This was the start of something new and fun. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed the ride. The second night he introduced me to the Donaldson Center scene. I borrowed a road bike from another friend of his, and we rode around the loop that the racers ride. He also let me borrow a heart rate monitor so I could see how much effort I was exerting. While I don't have the HR data, I do remember something about seeing 200 as being a bad thing...
That was all it took to get hooked. That weekend I went to the local bike shop and bought my first road bike, a Scott S40. In the 24 months that have passed I have ridden 8,693.0mi while finding a hobby that has brought me into better fitness and health.
My family has since moved up to the area, and we all are leading healthier lifestyles. Our "new normal" has brought about changes for all of us, and for me it saw my weight go from a peak of 262lbs in 2011 down to a low of 204lbs this year.
|September 2011 - seems like a lifetime ago|
|Assault on the Carolinas 2013|
I have managed to tackle new challenges both on and off the bike, but the challenges on the bike are more quantifiable. My first challenge was just traveling the swamp rabbit trail. I used Strava segments to quantify my improvements. From there I set my goals to complete the Stars and Stripes Challenge, which was a cancer fundraiser that was held as a part of the US Pro Cycling Road Championships when they were hosted in Greenville, SC. In order to complete that challenge I had to be able to make it to the top of Paris Mountain, which was the featured climb of the route.
|Notice "you made it!!!" behind me|
At this point I had been selected to be a part of a local radio show weight loss competition known as "Rob's Big Losers". Having focus on my cycling goals, as well as the competition, allowed me to set sights on lower my weight and getting my overall fitness improved on a grand scale. In the 12 weeks of the competition I lost over 40 lbs, climbed local route known as "the watershed" and completed my first 5k.
Without a doubt, I was hooked. Since then I've completed my first metric century (2012 Wheels for Meals), completed the Stars and Stripes Challenge, climbed Ceaser's Head Mountain, Green River Cove, Skyuka Mountain Road, Hogback Mountain, and Mt Mitchell. I completed my first century as a part of the 2013 Assault on Mount Mitchell. I've continually set new challenges in front of me to spur me on to reach new heights.
Looking back at the last 2 years, I started out the ride yesterday to follow the same route that I took around Donaldson Center in September of 2011. It was windy, and a bit chilly, but it was amazing to think back and realize how far you can go with a lot of faith and determination.
I've climbed the segment known as "the last little hill at Donaldson" 29 times prior to last night, but this ended up being a personal record, beyond efforts I've done while in a group. Being able to look back gives me a lot of pride in how far I've come, but it also makes me realize that I'm not done yet. There are so many other challenges out there, and so many things I hope to share with my family as we continue on our journey together. While none of them have quite gotten bitten with the cycling bug the way I have, I hope to one day see their faces when they scale Paris Mountain.
My current goals are to continue to see fitness improvements, and get better as a climber. I'd love to see my time on the steep side segment of Paris Mountain at about 15 minutes, and to be able to complete the Hincapie Gran Fondo route (also known as the Marquis de Sade by locals) in under 6 hours. I have also verbally committed to riding in the 2014 Ride to Remember for Alzheimer's awareness. This would be my first "multi-day tour", as the route spans over 250 miles from Greenville to Charleston. I'm also hoping that I can start budgeting for more events further from home. My long term goals are to get strong enough to be "bucket list certified" such that I could do the CTS challenge in front of the Tour of California. All of these new challenges are cumulative and build on the efforts I've already put out. They won't happen overnight, but having goals, and a sport that I truly enjoy, is what keeps me going out on the road.