The life of a 50 year cyclist and goaltender.
I got into cycling in the spring 1987, as I was approaching my thirtieth birthday. I was overweight (250 pounds), a chain smoker, and a border line alcoholic. Motivated by the “dread” of approaching thirty, and also by Greg Lemond’s TDF win in 1986, I purchased my first bike. I quickly dropped the weight (down to 150 pounds by the spring of 1988), purchased a “real” bike, and entered my first race in August of 1988. Needless to say, I was hooked!
Over the next twelve years, I was very active in cycling. Tours, races, promoting, race official. I was single, and cycling was my life outside of work.
In the summer of 2000, after my job was eliminated as a delayed result of Y2K, I felt a change was necessary. I refer to it as my early mid life crisis. I relocated from San Antonio to Columbus , OH . At the time, I was facing a burnout of cycling. The fun was gone. I didn’t have the drive to get out and ride. With the relocation, and in my efforts to settle in to my new surroundings and new job, the bike went to the basement.
But, I still was not one to sit at home, and felt I still needed some activity in my life. I started ice skating, which led to me taking hockey classes. In the winter of 2002, I started playing hockey in an adult recreation league. Skating never did come easy. I definitely was not a gifted skater, and was usually the last one to the puck. But I still enjoyed playing.
I made the switch from forward to goalie in 2003. I really enjoyed playing the position, and felt I was a pretty decent goalie. Soon, I was playing three to four nights a week (sometimes five nights) and continued to do so over the next three years. And I continued to stay in decent shape (not great, just decent). Unfortunately, hockey and beer seem to go so well together. Must be the Canadian thing.
Eventually, all those hockey games were catching up. Getting up the morning after was getting more difficult. The six pack I finished off the night before, just so I could wind down to sleep, didn’t help. And it was having an impact on my game. I was not recuperating between games, and my reflexes were getting slower.
I started playing only one night a week. But my lifestyle (diet and drinking) did not change. Soon, I was over 200 pounds, and really became miserable. It was at this time, that my life became miserable. I was feeling my increased age (and felt every one of the years). My blood pressure was on the increase. I was drinking myself to death.
And I started feeling a lot of abdominal pain. I was poked, prodded, tested, but nothing was diagnosed. But I continued everything that bad for me.
By the fall of 2006, I was burned out on hockey, and close to being burnt out on life. I was miserable most every day. As for my abdominal pains, I did had some occasional good days, but they were getting fewer. As for hockey, the late night games and very early morning games, even with one game a week, was getting too much. I wasn’t having fun, and I did not enjoy playing with guys who took it all way to seriously.
Earlier this year, I decided that I would finish that season, and then hang up the pads. It was also the same time the realization that I was approaching my fiftieth birthday, and that if I maintained the lifestyle I was living at the time, I would be dead by the time I was fifty five. Pretty much the same way I felt twenty years earlier as I was approaching my thirtieth birthday.
In February I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. With the diagnosis, came the determination to my get life back. I knew that it was something I would live with for the rest of my life, but I also realized I had to return to a healthy lifestyle.
In March, I sold my hockey equipment, and pulled the bike out of the basement. Keep in mind, I had made some attempts to ride it in the past. Those attempts usually lasted a few days for the most part. Last year, it did last a few weeks. But this time, I was determined. I knew I had to do something.
On March 15, 2007m I weighed in at 217 pounds. Not as overweight as I was 20 years early. But I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy since I was older. I gave up the beer (no more six pack a night). I started eating healthier. The pounds have actually come off quicker than I expected. As of this date, I have lost 40 pounds, and I have to say, I have never felt better.
My life is back in order. I’m going to have to deal with Crohn’s for the rest of my life, and I know what needs to be done to keep it in check. The good days…they are every day. No longer are there bad days, just occasional bad moments.
My outlook on life has changed. I actually enjoy going to work. My fiftieth birthday was the best birthday I ever had. I feel I have been given a new lease on life, and a new phase has just now started. And it’s not just cycling, it’s life in general.
I’ve renewed my racing license (former Cat 3, racing as a Cat 4). I’m currently racing the Velossimo Cycling Team.
If anyone had told me last year that I would have experience a life make over, I would have told them they were crazy. But it has. I want to spread the word, and hopefully I can motivate others to do the same.
My personal goals is to continue what I’m doing know. Keep riding, training hard. And I am looking forward to competing in the Masters 50+! For me, its the feeling that I’m getting older and better. I hope to be competitive, and would like to compete in the National Masters Championship (road and/or track) in 2008. Track racing is relatively new to me (I did some track riding in Houston ) but being close to Major Taylor (and my frequent trip to Indianapolis ) gives me added motivation.
Cycling had always been good for me. And I can say that now more than ever. The sport has given me a lot, and I want, in some way, to give back. I would like to work with Junior racing. As it has been said for years, they are the future. I would also like to work with Masters racing, by getting people interested, or possibly rejuvenate their interest in riding and racing. And possibly form a Masters racing team which doesn’t seem to exist in Central Ohio .
Most important goal for me is to provide some motivation to other with Crohn’s disease. We can life something very close to a normal life. We cannot let this disease side line us. We can enjoy life.