A cycling rebirth

I rode my bike to work today. This is no amazing feat by any stretch of the imagination. Thousands of people just like me do this every day, this simple exercise. And yet it requires a response on my part, because for me, it is out of the ordinary.

A few summers ago, I was an avid cyclist. I rode everywhere. I learned basic bike repairs. I discussed routes, participated in critical mass rides, and was all around preachy about my chosen method of transportation. I had a superiority complex. And most of all, I hung around with other gung-ho cyclists who were equally obsessed with the sport. We would go on weekend rides together with such gloriously ghetto rigs, and the more decrypt they were, the higher the credibility. Alright fine – I was also busy cycling everywhere because I was interested in someone who was an avid cyclist as well. Oh the things we do to get noticed… It didn’t work in my favour.

One by one, my fellow cyclists dispersed from Montreal. I got lazy, and I moved to the top of Montreal’s mountain. It was great getting to work, but the haul home wore me out, and slowly but surely, I gave up on myself. Between the effort of cycling up the hill, and memories of fracturing my wrist in a bike accident, I abandoned Bob, my bicycle. Even in spite of my spanking awesome cycling clothes, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Then I moved away from Montreal, and completely gave up. I tried to cycle to work once last summer. It was muggy, my tires were low on air, and I got lost. I was hopeless new to Toronto, and I had already made up my mind that I was going to hate everything about this city. I was going to hate the weather, the streetcar tracks in the middle of the road, the drivers turning right on red lights. It was a miserable experience. I promptly locked up my bike when I got home, and ignored it until it was time to store it for the winter.

I decided recently to give it another try. I dug out my tools and gave Bob a tune up. Carefully inflated his tires. Wheeled him out to the curb. Locked him up. And went back to ignoring him for a few months.

Sometimes, you need a kick in the butt to get started again. I recently did a rather long stretch of work, and on day 7 of 10, I was hitting a motivational wall. It was a bright, sunny Sunday, and I bit the bullet. I needed something to burn off the stress, and help me sleep. Out came the helmet. Out came the lights. I unlocked Bob, and rolled away. 8 sweaty kilometers later, I hauled him over my shoulder and into the basement of my office building.

Then it dawned on me. Of course it was more enjoyable to cycle all those years ago. 4 years ago, in those muggy single summers, I was a lot closer to my current weight. The effort involved in propelling myself around was significantly less than it was last year, when 30 pounds of frustration were looming around my midsection and thighs.

Today as I eased around the corner of the street I work on, I was sweaty but not out of breath. And that is the accomplishment I am celebrating today. I always forget that when I am out of shape, managing my asthma is a difficult task. It is not something that hides at the back of my mind, but rather it looms in the forefront, interfering with my day-to-day life.

Join me in celebrating this. I am slowly reclaiming a life that I abandoned three or four years ago. I am slowly reclaiming a body I neglected. I am working through my frustrations, and setting new goals.

Kilimanjaro before age 30. I have 2 years to go. And I can do it. Who is coming with me?

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