Standing out from the Crowd

I saw this little guy standing all by himself on the side of the road and immediately thought of Gavroche from Les Miserable.IMG_5210

Do you remember him?  He’s the little guy who points out the spy, Inspector Javert, then gives his life at the barricade for the cause.

Gavroche has a great song about the power of little people…

Good evening, dear inspector
Lovely evening, my dear.
I know this man, my friends
His name is Inspector Javert
So don’t believe a word he says
‘Cause none of it’s true
This only goes to show
What little people can do!

And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings
But we’ve got some bite
So never kick a dog
Because he’s just a pup
We’ll fight like twenty armies
And we won’t give up
So you’d better run for cover
When the pup grows up!

Sometimes…honestly…I feel quite insignificant.  Like I don’t measure up to everyone around me.  But measuring up isn’t really the goal is it?  Exploring and giving the best of myself is the goal.  Kinda like this little corn stalk.  No, he’s not 9′ tall or counted among the great mass of corn stalks in the field, but he’s giving it all he’s got!  And that makes him spectacular.

Just like me…and just like you.

IMG_5212

Listen Up Knuckleheads!

(Did I get your attention?)

I’m a cyclist…

A cyclist who has had several close calls with automobiles (including tonight) and even been sideswiped once this year.  I wear bright and reflective clothing.  I always have a tail light flashing (even in the broad daylight).  I’m careful.  I get it.  I’m a Cyclist!

I’m a driver…

I drive my kids 30 minutes to school every morning.  I own a convertable and love to put the top down and just…. drive!  I enjoy the country roads.  I enjoy the Dan Ryan Expressway.  I’m aware.  I’m safe.  Being a cyclist makes me a better driver.  All that to say…Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.55.52 PM

I’m gonna take off my cycling helmet and go on a motorist’s rant.

I had two run-ins this morning with cycling noobs.  They didn’t look like noobs, but they acted like noobs.

Scenario #1 – The aggressive kamikazee

This is the guy who approaches a major intersection with cars lined up, and proceeds to pass everyone and run right through turning traffic without ever looking or slowing.

Scenario #2 – The clueless center of attention

(Evidently) This person wanted to turn left across four lanes of traffic.  How did I know?  Well, she was meandering around and between cars across all lanes through the intersection.  When I came to the corner to turn right she was headed right toward me and into my lane.  I looked her right in the eye and came to a stop in traffic.  She just looked at me and made no indication of what she was doing.  Impressive balance, but that’s about all that was impressive.

These are the people that give cyclists a bad name.  I’M A CYCLIST AND IT TICKED ME OFF!  C’mon you noobs!  Get with it and get smart!  If you don’t care about your own safety, fine.  You wanna be a hood ornament that’s your choice, but I prefer to live without the image of your sorry spandex flying across the hood of my car, and I definitely don’t want my girls learning that cycling is dangerous because you choose to be an idiot!

(deep breaths… deep… cleansing… breaths)

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 11.03.13 PMNow, I’m not one to rant for ranting’s sake.  So… without further ado I offer these tips for improving cyclist/driver relations.

  1. Use your hand signals people!  Do I need to go over this?  You point the direction you intend to go.  You point down with an open palm when you are slowing down.  Not rocket science people.
  2. Be Predictable.  If I’m turning left across traffic I get into the turn lane early and signal the whole way.  Leave no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what you will and are doing.
  3. Talk to Drivers.  When I’m at an intersection with a car next to me I wave to the driver and get their attention.  Then I tell them, through gestures or actual conversation, what I’m intending to do.  “I’m gonna go straight and get all the way over to the right.” Or, “I’m gonna turn left with you but all the way to the outside.”
  4. Read the Eyes.  Make eye contact with every driver who will come into your path.  When a car pulls up to the intersection I’m about to go through I will often slow until I look them in the eye.  That’s the most certain way to know they see you, and I have found that in some way I can discern their intentions by reading their eyes.

In the end, it’s not always up to you.

You’re going to run into (pardon the pun) clueless automobile drivers.  They WILL pull out into your path.  They will come too close.  For some it doesn’t matter how careful they are, accidents happen.  But let’s do the best we can to be as safe as possible.  Better to communicate with them before they communicate with us (if you catch my drift.  Hand gestures go both ways.).

Enjoy the Ride My Friends!

How about you?  What safety tips would you offer?  Let’s get a good list going here people!

Exploring Wonderful Things

Gracie peers into a hole in the forest wall, catching a glimpse of what lies inside.

Gracie peers into a hole in the forest wall, catching a glimpse of what lies inside.

My daughter Grace is Eleven years old and exploring cycling.  She has an interest that surpasses her friends’ desire to tootle about the neighborhood, and a father who would love nothing more than to ride the rest of his days with her by his side.  Tonight, as we rode the Towpath Trail through Southwest Allen County we saw this hole in the forest wall.  It was like a window into a world most people would never see… (pretty cool eh?)

Seeing Things Otherwise Missed

I told Grace that one of the great privileges of riding is that we see things we might otherwise miss.  We access places cars can’t go.  We cover more territory than walkers/runners.  It really is up to us to seize the opportunity to look around and take in everything around us, to use our senses and look, listen, smell, touch and taste all the richness of life.

Shortly after she said to me, “Look Dad!  Isn’t that beautiful!”

Eagle Marsh is part of the wetlands project in Southwest Allen County, Indiana.

Eagle Marsh is part of the wetlands project in Southwest Allen County, Indiana.

So, what do YOU enjoy about cycling?  I would really love to see a lot of response to this question and people sharing their joy, and (potentially) opening our eyes to new realizations and GREATER fulfillment and passion.  Please.  Share with me (and us) what you enjoy most about cycling and why you keep coming back to it.

As for me and my Gracie, I am blessed to say we both… together…

Enjoyed the Ride!

Rite of Passage

Sociologists will tell you that cultures are defined in some way by their Rites of Passage…

A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s transition from one status to another.

In 1988, after a year of surviving many things and growing up, I was recognized into the Cadet Wing of the United States Air Force Academy.

In 1988, after a year of surviving many things and growing up, I was recognized into the Cadet Wing of the United States Air Force Academy.

For the professional athlete it may be that first live television interview.  For the student it may be the turning of the tassel or donning of the hood.  For Christians it may be Baptism, for the Jew it may be the Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  For the runner it is the 5K, half and/or full marathon.  For the Native American Indian it was the first hunt.  For the U.S. Marine it is the Crucible.  In all cases the person who enters the event is different from the person who emerges.  Rites of Passage change us.

I’ve had a few Rites of Passage in my life; my first shave (what boy can forget his mother’s words at his first shave, “It’ll only grow back darker and thicker!  Don’t cut yourself!”), getting my driver’s license, my first date, Recognition at the US Air Force Academy, earning my Master’s Degree.  All of them changed me in some way.

The cyclist’s Rite of Passage would seem to be The Century Ride.

100 miles ridden in a single day.  Your typical weekend or neighborhood rider can’t do it.  It demonstrates a level of commitment to the sport in time and training.  Depending on your level of training a Century Ride can take 5 to 9 hours.  Most people cannot fathom sitting on a bicycle seat for that period of time.  Well, based on the responses I get anyway…

Century Sticker

It really is quite amazing how far you can travel in 100 miles.  In my case the ride began in Hammond, IN and finished with an 18 mile loop around and through Kenosha, WI.  It was aptly named, “The Tri-State Tour,” and was a well organized event sponsored by Bicycle Illinois (www.bicycleillinois.com).

I’ll get into the specifics of the ride in part 2 of this post, but for now just let me say that I had a GREAT day!

All the major components of a GREAT ride were present…

  • The weather was phenomenal! Mid-70s with sunshine and just enough clouds to keep it interesting.  We had a bit of a wind off the lake, but it was easily manageable.
  • The setting was ever changing, multi-faceted and fascinating.  We rode urban streets, suburban neighborhoods, beach front and wooded bike paths.  It was metropolitan, it was rural, it was exciting!
  • Stories abound.  There was a lot happening and while I couldn’t record every moment there is plenty I will never forget!
  • The planning and support from ride volunteers was amazing.  More on this later, but let’s just say I am so glad for the SAG vehicle.
  • I made new friends.  With only 37 total riders (and knowing no one before the ride) my choice was simple, either make new friends or ride alone and risk getting lost.  My decision was made within the first 1/4 mile of the ride.

    Meeting people is always a highlight of any Event Ride.  Here I am with Lyndsy, Diedra, (me) and Eric "The Young" on the Lakefront in Kenosha, WI.  At this point we are about 3 miles short of the first Century Ride for each of us.

    Meeting people is always a highlight of any Event Ride. Here I am with Lyndsy, Diedra, and Eric “The Young” on the Lakefront in Kenosha, WI. At this point we are about 3 miles short of the first Century Ride for each of us.

All told I put in about 109 miles on Sunday in a little over 7 hours of riding.  Nope, I couldn’t have done a whole lot more.  I experienced some phenomenal cramping on the way home and later that night.  But I am very proud to say that I did it… I DID IT!

Now I’m looking for new and greater challenges.

That’s the thing with Rites of Passage, they tell us we can do more… BE more than previously imagined.  I now know I can ride the Century.  What’s next?  I’m considering the RAGBRAI for next year.  Perhaps a major ride in Pennsylvania with my friend Greg Petersheim, or Arkansas with my Brother-in-law Jeremy.  I don’t know, but my boundaries are now wider than they were, and that is really fun to think about!

What Rites of Passage have you accomplished?  What epic ride have you enjoyed?  Whatever the answer (and Please… share your answers with us), my hope for you is that you…

Enjoy the Ride!

A Recipe for Soul Food

Some things are just good for the soul…

ImageLike the BBQ ribs I cooked on the grill Sunday night.  Oh boy, falling off the bone.  The corn on the cobb, pasta salad, and s’mores just topped it all off!  All food, in my humble opinion, should please the palate and fill the stomach.  Sometimes good food and great company becomes an experience that truly enriches you.  That’s why they call it “Soul Food.”

Ah, but this isn’t a blog about food is it?  It’s about cycling, and tonight I had a ride that was food for my soul.  Want the recipe?  Ok, here you go.

A recipe for a ride that feeds your soul.

Start with 1 Respected Friend

IMG_4868

Eric Smith is a great combination of wisdom, humility and laughter. I always walk away from time with Eric encouraged and enriched.

It helps that he has a great house in the country and, rumor has it, a pool that is open for swimming to those with VIP passes… or cute children.  Thank God for cute children eh?

Add 1 Unridden path

IMG_4862

To be perfectly honest I’ve grown a little bored with my cycling in recent days.  So I’ve stepped off my well-beaten paths into some new territory North and West.  Unfortunately that means crossing a four lane highway.  Fortunately Eric lives on the other side of the tracks (literally, he really does), so he can be my guide.

Tonights track took us north, into unexplored territory for me.  Now my curiosity is piqued.  I want to ride all the way to Michigan!  We’ll see if I can do it.  I know this, it will be a beautiful ride. That, and I better invest in some dog spray.  There are some MAMMOTH dogs out there!

Gently fold in 15 Easy Miles

Road conditions weren't always the best (can't believe I was wishing for chip & seal at times), but the hills were rolling, traffic was light, and the view was spectacular!

The road conditions weren’t always the best (can’t believe I was wishing for chip & seal at times), but the hills were rolling, traffic was light, and the view was spectacular!

The rains have everything very green and suddenly we live in a world of 75F (23C) days and 50F (10C) nights!  I’m not sure I broke a sweat today.  That makes laundry a little easier.  (You… probably didn’t want to know that did you?)

Add 2 Fascinated Burros

IMG_4866These guys were hilarious!  Our ride was a basic Out-and-Back endeavor so we passed them twice. On the way out they watched us pass, curiosity on their faces.  On the way back I stopped to get their picture because they turned to face us in obvious fascination.  When they saw us stop they began to posture, snort, run around and stop to make sure we were looking at their machismo.  I must say it was comical if not impressive.

I never did get their names.  Please…post possible (and acceptable) names in the response section below! (This should be good)

Mix well…

Put all these together in a bowl of rolling farm land, 10′ tall corn and 4′ tall beans, sprawling horse farms, fishing ponds and… GOATS and you’ve got a ride that nourishes the soul.

IMG_4859

Ah yes, don’t forget the icing on the cake…

IMG_4869A dog that happily welcomes you back with his pull toy in his mouth, a wagging tail, and the light of pure joy in his eyes.  Yes my friends, it was a great ride, thoroughly enjoyed.  And Eric’s parting statement to me was, “Call me anytime.”  Oh yeah, no problem there, I’ll always call, so long as I can…

Enjoy the Ride.

Morphin…

Sometimes I feel like I’m caught in the spin cycle; going around and around and around.

A couple weeks ago I lamented our Summer weather pattern in Indiana (see my post entitled, and in Today’s Weather…), and yes, it continues.  I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm of riding 3-4 times a week.  However… the storms are in a pattern of hitting us just about every night.  Now, before this degenerates into (more) moaning about the weather let me move forward.  Today, the storms went NORTH and I hurried home to change my clothes and hit the road!

With visions of 30-40 miles, or hill climbing, in my head I walked in the door only to remember that tonight was the scheduled community ride on the bike paths through our area!  Daddy had a decision to make…quickly; a) offer an alternative to the eldest daughter and fulfill my desire, or b) follow through on what I had promised and take the opportunity to invest in my eldest.  Not much of a choice really, I offered Gracie ice cream tomorrow night so I could go on my ride tonight!

NO…I didn’t!  I’m not a moron! I took my second, and ONLY, option!  Besides, I wouldn’t actually WRITE about taking option A if I had.  C’mon!  Give a guy SOME credit!

Yep, the plans changed.

That solitary 35 miles turned into an 8.5 mile ride with two lovely ladies.  Originally it was supposed to be just me and Grace.  She’s my 11 year old with a budding interest in riding with her dad.  I’m trying to do all i can to nurture that interest short of buying the $780 Cyclocross bike (recently reduced to $550) she so strongly desires.  That’s part of why these little rides are so important…they are an investment!  She asked if her soul-sister Katie might join us to which I answered, “of course!”  Thirty minutes later there are three bikes in the drive, tires fully inflated, helmets strapped on and we are off to the trails!

We had a lovely ride.  The girls followed my directions in learning how to ride with traffic on the trails.  We explored places they had never been before and they climbed their first out-of-the-neighborhood hill.  I was very proud of them and encouraged them on!

Mid-way water fountains are the Bomb!  (Do the kids today still use that phrase?)

Mid-way water fountains are the Bomb! (Do the kids today still use that phrase?)

The girls recognized our locations after a while, choruses of “I know where we are,” rang out from time to time.  What I cherished the most were those moments they saw things one can only discover from a bike.  The trees, creeks, critters, etc. one cannot see from the comfort of the car.  I think my smile gave me away.

The plan for a bike ride morphed into a Daddy-Daughter(s) date.

Seriously!  Does ANYONE belt out One Direction tunes better than a pair of 11 year old girls?  "That's what makes you Beautiful!"

Seriously! Does ANYONE belt out One Direction tunes better than a pair of 11 year old girls? “That’s what makes you Beautiful!”

Is there any better way to cap off a strenuous ride then dinner at Moe’s Southwest Grill?  I think NOT!  I found myself playing chauffer to two giddy girls belting out One Direction’s “That’s What Makes You Beautiful.”  With the top down on the ‘vert I did gather some amused gazes, and I WAS quick to point out the girls hidden in the back seat to explain my choice of music at such high volume.  They sang and I laughed… and mused at the charm of this moment as a dad.  In a dad kind of way this was awesome!

The plan for a Daddy-Daughter(s) date morphed into a sleep over.

I love Katie.  She isn’t my kid, but she is my kid’s soul-sister, of that there is no doubt.  She is respectful, she is obedient, and she knows we love her.  I sincerely hope these two little nut-jobs spend the rest of their lives together in some way.  They are good for each other.

Yeah... this was all staged.

Yeah… this was all staged.

Even now they are in Gracie’s bed doing whatever it is that 11-year old girls do that makes them giggle then go silent when dad knocks on the door.  I want to encourage that sisterhood at every turn.  Truly, what IS the most important thing in life if not those relationships that nurture us (and allow us to nurture them) for a lifetime?

Life is just like a good ride.

You never know what’s gonna happen until to you just get on and get going.  If you do that you will see things you may have never seen otherwise and might never see again.  It’s a chance to invest in yourself and others.  And the life long relationships you are blessed with along the way make every hill, head wind, tumble and tough day worth it in the end.

Today was a good day to be a dad.

I’m so glad I tossed the plans and took the ride.  I hope you have a ride like I did…SOON!  Please, tell me (us) all about it!  Until then…

Enjoy the ride!

FYI... this is the look you get when you say something silly like, "Let's go another 6 miles!"

FYI… this is the look you get when you say something silly like, “Let’s go another 6 miles!”

Happy Birthday America!

This is such a common sight in Indiana that it is easily overlooked and under-appreciated.

This is such a common sight in Indiana that it is easily overlooked and under-appreciated.

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
   For amber waves of grain.
For purple mountain’s majesty,
   Above the fruited plain.

America, America, 

   God shed His grace on thee.
And crown thy good,
   With brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

It somehow seemed appropriate that the lyrics to America, The Beautiful, would be running through my head as I woke up today.  Immediately I knew why; a) it is July 4th, the 237th birthday of my country, b) I ride under spacious skies and past amber waves of grain on just about every ride I take.  So today’s ride, while not-too-spectacular on paper, was all about the scenery.  I wanted to take in the world around me from the saddle of my bike.

After all, that’s what cycling is about for me…

freedom, independence, and enjoying all that passes by and under the bike and me.  Indiana has it’s own beauty and charm.  I don’t always appreciate it and find myself wanting to explore other places, but today it was amazing.

This is a typical country home in Whitley County, IN. Not really farmers, but folks not wanting to live in the suburbs.

This is a typical country home in Whitley County, IN. Not really farmers, but folks not wanting to live in the suburbs.

If you celebrate US Independence Day, then “Happy July 4th” to you!  Wherever you live and whatever you do, I hope you get the opportunity to just look around on your next ride.  Whether it’s your first trip down this road, or your 1,000th, take it all in.  And when you do…

…Enjoy the ride!

Pride (The Good Kind)

Pride… Good or Bad, what do you think?

I found it interesting that in researching for this post I could not find ONE positive quote or statement about Pride.  Not ONE!  In every case it was a vice, never a virtue.  (If you have a good quotable statement about the positive nature of pride please send it, I would love to hear it!)  I am convinced that there is a kind of pride that is good.  It involves celebrating the accomplishment or character of a person other than yourself; someone you’re associated with, in whom you’ve invested, who inspires you in some way.

I’m experiencing an incredible amount of pride tonight and I’m unapologetic!

Rode for the first time with my brother-in-law, Jeremy, in August, 2012.

Rode for the first time with my brother-in-law, Jeremy, in August, 2012.

My brother-in-law rode in the Tour de Cure, Oklahoma City, this past weekend and I couldn’t be more proud of him!  He had quite the experience with set back after set back, but in the end his ride was his furthest to date, and MUCH more than he was able to complete 10 months ago.  In August 2012, Jeremy and I met and rode together for the first time (read Dreaming Again to get some backstory), and we had a great time!  He was relatively new to cycling and we made it through about 20 miles together.  Honestly, he didn’t have much left at the end of the ride (well, he did pay for dinner and that was awesome!), but it was GREAT to be together.  I could tell he was going to improve quickly!  That’s turning out to be a bit of an understatement!

I’m proud of Jeremy’s growing passion for cycling!

He’s got everything he needs to feed this passion for cycling; a good bike (Specialized), a good group of riding buddies, a great bike shop, and plenty of opportunity!  He told me recently that he’s on the road about 100 miles a week.  By some standards that’s not much, but that’s awesome for a working dad with a wife and two kids (He’s killing my average for the summer)!  It’s all uphill for Jeremy; his distances are up, his times are up, his motivation is up! (Maybe I should say it’s all “downhill”… hmmm, interesting that for cyclists “downhill” is a good thing!)  It’s inspiring just to watch him go and grow.

This weekend was his first organized event ride, the Tour de Cure, Oklahoma City.

This is Jeremy's riding group.  Jeremy is on the far left.

This is Jeremy’s riding group. Jeremy is on the far left.

I take a little pride in this event because Jeremy entered seeing that I was riding the Tours in Louisville and Indianapolis.  Why not try his local ride?  I was more than happy to sponsor him.  I encouraged him to take the longer distance (60 miles), though he hadn’t ridden that distance yet, and he did!  You can tell a cyclist is loving it when he pushes his limits, and that’s just what Jeremy did.

He wrote me an e-mail recapping his day.  Wow!  What an experience for him and his buddies!  Here are excerpts from his big day:

  • Started out a great day!  A few allergy issues in the morning, but good start!
  • Just a few miles into the ride I have a bug or bee or something land just above my right eyebrow. Whatever it was bit/stung me, stung for several miles.
  • There were 4 of us riding together and we had a game plan to ride a 15 mph avg to finish on 4 hours. We actually stuck to the game plan!!  (Amazing).
  • About mile 20 Donald reaches for a gu and his right contact flies out!
  • About 2 miles after the first stop comes the biggest hill of the day. We picked up several rides and had a pace line of at least 10 deep. At the last push of the huge hill I took a deep breath and the lovely allergies decided to let loose hitting the bottom of my stomach. I bail out of the line and pull over to lose my breakfast.
  • I get to pedaling again and come up on Zeb waiting for me!! Cool dude and team mate!!
  • We come up on our buddy Brian and he was cramping in his legs horrible. I came prepared and had 2 bananas, and since I was not feeling hot I gave him one. We made it a couple miles and he cramped and we pulled over again. I gave him my last banana knowing we were only 2 miles from the next rest stop. We limp it to the rest stop knowing all would be magically perfect since we were able to stop!! We get Gatorade and water, and we relaxed for a few minutes. (they had no bananas)!!!! We take off and Brian is back in the game!
  • I was not feeling well at all, and feeling weak go to clip in and miss!!  I lay there on the ground with all kinds of people looking at me asking if I am ok. I am still clipped with my left foot and have the bike on top of me in pure riding form!
  • Several stops and much nausea later I run out of water with 12 miles to the next rest stop. I am just limping at about 10 mph just trying to hang on!!
  • One cool thing is I saw was a HUGE hawk on the side of the road. He let me get to within 10 feet before flying away!
  • As I made the turn on the last road before the rest stop, riding with my head down, I look up and ran a small brown snake over!!
  • I finally turned the corner to the last stop and… It wasn’t there!   So I stopped at a store and bought a bottle of water.  Staying true to fashion with how my day is going I turn the corner ready to grit it out and there is the rest stop. 100 yards from where I paid cash for water!!!
  • Ok I am now within 20 miles of the 60 mile total, and thinking I have water, and no nausea in a while I might finish this thing!!  I hear 5 miles to the last turn to head into the finish line. I get going and make it maybe 2 miles, and hit a decent hill. I topped the hill and pulled in a body shop parking lot and threw in the towel. I had made it exactly 50 miles. I text my buddy John and he came to save the day.
  • I didn’t finish and I was honestly just fine with that!!  I get back to meet my buddies with my chest deflated, and pride very bruised!! Donald and Zeb finished right on time, while after 5 cramp attacks Brian rolled across the finish line.  Moral to the story I guess is I left nothing out there! I gave it everything I had, but it just wasn’t my day. Talked with some awesome people on the ride, had no mechanical issues and spent at least 20 miles with my buds.

This has all the elements of a GREAT ride!

Every great ride starts with getting off your butt and onto your bike (check).  It always involves camaraderie and friendship, either old friends or new ones (check).  There MUST be some form of unique experience (check, check, check).  And the truly great rides always carry some discovery with one’s true self and coming out better than when we started (check)!

Great ride Jeremy!  I’m proud of you bro!

Sometime soon we have to ride together again!  Maybe we should plan to ride the Hilly Hundred together in October, or the Tour de Cure in Missouri next year.  Whenever we do it and whatever the ride I know it will be a great ride!  Because I know that you are loving it and we will both…

…Enjoy the ride.

Me and My Shadow

My ShadowI am often transfixed by my shadow.

I know that sounds a bit self-obsessed, but I do.  I find myself watching the road as it glides under the rhythmic pedal strokes.  Each time a single phrase flashes to the forefront of my memory, “Adam, you’re carrying a lot of weight.” Said by just about anyone this would be an awkward, perhaps even offensive statement, but the person who said it was speaking bold truth into my life.  That truth forever changed me.

Five years ago I rode the sofa…a lot.

Big AdamI was grossly overweight and stiff, lazy, stressed, and to the point of trying to rationalize how my obesity was ok.  I couldn’t stand to see pictures of myself, yet I was trying to project an image of a guy who was happy.  In reality I was dying inside.  All that was brought to light with this simple truth, clearly stated, from a daring friend with a heart of pure platinum (which as we all know is BETTER than gold!).

I don’t ride the sofa anymore, now I ride a bike!

A Better MeThat’s the beauty of the shadow.  I’m still overweight, but the shadow says, “You’re making progress!”  I still have stress, but the shadow says, “Not right now you don’t!”  I’m not lazy anymore, and the shadow cheers for me, “Keep striving for better things!”  I marvel at my shadow for it speaks to me of progress, victory and hope!  Life isn’t perfect, but when I’m stressed or struggling those who know me best all say the same thing, “Hop on the bike and hit the road!”  Cycling is becoming a part of my identity.  That shadow is who I am supposed to be – the true me!

So the next time you’re riding take a look at your shadow.

Get caught up in the beauty of your riding, that’s you and your bike!  Working together to make you better!  Thank the Good Lord for the people who cheer you on, for whom life is worth living!  Relish the opportunity to get away and hit the road.  Celebrate YOU, and never forget to…

…Enjoy the Ride!