My first and only century

Tonight I think I’ll write a story of something in my past and how it’s lesson has carried over to how I see life today. I used to ride my bike a lot. (Pedal bike). When I was ten or eleven-ish I found a freedom in riding that I couldn’t get anywhere else. The problem for me was that my parents were extremely strict about where I could go and how far. My limit started out no more than 200 yards from the house where I could still be seen from the living room window. Slowly but surely I was able to plea my case to be able to ride around the block as long as I was back in a given amount of time. The frustrating part about that particular route was the fact that there was a super awesome jump that headed off into the woods. Each lap around the block I would take one or two jumps and head back, only to ask if I could go again and do the same thing.

This scene would repeat itself over and over again until I was given more options for how far I could go. I worked up riding to the 7-11, then onward to the BMX track at the local park, then eventually down to the waterfront. My eventual rides would total about fifteen to twenty miles every day. Not monumental by any means but for being so young and still in school it was fairly significant. Especially since I did it almost every single day. Most of this pedaling was done on a mountain bike as well. Quite a pain in the ass when I could have saved up for some sort of road bike.

During that particular time in my life, my longest ride was about fifty miles. After school I decided to ride from Port Orchard southbound until I got tired then I would turn around. I took the back roads and ended up crossing the Tacoma Narrows bridge and headed into Tacoma for a bit before heading back. Being that I was in no way physically prepared for this journey, my legs and ass were jello by the time I got back.

There was an opportunity to take a trip across the U.S. when I was in high school over the summer. It was about a 3,000 mile trip and would take about three months. There was a handful of people at the high school that were going and the training would take about eight months before the trip. I committed myself to it. I figured out how I could save the money and I even found someone who was going to donate a brand new road bike for the cause. Just as when I was younger, the one thing that stopped me… My parents. They refused to sign the release form. I was under eighteen so I had no choice. I’m not going to say my dreams were shattered because it was really of no surprise that it happened. It was a fact of my life.

I don’t regret the fact that I wasn’t allowed to go, but I do regret the fact that I haven’t done it since becoming an independent adult. You know how it is, things happen. Jobs, bills, responsibilities etc etc.

Between my two military deployments I tried to get back into riding when I could. Time was in short supply so I mainly stuck to trail riding and short hops around town. One Sunday morning I woke up about six a.m. I decided to go for a bike ride. I headed south from Fayetteville to Clinton. About three hours into the ride I called my friend Tara and asked her to mapquest how far Clinton was. It was just about fifty miles there. I continued on, with a horrible headwind hellbent on making it to Clinton. After arriving in Clinton, I rode just a bit farther to make sure I got my fifty miles in. I did have a computer on my bike but I wasn’t really sure if it was calibrated correctly. I stopped to have a sandwich and about three gatorades. Riding fifty miles wasn’t so bad. Until the way back.

By the latter half of the day the winds had shifted and I had just as a horrible headwind coming back. The entire trip took me about nine hours. Keep in mind, this was done on a twenty one speed mountain bike outfitted for trails, not the road. After making it back to my apartment my legs were on absolute fire. Before allowing myself to settle in with a shower and rest, I ate about 6 chicken breasts, countless gatorades, water up the ying-yang and any snack-ish foods I could get my hands on. After a shower, I laid out on my floor not entirely confident that my legs were going to stay attached to my body on their own. As a testament to the kind of shape I was in, the next day we had a four mile squadron run and though I warned my commander I may not be ale to finish, I did the whole damn thing without falling out once. Hooah!

This story progression has little weight on the feelings I keep inside about things, but it does help me normalize my abstract feelings of trying to keep my dreams alive. I may or may not ever decide to ride cross country. The purpose for me doing it now would be simply for focusing on past problems, not the future. I’ve lost interest quite frankly and it’s a bygone. Growing up with unreasonable limits at times caused issues for me. I’m sure it’s fuel to allow people to judge me as being not even close to as perfect as they are. The important part of this has to do with understanding my personal limits when it comes to dreams. The limits I tend to place on myself consist of a question of why I’m doing what I choose to do. It’s usually to please other people. Sometimes my limits come from a realization that I’ve done nothing more than convince myself that any certain thing is my only option.

If you’ve read this far, you are lost for sure. Thanks for hangin’ in there.

Sometimes the one thing that stops us from accomplishing our goals is the limiting desires of other people. Be it overprotective parents, insecure lovers/partners, judgmental friends or misunderstanding peers. No wait, you’re right. The inability to function perfectly is our own fault. My bad. Forget what I said about being influenced by others.


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