The Tipping Point
I did a stupid thing Tuesday.
I had great intentions of squeezing in a Me-Mover ride at a time of year that starts to limit those chances. I loaded up the truck, rushed to the Ironton Rail Trail’s loop, and got ready to race the setting sun. From the parking lot I chose, I usually ride the loop clockwise leaving the big hill for the end. But on Tuesday I decided on a whim that variety was the spice of Me-Moving, so I set off in the counterclockwise direction tackling the big hill first. In that direction, it is a gradual, mile-long climb to the summit near the caboose.
That was stupid!
Without being warmed up, I struggled up the hill stopping for numerous breaks along the way. Although the shorter ride down the steeper part let me catch my breath, my legs already felt like jelly. I thought I would feel better as I rode, but the remaining 4 1/2 miles were a slog. I ached and slept lousy that night, and I didn’t feel inspired enough by the ride to even write about it. I’m sharing it now though because there’s an important lesson here about not giving up.
When you return to exercising regularly after a long absence, there’s going to be some rough rides at the beginning. Some days you’re going to feel like you have no business even getting off your couch and trying to join the world of the active. That’s how I felt Tuesday as my achy body tossed and turned and sleep wouldn’t come.
I had felt that way nearly six years prior when I had an equally challenging bike ride. I remember how bad I felt, but I also remember how empowering it felt to get on the bike a few days later and do a stronger ride. It was with this spirit that I took my Me-Mover back to Bicentennial Park on Saturday.
I had not been to this park since my Me-Mover maiden voyage in late August, but I could tell right away that I had gotten stronger. I had no trouble getting up the small hill this time, and my first attempt at the medium-sized hill went equally well. Though my breathing was labored, I felt confident as I set out for a longer adventure ride.
The path through Bicentennial Park connects to the main Nor-Bath Trail. This section is packed gravel and dirt, but is not as smooth as the D&L Trail. Here it is often bisected by a median of grass giving a very narrow track to pedal through. Despite that, I remained impressed with the Me-Mover’s ability to handle it was well as my own ability to muscle through it. West of the Weaversville Road crossing, the trail climbs alongside a Christmas tree farm and crosses three wooden plank bridges. I enjoyed the scenery as much as I enjoyed the climb.
When I set out on this ride, my main goal was to rebuilt my own confidence and to take the Me-Mover to new places. Until I reached the spur through Wayne A. Grube Memorial Park, I wasn’t truly sure if I was ready to tackle it. It is wide and smoothly paved but full of challenging hills. This is one of the few area trails that basically has no flat spots unless you count the short spans through the tunnel and over the bridge. I decided I had enough daylight and strength left to give it my best shot.
The downhill glide into the park was a pure joy! The Me-Mover is very stable and allows me to remain relaxed and confident in its handling. The zig-zag climb up to the tunnel tested me to the max. Climbing steep hills requires strong leg muscles and good cardio along with the ability to take short, quick strides near the top of the pedal range to get the right “gearing.”
My break after going through the tunnel was well earned. (And yes, the tunnel is oddly at the high point of the trail!) There’s a longer and steeper hill beyond that connects to the parking lot off Willowbrook Road. I was feeling great on this ride, but I knew I still had to get back to Bicentennial Park. I decided to leave the challenge of the biggest hill for another day, trying to be cognizant of my own limitations.
The ride back through Wayne A. Grube Memorial Park, along the main Nor-Bath Trail, and back into Bicentennial Park went well. The setting sun on a beautiful evening helped me enjoy the trip. I’m happy to say I was able to ride every hill on the way back, even if it meant taking breaks at the top of each. I also rode down the steepest hill on a branch that I had been too nervous to tackle on my maiden voyage. The Me-Mover raced to over 20 miles per hour and managed to coast most of the way back up the other side. I would not recommend this hill for beginners, but it was empowering to know I can now do it.
Although this five mile ride was adventurers and challenging, I came away from it feeling infinitely better than I had after Tuesday’s ride. I slept very well that night, and have felt more energetic and stronger since. I believe I’ve reached the tipping point where exercise goes from exhausting to exhilarating! When I was inactive most of my life, I had a hard time believing such a thing was possible. Now that I’ve experienced the transformation twice, I can attest to the fact that exercise is pleasurable and even addictive.
Don’t ever give up! If you’re starting your own fitness journey, remember that you’re going to have highs and lows. And often the lowest of the lows come just before the highest of the highs. Promise yourself to keep trying until you’ve reached your own tipping point. Once you do, you won’t be able to get yourself to stop.