By Stacey Wagner (Guest Author)
Do you ever get mistaken for a movie star, television personality or political crusader? Me neither. But I do get mistaken, occasionally, for an athlete. Of course, that could be because I am often wearing branded cycling gear and riding a $3,000 road bike. And because I keep training for races even though I am not, in my mind, competitive. And I stopped team racing several years ago
Yet I can't help myself – the thrill of defeat that follows my anticipation of victory has turned me into a woman of a certain age longing to become Evelyn Stevens, a star of the women's road racing circuit – a woman who, one year, was a Wall Street Associate and the next was a competitive cycling sensation. I want to be like her or at least someone who looks like her, which in my case may be a bit more attainable. After all, we are both women!
A decade ago, as my daily jog turned into a grinding symphony of flattening vertebrae and twisted ligaments, I cast about for a substitute exercise that would keep my serotonin high and my weight low. Cycling was not, however, that substitute. Instead, I chose weightlifting, which in hindsight was good for my cycling, but at the time made me feel like a “plump when you cook it” hot dog. My muscles were bigger, but my clothes were tighter and that just wasn't working for me.
So, I decided to take a spinning class at the local gym. That seemed fun and made me sweat, but honestly, it felt a little silly – like trying to dance while on a bike that didn't take you anywhere or even get you on American Idol. And then, one day, while I was getting ready to spin to yet another remix of “I Will Survive”, I ended up in a class taught by an actual cyclist, not an aerobics instructor. And she took us through a training routine to build strength and endurance for cycling. Et voila! I was on to my present obsession.
Well, it took a few more years, but it was the start of my love affair with cycling. And – truth be told – it mirrors the trajectory of all my other love affairs: mad, passionate devotion only to become aware that if I wanted this to work, I was actually going to have to work at it. And, there would be no guarantee of success. But this instructor turned out to be just the person I needed then and who I need now. Leticia Long, of Wired Cycling, has been my instructor for ten years now – through my own personal good times and bad – and the science behind her instruction and training have paid off. My physician believes I am as fit as someone 20 years younger than myself. And this means that as I age, I can continue to do the things I love – biking is one of those things but also traveling and working on my house.
I'm really not sure why I like biking so much, except maybe it’s the wind in your face that makes you feel as if you are going really fast, and a sense of freedom and power from knowing you are fit enough to ride the big hills. So, while I'm not a real athlete, I like to play one every day, and if you see me out there on the road, or even in a Wired class, feel free to mistake me for Evelyn Stevens.