Yesterday I took another step in training for my summer unsupported bicycle tour with a WLS buddy. On an unsupported tour, the cyclists carry all their food and food prep supplies, camping gear, clothing and other provisions on their bikes. With a 350-400 mile tour over 10 days, most of the advice I have gotten points to me carrying about 30-40 extra pounds on the bike.
Yesterday’s forecast was for sunny skies and temps in the mid 70s. It was a perfect day for a ride with the panniers. I loaded 8 – ½ liter bottles of water in each pannier to simulate a 35 pound load and headed to my favorite trailhead. Starting down the trail, the extra weight was really evident. The bike definitely felt more grounded and required an extra push while pedaling.
Hills, I hate hills. That has been my weakness in cycling. I chose this trail since it has a daunting 5 mile grade that has challenged me over the years. I knew I needed to overcome this fear since my tour involves 100 miles of a constant 1-2% uphill grade. I had to get a taste of what was to come this summer to help prepare me for the challenge.
I settled in for the ride and adjusted well to the extra weight. The first 12 miles went pretty damn well. Oh, I need to tell you that those 12 miles were mostly downhill. I got to do a lot of coasting. After lunch, I turned and headed back uphill. My past history told me that I was in for some major pedaling. It actually turned out to be a good ride. I used a lower gear than normal most of the time but made it back to my starting point in decent time maintaining a good pace.
Let’s use this ride as an analogy of my weight loss journey. I started my weight loss surgery trip apprehensive from my past forays into weight loss. My surgery combined with education and the right attitude outfitted me for my journey. Like most bariatric patients I coasted more on the downward weight spiral in the early post-op months. Then there came that point where I had to pedal harder to maintain my momentum to stay fit and healthy.
The past year or so has been a time when my focus has changed from losing weight to maintaining my weight. As with my upward trek on this weekend’s ride, I had to change gears to maintain a steady pace. Staying focused on my life goals including weight loss and cycling involves putting time and effort in educating myself and transforming my life.
Too often bariatric patients become comfortable with the coasting and find themselves at the foot of a daunting hill. Being able to climb the next challenging hill involves work and commitment. There is no easy answer. The only way up is to start pedaling harder and changing gears to make the journey more doable.
This weekend I added another life lesson to my toolbox. I learned that my two years of cycling has made me stronger and a more capable cyclist. Although I still hate hills, I am more able to make it to the top. Folks, it’s all about changing gears and keeping a constant pace. I’ll be cycling many more rides with hills in the coming months; constantly challenging myself to me stronger and better. This sounds like a lesion to apply to the other parts of my life.