riding was a byproduct of the goal I had set for myself last January, which was to ride in the Lifetime Fitness Gran Fondo. Signing up for that is what pushed me, at least initially, to work out so hard. But like so many goals, what I thought I wanted to attain became less important than the ancillary benefits I enjoyed along the way.
Yes, I wanted to get myself in shape enough to ride 64 miles. However, by mid-summer, it was clear to me that I would be able to cover the distance. Then my goal was to cover the distance in a respectable time. I thought it unlikely that I could average more than 18 M.P.H., but I did.
Most importantly, I made a host of new friends as the result of striving toward this goal. Walker, Brad, Loren, Duane, Joe, Tom, and Krista all challenged me throughout the year. I am grateful to them all.
I have two goals for 2012.
I want to complete my first century, my first 100-miler. I don’t know which event I’m going to enter, but I already know that I will achieve it because my cycling compatriots listed above will inspire me to do so.
My second goal? I want to lose one pound.