I love that quote! Last summer, we were vacationing in Jersey and decided to ride our bikes to check out some new yurts that were being offered at one of the state parks there. The total ride round trip was only 22 miles but we found ourselves struggling. Following the ride, we were all 3 pretty tired and plopped on the couch to watch a little TV.
As we sat there, Frankenbutt and I discussed how out of shape we were, not to mention the Beast. She's always been pretty good at BMX but never had to do great distances on her bike during practice or races. She fared better than either of us and did go out to play when one of the kids from a neighboring campsite came to the camper door. While she was out, we started talking about taking a long bike ride; like 100 miles in a week.
We had always enjoyed reading about individuals and families who undertook challenging adventures. There was the story of Tania Aebi, who at the age of 18 sailed solo 27,000 miles around the world on a 26' sailboat. It was an amazing voyage of self discovery and coming of age. We also read "Around the World on Two Wheels", the story of Annie Londonderry, a Jewish Mother from Boston who rode (mostly) around the world in 1894 (http://www.annielondonderry.com/images/BI05ANNIE.pdf). We stumbled onto the story of a couple who biked from Alaska to Chile with 2 elementary school age sons.
We both wondered if we had an adventure like that in us. Slowly, an idea began to form. First, we considered a week long bike ride. Then, we considered a 2-3 week ride through the Florida Everglades and maybe to Key West. We decided we needed a true adventure; something that would let us know what's inside of us. We figured that the time to do this would be as our third child, the Beast was starting into her teen years. An "epic" adventure would hopefully give her the foundation to not only survive the teen years but also show her the inner strength she has to do the seemingly impossible.
When we started training for this ride, we were winded and sore after 20 mile rides. We now tackle 40 mile rides while breathing easily. Yes, we still have the occasional sore body parts (different for each of us) but our recovery period has lessened and we've tweaked our bikes to fit our needs. We plan to do 3 days of 65 mile rides back to back. I'll blog about that too, of course.
One of the toughest things that I've encountered is my size. I wear a size 20, not your typical female athlete size. I've been a size 20 for about 15 years now. It's not something I'm proud of, but rather just a fact of my life. I've never been petite or even average; and I've had linebacker thighs since I can remember. Whenever I shop for athletic wear, I seldom easily find anything in my size. I lucked out when I searched an outlet store and found a clearance rack with 2XL mid-calf compression pants. I bought 2 pairs and wished I had bought more. That was 2 years ago and I've never seen my size in a sporting goods store again. I ran into the same issue with ski clothes and usually opted to shop in the Mens' department, where 2XL was a readily available size. I guess larger body types are more acceptable, and/or profitable in the male genre.
Besides finding suitable athletic wear in my size, I can't help but notice the subtle shock on people's faces when I talk to them about our bike ride. I don't have the lean, hard body of typical cycling athletes. No matter how much I ride, I don't think I ever will. My body barely changed after years of playing high school hockey, running track, skating, skiing, hiking, etc.
About now, you might be thinking that I hate my body. I don't. I really like my body and am proud of all the adventures it has seen me through. I like how strong I am although I've noticed a slight decrease in my natural strength as I've grown older. I'm often surprised by the image I see in the mirror because it doesn't represent who I visualize I am, especially when I'm active.
I hope our bike trip inspires people of all body types to take on a physically challenging adventure, not just to get in shape physically but also for the satisfaction of the athlete inside.
More later; until then feel free to weigh in with your thoughts about our ride; good advice is always welcome, too!
Miles ridden so far: 0 (training miles don't count)