I am not a hard-core bicycle rider. When I ride I am not all hunched over, with the racing outfit, moving as fast as I can along the trail. My intent is not to conquer distance with speed. I started riding a bicycle several years ago because my Doctor told me I needed some sort of exercise to lower my weight and get my body in better shape. When I first started with the Library 28 years ago, I had a gym membership, going several times a week using the elliptical trainer and other stuff. For over twenty years I did this, but the gym and my motivation was doing nothing to help. A gym membership is too expensive so I finally quit. I did nothing for a long time. I was over-weight and out of shape. In 2011, I started riding a bicycle.
We live about a quarter mile from the American River Parkway and Bicycle Trail. I remember my first ride. I went about a mile. That is not far. It took over a year for me to go 2-3 miles. On one of those first rides I remember seeing some of the wildlife. Blue Heron. Kestrel. Red-shouldered Hawk. Lots of deer. A Coyote. I would see something, whip out my cell-phone and take a picture, a teeny-tiny speck of pixels lost in a slightly larger blurred image on a flip-phone screen. I knew what it was. Nobody else seemed impressed. “Oh, yeah. A Bird.” So, I started carrying a bigger camera with me. I would begin looking forward to riding. I would spend more time out on the trail, not necessarily riding, but finding and discovering. By two months ago I would ride anywhere from 6-7 miles to 15-20 miles. I have ridden every mile from the J Street-Fair Oaks Blvd bridge near Sac State to Beals Point at Folsom Lake.
I have also lost weight and kept it off. I am not thin, like most hard-core riders. I have never had a six-pack. I have a single pack surrounded by a life-preserver. I do not look like someone who rides a bicycle, let alone a great distance rider. But I do ride.
My father died from complications from triple-bypass surgery. His heart surgery was not an emergency but came after 20+ years of heart problems. He was told he had a 98% chance for a full recovery after this surgery but he didn’t make it out of Recovery. He had 11 heart-attacks in nine days. They opened him three times. By the end of the ninth day I had watched his body take a battering I doubted anyone could survive. My mother died from complications of chemo treatment for leukemia. My brother died from a massive heart attack. All of the family evidence points to me having heart problems. Only a reckless person would suggest I was not a candidate for the same kind of coronary problems. I wanted the problems to happen much later, closer to the end of a long, full life. I’m 63 which, in my mind, is too young.
I will be out riding as soon as I can.