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Old 01-08-21, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by NewATBikeComute View Post
You sir, have already grown more through the challenges than you perhaps realize. I have struggled this year, and only in the past two months started to get things in gear, in more ways than one. To me, your experiences shared are more motivational than an "I just did this incredible thing" story.
I didn't reply when this was posted, but I did read it and have thought about it a lot in the crazy times since then. I really appreciate the kind words and the perspective.

Yesterday was my 50th, and I did not spend it drinking a triumphant beer on the top of a volcano - or doing anything. The last year feels like an odd mix of success and failure.

What were the failures?
  1. Get to my old running weight.
  2. Train consistently.
  3. Build the power and endurance to do the climb in 6 hours.
  4. Get to Haleakala.
  5. Actually do the climb.
What were the successes?
  1. Get back on the bike and remember how much I love just pushing hard and suffering.
  2. Keeping 100% true to my no-booze commitment.
  3. This summer I also cut out caffeine as I'm not comfortable with what it does to my blood pressure, or how it affects my sleep and mood.
  4. Finding a creative way to train in really difficult circumstances.
  5. Collecting data and getting a sense of my strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Getting through a long list of disappointments and setbacks without abandoning the overall goals I'm setting for myself.
When I switched to riding the cargo bike, which meant shorter duration and higher intensity rides than what I should be doing to train for Haleakala, and when I was thinking that our local velodrome would open long before I'd be willing and able to get on a plane and fly to the middle of the Pacific, I thought that a worthy replacement goal would be to train and practice on the track and register a 50 kph lap - seemed a fitting (and attainable) goal for my 50th. Well, school opened again and I returned to work, and the weather turned, so I was no longer able to get out for any kind of training ride. My wife and I decided that since it would be a long time before we could have visitors, we'd empty the guest room and set up our bikes there on indoor trainers and do lunchtime workouts while the kids were at school. By the time we had that set up, schools closed again due to rising coronavirus numbers here in ON. Now the bed is gone from there and we have little desks set up for our kids to do a mix of play and remote learning.

There's a term/joke/game called "want, settle, get". In this case, I wanted to cut to 180 lbs and climb Haleakala, I was willing to settle for reaching 200 lbs and clocking a single flying lap of a 250m velodrome in 18 seconds (for a 50.000 kph average), and the best I could get on the big day was holding steady at 240-something and making it out of bed to take out all of the leftover Christmas trash before the trucks came to collect it. I believe I will always remember that the first conscious thought of my 50's was "S**T - The garbage!"

But I still believe in the goal and the original plan - even if both will remain on hold for some time still. Once we have school and daycare for the kids again, and when we can do playdates and babysitters to be able to have some time for ourselves, my wife and I will get out on our bikes and ride with purpose. In the meantime, I'm going to stay off booze and continue to give myself a bit of a break on the diet/weight stuff. These are difficult times, and I can what emotional energy I have into making myself feel more stress, or I can take the bits of relief and pleasure that are available to me now, and set my mind to coming out of this shell when we're back to something more like normalcy.

What have I learned in the last year and a half?
  1. I still want to ride up that road as much as I ever did, and I'm still willing to make a multi-year commitment to do it.
  2. I still think it makes sense to try the velodrome as an intermediate goal. Hmmm... Maybe a 51 kph lap on my 51st? A track-riding friend of mine pointed out that I would now fit into the Masters category - kinda funny being a Master and a complete newb at the same time.
  3. Biting the bullet and getting the power meter pedals and a decent bike computer was 100% worth it, and I'm glad for the encouragement to do so.
  4. Even though I'm a heavy guy with a decent musculature who can out-squat the vast majority of serious road cyclists, my power output is not great. It might make sense to do some strength/power training to be able to deliver more watts on the bike. I thought that my <10s numbers would be better than even a trained roadie, but that they'd drop off fast due to my terrible cardio - that was not true, even my peak numbers were nothing special (although I was glad to break 1000W a few times).
  5. Related to #1 - my wild guess that maybe I could sustain ~200W for the whole climb seems overly optimistic. That probably means that getting up in 6 hours is overly optimistic and I should plan/train for a longer, slower grind.
  6. Cutting out booze was a good move, but had no meaningful effect on weight loss. It was probably good luck that I hit this pandemic with alcohol eliminated as a crutch.
  7. When the time comes to cut weight, I'm best off with a slow & steady approach. Just a modest improvement of 1-2 lbs/week would be enough to get me where I want/need to be within a year. The arithmetic is easy, but maintaining discipline will require me to do a better job of reducing/managing stress in other parts of my life. I've made some positive changes career wise, and do believe that a return to normalcy (and greater self-sufficiency from our young but growing kids) will help a lot. I will likely enlist some professional help to keep myself on track and internalize better habits.
  8. I'm done with odd/charming bikes. Once my fitness warrants it, I'm just gonna get a nice all-road aluminum endurance bike with a good mechanical groupset, relaxed ergos, and semi-comfy tires and then have fun riding it.
  9. My knees suck and they do a lot better with short, high-intensity rides than with long rides. Time will tell how that equation changes as I get my weight down.
  10. My current size & overall stiffness makes riding a serious road bike not worth the agony. It will take time before I can get on a nice cool bike and grind for hours.
Thanks again to all of my friends here who have offered advice, support, encouragement, etc. It means a lot.
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