Welcome to Riding Long: A Blog About Making the Most of Second Chances.
This is intended to be a blog about hope — about being given a second chance at life. It is — literally — a story of death and rebirth. It is about overcoming deeply entrenched, self-destructive habits. And, it is about embracing the opportunities that have been presented to us.
To fully understand, we need to back up and tell the story from the beginning.
In December 2012, I suffered a nearly fatal heart attack, when a piece of plaque ruptured and clogged my Lower Anterior Descending (LAD) artery, better known as the widow maker. After arriving on the scene, it took first responders nearly 20 minutes to gain a pulse, and I crashed again on the way to the hospital. My wife was told to follow the ambulance to the hospital, so she could say her final goodbyes and identify the body.
Somehow — miraculously — I managed to survive the ordeal. More importantly, that event provided a wake-up call for me to make some dramatic life changes. At the time of my heart attack, I was a pack-a-day smoker and severely obese. Since my heart attack, I have not smoked a single cigarette, and I have lost 90 pounds from my peak body weight of 300 pounds.
Cycling has played a significant role in my lifestyle makeover. The summer after the heart attack (2013), I purchased my first hybrid bicycle and began riding regularly. The following summer (2014), I bought my first drop-bar bicycle and participated in my first-ever organized century ride. (For those who are not familiar, many grass-roots organizations host events that give participants an opportunity to ride 100 miles, or a “century” of miles). By last season (2016), I reached a point where I was riding centuries almost every week, and I had the opportunity to ride my first double metric centuries (200 km or 124+ miles). That was when I came to the realization that I am an endurance rider at heart.
This season, in 2017, I have continued to expand my endurance riding, both on and off pavement. I participated in two ultra-endurance gravel races: the Epic 150 in Missouri and the Dirty Kanza 200. I have also taken up randonneuring, a form of self-supported, long distance cycling. Randonneuring events are known as brevets, and my goal for this year is to complete an entire series of these events. So far, I have completed a 200 km, a 300 km brevet, and a 600 km brevet. In August, I will complete the series with a 400 km brevet.
All of the training I have done so far, and will be doing for the remainder of this year, is aimed at a much larger goal. In October, I will be riding the Natchez Trace 444, and if I successfully complete the challenge of riding all 444 miles of the parkway in 44 hours or less, I will qualify to participate in Race Across America (RAAm) as a solo rider.
This blog is about my own personal journey. But, it is also about something more. It is about being given a second chance at life. It is about responsibility and embracing that opportunity to do something different — better — than before.
I look forward to sharing my journey with you.