Tag: personal

Reminiscing.

Many of my friends know that I am quite the story teller. If you give me a few shots, a few glasses, or a few cans, I will tell you a story of the past. Unfortunately, some stories go a little fuzzy because I’ve fallen on my head while riding my bicycles.

I’ve drank two glasses of moscato and have been in a reminiscing mood all day. Putting the two together, I am writing this entry. It’s primarily about the neighborhoods I grew up in and cycled through many times in my life.

I’ve lived in the same house for my entire life. Nobody really knows my address but goes by the house. It’s the one with brown shutters, beige siding, and has the oldest car on the block (my ’91 Toyota) in front of it. It’s also the house with the bicycle tracks all over the front lawn from me taking off and coming back.

I have many childhood memories in this neighborhood. I remember being three years old and riding my first tricycle down the street with my dad following close behind. As I got older, the tricycle got replaced with a big wheel, and then my many, many bicycles.

I think about the events we had over the years too. I think about the annual block parties we had in the very late ’90s. We had a puppet guy in our yard. I think about the birthday parties we had at my house when I was a child. They were mostly in a blow up pool and twenty kids were running through my house.. but still. I also think about the snowstorms and hurricanes. Snowstorms so bad people rode ATVs down Moore. Hurricanes so bad my backyard flooded.

Then I think about the people who lived here. I think about Dave, a friend of my dad’s who almost lived on Edy’s ice cream. I also think about the cat lady who got evicted like fifteen years ago.

There’s also some personal memories I’ve got when it comes to cycling. Like the time I rode a bicycle in the rain and my brakes got flooded and I had to ride without brakes. Or those miraculous rides in my late teens in the early morning hours after amazing parties with great people and having to listen to Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” because it was the softest music I had on my playlist.

But, the neighborhoods are changing unfortunately. Neighbors are moving out that I loved and got close with. At least three families have told me they are moving out or trying to in the next year or so. The neighborhood is full of disrespectful children who do not know how to ride bikes and either cut people off or hit parked cars and bail. In a lot of ways, it feels like our eighty-some family “family” is falling apart because of life changes. The people who move in aren’t as cool and make me miss the old people who lived on our streets.

Body + mind.

Growing up, I was very insecure with my body. I got bullied a lot for it when I was younger and got bullied until I was about 16. I hated showing my body publicly. I avoided beaches for five years because I was afraid to show my body and feared getting judged.

But, something happened last year. There was a day last summer where the heat index was over 100 degrees and I was riding my bicycle. I remember it being quite humid as well. But I was sweating really badly and had to do something because my tank top looked like I had just gone swimming in it. It was so drenched. It was in that moment, I got to a stop sign and rolled my tank top straight up. So, I looked like I was wearing a crop top of sorts. It was the first time I had shown any part of my chest in my community since I was about 14. Even then, that was for the pool. But I did like 20 or so miles with the makeshift crop top and nobody  made faces or looks of disgust at me so I grew comfortable and would do it for the remainder of the summer when it would get over 90 degrees. Having my shirt like that allows wind to hit me in the chest and helps me stay cooler and less likely to overheat on hot days. It’s almost like a throwback to cutoff shirts of the late ’80s – early ’90s that men wore to gyms. Except I can unfold and bring it back to being a functional shirt when I’m done.

In 2017, it became more common for me to dress like that. I even brought skin tight short shorts out for riding as well. It’s all in an effort to help people who struggle with body positivity on a personal level. There are people who know I put so much time and effort into cycling every day, and I wanted those people to see that even after all these years I still do not have a perfect body. It does look a lot better than what it had in the past but it is still far from perfect. I wanted those people to see that and I wanted to go vulnerable.. because I know there are people struggling with body positivity like I once did and are afraid to display themselves publicly like I was.

Confidence and positivity in yourself is so important. It’s how you carry yourself and other people notice that about you. Go out there and be you. Go to the beach even if you think your body is imperfect. People who judge on trivial things like that are miserable people and are dying inside. Don’t let that insecurity hold you back. Go out and have some fun and the time of your life.

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.

Disconnect.

Tuesday, 1:24 am.

Recently, I feel like my entire life has been in disconnect. Things haven’t felt the same.

I haven’t wanted to talk to many people recently. In the last few weeks since school got out I have only communicated with two or three people on a daily basis. My texts have been dry except for the last few days where we were planning something.

Something feels off in my life and I can’t put my finger on it exactly but I think depression is a factor. I haven’t gone out much with the exception of this weekend where I was constantly out.

Sometimes I question things late at night and think about if they are really worth it anymore.

This girl I’ve been talking to and gotten close with knows I’ve dealt with depression for most of my life and has been very supportive as well as given me space when I’ve wanted to be alone. She understands me and she’s absolutely wonderful.

Weak.

I feel weak. I feel powerless. I feel numb.

I’m almost certain anorexia has come back and I feel like I’m losing control a little bit. I try to keep myself as together and composed as possible but I know I’m struggling deep down.

I still can ride but I feel very weak afterwards and nap for a while when I come back.

I’ve grown difficulty eating again and trying to match the daily 4,000+ calories I need and it’s why I’m failing. My hair is also falling out and thinning. Why do I do these things to myself?

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.

 

“I’ve been watching you for years”.

“I’ve been watching you for years” seems like a creepy little greeting that sounds like I’ve got a bunch of stalkers but, it’s actually a good thing.. sort of.

It’s a statement I’ve heard for quite a while. I hear it because I’ve been cycling in the very same place for eight years and my schedule becomes familiar to people who see me regularly. Even with the recent transition to focusing on night sessions, the change has been recognized by a lot of people and they have been helping me out in small ways with things like exterior illumination.

I see many of the same faces day after day but have not talked to some of those faces before. If I’m ever seen stopped at the intersection of East and Moore, I at times get approached while I’m chugging a bottle of water. By the time I get to that point, I’m pretty gross looking. I typically do that between the 28th and 30th mile of the day. Although, sometimes I don’t stop at all if it’s not that hot.

It’s this time of year that I get the most attention from people. Because the weather is nice out, people who aren’t yet committed to a fitness (or are picking up their New Years resolution) begin to really come out in numbers. Even people who are just starting out start to come out now because we are in that small window of nice weather. I can’t blame them though. I debuted cycling in mid-May many years ago and refused to start riding before March 1st for the first few campaigns until I converted to being a year round cyclist. The weather for exercising is kinda crappy most of the time until like April at earliest.

Enter: a woman who moved to the area late last year. She caught my attention very early during the cycling session yesterday. She lives nearby and I’ve seen her drive past many times before. Her car is kind of different looking and I would recognize it anywhere. But it was the first time I had ever talked to her. She told me that she had heard about me when she first moved in and tried to find me for a few weeks until she eventually did (she was searching at the wrong times). It was the first time I had ever seen her on a bicycle and that was why she caught my attention. She asked if she could ride with me in the opposite direction so that it didn’t feel like I was lapping her. I was cool with it and am always down with people coming on a neighborhood ride along.

She lasted about four miles and told me she was in pain. Her facial expression looked like it too. She felt bad that she couldn’t do the things I pull off on a daily basis. Then, I told her not to feel bad because I had to spend years working up to what I do. I spent months during my first campaign doing less than twelve miles a day because I would get tired easily and feel pain because I was riding a bike I was way too big for.

And, that’s always important for me to tell people if they start trying to follow things I’ve done over the years. The first thing is “You won’t be able to ride a lot without pain at first” (I still feel some pain at first years later). The second thing is “You will eventually fall off your bike”. I’ve fallen off fourteen times over the years and I will probably fall again at some point. It’s all about growing and learning from what you screwed up. Everything I’ve been able to achieve with cycling comes out of something that I had screwed up in the past. We will all make our mistakes and errors in our lifetimes. It is up to us to learn from them instead of dwell on them.