Tag: cycling

Growing more than I could ever imagine.

Since I was fourteen years old, cycling has been a huge part of my life. Years ago.. somewhere in my mid teens, I got made fun of a lot for wearing my tights. A lot of things were said about me and cycling that were so negative and upsetting that it almost made me quit.

I came out fighting. A lot of my riding is done in a residential area and at one point, neighbors tried shutting my whole thing down because of nuisance. I fought it and won because the township could not find me doing anything wrong or illegal.

Times change though. As I’ve grown into my early twenties, the reception has been a lot different. It’s generally been positive in recent years. There’s a person here or there that will say something nasty, but once I invite them to do a full bike ride (42 miles), their tones change.

When I go out to get something to eat or go out to a store, I often get recognized as “the cyclist”. Some people want a picture and others just want to talk.  There’s been a few dozen instances over the eight and a half years I’ve cycled that people have told me that I have motivated them to go on their own fitness journeys and I think that’s an amazing thing.

Back when I applied for my job (almost two years ago), I had nothing to write about professionally on my resumé. I helped friends move and got paid in pizza and beer. It was something I couldn’t really write about when applying to a job at the federal level. What I could write about was my blogging history (I have blogged on many websites since I was about thirteen), and my career as an independent cyclist who at the time had cycled 60,000 miles (just under 85,000 miles now).

They found it strange that I constantly rejected joining bicycle clubs despite being a highly sought after cyclist in the county. I then explained to them that I remained independent so I could cycle at my own will whenever I wanted to and not having set times and places to go. They accepted my answer and put it on file.

Fast forward a year and a half, Philadelphia had a bike competition and our external stakeholder had a position in the event and they asked if I wanted to ride on their behalf. They found out through my job about my cycling capabilities and they said it was what they needed. I signed on for the competiton with the caveats that I could remain clubless and ride at my personal convenience. They accepted the terms and I became theirs for the month. The competition ran October 1 – October 31. With 1,194 miles, I ranked first overall in the Philadelphia area for mileage. I also ranked nationally. Nationally, I ranked fifteenth for men and seventeenth overall out of 59,000 entries. Our external stakeholder was proud and asked if I would stay on for future cycling events. I agreed, as long as terms remained the same.

I’ve come a long way as a cyclist. From the beginnings of a struggling teenage cyclist on a BMX bicycle to the adult who rides for his job and becomes a nationally ranked cyclist.. it amazes me how far things have gone and remaining independent at the same time.

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Updates.

I’ve been very busy recently. I am writing this after midnight because I can’t sleep because I took a four hour nap because it rained all day. I haven’t been able to blog at all because I’ve been busy at school and at work. So here’s some updates.

– I started my final semester at university on 21 August. I have an online writing class, a class about how to be an entrepreneur, and a business class that I should have taken like a year ago but somehow managed to bypass for the last two years. My advisor gave me hell about it over the spring. I have friends in both physically met classes.

– I’ve now cycled 81,000 miles. I reached 80,000 miles in early August and 81,000 miles last week. I’ve also surpassed the 9,000 mile mark for the fifth consecutive year. I’m about 1,000 miles behind what I did last year at this time but I’m okay with it because I got very run down from the excessive cycling in previous years. I feel better going into fall this year.

– I’ve been working three days a week since early May. I write contracts and contact manufacturers. I take two trains to get there. One of my buddies is trying to get a job in the same agency I work for. I’ve been pulling for him.

– I’ve recovered from anorexia. I weigh the most I have in seven years but I feel strong and healthy; something I’ve not felt in many years.

– I got new earrings. My temporary studs were removed over the weekend and replaced with very tiny white gold hoops that hug my lobes.

– I recently heard from a friend of my ex’s. She contacted me because she fears my ex is getting out of control and thought I may be the only one who could tame her. I’m not about it and could honestly care less after what she did to me over the winter. I also found out she’s at a new college, dating a much older man, and spending a lot of time in the middle of Jersey.

I’ll update again later in the semester.

Until then,

David

 

 

The cycling philosophy.

By the end of August, I should be clearing my 80,000th cycled mile as well as my 2,100th session as a cyclist.

The unconventionality and style that I run with is so different from what people would could consider normal.. and you know, I’m okay with that. Because from the beginning this was never supposed to come off as “normal”. The oddities that I run with for cycling is what got it attention and got me on the map as a cyclist locally to the point clubs have reached out to me directly. I still decline all offers because I don’t need a club to showcase my abilities and also if I gave up my independence I would no longer be able to operate how I want to.

My philosophy involves unconventional training. Hell, to get my foot work down and achieve on point reaction time I maze my way through kids playing in neighborhoods and ride between moving cars and parked cars to perfect my accuracy.

My philosophy of cycling also involves the theory of “nothing gained, nothing lost”. Simply meaning I am not looking to gain muscle anymore (my thighs are over the 25 inch mark — all muscle,  making every pair of pants I own look like skinny jeans). I am also not looking to lose weight. At my ultimate lowest, I had weighed 115 pounds. This meant that I had in fact lost 150 pounds at one time. I currently weigh 175 pounds and that deceives a lot of people because I still wear a few of the shirts I wore when I weighed 60 pounds less.

But, because there’s not a look for a gain or a loss, it takes the pressure off of everything and lets me go out for those 42 miles a day and ride without stress and in peace.

A familiar face and another thing I hear while cycling.

I have a familiar face. A very familar face locally. My eyes typically hidden by tinted sunglasses because my eyes are ridiculously sensitive to light because of something that happened when I was a teenager. My hair is kind of a mess because it gets blown around by the wind. Sometimes it’s tied back by a rubber band taken from the morning paper. All of that paired with a flannel shirt partially buttoned creates my image that I’ve grown with over the years.

It’s how I present myself for three seasons of the year. The summer has an overhaul and I dominantly appear in tank tops and compression shorts.

But, people who’ve gotten to talk to me over the years and gotten pieces of my playbook that gave me success have said many things to me over the years.

One thing I hear a lot (besides “I’ve been watching for years”) is “I want to be like you”. It’s one of those things where I don’t know how to react because a) I’m just me and b) I only found success because I rebelled against the social norms of cycling in any way I could. That rebellion put me on the map and it gave me my own personal platform where I could vocally talk about things I believed in or didn’t believe in.

Some of that rebellion includes:

– Refusing to join multiple clubs that requested me to join them.

– Keeping as much independence with cycling as I could. Previously, I allowed suggestions on how I could improve but I no longer accept them.

– Minimally dressing like a cyclist. The only cycling gear I own now are tights.

– Stripping the cyclist mentality from my life. That snotty arrogance is so unnecessary and as I grew older, I permanently got rid of it.

– Riding more “acoustic” and “informal” as I grew older. I no longer look like a cyclist, the spandex body suits are gone, and I tried to strip down any part of me that could come off as intimidating to approach. I also no longer have an exact schedule outside of the night sessions. When I have options for timing throughout the day, I look at when I have a space to go out and feel when my legs are the strongest on a particular day.

I truly made cycling mine. I wanted cycling to feel approachable for anyone of any age and be able to make it their own. I partially dress the way I do to prove a point. That point is that you don’t need those $100 bicycle shoes or that $75 cycling jersey to become a “cyclist”. All you need is a bike, some time, and a goal in mind. As long as you’ve got those three things, you can become a cyclist. If that’s what people want to be like, then that’s alright with me. I know it’s been successful and cycling has become more accessible to the average person around here. I know this because it’s more than a coincidence that I’ve seen dozens of people with Trek bicycles that resemble the three that I own and the fact that it’s the only brand of bicycle I see. If bringing cycling to the community is my lasting memory, so be it. It’s making for a healthier community and I couldn’t be happier about the outcome.

 

Lacking enthusiasm.

Have you ever been a part of something for so long that you lost enthusiasm doing it?

I’m now in that place with cycling.

It’s been my baby of a project since I was 14 (I’ll be 23 in July) and was the first thing I ever gave a commitment to and what also got me to love the outdoors. While I was cycling in just one place almost the entire time and still cycle there, I’ve expanded my horizons and go a lot of places on my bike now outside of the usual routine.

But, there’s just something that’s changed. I don’t really know what. It could be spiritually or emotionally. I feel like my heart isn’t in it anymore like it once was. It was the one thing I always loved talking about when people asked because they knew it’s who I am. But, nowadays.. if someone asks about it.. I’ll be like “Yeah, I plan on riding today” or “It’s going alright”. I don’t feel like elaborating it anymore because I feel like I’ve done enough of that to last two lifetimes.

Sometimes.. I just feel worn and tired. I wake up and walk downstairs to get coffee in the morning and all I hear are my knees crackling.

I’ve also missed more time this year for cycling than I have since 2014 and have not surpassed 1,100 miles in a month yet this year. It’s very unlike me. Almost every year I would significantly pass that milestone by March and get more than 1,300 miles in a month. I feel like I can’t do it anymore.

And I even look at the neighborhoods that I’ve used as my path. They aren’t the same anymore. Up until this year, they were pretty empty most of the time. The only time I would experience anything was if I overslept on the weekend and the kids would be out at like 1 in the afternoon and I expected it. Those were good kids though. If they were playing something, they would wait for me to pass and then continue. Now, most of the week when I go out.. there’s loads of disrespectful, self-entitled kids out there who.. if I ride by them and they are playing a game get so upset they will intentionally try and make it hard for me to ride. They typically throw things at me or try to walk directly in front of me and laugh. I’ve also watched a few of them throw things at passing cars if they made them stop playing something. Some of those kids don’t even live there. It’s a mess and it’s the one thing I’ve gone to hate more than anything. Parents are nowhere to be found to stop it from happening as most times they throw them out to the streets and make them the neighborhood’s problem. There was one instance that it got so bad one night that I had to get my dad out to police it so I could finish a ride and so that kids would stop throwing things at me. One night this young boy (can’t be older than five), unscrewed the saddle post to a bicycle that wasn’t even his and threw the saddle post with seat still attached directly at my head and only missed me by inches. He stood there clapping his hands as if he was proud of himself that it almost hit me in the head. I can’t even tell a parent about it because I don’t know who his parent is. Like six adults live at his house and the times I’ve come in contact with any of them, they’ve been incredibly rude to me. The kid’s got serious issues though (there was one incident that the little dude punched an unfamiliar kid in the face and started bleeding as they were running away and the little dude just stood there laughing about it as if someone told him the funniest joke ever — great parenting).

Depression may also be another factor. People have told me that my appearance has changed in recent months. Longer, uncombed hair, an unshaven face, dead eyes that I typically hide when I’m out. I feel a lot of disconnect in my life right now even though I’m in a good place in my life (a great job, about to graduate college).

And.. you know.. I celebrated the eighth anniversary of cycling on the 18th. I typically bring out a picture from the first year and try to find it in myself to write something inspiring to people on their own weight loss journey and I just.. couldn’t find anything. I just wrote a status that acknowledged it was the anniversary and that cycling was a big part of how I got my job. I’ve lived through most of my life with depression and can often hide it pretty well.. just not recently. It comes to the point where I sometimes feel too depressed to ride. I’ve never been there until recently. I used to ride more when I was depressed to make me feel better. I can’t even do that anymore.

It’s a darker time in my life when it shouldn’t be and I don’t know how to explain it or why it’s happening.

 

 

 

“Nothing lasts forever.”

I was having this talk with a friend of mine. She’s going through a difficult time in her life. I’m not really good at giving advice but the thing I told her was that “Nothing lasts forever”. Good or bad, it’s the truth. She’s not in a good place right now but it won’t be forever. She has a boyfriend that absolutely loves her,  going to graduate college in the next year or so, and is trying to apply for a government job (I gave her a little bit of help, telling her where to apply for a government job that fits her career – she’s involved in medical and psychology).

I say “nothing lasts forever” quite a bit. It’s almost like my motto. A couple can be married for 50 years until one of them passes away. That’s a lifetime, but not forever.

I look at the little things in my life, like cycling. A lot of people who’ve known me for years thought I’d grow old and be a cyclist until I couldn’t do it anymore. But, every once in a while friends will ask me about my cyclist life and what I plan to do with it in time. People are stunned that I project I’ll be completely disconnected from it in three years or less because I want to retire from it while I can still walk. Cycling won’t be forever for me. It will be ten and a half years at the very most. But, it will still be nice to say I was a cyclist for a decade through the core of my teens and through my early twenties.

I have friends who have dated several years and known each other longer than they’ve dated. I have friends that are dating each other and I hear what each of them say when they’re not next to each other. The girl will talk about getting married and having a kid and even their first home together. The guy will be like “we’ll probably get married one day”, but it doesn’t go much beyond that as we sit there drinking our beer. Maybe I’m just a typical dude that doesn’t look that far in the future. Partially because it’s a scary place, partially because events change the way people look at each other.

Unrelated rant: The thought of “nothing lasts forever” lives with me. It’s why I never talk about the future if I’m dating someone. The way I feel in a specific moment definitely won’t be the same in the future. Even thinking back to my recent relationship that ended.. I was in love at first because I dated the girl I always wanted to date. But, after a while.. before everything came out, I went along with it but didn’t feel much of anything towards the end. We were two very different people and it became very clear. I had a direction for a future and a career and I knew what I wanted to do where as she just hoped that someone would discover her “talent” while she was busking or something. She solely relied on being discovered whereas I went to my current job with my blog entries and my cycling archive to show the kind of things I’m capable of doing and let them decide if I was worth bringing on board. Hell, I even showed her how to apply for a job where I work but she declined it because it “sabotaged her dream”. I wish her the best, but I’m not going to do anything to help her or her future.

 

The water guy.

A guy who works for the water company has come to visit me when I cycle since either the first or second campaign (I’m up to the ninth campaign). So, he more than most people knows the story and how I developed my whole cycling gig over the years. I think with him though is that he could see the changes in me more clearly because he only sees me once every few months. I saw him a few days ago, but before that the last time I saw him was around Thanksgiving.

Every time he stops by to see me, we talk for about ten minutes and catch up on things. He can hear the music through my earbuds and asks what song or band it is if he doesn’t recognize it.  Every time he leaves he says something like “See you soon, brother”. He’s a really nice guy. He’s tried to get into the fitness world for the last few years and asks me tips for what I did when I was starting out. He was successful for a while and lost a decent amount of weight. However, he ended up wearing out his knees from being a caterer when he was younger, had to get some surgery done, and it wasn’t done right. After the bad surgery, he wasn’t able to do cardio very well and like me, it was his primary way of fitness. He’s also an older guy too and that could also be slowing him down a little bit.

When he talked to me a few days ago, he asked me a question and it was “How much do you weigh now?”. It’s not something I know off hand because I don’t actively weigh myself anymore. I take measurements every so often instead. So, I told him the weight I was given when I went to the doctors a few months ago and I was in the low 160s then. I’m assuming not much has changed because all my clothes fit the same. After I told him what I weighed he said “There’s no way that you weigh that much”. I explained to him that it’s all lower body. While my upper body is very small for a grown man, my legs are very built up from the near 75,000 miles of cycling they’ve seen over eight years. My legs are so built that they tears the seams of my pants and prevent me from wearing a lot of the pants that I own.

Story time: one thing with him is that he is one of the people who saw me bottom out in 2011 when I weighed about 115 pounds and had lost a lot of the muscle in my legs at that time. He knows that I’ve weighed that little at one point or another and also knows that I’ve dealt with anorexia at various points in my cycling career. Although, if you know me personally.. you know that I’ve dealt with it on and off for the last six years. With the amount of miles that I do in a day (42, 46 every fifth day), it sometimes becomes very difficult for me to get enough calories to maintain myself. From my understanding, for every mile cycled 35 calories are burned. If that’s true, it means that 1,470 calories are burned per session. From 2012-2015, I ate over 4,000 calories per day to maintain myself. Because I was getting smaller and losing weight towards the end of 2015, I started eating over 5,000 calories a day (if I could reach it). It sounds like a dream, but it literally becomes hell after a while because you know you’ve gotta eat something dense in calories but can’t find it. Some nights, I have to go to empty calories like liquor because I couldn’t get enough calories for the day. Because of that, it’s how I’ve never completely beaten anorexia. I’ve been called “recovered” by my doctors twice. I think that’s crap because I drop weight pretty quickly if I don’t eat well for a week or two. With people who know my history, it’s a concern for some people because they don’t know if I’m having a difficulty or if I’m okay.

He thought I looked smaller than usual and seemed concerned. He thought that I only weighed in the 130s and thought that I was in trouble. I told him I was alright but in honesty, I don’t know. I don’t weigh myself or anything.