At the encouragement of my parish priest, I started cycling about fifteen years ago.  It wasn’t a brand new activity. I had biked in college.  Two of my friends were serious cyclists and I tagged along with them.  These two chapters of my biking life have two things in common.  Then and now, I was always among the slowest riders in the group, and both groups rode mostly in rural settings.  Wide, quiet, tree lined roads are still my favorite place to ride.  On those rides, my primary concern was keeping the faster riders in sight.  Far too often that sight was my friends stopped at the top of a hill waiting for me to struggle to the join them.  As both my experience and strength improved their waits were shorter.

Living in mostly rural Chautauqua County gave me lots of rural roads to ride.  Because it’s snow country there is a berm along all but the most back country roads.  While they are not always smooth and clear of obstacles, they always gave me room in case traffic showed up.  Long, uninterrupted rides are a great time for fellowship with friends, or for cleansing the brain when riding alone.  The greatest danger is topping a rise or rounding a corner to discover a surprise.  Like the day I crested a hill and saw a lump of something in the middle of my lane twenty feet or so ahead.  There was enough time to slow down and identify the surprise as a snapping turtle making its way from one side of the road to the other.   That kind of room for error and surprise was a great gift.

Riding in Virginia has presented new challenges.  Country roads here don’t come with berms.  Which means there is no room for error by rider or driver.  Either of us can come around a corner and discover a very serious issue and no margin for a mistake.  The upside is that there are a lot of cyclists here, so drivers are accustomed to us.  That doesn’t seem to slow them down or make many adjustments on those roads, however.  Plus, there are just a few too many roadside memorials to fatal bike accidents for my taste.

Maybe I’m just getting old and less brave, but I don’t feel comfortable riding the way I have in the past.  That has meant very little time in the saddle over the last three years.  This year I made a pact with a friend (that same priest!) to shoot for a thousand miles in 2017.  That’s a big ask, about twice my best year ever.  The difference is that the riding “season” in Richmond is a lot longer than it is in western New York.  The goal is challenging (because all goals should challenge you), but it ought to be doable.

So the first challenge has been finding a place to ride.  The obvious choice was to become an urban rider.

Riding in an urban environment presents a different set of variables to consider.  More traffic, coming from more directions.  Pedestrians, speed bumps, stop signs/lights (obeyed to varying degrees) and the general impatience among city drivers.  Left-hand turns that require the rider to cross traffic to get into the correct lane position to make the turn.

And then there is the issue of car doors.  My encounter with the snapping turtle gave me time to figure out what was happening, and then sweep around the obstacle.  This past week while riding in the city, I had just enough time to swerve violently into a blessedly empty lane to avoid a door flung open into my path.  The driver was on her phone and pushed the door open with her foot.  The image of the door and her foot is burned into my memory.  This possibility had occurred to me from the start of my transformation into an urban cyclist.  When I ride along the rows of parked cars I try to keep an eye into the passenger compartments, looking for heads.  So I either missed her, or she was using her foot because her free hand was reaching for something in the passenger seat.  That would have put her head in a position not to be seen.  I have no idea what happens to either bike or rider when they slam into a car door at ten miles per hour or more.  My bet is that it’s painful.  I’m just as happy to avoid it.  The only other adventure so far was making a bad turn onto a major thoroughfare and realizing that I needed to cross two lanes of traffic to get where I wanted to go.  Lots of cars moving faster than my poor legs were really able to propel me.  I survived.  That mistake will not be made again.

Once a get a little more saddle time, (it’s less a matter of getting my legs ready than it is getting my butt used to the saddle) I’m planning on riding the Cap2Cap trail.  Fifty-two miles between the two historic capitals of Virginia.  The goal is to ride it several times this year.  I’m still on the hunt for other, longer interesting rides to help me make the goal.

I track my riding using MapMyRide.

Ride Total – 4

Mileage Total – 37.44

Let’s roll.

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May 23, 2017 · 9:59 AM

Life Among the Underemployed – Psychic Shock

(These posts will appear when there is something to report)

You may notice a change in the headline.  It should have come up sooner but I’m still wrapping my head around it.

need-a-job

I am no longer technically “unemployed”.

I never appeared in the government’s unemployment statistics for the simple reason that I never qualified for them.  While I have certainly BEEN unemployed since November, I was not among the statistics.

Back in February, my status changed.  I even talked about it here.  After undergoing the necessary background check, health check, and application process, I became a substitute teacher in the local school district.

But I still thought of myself as “unemployed”.  In reality, I was bringing in a regular check.  Well, the check was regular, even if the amount wasn’t.

By definition “underemployment” is – “the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs”.

That’s me.  Employed at less than full time at a job that is inadequate to our financial needs.

We’re paying our bills, but having to dip into our reserves every month to do it.

I’ve applied for 60 jobs, I’ve gotten one interview.  For a job that would have made our lives and finances worse rather than better.  I never hear back from most of them.  It’s a grind.  One that is beginning to wear me down.

There’s a part of me that is dealing with a change in my fundamental belief in my future.  This isn’t the future I believed was coming.  I’m not sure I’m capable at this point of putting into words the paradigm shift that I’m in.  You work hard, you get an education, you work hard some more.  There will be some dips along the way, but in the end, everything will work out.  Hard times are for people who weren’t blessed with the starting point I had.  It was supposed to be a kind of insurance policy against hard times.

It was always a lie.  But it was a comforting lie and so I believed.  Having that belief taken away carries an enormous psychic shock that I am only just beginning to confront.  It makes everything harder.

There’s a story that I have repeated for years.  I remember it being told to me as “an old Indian tale”, but I have no idea if that’s true.  It’s the story that I cling to at moments like this.  The story goes as follows:

One day Rabbit was out foraging for food and didn’t notice how far he had gotten from his burrow.  Suddenly, Wolf sprang out from the bushes, jaws snapping.  Off went Rabbit as fast as he could go with Wolf just a half step behind.  As he ran, Rabbit passed the burrow of one of his brother rabbits, who watched the chase coming towards him.  He looked at Rabbit, and he looked at the distance to the burrow, and he looked at how close Wolf’s teeth were to his friend.  As Rabbit raced by, the other rabbit called out, “Do you think you’ll make it?”

To which Rabbit responded, “What choice do I have?”

I’m tired.  And scared. And angry.

But what choice do I have?

 

So I will keep my head up, my eyes open, my heart strong.

Waiting to see the next chapter in my life.

Whatever it turns out to be.

And I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes.

Peace.

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Filed under personal, Unemployment

Time To Change – A Few Additions

Not much happened this week, so I’ll spare you any blathering.

No significant change in the primary number.  This is just normal fluctuations.  The weather conspired against any more riding after a good start to the week.  It’s been good to be back in the saddle (and a new saddle pad is coming next week!) so I will certainly get more riding in.

I will add updates for my active minutes and riding mileage moving forward.

Onward.

My resolution remains:

want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

Active Minutes – 61

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

Biking Mileage – 18.9 miles  (2 rides)

I track my mileage with MapMyRide

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

189.0 pounds

Weight Change this week: +0.4 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 15.9 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25

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Time To Change – On The Road Again

It’s always one step at a time.  One pound at a time.  One challenge at a time.

Last week I talked about the changes needed in my activity/exercise level.  I’m happy to report progress on that front.  The bicycle is out of storage and was on the road twice this past week.  One of my goals for 2017 is 1,000 miles on the bicycle.  The combination of odd weather and my schedule has made that tough.

The other challenge to my riding is that I am profoundly uncomfortable riding on the back roads here in Virginia.  There are many people who do, but the lack of a berm scares the crap out of me.  So I’m having to become an urban cyclist (which used to be the “scares the crap out of me” category).  Richmond is very bicycle friendly.  Which doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep your head on a swivel.  I’ve already had one driver misestimate where the edge of his vehicle was in relation to my bike.  Didn’t hit me, but didn’t miss me by much either.

My goal by about 13 miles closer!  Many more miles to go.  The plan is to take the first shot at the Cap2Cap before the end of the month.  And do that run several times this year.

When I’m not on my bike I still need to keep my active minutes up.  That’s improved too.  Several days walking at the park just down the road (Rockwood) have put me right around the 150 minutes that are my weekly goal.  I am not counting the bicycling toward that number.  So it’s 150 minutes on top of the saddle time.

(Side trivia – while walking at the park last week, I came upon a fire!  There’s an archery range here and someone had set one of the hay bale targets on fire.  I called 911, led the firefighters to the fire and spoke with police.  Look at me being all “good citizen”!)

Saw a nice move in the number below.  Let’s see if we can’t keep it going now.

My latest ride.

 

Onward.

My resolution remains:

 

want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

 

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

188.6 pounds

Weight Change this week: -1.4 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 16.3 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25

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Time To Change – The Image In My Head

Continuing the “plateau”.  Which isn’t bad, just a little frustrating.

I’ve been thinking about the next set of changes needed to get moving again.  Clearly, the exercise component needs to be changed.  My bicycle is out of storage and I got my first ride in.  More about that next week.

My thoughts this week have been focused on the inward changes I need to make.  Each of us has an “internal” image of who we are and what we look like.  That image can be a hurdle to getting where we want to go.  In the years that I was putting on this weight, my internal image stayed with the slimmer version of myself.    Even as my weight increased, taking my clothing sizes with it, my internal image kept telling me I looked the same as ever.  If the mirror denied that belief, I simply stopped looking in the mirror.  Until the day you do look and realize that there’s an issue.  In my case, it was repeated medical discussions, involving my blood pressure and diabetes.  I finally had to confront that image.

Now I discover that the problem has reversed.  My internal image is the heavy version of me.  I’m positive that despite the number getting better, I still look the way I used to.  It discourages me in the good habits I’m developing, tries to drag me back to the old ways.  It’s that negative, critical voice that most of us hear inside our heads.  The one that tells us we can’t succeed, that we shouldn’t try.

That internal image will have an effect, even a profound effect, on your level of happiness.  If it is constantly telling you that you aren’t good enough/big enough/small enough/talented enough/whatever, then it saps you of the energy needed to be the person you want to be.  It will stop you from even trying.  Happy, successful people seem to have a pretty clear idea of who they are, in my experience.  They spend much less time listening to the voice of criticism and defeat.

Changing your internal image of yourself can help you shut that voice up.  It’s just one step (we’ll talk about taking this all one step at a time next week), but it’s a step that can make a powerful difference in a life.

As I thought about this, I realized that this change isn’t just a dieting/weight loss concept.  What’s your internal image of yourself in your relationships, your career, your creative life?  Does it contribute to your happiness or does it increase the negativity in your life?

 

Onward.

My resolution remains:

 

want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good.

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

 

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

190.0 pounds

Weight Change this week: +0.1 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 14.9 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25

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Filed under Diabetes, personal, Weight Loss

Time To Change – Nothin’!

weight-loss-3

 

There is truly nothing to say about this week.

Just look at the number, lol!

 

Let’s just say that…nope, I got nothin’.

See you next week.

Onward.

My resolution remains:

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good. (New photo of The Guy)

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

188.9 pounds

Weight Change this week: -0.1 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 15.0 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25

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Filed under Diabetes, personal, Weight Loss

Time To Change – Late!

weight-loss-3

 

The weekend kind of got away from me!

Followed up a surprise great week with a less than great one.  But OK.

Lots of little things.  A temporary change in the schedule I had established (beyond my control), and an associated change in my exercise/food routine.  That’s never good.  A little backsliding on my physical therapy routine.  While I’m no longer seeing my PT, I do have stretches and exercises to do.  I’m only about 80%.  Everything kind of went into the toilet.

It did give me a chance to fall back and reconsider things.  If it seems like I do this a lot, it’s because I’ve discovered that a regular review is a VERY valuable routine.  Need to focus, need to fight my natural tendency to be a lazy ass.  I’ve given my family permission for some low-level nagging.

Oh, and I think I’ve figured out what was causing some seemingly random blood glucose spikes.  Chocolate ice cream.  As with everything, I am NOT giving it up.  Just need to find a better balance (low sugar, smaller portions, only after low carb meals) than I had over the last month or so.  Otherwise, the numbers remain very good.  The 30-day overall average is just over 130.

 

Onward.

My resolution remains:

I want to am going to be The Guy again.  The Guy weighed 175 pounds and looked good and felt good.  And his blood pressure was good and his blood tests were good. (New photo of The Guy)

Watch my activity at my Fitbit page

The next milestone is getting back below 185.  I will get there and go on.

Official Weigh In Weight

189.0 pounds

Weight Change this week: +1.6 pounds

Total Weight Loss To Date: – 14.9 pounds

Goal Weight and Total to Lose – 175/25

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Filed under Diabetes, personal, Weight Loss