This picture is of me and a buddy of mine in 2000.
Biking and I have a long tortured history. In my pre-teen years I was all over biking. Living in Montreal, Quebec, I used to bike all over the place all of the time. The whole point of spring was to get on a bike and just go.
But it all came to an abrupt end.
Shortly before I move to Athens for good, at the age of 15, I face planted into cement. The face-plant rearranged my face, created a few permanent scars, displaced my front teeth and turned me off the sport for good.
It didn’t help that Athens between 1988 and 1992 wasn’t the best place to go biking. Finding a cyclist was like finding an incorruptible politician, very difficult to damn near impossible.
When I arrived in the US in 1992 to go to college (Brown University class of 96!), I blimped out – putting on 90 pounds over 1 year – and by the time I was 24 I wasn’t physically capable of biking (okay walking 1 mile, but you get the point). I moved to California in 1996 and continued to live the life of the fat Greek geek. In 1998 thanks to the unbelievable support of my wife I managed to reassert control over my health and lose 60 pounds.
Part of reasserting control was getting into biking.
Now in the bay area in the late 90’s, biking was the thing to do. And so my wife and I got into it, in a big way. Part of it was the amazing biking opportunities in the Santa Cruz Mountains, part of it was Lance Armstrong. I remember biking at least three times a week. On Tuesday and Thursday I climbed up Page Mill, and on Saturday we did at least 80-90 mile bike rides to the coast. April 15th was the official start of the cycling season when we would go up Mount Hamilton.
By the time I turned 31 we had gone from being barely able to finish the Napa Valley metric century to finishing the Death Ride.
I had these super quads and the all important cyclist muscle bump over the knee.
And then we stopped biking. It was as if we had conquered Everest and had nothing left to see.
Between the age of 31 and now, biking became a once-in-a-while kind of activity. The intermittent sport of choice had become running.
So I turn 40, and I decide to do this Triathlon thingy and think – man this biking thing will be a breeze because I so did the Death Ride.
It turns out that if you haven’t biked in 9 years, your body might remember how the pedals go but every single bike muscle has gone.
And it’s not the obvious ones, it’s the non-obvious ones. The muscles on your hands and arms, and neck are the ones that hurt the most. And you sit there on this bike pedaling and suffering… and you wonder maybe the bike doesn’t fit … and then you remember that you once spent 17 hours on this very same bike …
And that saddle sore you realize is just a painful reminder that you once were in much better biking shape…
The good news is that all of this biking is getting some of those non-obvious muscles in shape, the bad news is that I remember how much easier this was 13 years ago.