In his second article with elviajeroaccidental.com, Jonathan Freedman is taking us cycling in the USA, more precisely in New York City and State. His first steps as a road cycling aficionado. And he will also tell us about some facts on US cycling that not many people know.
This article is based on the articles published by Jonathan Freedman on his LinkedIn profile
I introduced myself in this article The Power of a Chance Encounter – My Life Transformed and now I continue my story.
Let’s jump straight to the heart of this sport I’ve grown to love and let’s describe it with one word – SUFFERING. Suffering is what you feel when you’re doing sprint intervals. Suffering is what you feel when you’re doing hill repeats. Suffering is what you feel when you’re doing a full gas paceline. Suffering is what you feel when you’re doing a Gran Fondo century ride. Suffering is what you feel when your legs have been sore for two years and counting.
Since I have a love for the quantitative let’s examine things statistically. In this fascinating study of all sports ESPN Study – Degree of Difficulty: Sports Rankings you will observe that on the endurance factor (not surprisingly) cycling is ranked 1. If you don’t want to bother with clicking on the article I can share with you (again not surprisingly) that billiards and fishing ranked last. To suffer is to endure and to endure is to suffer (trademark pending, T-Shirt on backorder). This sport is not for everyone, and quite frankly I never imagined it for myself.
In the beginning pre cycling (circa 2015 and prior) I defined myself as a Portfolio Manager. It’s a stressful job having to continuously make investment decisions and manage risk. I was managing a global long/short equity portfolio so from Sunday 5pm when the New Zealand market opened (US time) until Friday 4pm when the US market closed it was game on for me. I’m pretty sure the body wasn’t meant to sit in a chair while tightly gripping a mouse for 14 hours a day for two decades. But that’s what I did. My neck scrunched up, compressed vertebrate, my back aching constantly. But, my body having got used to that mistreatment was certainly not prepared to hop on a bike.
I stumbled into cycling through a chance encounter as discussed in my first article and once I started I became consumed by it. I had to improve my aerobic capacity, build leg muscle strength and improve my general fitness; all from a really low base. My initial rides were absolutely miserable, with frequent stops to catch my breath and let my heart stop racing. But nothing sticks in my mind from those early days like my first big ride.
I vividly (and with some PTSD) remember my first long ride of 50 miles. I was ill prepared in every way. I had no knowledge of proper eating while riding to avoid the dreaded bonk, nor awareness to drink constantly to avoid dehydration. My bike wasn’t the best either. At that time, I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with the sport so for the first few months of training I was riding a hybrid bike. Sure, it was an excellent one and well maintained but it was not a proper road bike. I had no idea how to pace myself and that I would need to conserve energy for the return trip.
My first ride in NYC
I left my home in Brooklyn one Sunday afternoon, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge into NYC, up the West Side and across the George Washington Bridge and up the 9W to the first gas station. It took me longer than I thought and the sun was getting low in the sky. I turned around and began to head for home. That was a painful and miserable trip back. Cramping and exhausted muscles, depleted energy and no water. To make matters worse I was riding in the dark while wearing prescription sunglasses. I arrived home, rang the doorbell begging for help as I crawled in on all fours; literally and by literally I mean it the way grown ups mean it. Not like today’s kids who say OMG it’s so hot I can literally die #suckitupbuttercup. I can laugh now and you can laugh at me if you want to, but I can assure you at the time I did not see the humor at all.
It’s gotten better since then in every way. I’ve got a carbon road bike, I now know to eat and drink properly. I can pace and conserve energy so I arrive home with something left in the tank. But, ultimately it’s exactly like the well known quote by Greg Lemond (3x Tour de France Champion) «It never gets easier, you just go faster». It HASN’T and I HAVE.
I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone from becoming a cyclist, I can assure you the satisfaction of vastly improving your physical capabilities make it literally (there’s that word again) all worth it. Plus, the people you meet while cycling…absolutely the best. That will require a whole separate article.
Cycling in NY and other interesting facts
But talking about discouragement…I do not want to miss this opportunity to share with you quite an exceptional climb, here not far from NYC. Platte Clove Road, just west of West Saugerties. The climb is so steep—averaging 12% for 2 miles with maximum extended grades exceeding 22%—that professionals riding in the Tour de Trump had to get off their bicycles and walk. See it for yourself.
Ah! But you are now wondering, the Tour de Trump? Surely this guy has lost it. Not quite. Here is some fascinating watching and reading about a true 80’s story. Very little is known about this race and its original sponsor.
In the next article I will discuss why enduring this suffering builds character and why this is helping me in my quest for personal growth along with sharing more of my personal journey. Also, if you’re visiting NYC and want to ride, it would be my pleasure to show you around.
Links included in this article:
Other articles by Jonathan Freedman at elviajeroaccidental.com
Author’s note: “I have received no compensation (financial or otherwise) for this article, I have no material connection with the brands, products or services that I have mentioned in it and my opinion is independent.”