Over the past few years I’ve been continuously reducing the number of things I own. This is a process I refer to as “decrappification”, borrowing a phrase from the computing world. Basically, I am trying to simplify my life and that includes decluttering my house.
So, of course, something comes along to upset my plans. That something is a renewed interest in cycling this past summer. I got the two bikes I owned out of storage, tuned and cleaned them, and I’ve been slightly less than obsessed with riding since. One bike is a 1990 Univega Nuovo Sport 10 speed road bike, which is great for riding on pavement. The other is a 1992 L. L. Bean Approach (non-suspension) mountain bike with all-purpose tires, which is suited for riding on gravel and dirt roads in my neighborhood.
I’m riding my Approach indoors on a trainer now that it’s gotten colder as winter approaches, but that’s not the same as being outside. My Univega, having skinny road slick tires, is clearly not suited for winter riding when there is snow and ice on the roads. I don’t want to subject my Approach to road salt and grime. That’s why I bought a pair of used Mongoose Spectra full suspension mountain bikes a couple days ago, for the princely sum of $50.00.
One has a frozen front fork but a good rear cassette. The other is just the opposite. Both have cable and twist shifter issues. All four tire tubes won’t hold air. Here’s the thing: between them I can make one good, essentially $25.00 winter beater bike for riding after it starts snowing. If it gets salty and dirty, so what? (I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the leftovers, but I’m sure something will come to me.)
Oh, and did I mention I’ve got my eye on a Kent/GMC Denali aluminum frame, flat bar road bike?
I’ve been building a home obstacle course the past few weeks which I have been calling my “mini-Ninja” course, inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior. When it’s done it will look like a grown up version of a kid’s jungle gym. The problem I have been facing is that the darn thing is so heavy it’s difficult to assemble on my own.
That came home to roost last Sunday when the structure collapsed while I was trying to raise the taller of the two end pieces. I managed to dodge most of it, but I torqued my left forearm a little trying to stabilize it before I saw the futility of that effort. I admit, looking at that pile of timbers an pipes I felt more than a little discouraged. I may even have sung a few choruses of “the old four letter serenade”.
There thing is, it’s not a bad idea-it may even be pretty good! It’s the execution that has been problematic. So I have come up with a new idea for stabilizing the two end pieces in two directions at once to help keep them standing. Instead of trying to man-handle 12 foot long 4 x 4 timbers into place in brackets to connect the two ends, I’m going to use two 12 foot long 2 x 4 timbers which will be much easier to maneuver and will accomplish what I need just as well.
The upshot of this is that when you suffer a setback, it’s OK to get angry and annoyed. Go ahead and vent-I sure did! But get it out of your system and get back to what you were doing. If you need to, rethink the process and come at the problem from a different angle. Just don’t give up.
Here is my revised plan-bracing in two directions!
I’m 57 years old and 60 is fast approaching. I was recently told that I don’t act my age when I showed someone a home obstacle course/jungle gym I’m building. This was meant as a good hearted rebuke, but I take it as an affirmation. I freely admit I don’t act may age because I’m not convinced that age is a limitation.
There are plenty of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond who don’t “act their age”. Daniela Barnea, 73, recently won three gold medals in swimming. Jacinto Bonilla at 77 competes in CrossFit and even had a WOD named after him. Paul Tetrick, 85, has won more than 12 USA Cycling Time Trial Championships. A quick online search will turn up so many “seasoned” athletes it will make your head spin!
Growing older is inevitable barring illness or injury. To my knowledge there is no law that says we have to grow old in our spirits, though. Certainly there is nothing that mandates allowing our bodies to fall apart from disuse or misuse. I honestly do not see myself growing old with anything approaching complacency. As Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I plan to go down kicking and screaming until I draw my final breath!
I took a lunchtime walk yesterday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as I usually do during the workweek. The day was moderately sunny, although it had begun rather cloudy and certainly cold-a chilly 6 degrees Fahrenheit at my house. It was around 30 degrees at noon.
I started out bundled up with my heavy winter coat, knit cap, and wool mittens. I usually shoot for a 30 minute walk. By the time I was five minutes in I had to remove my cap because I was heating up. By the time I reached the half way mark, I had also removed my mittens, and shortly thereafter I had unzipped my coat. I actually had worked up a light sweat by the time I got back.
Here’s the thing: I had prepared myself for my noon walk based upon expectations I formed at 6:30 in the morning regarding the temperature. What I should have done was check my smartphone for updated weather information prior to my walk, instead of relying on outdated expectations. As it turns out this principle applies to a lot of things in life: make decisions based upon reality not preconceptions.
I admit that I am a creature of habit. For the past year or so I have been getting up at 5 AM Monday through Friday. I started doing this so that I could be more consistent in doing my workouts. When I was doing them in the evening I found I was being inconsistent. Not wanting to be fat again, I knew something had to change. Thus, I began going to bed an hour earlier and getting up an hour earlier.
Now I am very much in the habit of getting up early and streaming my workouts on my laptop. As a side benefit, I found that doing my workouts early in the day made my mornings much more enjoyable, even at work. Plus, I also stopped watching the morning news (unless there’s a winter storm and I need updates). Instead I listen to classical or worship music, or jazz, and I relax for a while before I head out to work.
Even if you are not inclined to exercise at oh-dark-thirty, I encourage you to adjust your schedule an hour as I did. If there is some really great TV show you don’t want to miss, DVR it or stream it a couple days later. Take the time for a leisurely shower, do some reading or writing, and relax with a cup of coffee while you watch the sun rise. The thing is, by giving yourself a little breathing space at the start of the day you can reduce your stress because you aren’t blasting around at warp speed from the moment your feet hit the floor. Try it!