I Took My Ball and Went Home

I had not posted here because I am embarrassed about my lack of progress to my goal that I had so publicly shared. Have you ever noticed that social media seems to be the highlight reel of peoples lives? You’ll see the trip to Disneyland but not the one to the drunk tank? In the last six months I have been about as productive in triathlon as Donald Trump has been as curbing racism. It’s because of this lack of progress that I didn’t want to show to all the internet (i.e. the two people that read this) that I had failed very miserably. But just like Trump I could turn things around, maybe.

So six months ago I got an injury that would not allow me to run without great pain in my leg. It was because of this I quit training all together. I could still swim, bike, cross-train, everything. I quit everything. Eating properly, journalling, meditating, yoga, writing my blog… the list goes on. I took my ball and went home because if I cant do the kick-off I don’t want to play. I just realized now how childish I am.

Then a few months ago my injury got worse as I noticed that I couldn’t cycle. I noticed because it was getting painful to walk and I thought it may be worse so for the first time in a long time I thought I would test the bike. It wasn’t like I was going out to pound some kilometers out on the bike, nay nay. The pain had increased and I actually hoped that I couldn’t cycle. I hoped that this had gotten worse so that I had a better excuse to not do anything. Now I wouldn’t be able to cycle because I couldn’t rather than I wouldn’t. I’m sorry, I can’t make this funny because this part is just sad.

I go to the doctor and she refers me to a sports medicine doctor. Lots of ibuprofen and physio was the fix. Do you think I took the ibuprofen in the regularity that the doctor said? No. As for physio it took me a month to get to a physiotherapist. Then once I had gone I didn’t do any of the work and only went to the one appointment. Not only did I take my ball and go home, at this point I took my ball, went home, and stabbed holes in it, and threw out my shoes so I couldn’t play.

Did I have so much fear that I would fail that I decided that I would not even try? Yes.

But the stars have aligned, I heard a dog bark, a cat meow, and my stomach grumble at the same time, so I was compelled to write something on here again.

I wish I had a ball to play with.

I See Dead People???

Do you remember the Bruce Willis movie where the kid says “I see dead people.” Remember how at the end you find out that Bruce Willis’ character was actually dead, and it changed how you perceived everything in that movie up to that point? I had a full on one of those in my life. No, I am not saying that I see dead people. I am saying I have just had a moment in my life that has changed everything. It is as dramatic as it sounds. It’s season finale of survivor dramatic, overtime of game seven of the stanley cup finals, bottom of the ninth down by one, one on base dramatic. Now the difference is that now rather than see things from the perspective of the spectator in the front row seat, I am the survivor, I am goalie, I am at bat.

It’s really crazy.

What happened to cause such a thing? My wife of 10 years and I have split. Now the everyday things that I have taken for granted are gone. Everything is different, and it’s great. It’s not great great, it’s different, and that’s great. The best I can explain it is like this. Imagine you are asleep having a fantastic dream, the best one you have every had, doing a wonderful thing. And then you wake up to coffee, breakfast, people that love you and realize that as great as that dream was, reality is so much sweeter. I was living the dream, and now I have awoken to something sweeter.

It’s not all roses and butterflies.

Divorce isn’t a fun thing. There is a reason that it is not a ride at a theme park. Imagine going to six flags adventure park on the ‘Divorce’ ride. It would be a roller-coaster, with many ups and downs. You get on, and right away your best friend gets thrown off the ride, you’re definitely going to throw up, you are going to lose your wallet on the ride, it will scare the poop out of you, and when you are done they take half of the stuff you won while you were at the theme park. Funny, not funny. But really think of it like a ride at a theme park. Weather you go fast, up and down, they all nearly make you throw up, and scare the crap out of you. But at the end of it all, you come out fine, and more excited. And just like a theme park ride, I know that I am going live and be fine, but it also does mean that I want ride to be over so I can get off and continue on with my day.

What do you mean I’m single?

Yep, I am single now. When I was 20 that really didn’t mean anything different. Now that I am in my 30’s, it is a weird thing. The dating pool could use a little chlorine if you know what I mean. When I was in my 20’s I had a few pimples and had the world in my hands. Now I still have a few pimples, only I have inherited grey hair, 3 kids and a sore back. What a catch…. What can I possibly offer someone new other than a nearly unlimited supply of Advil? The last time I was single everyone had the world in front of them. All I have got is a mid-life crisis to look forward to. What can I offer a woman now?? “Willing to drive you to doctors appointments.” That should be my line on online dating.

Yep, online dating.

I remember what online dating when I was 20. You could sort through profiles upon profiles finding people likes and dreams. Now…. swipe left or swipe right. I would doubt that every person get more than one secone (ONE SECOND) of consideration before a swipe left or right. Smart? Likes triathlon? Has kids? These are all big parts of my life that I can’t convey in a profile picure. (I imagine sitting on my bike, reading a textbook with my nerdy glasses with my kids around me.) Swipe left swipe right. Left. Left. Right. Left. Right. Right. Whoops didn’t mean to do that, no takey backsies. Hope they weren’t the one, or hope they don’t like me back…..

Isn’t this blog supposed to be about triathlon?

Yes. So…. swim bike run.. blah blah blah. Right now that’s about as big of a priority as reporting on how soft the red carpet is at the oscars… I still don’t swim as much as I should. I bike like the wind. I run worse than a baby giraffe.

Hello. My Name is Clarke, and I am a Triathlete

No, not an alcoholic, a triathlete. But it is a problem that affects every aspect of my life. I wake up thinking about it, I spend all day focused on it, spend all my money on it, it’s even starting to affect my family. I worry that when my children grow up, they too will see what I have done, and become triathletes as well. And though my wife Kristi isn’t into the hard stuff like me, she’ll do a little cardio with me every now and then.

Now being a triathlete may not come as a surprise to anyone that knows me. For me, I really honestly didn’t realize it until yesterday. Let’s rewind to about a year ago when I was shopping at Tri-it multi sport in Calgary. On the clearance rack was a inexpensive, comfortable hoodie that across the chest was the words ‘Triathlete.” Had it said nothing, I would have bought it, but because it said ‘Triathlete” I couldn’t. Because in my mind I was not a triathlete. Fast forward to yesterday when I got a phone call from Rob, a friend I used to work with. We chit chatted about our lives and what is going on, and during this conversation I realized that the things I do all revolve around triathlon; (maybe :, maybe a comma?) Sleep, food, summer holidays, vacation, free time, and even what I spend my free cash flow on. I even have a website that I talk about triathlon, and now my mom has made shirts with my website and logo, because even she knows I am a triathlete. Everything pointsto the fact that I am, by definition, a triathlete.

Does this mean I get the password to the club? Does someone finally tell me the secret handshake? Or maybe it’s an addiction that I need to kick, and the first step was identifying that I have the addiction? Or maybe it’s something that I need to embrace to get better, and the next step to great improvement is to accept that I am a triathlete?

Most likely nothing changed excep that  through my enjoyment of the sport I have unknowingly become a participant in it. But a part of me does sincerely hope that I have reached triathlon enlightenment, and triathlon Buddha is going to come and give me the password to the club and teach me the secret handshake. That would be wicked cool.

I will end this post with the story of why I am not entering the lottery to get to race in the world championships in Kona.

If I won the lottery and got a chance to compete in the world championships, I would have to go. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to say that I got to race in Kona with the best triathletes in the world. But if I won I would have to pay the $1000 entry fee. $3000 in flights. $1500 in hotels. $2000 in food and entertainment for the week while in Kona. $500 to fly my bike and kit back and forth. A total of $8000. Plus, one day I would get the pleasure of getting up at 3am, to eat and get down to the race, start at 6am, to swim 4 km in the ocean with sharks for 2 hours. Only to get on bike, and ride up a volcano for 180km, into the headwinds of the Pacific Ocean for 8 hours, to get off my bike and run up a volcano again for an entire 42.2km marathon, hoping to finish in 6 hours before midnight. A total of 16 hours of cardio and $8000 just so Mike Reilly can say “Clarke, you are an Ironman!”

This is when winning the lottery isn’t winning.

Except, if I won, I would HAVE to go. Which is why I didn’t enter.

Dissonance

Intro: This isn’t like my other posts, but this is my website, and I can do what I want. Also, right now my parents [Hi MOM] are the only ones that read this [Maybe Justin, HI JUSTIN, you stopped commenting on all my posts…] so I’m allowed to maybe stray from the bread and butter that has gotten me my two [maybe three] readers.

Also, I’m not editing this. Deal with it.

Dissonance is defined as ‘a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.’ A simple practical example is wanting a six pack, and an entire cheesecake. One personality trait simply doesn’t jive with another, and that’s dissonance. We all have it to some extent because I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t WANT to eat a cheesecake, AND WANT to have a six pack.

One thing that I feel that I have learned is that we are what we do. In an earlier post, ‘the key to happiness’ [if you haven’t read it go do it, it is the best, most Confucius-like, Ghandi-like, thing I have ever come up with] I said basically that happiness comes from aligning our schedule, the things that we do, with our wants. Basically I was talking about decresing the dissonance in our lives. [My life, nobody reads this.][Sorry Mom] Now, I am thinking that dissonance can be used as a tool to help us achieve what we want. But that’s later, first I want to identify where this comes from.

Think about the things that you do everyday. The things that you put either mental or physical effort towards. These are your core values. I don’t mean eat, sleep, work, play. We all do these things. We all eat, but do you eat very intentionally with very specific foods that you are conscious of, or do you pick up and eat or cook whatever is easiest? We all sleep, but do you go to bed without any sort of routine, exposing yourself to television or other screens that sap quality sleep away, or do you have intention before bed to set yourself up for the best night sleep possible. And we all have different priorities every day. For example, one of mine is to check the deal of the day on Amazon, and the latest prices of the Garmin Forerunner lineup. This is one of my core values. Hold on to these and think about them, because I am going to come back to how they affect you very shortly.

Now let’s talk about fringe values. These are the things that you do with intention once a week or a month. Things that you make sure to dedicate some of your time to on a regular basis. A weekly sport you play, or meeting you go to. Don’t think going to that golf course meeting once a quarter means anything? It does, because not everyone does it, so it becomes one of your fringe values.

Outside of the core values, and the fringe values are things that you don’t control, but are results of those values. For example, unless tanning is a core value or a fringe value, the amount of your skins tan will be a product of how much outside activity you have as a core or fringe value. No core or fringe values involve being outside? Then you likely have no tan. Most of my outside values involve wearing Lycra shorts and a shirt, so as you can guess I have a typical cyclist tan. Google it, it’s not pretty, but don’t forget to come back and read the rest of this, Mom.

Now let’s talk about being thin, pretty, body image, skinny, good looking etc. I believe that this is a side effect, and not a fringe or even a core value. It’s affected by too many things so that you can’t say ‘I’m going to go and sexify myself.’ It is a side effect of food intake and exercise. I don’t know anyone that is so intentional with the food that they eat that it is a core value, who is overweight. Fit is a side effect of a number of things.

Making Dissonance Work For You

Who do you want to be like, what do you want to do? If you wanted to be a criminal, I would suggest covering your body with tattoos, have at least 20 piercings, get a Mohawk haircut, carry a handgun, lose your belt and wear your pants on the ground, quit your job and loiter around dimly lit commercial areas. Now I realize this is stereotyping terribly, but I also know that it would put you in the most advantageous place to break the law.

Think about these things. Not everyone who wears a suit is a CEO of a large company, but ALL CEO’s of large companies wear suits.

Or even simpler, not everyone that carries a gun shoots people, but everyone shoots a person carries a gun.

There is a reason that a certain ‘type’ of person does a certain thing. It’s a recipe made from the person’s core and fringe values. Triathletes have a type ‘A’ personality. Is it because this personality type gets into triathlon, or because to train in triathlon you need to develop this type of personality? I believe it to be both. Type A’s get into triathlon, AND triathletes become type A. Because that’s part of the recipe.

In that way, there are two ways to become that which you aspire to. You want to be the person that eats super healthy? Not only do they eat only super healthy food, they set themselves up for success by only buying food that is super healthy and going to places that serve this food.

Identify the dissonance in your own life. Do you have a mohawk and want to be a CEO? Do you want to be thin and regularly eat fast food? Do you want to be fit but watch the Canadian AVERAGE of 4 hours of television PER DAY? I’m not saying you can’t watch every episode and be completely up to date on Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and be binging on a Netflix, and be fit at the same time…

Actually, that’s exactly what I am saying. Smarten up and quit sabotaging yourself, and I’ll try and do the same.

Clarke

Training Update. The mediocre, the terrible, the grey hair

Finally almost completely healthy from the stupid sickness that decided to make me a home for the last 3 weeks. Training didn’t go well though it, but I was able to get some in. January also brought the opportunity for a promotion at work, that I didn’t get. 🙁 Worst of all, my hair has decided to channel more Gandalf and less Frodo.
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Training has actually been OK considering how ill I have been feeling. For the most part I’ve been able to get out and do some, though it isn’t pretty. You know that uncoordinated feeling when you go to do something that you haven’t done in awhile. That is what swimming feels like right now. I feel like I swim with the same form as a newborn giraffe. Just limbs going everywhere. Then there is cycling. No form to really mess up, I mean my feet are connected to pedals that can only go in circles. But now I have many numbers that I can look at. In short, my heart rate says that I am trying to sprint to the finish, while my speed says “are you even pedalling?”

Then there are the runs. (Haha the feet kind not the toilet kind.) My running has taken the only backwards step it ever has in training, and it took a full minute per kilometer slower than it was. To put it in perspective, I am not sure that I could beat myself from three years ago in a race right now. I am running slower than a ‘never trained for running and 250lbs Clarke.’ Now I run like a newborn three legged athsmatic giraffe with polio.

Finally, I cannot, in good conscious post something to the internet without adding this little tidbit with what is going on around me.

“Your skin colour, gender, and faith do not define you. What defines you is how you react to others because of these things.”

Starting (and stopping) the New Training Program

The first half of January have been filled with the best intentions. Kinda like promising not to talk about politics with your family members over the Christmas meal. But just like you half-drunk father-in-law, the best intentions go out the window.

I got a coach, a training plan, and now it was time to execute. Day 1, done. No problem. Day 2 was crushed. Day 3… oh how like a cat with a ball of yarn, things unravel so quickly.

Day 3 involved going to work. Easy enough.
At work I get a call that I have been selected for an interview for a promotion. An interview that will happen in 5 days. Now I am at work and I am excited.
Run home to get changed to drive to the pool to get in my first pool workout….
I haven’t swam since the Calgary 70.3, so cardio while floating horizontally in water caused me to feel more than a little light headed. 3/4 workout done, skip the cool down to avoid being the guy that vomits in the swimming pool.
I went to get some food and took it home to enjoy with my family.
Run again out the door to get the 30min easy bike ride. It is now. 8 o’clock PM. Get off the bike to get onto the volleyball court for league game. Play for 2 hours until 10pm.
Good friend Brianne from volleyball team is moving away and must have drinks with volleyball team after as a send off. Go to bed 3 beer heavier at 12:30am which is now a full 4 hours past my regular bedtime.
Job interview + vomit at the pool + cycling until volleyball+ 2 hours of volleyball + social with team + 3 beer + go to bed late = Overdone.

Overdone turned into the next day being a drag my ass kinda day which was then followed by two days of being so sick.
Monday I took off work, so I could jack myself up on enough drunks to pass for normal during my interview on Tuesday. Wednesday was full of meetings, and Thursday I was on days off.

I haven’t trained since that Thursday, and today was the first day that I have felt good enough for just a 30min easy run at the gym.

The moral of the story. You are going to argue about politics, but go to bed in time so that your can train the next day.

Oh, I got two massages on my days off and they were wonderful!
Highly recommend.
That’s going to be another story.

From Exercise to Obsession

I used to swim, bike and run for exercise. Something to do to stay in shape and healthy. I added some races because I thought it would be fun to add some competition to this to try and spice it up a little.

Well, I’m VERY competitive and adding races to the mix gets me more fired up than a Republican in an election year.

Triathlon is my life. Here are some examples of how far the rabbit hole I’ve gone, I am sure every triathlete can relate.

Half of my clothes are bought on how they fit me swimming/cycling/running.
I have three pairs of running shoes.
I have one pair that I had to stop using because I have run more than 1000km on them.
My bicycle has a higher resale value than my car.
My vacation schedule is identical to my race schedule.
I own a watch that would make James Bond envious.
I know my heart rate is without testing it.
I log my activities on Garmin Connect, Strava and TrainingPeaks, two of which I pay for.
I also have accounts on ZwiftPower, Athlinks, Active, and a blog that I talk about triathlon.
I play a video game called Zwift that is connected to my bicycle. I play it often.
I go to bed at 8:30 so that I can be up at 5AM to go for runs.
I own a speedo. I wear the speedo. In public.
I own more pairs of spandex shorts than I do jeans.
Half of the podcasts I listen to are running related.
The other half I listen to while I am running.
I bought and watched the movie “TRI” and cried.
And there is sooooo much more….

Lastly I have made the biggest commitment yet to the sport… I’ve hired a coach. A triathlon coach. 2017 is going to be a year of great improvement.

If you are a triathlete and want to share anything about how far the rabbit hole you’ve gone, share it in the comments.

Happy New Year 2017!

Clarke

Transistion from Coach to Triathlete

Lots of the things going on right now and I wanted to put them to paper, or keyboard, or internet, whatever, you are reading this so you know what’s going on. Anyways, I seem to be in a transitory period where many things are ending and beginning at the same time.

The End of Coaching Volleyball

The 2016 school season has ended and I have decided that I am not going to coach the Sr. Girls in 2017. In addition to this I will not be taking a coaching role in the upcoming club season, so I am effectively retiring from coaching. The largest reason is that I want to re-appropriate that time to training for triathlon. It’s selfish, I know. But I am not getting any younger and I want to be able to compete and push my body to new limits while I still can. Build a base of health for the many years to come. Actually I just like it and want to spend time swimming, cycling and running cause I like it. So judge not, lest ye be beating me in Ironman.

The End of Television

Ok. I still own a television, and there is one in my ‘room of self-development where I do my blogging, stretching, cycling training, yoga and meditating, but it is firmly on “the spa’ music station. I tried getting rid of the cable all together, but my wife and kids sat me down and gave me a stern talking to. So I still get television, but I haven’t watched it in some time. The Big Bang Theory, Lucifer and the Walking Dead will be missed. But as that is 3 hours per week I will not get back and doesn’t aid one iota of self-development I can’t have any of that. You know, cause I’m an all or nothing kind of guy.

The End of the Computer.

In the off-chance that my PC would spawn judgement day, and the rise to the machines, I decided it best to take a hammer to my laptop to save mankind and any further Terminator movies. Only a little true. I did take a hammer to the computer, but only to the hard drive after it had failed so that personal information could never be retrieved from it. And while it was in no danger of launching Skynet, it did take another large part of my week from me for mindless web-surfing.

The Beginning of Yoga, Meditation and Journaling

While I did meditate and journal, and very rarely did any yoga, now I find myself with absolutely nothing to do and no easy mind-numbing way to waste time. I have started journaling nearly twice a day. Meditating at least once a day, and doing a form of Yoga or at least some simple stretching at least twice a day. I see those people move and bend that are good at yoga and I really want to be able to move like that. Progress is sooooo slow, but everything in life worth having takes time and effort to achieve right.

Blogging…. not the beginning but hopefully more often.

I like sharing my thoughts on here. Though right now I know that only Justin and my Parents read this. I journal so much that I struggle with what to write. Everything? The Highlights? Drop a comment and let me know what you like, otherwise you get whatever I feel like at that moment, which is a scary thought…. especially in the off-season… want to know about my funky toenail? And you are probably wondering how I am writing this if I don’t have a computer. I blew off the dust of an old handy-dandy bluetooth keyboard, and using the screen of my iPhone. It’s painful, but it works just the same.

Beginning (again) on the Ketogenic Diet

Now I have gone on and off of this for the past 3 years, but with all this extra time that I have I don’t see any excuse that I cannot follow it. I would seriously like to get to an optimal running weight before the snow melts in the spring so when I ramp up my training I am not fighting an extra 30 pounds.

Starting (again) Training for Triathlon

I have done absolutely zero training over the last 3 months that I have been coaching. Now I can get back to it guilt free. Expect to see me on the roads, and at the Rec Center again doing laps, or sweating on the bike. Back to the pool to try to improve my swim stroke. I would appreciate it if you told all your friend to try to avoid running me over on the highway.

Well that’s it. Hopefully in a month or two I will be able to tell you how things are going and what has stuck and what hasn’t. Maybe Netflix and Cheetos will grab me with its sticky little fingers and entice me to waste much of the Christmas season finding out if Breaking Bad or Lost is as good as everyone seems to think it is. Maybe I’ll have a six-pack and travel to warmer climates to race during our winter? Likely, and hopefully it will be something in the middle.

Clarke

Two Years of Putting Butter in my Coffee

Consistently for the past two years, I have had a cup of coffee every morning. While everyone I know has been putting cream and sugar into their morning nectar, I add two very different ingredients. Unsalted butter and coconut oil. I’ll start by telling you that I think it’s great! Obviously… I have been doing it for two years and that’s a long time to do something that you hate. I mean it’s really great. I have been having it everyday for two years. So let me tell you the story behind it.

How I Got Started

The idea came from a podcast that I listen to and a website I visit run by the ‘biohacker’ Dave Asprey. (His podcast is ‘Bulletproof Radio‘ and website is The Bulletproof Exec) He has popularized the drink commonly known as Bulletproof Coffee where he uses his bulletproof upgraded coffee beans, grass-fed butter and brain octane oil. Instead, I use Starbucks beans, Dairyland butter, and Nature’s Way MCT oil, overall same same. He boasts the effects of this coffee boost energy and cognitive function. Thinking I this sounds good I gave it a try.

The First Cups

Butter in coffee… Ewwww… Right? If you think about it butter is just cream. Everyone puts cream in their coffee. That’s exactly what it ends up looking like. Giving your coffee the look of a coffee with cream in it, and tastes much the same. So I was able to get over that. Coconut oil??? It’s oil.. yuck. A solid chunk (then I used solid cooking coconut oil) of white paste. Together with the butter in the blender there was a white paste on top of a yellow chunk of butter. I added the coffee and started the blender. The result was a liquid that looked like a coffee with cream, and to me tasted just as good.

The Immediate Life Changing Results

Before I started my butter coffee this is what my day looked like. As, I wasn’t a morning person I rarely got up early enough to make breakfast or to prepare a lunch for the day. After skipping breakfast, lunch time would come and I was always very hungry. I would eat whatever I had for grabbed for lunch and then 2 hours later I would hit that 2 o’clock crash. This crash would result in me grabbing another coffee to see me through the rest of the day. Now insert butter coffee in the morning. Lunch time would come and now I wasn’t hungry. At all. Because of this I eat much less or not at all. (Which I learned later is part of intermittent fasting which is a topic on its own) Because I wasn’t eating as much at lunch I have the 2 o’clock crash, that normally made me reach for another coffee. Because I wasn’t having the late coffee and eating as much, I was healthier and sleeping better.

The Long Term Life Changing Results

Now, two years later, I can tell you that it Dave (The bulletproof guy) was right. I do have more energy and more cognitive function. My brain is clearer than it every has been and I have more energy than I have ever had in my life. This is led me to learn about the effect that sugar and fats have on the body. Insulin and it’s effects on energy and weight. It has triggered many questions that I felt that I had to answer about my own body. I have lost about 40 lbs. Overall, I am in the best shape of my adult life.

Disclaimer: What it the chicken or the egg?

I can’t tell you if this one drink alone is responsible for the change in my life. It was about the same time that I started exercising much more often and eating much healthier. So did this one drink change my eating and sleeping habits enough to give me the energy to exercise to feel better, or did I do all those other things all by myself, and putting butter and coconut oil in my coffee is a silly thing that I do that is completely unrelated?

I don’t know for sure.

I do know that tomorrow I am going to put butter and coconut oil in a blender with coffee.

My First Time Mountain Biking

Recently my friend Brad invited me to go with him mountain biking around Cypress Hills National Park. Brad is an avid mountain biker and this would be my first experience. I quickly said yes, having no idea what to expect, or what I was getting myself into.

Soon after arriving we found ourselves starting to cycle and immediately were faced with the first climb of the day. I sized up this climb and imagined as if it were a paved road and thought to myself “no problem.” I started to climb, but a whole set of new problems came my way. Now I was hitting stones, and roots, and crevices in the road that quickly began to interrupt my normally pavement-smooth pedal stroke. I had to mash down on the pedals harder and pull up on the handlebars to get leverage to push down on the pedals harder. The pulling up on my handlebars then started a chain reaction that I was not at all prepared for. The first thing that happened was that my front tire lifted off of the ground which caused loss of steering. The loss of steering caused me to panic and stop pedaling. Stopping pedaling quickly caused me to stop altogether, which made me start rolling backwards. Clumsily, I jumped off the bike, one foot caught on the top tube, the other foot on the ground barely keeping me upright. I hit the brakes on the bike and used my arms to keep it upright. It was everything I could do to make sure that the bike and I didn’t tumble down the hill to the bottom. There I stood, in an expert level yoga-like pose, balancing on one leg, the other leg caught on the bike, one hand on the brakes and the other hand in the air like a bull rider half for providing some balance while also providing some flair for not falling. All of this happening in the span of less than one second.

This taught me that I need to shift forward to keep my weight on the front tire to prevent this from happening. Ok, Round 2. So I managed to untangle myself from the bike and straddle it to get going again but I am still half way up this hill on a steep incline. In an effort to get going again, I get my one foot on the pedal and push down. I only move forward a couple of inches before gravity takes over and before I can get my foot on the other pedal to continue my forward momentum. Again I came to a stop, began to roll backwards, hit the brakes, jump off the bike, once again getting my foot stuck to return to my ‘not rolling down the hill while holding a bike’ yoga pose. I shuffle back on to my bike to attempt to get the bike going again. But the hill was too great for me and I did what no mountain biker should have to do. Push his bike up the hill.

I get to the next flat section and promptly start pedaling again into the next climb. Not to be made a fool of again for Round 3, I move my weight forward on the bike to keep the front tire firmly on the ground. I made good headway up the next portion of this hill until I learned that my back tire needs some of the weight as well. I had shifted my weight too far forward and due to a loss of traction my back tire spun. During this my foot quickly found the bottom of the pedal stroke and my other leg was not prepared to take over the load of moving me forward. I abruptly came to another stop, which again became rolling backwards. Instinctually, I jumped off the bike, again catching my foot on the top tube and quickly returning to my ‘not rolling down the hill’ pose I had perfected earlier. After a few feeble attempts at starting the bike on the hill, I hung my head, and walked my bike up to the next flat spot where Brad again patiently waited.

Fortunately I didn’t get much more practice pushing my bike up the hill as I started to get the hang of going up a hill while on the bike. But as they say, “what goes up must come down” and Brad and I had to descend down every inch we had climbed. Brad would fly down the hills like his bike was on tracks, weaving through the trees with precision. I tried to follow and found that I didn’t have the wild abandon that he did. I started off alright while following Brad, barely squeezing between trees, slowing down just enough to make hard corners, and jumping over roots. Then it came to me that the penalty for making a mistake of inches would result in extremely painful crash. The fear of crashing got into my head and I couldn’t stand to get any decent amount of speed down the hills. After this point Brad and I agreed silently to test our limits. He would test the limits of his ability to cycle, I would test the limits of the ability of my brakes to slow me down.

Overall the ride went well and I had fun. I can say that I have done it and I would do it again. I learned about climbing hills, descending though trees, and how to stop your bike on a hill without falling and look good doing it.