30 Miles in My Body

hastingsonhudsonThis weekend I rode 30 miles, a little over actually. Not all in one stretch, like my last long ride, the one which inspired my first blog entry, but in two stretches. My boyfriend and I rode from our home up to Hastings-On-Hudson (pictured above), parked out a tavern for a bit, and then rode back.

I’d definitely recommend the ride to anyone who’s interested. We took the South County Trailway up, which is gorgeous and definitely a nice way to spend a sunny day, although the sun got pretty tiring after a while. And we took the Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway back. It was a little rough for my tastes, but I also started out tired, since it was the second leg of our journey.

I rode my boyfriend’s second bike this time, instead of my own folder, and I have to say I think some of my struggles have been due to the type of bike I’ve been riding. For city riding, the folding bikes truly are amazing and can’t be matched in terms of convenience, but they suck for getting up hills! I had a much easier time on a longer ride on a more standard bike, which of course has now got me thinking about my next one. My boyfriend has a saying, and it’s one I’m finding more and more appealing:

“How many bikes do you need? One more than you already have – up until the point that your significant other threatens to leave you.”

Lucky for me, my significant other is a bigger bike junkie than I am. So we took a beautiful ride at a strolling pace, and then stopped at Hastings-On-Hudson to look a the view and grab a beer. It’s funny, but I had no idea until I started how much cycling and beer go together! I’m not kidding. All the organized rides my boyfriend goes on seem to end at a brewery, and I have to say there isn’t much that’s as satisfying as a crisp, cold beer after a long ride. stellahastings

As you can see, I take cycling culture very seriously.

The ride back was a little harder. For some reason I was in a bad mood. Maybe it was the adrenaline crash from resting after biking 15 miles, or maybe it was the beer or the heat, or maybe it was the picture.

The picture at the top of this entry almost didn’t get posted. I asked the SO to take a victory shot for me, and yeah, I pretty eagerly grabbed his phone to look at the picture after it was done.

And I saw a chubby girl. I saw belly and fat arms and a round face. That girl didn’t look like a cyclist, and it didn’t matter that she was one. She may have ridden 15 miles, but she was fat. All my preachy feel-good stuff went out the window as I silently made a cropped version of the picture, cutting out my lower half and going from the shoulders up, and then cheerfully agreed to go and get a beer, even though the blood was pounding in my ears at the thought of how fat it might make me. Who cares that I had burned enough calories to drink that beer? I was already in the downward spiral of hating myself because of one unflattering picture.

I got over it eventually, and we sat outside in the sun and shared food and drinks, until the sky started to dim a little, and we decided we wanted to head out before it got too dark. It was about an hour and a half home, after all. So I changed back into my cycling clothes, and we started home.

The journey home was harder almost immediately, because my legs were already tired and slow from the ride there, and the route back was tougher. Instead of a nice smooth Greenway it was a muddy single-file path, which was broken up by a few different roads along the way. It was pretty tough, and I did my best to push through the aching legs, knowing I was sweating far more than I usually did.

We got lost at precisely the wrong time. We had just passed Yonkers, and we were so, so close to home. I think I actually whooped when we made it into the Bronx, knowing that we were finally back in New York City. But when we got back into Inwood I hit a wall, and somehow we got lost trying to get onto the Hudson Greenway. We hit a dead end, and then had to turn around, and then we were by the side of a highway and I stopped, my lungs pulsing as I started to cry, taking big, panicking gulps of air and babbling about how I couldn’t do it, I can’t do it, I’m so fat I’m so useless I can’t do it –

I’m going to live on the side of this road now. There’s no bus, no subway, and no cab can get me here. I’m going to live by the side of this road because I’m not moving anymore. I can’t get back on that bike.

My boyfriend came to comfort me immediately, of course. He took my shaking shoulders and told me it was okay, but also promised me I could do it.

We were three miles from home. On a normal day, I barely notice three miles, but after twenty-seven it seemed like the most impossible thing in the world.

And of course, my first thought was not that I was tired, and not that I had ridden further that day than I ever had before, it was that my bad, terrible body couldn’t do this thing. I was too fat and if I were thinner, I’d be a better cyclist, a better girlfriend, a better actress and comedian, a better person.

And then I started to breathe, and I listened to my boyfriend’s soothing words, and I remembered something a friend of mine – a badass sexy and totally fit soul cycle instructor and dancer – had said to me only the day before, when I mentioned I wanted to take one of her classes.

“Before you take any Soul Cycle classes, you’ve got to love that body you have now, because it is incredible.”

My poor body. Here I was berating it when it had taken me twenty-seven miles on a bicycle! No bad body could do that. It tensed up and made me cry and panic because it knew that I needed to rest. My body takes care of me, and I take care of it.

All of this racing thought took maybe five minutes, and then I got back on my bike and I rode home. My body took me home. I took my body home.

So I decided to put the photo I hated right at the top of this page, because I love the body I have now, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with it.


4 thoughts on “30 Miles in My Body

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