Fat Boi Biking!

Posted: 8th November 2020 by admin in Blog
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A repost of one of one of my most popular posts from 2017 just for fun.

Fat Boi Biking!

This weekend, I spent $27 on making a bucket list item come true. It’ll probably be the only bucket list item I can do for $27 and that’s okay. It’s also two years behind schedule, but when it happened, it happened so good, I cannot complain.

I established many blog posts back that I am not athletically inclined. I don’t find it difficult to organize my life or my thoughts around that idea. I do things with this body that entertain me, like the occasional racquetball game or the occasional bike ride, but I’ve said it outright before—I’m no one’s idea of a jock.  Never have been.  In fact, I’ve joked about my “concerns” that the Lesbian Association of the Midwest (LAM, for short) would eventually figure out just how much not a jock I am and revoke my Lesbian in Good Standing status.  And where would I be then?

Oh yes…of course…I’d probably be standing in my lawn in my moose slippers and flannel shirt while watching Spike, the tow truck driver from LAM, back down my driveway, run a big hook through my LAM membership card, and cart it away.

But I digress. Y’all are probably used to that by now.

So this weekend….I did it. I took my non-jock, almost 52 year-old pudgy self and registered for a long distance bike ride with the local Kiwanis Club. None of my friends could sign up with me, so I signed up just as me. Maybe I’d run into some folks I knew once things got under way. Going alone was not about to stop me.

If you’ve checked out some of my earlier posts, you know that I’m not the most confident person in the world about my low level athletic ability. I find it kind of funny. You also know that over many years, I have (as many of us have) tolerated critical, often outright nasty, comments about my weight from significant people in my life…which I think tends to make all of us a bit shy about participating in athletic events. I don’t think that’s unique to me at all. If you hear often enough how fat and awkward you are, or bluntly if you’re called a “fat, useless fuck” often enough, it takes a toll on how you operate the body you’ve been put in charge of this time around.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this venture. I wasn’t even sure how I’d start when I first got the idea a couple of years ago. Where does one even FIND cycling shorts when one believes that one’s ass needs its own zip code? Check the stores. You’ll find lots of Smalls, the occasional Mediums, a rogue Large and the miraculous XL…which looks to be about a size 6 when I hold it up against myself. No offense, designers, I just haven’t been that small since I was in grade school.

As an aside—athletic clothing companies, take notice!  There are lots of us out here who could and would be more active! Being able to find appropriate clothing in the right size would be most helpful! After a tip from a good friend about Aerotech Designs, I figured it out and started to practice.

I’d love to say that if I did this every day, I’d fit into something that appears to be a size 6. But reality check…when I look at everyone else in my family…we are not slender beings. My siblings, my cousins, my nephews…If you’ve seen one of us, you’ve seen all of us. We are solid Irish stock.  I’m low to the ground and sturdy. There’s probably a step-stool somewhere in my lineage that no one is talking about.

As part of the Turning 50 Bucket List, this was a little harder to come by than some other things I want to do. During the summer that I turned 50, I bought a new bike to get ready to do this event and on my first ride, I ruptured my ACL and tore up a bunch of other things that one needs inside of a knee and spent most of the summer, including my 50th birthday, crashed out on the couch unable to walk. I signed up again last summer, one week before my 51st birthday, thinking it would still count. I was still 50, after all. I woke up that morning to a major thunderstorm and all cyclists were held at the registration site. The downpour continued all morning. Only the serious cyclists with their foul weather gear attempted to go.  I was not one of them.  I put on my sad face, collected my bucket list at the door and went back home.

So this was the year to make it happen!  Once underway, I had no idea what to expect. The roads were different than the rails-to-trail path I normally ride. It wasn’t as busy as I thought it might be, so there were long stretches where I was the sole rider on a road—no one else in sight. That was okay. It was quiet.

There was one moment of hesitation when I faced the sign that said 23 Mile Riders turn right, 46 Mile Riders turn left. I almost turned right. I could do the 23 miles and then just SAY I did the 46 I signed up for. No one else was out there with me, so who would know?

But this was BUCKET LIST. This was meant to be a challenge for my almost 52 year old, pudgy self.  I turned left. Not long after that left turn, I found myself pondering the mother dying at 47. She never saw age 52. I was seeing age 52 on a bike on a country road, feeling  my quads burn on hills and the pain at the base of my skull from being hit by a car a few months ago.  The mother is probably the one person in my family who might have qualified as skinny…but I think the technical term is “wasted”. She was thin when she was dying. I pictured myself, low to the ground and sturdy, and I kept pedaling.

I wondered if there would be any negative reaction to me being out there. I noticed very early in that I didn’t look like anyone else I ran into. But everyone was friendly. Everyone asked how it was going and if I was having a good ride. I also noticed after I made that left turn that everyone I ran into had a really nice bike and they were serious about this shit. They blew by me on hills, muscles bulging, greeting me with a sideways “Hey!” or “All good?” as I plodded on. That stood out for me. Here were these folks who were serious about this sport, all checking in, holding up thumbs to make sure I’d respond that I was okay, asking if I needed anything.  As a friend described last year, I was moving like a turtle stampeding through peanut butter. Did I need anything? Just time, kids! I need some extra time to make this happen!

Somewhere around mile 30, alone on a road lined by cornfields, I started to sing out loud.  “Just what makes that little old ant…think he can move a rubber tree plant…anyone knows an ant can’t…move a rubber tree plant…But he’s got hiiiiiigh hopes…he’s got hiiiigh hopes…he’s got high apple pie in the sky hopes….” The cows lined up at the fences seemed to appreciate it. I invited them to join me and sang louder, out there all by my lone.

That was when the SAG vehicle pulled up alongside me. I’m guessing that some farmer called in a report of a free range, out of tune boi biking down his road singing about ants and the Kiwanis said, “Oh, that one is probably ours!” and dispatched the support team.  They were very nice, my new friends in the support vehicle. They paced me for maybe half a mile, and I stopped singing immediately (not wanting to hurt them), and they eventually decided I had not truly departed from reality and went about their business.

At the rest stop at mile 32, I pulled up on my little Trek hybrid among road bikes that cost thousands of dollars and people wearing race shirts. Don’t get me wrong—I have a perfectly nice bike. For me. For the things I do. I was in a different world at that moment. I was the only recreational rider in the group. Okay. Set brain to setting:  Prepare for negative comments!

The last 8 miles were mostly into the wind. On hills. When big gusts would come along, I was forced to downshift even more than usual and could barely maintain 5 mph. The big kids on their many thousand dollar bikes swept by me like I was driving a Big Wheel and the sideways comments continued.  “You good?”  “You’re almost there!” “You can do this!”

I can do this, dammit!

At one point, I struggled to get up to 7 mph on a hill and the raw spots on my leg burned and I almost started to cry, wondering what the hell I had done this for.  My quads were about to give out. I had jello legs and I seriously considered calling the SAG vehicle to pick me up to take me in. Then I’d hit a stretch of downhill and gain a little speed and I’d be determined all over again to ride into that final stop under my own power, even if it was only at 7 mph. 

Those last few miles took over an hour. I stopped to stretch out a cramp as I got back into the city limits and a nice woman in a car pulled over to ask if I had hurt myself and did I need any help. Thanking her, I got back on my bike, acutely aware of my burning raw spots and melted spikes and my pudgy, not athletically inclined- self and I pedaled to the destination spot.

I am no one’s idea of a jock. Oddly, despite all of that effort yesterday, I woke up this morning still pudgy and even a little achy. But last night…oh…last night I fell asleep thinking, “I did it. I really did it,” and wanting to dream of buckets.

Come and git me, Spike. I dare ya!


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