I am pretty sure that the term “stiff as a board” probably was around before I was, but whenever I hear it I can’t help but think about myself. Limber is not a word that has ever been used about me and probably never will be. Neither has the word graceful and I know this word will never be used in regards to me. Unless of course it is a joke. My stepfather used to call me Grace. And “yes” he meant it to be funny. As you already know, I like to bicycle. Cycling is a sport where you pretty much stay in the same position for hours, depending on how long you like to ride. For someone as stiff as I am, that can get downright painful. My back aches after long rides. So does my neck and shoulders. The most painful thing for me though are my hips.
As I have been cycling, off and on, for a couple of years now I have discovered that it’s pretty easy for your glutes (your butt) to begin to overpower your hip flexors. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you an anatomy lesson. I’m just trying to explain why I did what I did. So I decided that I could really use some help in becoming more flexible and better at stretching. A friend of mine has been after me for sometime to try yoga. Not just any yoga though, hot yoga. One of my employees is also recently into this thing she also calls hot yoga. Everyday after she’s attended a yoga class she tells me about it and then adds that she thinks I should try it too. She thinks I’d like it. Now why these people think that a fat woman well past middle age, who’s as stiff as a 2×4 or a steel beam, would want to prance around a hot room in spandex and contort herself into ridculous poses is beyond me. But I am really stiff. I do have back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain… And I am interested in all things Eastern…
So I decide to give it a try. This yoga place in town Sunstone Yoga has a great introductory offer. 10 days for $10. How could I go wrong? I’ll pay $10, go to a couple of classes, do a little stretching, some silly poses and maybe I won’t be as stiff. I mean really, how hard could this be? I may be 70 pounds overweight and stiff as a board but I’m a cyclist. I’m Biggie From Texas. I’m a TEXAN. I’m tough. I’ve got this. No problem. Holy shit. They really mean hot don’t they? The room that we are going to practice in is almost 100 freakin’ degrees and 60% humidity. Are you freakin’ kidding me? I got this. I’m a Texan. Born and raised. I’ve ridden my bike in 92 degree temps, of course I got heat exhaustion and it took me almost two weeks to recover, but I got this.
We lay on our mats and towels for about 30 minutes before the instructor comes in. We’re acclimating. Uh-huh. Acclimating. Within the first 5 minutes my eyes are burning from the sweat pouring into them. My bra and panties are SOAKED. My shorts are getting there as is my t-shirt. No I am not in a cute little spandex get-up and no we haven’t even started class yet. The lights turn on and the instructor comes in. Actually she sort of glides in like a little butterfly. As soon as I see her I am pretty sure that I am doomed. She looks to be about 12 (that’s in my eyes, she’s probably really in her early 20’s), she weighs about 75 pounds, is about 5’7″ and is one solid muscle. Tiny as she is, she looks strong. Okay, if this gets too bad I can rush her, take her down and pummel her. I got this. Only there are mirrors everywhere. She’ll totally see me coming and then she will just flit away like a little butterfly. SHIT! I may have to do this. Calm down Biggie. The class hasn’t even started yet. What’s the matter with you?
Her name is Amanda. She was once a beginner too and she was stiff and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… Can we just get this started please…. Okay, we’ve introduced ourselves and stated why we are here. What we want to get out of this… We start with some breathing exercise. Hah, this ain’t so bad afterall. Deep breathing. I got this. This is going to be a breeze. We do some stuff where we’re moving our arms around and breathing at the same time. This isn’t so bad. It really is hot in here though. I got this. Now we’re standing on one leg with our arms moving around, holding our other leg up in the air, I am shaking like mad trying to keep my balance, I can barely see anything because of the stinging sweat pouring into my eyes, my arms are TIRED, the poor leg that I am standing on and trying to balance on feels like it’s going to EXPLODE. Dang, it’s hot in here. It really is unbelievably hot, how long have we been holding this stupid pose, hahaha, look at that really fat woman in the mirror. She’s totally soaked, her hair is all wet she looks like a walrus trying to stand and balnce, HOLY SHIT, THAT’S ME!!!! Whoa. That really fat, totally ridiculous woman with absolutely no grace whatsoever is me. Whoa.
I simply cannot believe how hard this is and how HOT it is. Surely this stupid class is almost over. I look down at my watch. We’ve been at this for 7 minutes. I could be in trouble. Amanda makes everything looks so easy. Everything is completely effortless for her. Then again the skinny bitch only weighs 75 pounds. My right butt cheek weighs more than her entire freakin’ body! We now move to the mat for some floor poses. Honey, trust me, at this point I have no trouble whatesoever laying down on the floor. She’s verbally describing what this next pose is going to be. It must be the heat getting to me. I can’t possibly have heard that right. “Amanda, could you please show us this move?” She does the move, the pose. I giggle a little to myself. Then I gigle some more, not so much to myself. Then I completely bust out laughing, guffawing, totally interrupting the class. I simply cannot control myself. This thing she did. This thing that she expects me to do…it’s completely ridiculous. Human bodies are not meant to do these things. Are they? But you know what? I’m BIGGIE! I can do anything!!!! I am going to give it my all. I got this. I have my legs completely contorted, then we’re supposed to slowly twist and roll onto one side. Slowly! Honey, I start this move and gravity takes over. Ain’t no slowly happenin’ here today. I’m getting the walrus image again. Only this time it’s of a walrus on the beach trying to roll over. I am looking at myself in the mirror. I am wondering how in the frak did I get here. I am contorted. I am sweating profusely. My butt cheeks are clenched so tight I could crack walnuts back there as I try my darndest not to fart right out loud in this cram-packed room of torture. I look at myself and I picture an almost empty bag pf pretzels. There’s nothing but granules of salt and broken pretzels lying in the bottom. I am the broken pretzel pieces! I am in pain and I AM NOT HAVING FUN.
I will never come here again. This is horrible. This could quite simply be one of the STUPIDEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE. This class is not for middle-aged fat women who cannot touch their toes. This is for skinny little bitches that look great in spandex. I hate every single one of them. This is STOOPID, STOOPID, STOOPID. I am sort of enjoying this pose. Well, enjoying might be carrying it a little far, but this stretch feels kinda good. This next pose I’m not quite as horrible at. Graceful? No! But I’m kinda doing it and I don’t look quite as ridiculous (although I am still fat and sweaty), and it’s a really good strecth for my hip flexors. Maybe, just maybe, I might come again. I am most definitely not saying I got this, but, I might, just might have had a bit of fun. peace
I eat great for breakfast. Usually some steel cut oats, a dab of Smart Balance and some raw agave nectar then I follow that with a cup of fresh fruit or a banana. If I get hungry before lunch I usually eat either a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt or an energy bar. In the late afternoon I either eat another energy bar or a piece of fruit before I go home and get on my bicycle or my indoor rowing machine. Well the bike part isn’t a regular part of my day. I’ve just been doing that for the past few days, but it feels great! Then I have a sensible dinner. That sounds like a weight loss line doesn’t it. “Drink a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then have a sensible diner.” That’s my routine though. Dinner is usually either a small pasta dish with fresh veggies, fresh stir-fried veggies over brown rice or a salad. I mean I eat great all day long and then, DUH, DUH, DUH!!!! The late night binge eating occurs.
I tell myself that I won’t do it. I promise myself that I won’t do it. I have a big sign on my refrigerator and one on the pantry door that say “don’t do it!” But something strange happens to me at night. Especially if I have dozed off for a bit and then I wake up, TV is still on and I have a little hunger pang. So I go to the kitchen. I’ve just woken up, so I’m a little groggy and cannot clearly see the signs taped to the doors that say “don’t do it!” I usually don’t go to the refrigerator though, not since the ban on reduced fat crunchy peanut butter in my home. No, it’s usually the pantry. I think to myself, what’s one little Clif Mojo bar gonna hurt? And before I have even completed this thought in my head, that bar is gone! I barely even tasted it. It’s really like watching my fat dachshunds go through a treat. Did they even taste it? If something goes through the lips, barely scrapes the teeth and is gulped down the gullet in a nanosecond, is it even possible to have tasted it?
Well it must’ve been possible to have tasted it and it must’ve been GOOD because the next morning I’ll see 32 Clif Mojo bar wrappers in the trash. Maybe I should take those out of the kitchen trash and go ahead and put them into the big trash bin in the garage, shoved into an old milk carton and pushed to the bottom of the trash bin under a pizza box and an empy box of Tampax tampons…. I mean, there’s no reason to scare the hell out of anyone who might see the carnage and start wondering if they’re even safe around me.
It doesn’t have to be Clif Mojo bars though, even though they are like a little chunk of heaven, it could be a bag of Whole Foods Lightly Salted with Sea Salt Pita Chips. Forget the garlic hummus too. They are just fine by the fistfuls all by themselves. They say, (you know, The They Foundation) that binge eating is an eating disorder. They say it is characterized by compulsive overeating. The hell they say! I say, well no shit! How many PhDs and MDs did it take to figure that one out? Now I’m really not trying to make fun of this disorder. It is serious and I hope that anyone reading this who suffers from this disorder will seek medical attention. I am just poking fun at myself for the most part.
I don’t think I have a real Binge Eating Disorder because a binge eating disorder typically lasts around two hours. Now anyone who has ever seen me eat knows that I can do most of my damage in about 62 seconds flat. Trust me, it ain’t pretty. I unhinge my jaw and down it goes. Hopefully if it came with a wrapper, I remembered to take it off before I complete the event. The way I can put it away, if I ate for two solid hours or even 30 minutes straight, I’m pretty sure I’d rupture somethin’. It’d end up bein’ somethin’ that the crime scene clean-up folks would have to attend to. Not-pretty-at-all.
So, I am making a true effort to stop the late night binges for awhile. It really sucks to have done such a fabulous job of portion and calorie control all day long every day just to blow it every night after 10:00PM. I’m doing a Livestrong Dare – To Stop Binge Eating. So far it’s going GREAT! I’ve successfully gone for ONE WHOLE NIGHT without binging. Alright, alright, alright, I realize that may not be a show stopper or anything. It’s a start, okay? I’m shootin’ for a whole week without a binge episode with the Clif Mojo bars, Whole Foods 365 Lightly Salted Pita Chips, Tortilla Chips with a Hint of Lime, loaf of flax seed bread with Smart Balance slathered all over it, half a bag of blue corn tortilla chips, fresh, soft and fabulous whole wheat flour tortillas with a half-a-pound of Smart Balance dripping off of it… Okay, I guess you probably get the point. I don’t know if you noticed that everything I listed that are weaknesses of mine are all really healthy foods. Unfortunately even healthy foods are supposed to be enjoyed in moderation. OH FOR PETE’S SAKE, HOW I HATE THAT WORD, MODERATION.
Anyway, I’m shootin’ for a week and then we’ll see what happens. peace
It’s a beautiful central Texas afternoon. The sun is starting to set and it’s begun to cool off a bit and I hear this shriek. Well maybe shriek isn’t the right word. Blood-curdling scream! Yeah, that’s the right phrase. I realize that it is not a pteradactyl swooping down upon us, which is at first the only thing that I could imagine making a grown woman make that sound. The grown woman I am speaking of is Jess. The horrific, blood-thirsty, hideous, repulsive, grotesque, monstrous and just plain butt-ugly creature that has caused Jess to behave in this very uncouth manner is a duh, duh, duhhhhhhhhh, TOMATO HORNWORM. Now some folks say that I, Biggie From Texas, have a tendency towards the overblown. That I have from time to time been known to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the truth for dramatic effect. That’s a bunch of hooey I say. I call ’em like I see ’em. That’s all. Anyway, back to my terribly engrossing story about the TOMATO HORNWORM. And speaking of gross, that thing really was. Take a look right here and see if I’m full of hogwash or not:
Come on now and tell the truth. That’s got to be one of the ugliest creatures you have ever laid your eyes on. And where was this ghastly creature residing? In my tomatoes, that’s where? So now I am equally horrified after seeing this thing that has taken up residence in my beautiful organic garden. I however maintained some dignity and coolness, unlike Jess who sounded like a teenage girl being chased by Jason Voorhees carrying a pitchfork.
So, what do we do now? It’s an organic garden for Pete’s sake. And right about now I was wishing it wasn’t so that I could spray that monstrosity with a lethal, cancer-causing, baby-deforming, wildlife-poisoning, Agent Orange and send it back to the pits-of-hell where it came from! Unfortunately, however, I do sorta have a liking for the environemt. I enjoy the butterflies and hummingbirds that dine in my Texas purple sage and the flowers on my blackberry vines. I like knowing that I am not contributing to the poisons that make their way into our watersheds everyday. I like knowing that when small children and/or expectant mothers eat vegetables from my garden that they aren’t going to grow another head or pop out a baby with an extra leg (growin’ outta it’s back.) OH TO HELL WITH ALL THAT! I DON’T REALLY LIKE KIDS AND I DON’T HAVE ANY KNOCKED UP FRIENDS RIGHT NOW SO THEY WON’T BE GNAWIN’ ON MY POISONOUS VEGGIES ANYWAY. Okay, I feel a little better since I got that out of my system. Oh, and I do love children. Well, I love them when I can play with them when they’re happy and playing and then send them back to their parents when they start to get fussy or smell funny.
Oh, so what did we do about the tomato monster? We called my sister, CODENAME: PIONEER WOMAN. You see, my sister is the toughest woman I have ever known. We could spray her with Agent Orange and she’d swallow it, belch and then shout “Thank you sir, may I have another!” Tough, as most good Texas women are. She even eats meat. RAW. So my sissy comes on over to save my chicken-shit ass. She’s all like “where is it?” I point, with a 6 foot piece of bamboo in my hand, as I am most definitely not getting any closer to that thing. She walks over to it, picks it off with her bare hands, throws it on the ground and smushes it into the crushed granite on the ground with her bare foot. Okay, maybe I did take a little liberty there. She was wearing flip-flops, but she did grin as she ground it in. I was a little horrified by this display. I don’t kill anything, ever, but I most definitely wasn’t going to say anything at this point. She saved me from that thing and that was really what I cared most about at that particular moment in time.
So, where are we today? The hornworms are still with us. I guess that one, may he rest in piece, had family. They are happily munching their way through my slicer tomatoes, but not all of them. So we sort of have a truce going. They don’t eat all of my tomatoes and I don’t call my sister to come over, pick them off and bite their heads off. It’s sort of a gentleman’s understanding, even though none of us are gentlemen. peace
I truly love bicycle riding. Pushing yourself beyond what you believe you can do. Reaching the top of a rough climb and taking the time to look back at what you’ve accomplished. Riding along beautiful country roads and enjoying the smells and the sights. I love just about everything there is to love about riding. There are a handful of things that I don’t quite love. And all of these things were incorporated into my charity ride from last weekend.
When people get together in a HUGE group of a few hundred or even a few thousand people to do a big activity together people can be a little nervous. Not bad nervous, but excited nervous. You are about to embark on a big physical undertaking. Nerves make people have to pee. This is one of the reasons there are normally port-a-potties at the beginning of a ride. People have been hydrating with lots of water and energy drinks and they’re nervous, therefore they need a place to pee! No pot-a-potties, anywhere. Not a good sign, but perhaps just an oversight. So we listen to the national anthem and then, we’re off! It was a beautiful morning. It was still a little cool out and the skies were completely blue. Beautiful. Jess and I are riding hard. It feels great. My legs are fresh, I’m climbing hills well. I really feel great. We hit our first pretty steep hill and Jess is GONE. I can still see her after I get to the top of the hill, but she’s pretty far up ahead of me. We turn onto Baghdad Road. The majority of the ride will take place on this road. By the end of this ride, I will come to despise this road. In the future, every time I pass this road or have the misfortune of driving on this road I will spit. Hopefully the spit will make it to the outside of my vehicle and onto the ground and not just dribble down my chin or down the side of my vehicle.
I have officially lost Jess. Well, that’s not really true. Jess has officially left me in the dust. BITCH! I may never ride with her again. In fact, if I do catch up to her again or have the opportunity, I will flatten one of her tires. The rear one for sure since it’s harder to change. Anyway, after many, many, many more hills I get to the center of a very small town. I see a bunch of people up ahead at what looks like a school. This is the rest stop. “What the hell?” There are no port-a-potties? No potties at the beginning of the ride and no potties along the way? I don’t understand. Well, I need cold water and a cold energy drink. I find a place to park my bike and make my way over to the food and drink. This was an interesting rest stop in that there are no bathrooms AND the food selection left a little to be desired. Cold water. That’s what I really need. There are no cups. No cups at all. WTF? I’m going to have to walk all the way back to my bike to get my water bottles to drink from? I don’t think so. I lean right on over and under the spigot, press the button and let the cold water pour down my gullet! Then I find a piece of a PB&J sandwich which I inhale. Never touched my lips or teeth that baby was just gone. I now have the strength to walk to my bike and get my bottles to take back and refill. Time to head off on the second half of this ride.
Now, I’ve been thinking that since the first half of this ride was almost all uphill that going back would be mostly downhill. Makes sense, right? From the rest stop we head back to the little town, but we then take a turn to make a loop back. The county road we turn onto is a two lane road, no markings whatsoever and nothing resembling a shoulder. This is a farming community. The people here are open-minded, liberal, enviroment-loving, live-and-let-live kind of country folk I’m sure. As I am heading down this country road and I start to hear banjos playing, a beat up old pick-up truck with “Farm Truck” license plates and a “Jack ‘Em High, Fat Chicks Can’t Climb” sticker on the back zooms past us throwing gravel and dust on us all over the place, honking, yelling profanities at us and he flips me the bird! This toothless redneck flips ME the bird? He came so close to me I could have touched his truck and he curses at me and gives ME the bird? Classy. There’s not a darn thing I can do except keep on pedaling and having fantasties about his arteries clogging after he finishes the bucket of fried chaicken that’s sittin’ next to him on the bench seat of his truck. So that’s what I do. Jess has once again left me in the dust. I don’t see her anywhere. At this point in the ride people are really spread out. It’s no longer a group ride. It’s every man for himself. And Jess, she was gone. And then I see it. It was one of those hills that when you see it you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or take out your phone and call someone to come and get you. It was massive. Massively steep and it went on forever. I’ll bet it had it’s own zipcode. Massive. I saw people waaaaay up ahead of me getting off of their bikes and walking up this monster. I certainly wasn’t going to kill myself on this thing, so I got off and walked it as well.
You have to understand the pure joy of walking up a steep hill, pushing a bike and wearing cleats. Did I say joy? I meant complete and utter agony. The hill is already kicking your ass, AND you’re pushing a bike, AND the steepness is killing your calves and lower back, AND you are walking in a most unusual manner as the cleats on the front of your shoes are exaggerting the angle of the hill, AND you are mortified because you are supposed to be riding up the hill not walking. So, in addition to being physically taxing it’s kicking your ass emotionally as well. I make it to the top and get back on my bike and begin riding again. What’s that noise? Why does my bike feel funny? Oh NO, NO, NO!!!!! I have a flat. I am most definitely not having fun any longer.
My tire changing abilities leave a little something to be desired. I not only HATE changing a flat I am really not good at it. Removing a road bike tire requires a little patience and finesse. These are two things that I have a tendency to run a little low on. I have everything I need to change a flat tire. I have a spare tube, tire levers, a CO2 cartridge and inflator. I am good to go except that I completely left all of my patience and finesse at the rest stop. Since I couldn’t unload my bladder I had to leave somethin’ behind. I take out my phone and call Jess. She will surely offer to come back to where I am. She couldn’t be anymore than 30 or 40 miles ahead of me. You see, Jess has the patience and finesse that I lack and is quite a good flat changer. “Jess, Hi. I’m back here just over the top of that monster hill. I have a flat. I know, can you believe it? Yeah, it does suck. It’s really starting to get warm out here too. Yeah, I’m really not very good at changing flats. Oh, you’re having a great ride? You just wanna keep hammering it out? You’ll wait for me when we turn back onto Baghdad road? Okay, I’ll see you there.” Is she serious? Has she lost her mind? How could anyone not want to ride back several miles in the heat to assist me with my flat tire????? I’m fine. I can do this. I mean I’ve seen it done before. Where is the race support anyway? Where are the guys driving by in their trucks looking for people like me who need assistance? Huh, must be with the port-a-potties.
So, I actually get my flat repaired and start back on my way. I’m really having a hard time. I don’t understand it. I’ve eaten throughout the ride, I’ve stayed well hydrated, the hills have been tough but not crazy, except for the moster hill. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time. My phone rings. It’s Jess. She says she thinks she may have taken a wrong turn. Hasn’t seen amother rider in quite some time. Turned onto county road 234, that was right wasn’t it? Hehehehe. “Uh, no Jess, you weren’t supposed to turn there. That was the Lavender Ride, this is the Atlas Ride. You were supposed to stay straight.” Didn’t come back to help me with my flat…. Karma BABY! K-A-R-M-A! “I’m so sorry, but you’re going to have to turn around and come back the way you came.” I continue on my way. Jess sounded like she was about to have to kill something. I suddenly don’t feel so badly after all, as I am now ahead of Jess… eat my dust, baby! peace
I have not given up cycling. Although I have not been on my bike in awhile, but I do love cycling so I’ll get back on my bike soon. In fact I have to. Saturday, June 5th is the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride. The Sense Corp Texas 4000 for Cancer is the world’s longest annual Charity bike ride! Their mission is to fight cancer by sharing Hope, Knowledge and Charity across North America through a 4,500 mile bicycle ride from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. NO, I am not riding the 4,500 miles from Austin to Alaska. I’ll probably just be doing the 25 mile part. I think it’ll be a great time for all though and certainly a great cause.
So, as I stated earlier, I have not given up cycling, but I have found a new “thing.” Cycling is great cardio and a great leg workout. It’s one of those workouts where you get cardio training AND resistance training (climbing hills is unbelievable resistance training for your lower body) rolled into one. I do have an upper body too though. It consists of one very large gut. It’s Biggie’s Bell, to be precise. It is rather predominant. There’s also Biggie’s upper arms which when lifeted or extended out and away from the body resemble bats wings. Come on, how awesome is that???? In my twenties and early thirties, I had B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L arms. They were slim, defined and strong. Something went wrong along the way. I attribute it to 1) age, 2) eating, 3) a sedentary lifestyle, 4) pepperoni pizza, 5) did I mention eating and a sedentary lifestyle? Anyway, my point here is this, cycling don’t do nuthin’ for the upper body.
So, I started looking, reading, searching, trying to find a sport, a workout that 1) didn’t take 1.5 hours in the morning, 2) provided cardio and resistance training in one, 3) was low impact (I already have a questionable back and feet. I don’t want to start something new and get hurt right off the bat and then lay around eating, channel surfing and feeling sorry for myself for a week or more…), 4) and worked more muscle groups. So, what I discovered was indoor rowing. Indoor rowing is cardio focused but it also a strenght-endurance sport. With proper technique you work the large thigh muscles, your upper back, your lower back, your arms and stomach. So many muscle groups are working in this sport, it’s awesome! And, instead of 30 minutes of cardio followed by another 30 minutes to and hour of weight training you can get an all over cardio and resistance training session in 30 minutes. I’m digging that. You see Biggie does love her sleep. Getting up an extra 1.5 hours early in the morning? Not so much. Getting up an extra 30 minutes in the morning? Yeah, I can handle that.
So, I started rowing. I have a Bowflex with a rowing attachment. It’s not great, but it does the trick. I really enjoy it too. It feels good. I can feel it in my thighs, my abdomen, my arms, my back. It feels like a really great workout. Now I have a complaint about rowing on the Bowflex. This is a great machine for weight training. No doubt about it. I would recommend one to anybody, but for rowing, not so much. It’s like some guy went, “wait, there’s still room! We can add a rowing machine to this thing too and charge even MORE money for it!” And it feels and it works like that’s exactly how the rower came to be a part of the Bowflex. So, in true Biggie fashion I start reading and looking at true indoor rowing machines. Machines that were designed for the single purpose of rowing. I found a machine that was absolutely beautiful and got great reviews from everyone, I believe, who has ever written a review on it. It’s called the WaterRower. I contacted the company to find out if they had a local distributor so I could check on out. Now, before I went I made a promise. 2 promises actually. One to myself and one to my friend Jess who would hold me accountable. Before I would buy anything new, those of you who know me know that I tend to go overboard with new “things” sometimes, would complete another streak . I did it before on my bicycle and I’m going to do it on a rower. So 9 days ago I set out to row for 30 days straight. At the end of the 30 days, and if I was at least 10 pounds lighter, I would buy the WaterRower if I was still interested.
So, it sort of went like this. I had been rowing for 3 days. I went into FitnessInMotion, met some really cool guys and rowed on the WaterRower. It was incredible! It was so quiet and smooth. Not mechanical, jerky and noisy like the Bowflex. And because it has a tank of water for the resistance it make the most incredible water swooshing sounds as you row. Very soothing. Now I couldn’t just go ahead and buy it. I mean I made a promise to myself and Jess to wait 30 days. I had things to complete. Just because this beautiful, smooth, incredible piece of equipment would practically change my entire life for the better overnight, that’s no reason to break promises. So I left the store and went and told Jess all about it. I told her about how beautiful it was, that it doesn’t look like a piece of gym equipment at all. It’s made out of beautiful, warm wood. And the sound! Oh, the sound is so pleasant. I left Jess’ office and just swung by FitnessInMotion again, just to look at it once more. Just to sit on it and row once more. I have to wait another 27 days. I have to row another 27 days. I have to lose 10 pounds i the next 27 days. I have to keep my promise, “Do you take MasterCard? And how soon can this be delivered????” I didn’t wait the full 30 days. I have only lost 3 pounds so far, not 10. The machine should be here in around 2 weeks. Okay, okay, okay! I broke yet another promise to myself! What do you want me to say? I’m Biggie! peace
So, my friend Jess and I decided to go on a vacation in Italy. Actually, just Rome. We’re not the kind of people who have everything scheduled out and do lots-of-tours. That just ain’t our style. So doing Rome in three days and then on to Florence, Venice and…. that’s just not how we’re built. I like to take it easy on vacation. I don’t like to get up early and go, go go. Biggie don’t roll that way. I like to wake up when I wake up, eat a leisurely breakfast while pondering what the day’s adventure might be and then head out. Now one of the things that could affect the mood for the day is simply this, after I have showered and I begin to get dressed, how do my clothes fit?
There seems to be something a little “off” with how my mind works. You see, if I eat a breakfast of just oatmeal and fresh fruits then I expect that when I go to get dressed, the jeans that had been a little snug previously should be downright baggy after such a light and healthly breakfast. Forget the fact that the night before I had an enormous bowl of pasta with cheese and that I wrapped up the evening with two scoops of pistachio gelato in a waffle cone dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts… I mean, I slept all of that off, right???? So by morning I should be downright svelte! So, when I go for those jeans, that any normal human being would know are not only going to still be tight they will probably be a little tighter still, I am horrified when I try to pull them on and I realize that THE LAUNDRY CLEARLY SCREWED THESE JEANS UP! I mean I could’ve had eggs with cheese, some PORK SAUSAGE, some pancakes with real butter and a cup of maple syrup, but NO, I only ate a little oatmeal and some fresh fruit. FRUIT for Pete’s sake, how can these jeans be this tight? Oh, but I am going to wear these jeans. Not the baggy, stretched out, totally comfy jeans I wore yesterday, or my favorite baggy khakis. NO, I AM GOING TO WEAR THESE RIDICULOUSLY TIGHT JEANS THAT WILL MAKE ME UNCOMFORTABLE FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.
I’m a big girl and I’m fairly strong. I have strong hands and a good grip and it takes absolutely everything I’ve got to pull these jeans up. I turn the air down cooler because I have started sweating. I’m still pulling. The skin below my fingernails is rubbed raw and about to blister because I have been pulling so hard for so long that the denim is rubbing my skin off. I’m breathing hard. I think I may have just drooled a bit. It’s okay, I’m almost there. Okay, it’s all good. I’ve got the jeans up my thighs now. Now all I have to do is get my ass in them and then, button and zip them.
I am so unbelievably uncomfortable at this point I can’t believe I am going to head outside and walk around. I’ll have to do some walking though, there’s absolutely no possible way that I could sit. And if I did sit, I might be endangering some innocent people. I mean I think the act of sitting in these jeans, when my gut puts pressure against that poor metal button, that sucker just might jet propel out of there at speeds of up to 100 MPH, possibly putting out someone’s eye! I am confident that when I return home later in the evening that the word Levi’s will be permanently imprinted on my belly. The big bell. Biggie’s Big Bell.
So we head to the subway to catch a train to Vatican City. We’re going to the Vatican Museums. I am so very excited. I see unbelivable works of art by so many masters. Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, how long have we been walking? Are your feet hurting? Mine sure are. I am going to see the Sistine Chapel. A dream of so long is about to come true. These marble statues are gorgeous, my feet are really hurting, oh look some more marble starirs to climb. I cannot wait to see the Sistine Chapel, I mean this is what I am really here for, and I’m starting to get really hungry too. Are you hungry? OMG. The Sistine Chapel. It is beautiful. The colors, the detail, the passion it’s absolutely incredible, okay, that was awesome, is there a shortcut to get out of here…
I want to SIT DOWN. I want to eat and drink, but i really want to SIT DOWN. We find a lovely cafe with outdoor seating, in the beautiful sunshine, a few hundred yards from the Vatican, with some incredible people watching. And they serve my absolutely favorite Roman specialty, fried zucchini flowers. BUONISSIMO! I enjoy a Diet Coke, some bottled water, the unbelievably fabulous fried zucchini flowers, some far-out people watching, and some incredible pasta. It’s all good. I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable though as I realize the button on these jeans is probably just an inch or two from my spine. The jeans had stretched some during the Vatican Museum walk, but after all the zucchini flowers, bread, pasta, water, Diet Coke and more bread and more water… Holy Cow I am miserable. What I wouldn’t give to be in a pair of sweats or even some baggy shorts, but NO, I am in Rome. The fashion mecca. These people don’t even know what sweats are. Well, they know what sweats are when training for an athletic event, but if they saw a pair of sweats outside of a gym, they would truly be puzzled. Possibly even horrified. And shorts? That’s something for the beach or when running. These are not anything that should ever be worn at any other time, EVER. But I’m Biggie from Texas. Whatever.
Roman women dress. These women only know one way to go and that is ALL OUT. Head to toe in Prada. Head to toe in Prada riding a scooter on the way to work. Incredible. Roman men dress. These men go all the way. Gorgeous suits and incredible ties. DONE, DONE, DONE. Beautiful people in beautiful clothing. Fabulous fashions everywhere you look. Now the younger folk, they are pushing the envelope. And I don’t think I meant that in a good way. I mean the attitude is much the same as here. “I am a young, super skinny, gorgeous human being with tight abs, a tight ass, my boobs are exactly where they are supposed to be, I am completely invincable and I WILL LIVE FORVER. And you are old and FAT.” The fashions may differ a bit but the ‘tude is all the same. These Italian kids wear these ridiculously tight, possibly spray on, stretch jeans. Their legs, all of them, they all had the same legs and they were the same diameter, possibly smaller, than my upper arms. Disgusting.
So, what did I enjoy most about Rome? Really? Are you really going to ask me that? Oh for Pete’s sake. I’M BIGGIE! I LOVED THE FOOD. OMG! FOOD, FOOD, FOOD, FOOD…. Rome, for me anyway, was very much about the food. Now that probably surprised the pants right off of you didn’t it? Well, there might have been more to it than just the food. It was looking out my hotel room window to see the Baths of Diocletian, RIGHT THERE. It was standing in front of the Trevi Fountain throwing in coins and enjoying some incredible people watching and some incredible pistachio gelato in the waffle cone dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts. Standing in the Colosseum and marveling at the architecture. Sitting on the Spanish Steps and just watching, listening, enjoying the colors everywhere changing as the sun went down. Sitting at a sidewalk cafe table in the Piazza Navona watching the artists sell their work, watching a couple of priests sitting on a bench enjoying their ice cream and conversation, listening to a couple of kids from who-knows-where playing FREEBIRD. Rome was an incredible place to spend a week. I hope you all have the opportunity to visit there some day if you haven’t had the pleasure already. peace
So, the day finally arrived. Saturday was the Pedal thru the Pines bike ride in Bastrop, TX. I knew this was going to be a challenging ride. I knew it was going to be hilly. I’ve actually ridden through Bastrop and Buescher State Parks before. Of course that was on my Harley. Two wheels yet a slightly different experience. And then there was the part about reading that this is the most challenging part of the MS150 bike ride in Texas. But I’ve been training. I’ve been riding hills and doing some pretty intense leg workouts. In fact one day last week I had done some pretty intense squats that left me walking a little funny for a couple of days. And “no”, you shouldn’t work your legs out that hard a few days before a big ride, but I’m Biggie! I’m from Texas and I can do anything. I originally intended to make this a 65 mile ride. That was before I had a bad case of bronchitis that lasted for a couple of months. So I thought I would do the 27 mile ride. hehehe
I knew that there would be a pretty good hill right off the start. Here we go, my friend Jess and I. There was a HUGE group. About 1,500 people were doing this ride. We were excited. I might have been a little nervous about some of the hills, but I was ready! We got started. It was a little chilly. I wasn’t wearing tights, but I did have on arm warmers and a vest over my jersey. And I had a buff on under my helmet, keeping my head warm. Writing this, about being chilly, at this point seems pretty funny…. We’re off! A huge group of people all packed together. A huge, tight peloton. We start to spread out a little on the road and then, with the help of some fabulous Bastrop Police Officers, we’re onto the highway heading for the state park. The highway that we have just turned onto, that is all blocked off for us, and again, wonderful help and guidance from the police, is a hill. HILL MY ASS. IT’S A FREAKIN’ MOUNTAIN. LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING THAT BELONGS IN EURPOE. IN THE ALPS!!! Holy cow, we’re only a little over a mile into the ride and we’re on this death mountain and people are already pulling over to the side, getting off of their bikes and walking up. WE’RE STILL WITHIN THE FIRST 2 MILES OF THE RIDE PEOPLE!
Okay, I’m good. I can do this. It’s a long and pretty steep hill, but I am DOING IT! I see it start to flatten out just a little bit up ahead. I forget about the people walking up around me, I focus on the flattened out area up ahead and I just keep saying to myself over and over again, “just keep pedaling.” And I do it. I make it to the top. I am breathing so hard and I, this is completely true, I realize I have drool on my chin, but I don’t care. I’m also breathing so loudly that a woman, with a totally frightened look on her face looks over her shoulder at me. She looks relieved that it wasn’t a chupacabra coming after her to suck out all of her blood. No, it’s just me BIGGIE, AND I FREAKING DID IT! I climbed that monster MOUNTAIN. I passed people who were still riding and I passed people who had stopped and walked. I want to be perfectly clear here, there is no shame in walking. No hill or mountain is worth hurting yourself over. I did it. I made that monster and I felt great! I felt like Rocky Balboa at the Philly Library. I did it.
The police directed us off of this main road and into the Bastrop State Park. I was so happy. It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, it was warming up and Bastrop is beautiful. I made that hill and we were off and riding. What a great day. I’m going to do these 27 miles, it’s going to be a great ride and I’m not going to be completely done after this ride. I’ll be able to work in my garden, maybe catch a movie, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? HOLY SHIT! Look at that freaking hill. It’s okay. It’s a short hill, I’ll hammer leading up to it and then I’ll just push it out. Just keep pedaling. I’ll be fine. And then things start going a little wrong. Hahahahaha! I see this skinny little bitch who flew past me earlier trying to get up that hill and she is pushing and pushing and trying to keep pedaling and she slowly but surely comes to a complete stop and then just falls over. HAHAHAHAHA. wtf? I hit the base of this little hill. All of the speed that I have built up immediately dies when I hit the hill. It’s not just the skinny little bitch who has fallen. I see several people falling over. I see bunches of people who have gotten off of their bikes and are resting, walking, stripping off as much extra clothing as they can, wasn’t it chilly when we started this… I am not going to fall. I jump off of my bike while I am still moving. I do not want to fall. I rip off my arm warmers. I chug down some Clif Quench and then start in on my water. I start looking around for my friend Jess. I see her a little bit back and she’s off her bike, chugging liquids and stripping off clothing. We’ll walk up this hill and then we’ll be good. There couldn’t possibly be another one of these….
I don’t know if you are familiar with cycling shoes. There is a cleat on the very stiff sole close to the front of the shoe. Under the ball of your foot. This cleat cause your toes to be up off of the ground and the soles really are quite stiff. This is why when you see cyclists walking in their road shoes that they look so ridiculous trying to walk. Walking up a steep incline in these shoes, and you’re also pushing your bike, causes a fair amount of stress on your calf muscles. And a little more on this hill. A hill with a grade or incline of 6% will leave your thighs burning. I heard people saying and I read that this was a 15% incline.
See how many people are off of their bikes? Craziness! Madness! It is the hill of death.
So after the hill of death, we keep on riding. The scenery is gorgeous, there is great camraderie, some fun and fast downhills, some more evil uphills, but no more hills of death. After about mile 5, Jess looks at me and says “16 miles” and I smile and reply “hell yeah.” So our 27 miler turned into only 16 miles, but it was the toughest 16 miles of my life. And I ain’t young. We rode on through some more beautiful views. Came to a great rest stop. Bicycle ride rest stops are great. Friendly volunteers offering you as much food and drink as you can handle. Obviously, Biggie is a fan of this. I start stuffing pb&j sandwiches into my mouth as fast as I can. I also remember that I have a POP TART in my jersey. I can’t remember if I even took the wrapper off of that bad boy and down it went. Gatorade? Hell yes. I don’t even need a cup. I can just lean under the spigot and gulp that stuff down. Pickle Juice? Bring it! Oh my, the rest stop was great. Now we have about 6 miles left. There were some vicious hills, but nothing as steep as the hill of death, these hills weren’t as steep, just loooong. We did it though. We made it back to the Bastrop High School, where the ride began and we were happy. peace