Category Archives: fitness

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 

This morning I took a little ride along a canal I frequently traverse.  The canal runs parallel to an exclusive golf and country club.  Although I’ve never been in this particular club, I can see quite a bit of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways and greens from my vantage point.  The pristine landscape doesn’t hold a candle to an untended hedgerow of bougainvillea that runs along the backside of the property’s concrete privacy wall.  The people inside those walls have no idea of the beauty and splendor on the backside of that wall.  The colorful flowers beckon a wealth of birdlife and butterflies.  


Although I’ve not visited this particular club, I’ve been to several just like it, usually to play golf.  They’re all interchangeable with the same ostentatious surroundings and an overabundance of obnoxious people.   Case in point, one time, about 10 or so years ago, the mister and I were playing a round of golf with friends at a club where we were members.  I was pulled aside at the turn by a golf course employee who informed me my Lija golf shorts were considered to be too short by a group of ladies who were also playing that day.  I was humiliated, to say the least, and forced to purchase a golf skort that reached well below my knees on my 5′ 3″ frame.  Yeah, good times. 

All this to say, the folks on the inside of that wall can keep their perfectly manicured property and I’ll happily stick to riding my bike on the far side of the canal, taking in the breathtaking view of unkemp bougainvillea, birds and butterflies.  Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  

Untrammeled

Early last year, my husband walked into a local bike shop in search of a new bike for our son. Having given up his training wheels the previous month, and having outgrown his 20” Specialized Hot Rock, Jackson needed a new bike. Greg found a suitable bike and called me to bring Jackson over for sizing and to purchase it, if appropriate. I arrived at the store within ten minutes, looked at the bike and agreed it was the bike for Jackson. I told the salesman to ring it up, only to be asked to come back the following day, as the store would be closing soon. All the while, the store’s owner looked glaringly on with nary an acknowledgement, with arms crossed, not 15 feet away.

Irritated by an utter lack of consideration and the absence of customer service, Greg and I went to another local bike shop the following morning. We found not only a bike for Jackson, but also bikes for ourselves, too. That was February 24, 2015, and our lives haven’t been the same since.

Our family has experienced so much excitement, adventure and achievement throughout the past year. We quickly became bored with pedaling around sedate trails, and graduated to single track mountain biking. Of course, with this transition came new bikes—actually several new bikes, as our individual skill levels increased.   Biking has taken the place of dinners out, weekend getaways, daytrips, shopping trips, manicures/pedicures and everything in between. Dare I say, as a trade off, our quality of overall life has increased exponentially? There is much to be said for a family sharing an interest. This past weekend, my husband and I took first place in a local co-ed, two-person endurance challenge—a feat that required incredible teamwork. Four days later and we’re still reveling in our combined accomplishment and talking about what it took to pull off this victory—not from the standpoint of gloating, but from the perspective of unified teamwork and jobs well done.

Much like my  skateboarding adventures a few years ago, biking tests my mettle and pushes me beyond my comfort zone and oftentimes, physical limits.   And also like skateboarding, when I’m on the bike I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m purely and unequivocally living in the moment.   With the myriad distractions life has to offer, there’s beauty and peace in this experience.TT Flow

Perhaps the greatest by-product of this passion is the people we’ve met and friends we’ve made. To say we’ve met the nicest people isn’t hyperbole; it’s fact. I don’t know if I should attribute it to like-minded folks sharing a passion, or if we’re just a bunch of folks hopped up on fresh air and endorphins. Whatever the case, the folks we meet are genuine, happy, encouraging and uplifting people. They tend to be salt of the earth ladies and gents—some with small(er) children like us—who are eager to take a lap with you, talk bikes and components, and share stories of epic rides and trips, and dreams for said bikes, components, rides and trips.

Oh, and the bike store experience I very purposefully opened with? I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Early on, we were experiencing continued mechanical difficulties with a bike. A Google search directed us to a bike store in West Palm—Bike America. After speaking to a gentleman by the name of “Mike Jenison,” we decided to pay them a visit. Not only did Mike steer us in the right direction, his customer service was outstanding.   And, I don’t know if it was Mike’s charming personality, stellar customer service or what, but our first bicycle upgrades happened soon thereafter. Mike and his entire crew—Drew, Bolivar and Tom—have become not only our trusted equipment advisors, but friends and cheerleaders as well. If we hadn’t been turned away from the first store we visited, we wouldn’t have had the need to seek out another shop.   You know the saying—you don’t know how good an experience actually is unless you’ve had a comparably bad experience by which to make a comparison. And I’m sorry, but I can’t not mention Julie Roberts’ character’s famous Pretty Woman quote: “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” Yeah. Indeed it was.

When I say the past year has been quite a ride, I mean it in every literal sense of the word.New Year

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” ~ Susan B. Anthony

Acceptance

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. ~ George Orwell


The above photo was snapped during a recent biking event.  I was participating in a time trial hosted by our local off road/mountain biking organization, Club Scrub.

At first blush, this photo depicts nothing really, except perhaps sheer determination.  It represents no great achievement for me personally except that I finished what I started.  I came in fourth out of four participants in my time trial class (sport).  Like the Olymics, there are only three podium positions in our club’s time trials.  The eight plus mile singletrack ride took every ounce of energy I had.  The day was unseasonably hot–88 degrees with 62 percent humidity resulting in a “feels like” temperature of 93 degrees.  Yes, it was incredibly hot, and I gave the ride every last drip drop I had within me, but the heat offered no excuse for the defeat I felt. The time trial was humbling. I don’t mean in an, “Oh, I’m so humbled…blah blah blah…” empty platitude kind of way. I mean humbled as in:  Oh!  My!  Gosh!  I’m 51 and my competitors range from YOUNGER than my daughter to (much) younger sister, and I simply could not hang with them.  I was so far out of my league I was in a different zip code.  I had a lunch of humble pie that afternoon.

As I mulled over my ride, I was really disappointed despite the effort I put forth–even though I knew I rode as hard as I physically could.  I simply couldn’t have done better.  And then it (slowly) dawned on me.  I am what I am.  I am who I am.  I am where I am.  I am me.  I was forced to acknowledge that I’m lavish with grace and acceptance with everyone except myself.  And dang it, I need to accept and EMBRACE my effort FOR just that–a whole lot of friggin effort. I need to be proud of myself for what I bring to the table. I can’t lie. That’s so darn difficult for me personally. As an overachiever to whom a lot of physical accomplishments have come easily, that’s humbling. But I’m gonna do it.  I need to do.  I need to do it for my own wellbeing.  So, I hereby resolve to cut myself some slack.  I’m officially giving myself a break and telling myself exactly what I’d tell my husband, daughter, son, mother or friend.  Bobbie, I’m proud of you.  You gave it your all girl.  Put on your big girl panties, find contentment where you are and celebrate those young(er) whippersnappers that kicked your tail.   They’re fierce gals–just like you.  Congratulations on a job well done, one and all.  #letsridebikes