Today’s story shall be told mostly in pictures.
Here are Kenny and I last year, after racing the Tour de Donut.
Apart from the magnificently appropriate backdrop of the line of portapotties, my favorite thing about this photo is . . . me.
I look fantastic.
Yes, in spite of the fact that I had just eaten ten donuts, I look great. Leadville was just a month away and — while I didn’t know it for sure — I was light (about 156 pounds, if I remember correctly) and fit enough that a sub-9 was looking entirely possible.
And a few weeks later, I’d cross the Leadville finish line in 8:18:01, looking like this:
Ecstatic, for sure. Salty, certainly. And my teeth were just a little bit on the grimy side:
Importantly, though, in an unposed picture — one where I did not have time to suck my gut in — my stomach looked like this:
To be sure, there are people who look a lot skinnier (and better) in bike jerseys, but for me, this is about as good as it gets.
So. Let’s fast-forward to the present, shall we?
Here’s a photo The IT Guy took during the first few miles of the 2012 RAWROD:
OK, now let’s zoom in on me a little closer.
Yeah. That’s . . . um . . . not good (and I’m not talking about the fact that at the moment I was in possession of The Daisy).
How did this happen? In a couple of ways.
The Tragedy of Self-Delusion
The Hammer and I both came off of last year so fast and fit that we somehow thought that we’d be that way forever (so far, she has retained and built on that strength and fitness; you can see that I have not). So we set ourselves the most challenging race season ever:
- The Crusher in the Tushar: 69 miles, a ridiculous amount of climbing, big parts of the ride on road, big parts of it on dirt.
- The Leadville 100: I think I’ve talked enough about this race for one lifetime.
- The Breck Epic: The main event of the season. Six freaking days of mountain bike racing on high-altitude singletrack. This will start the day after the Leadville 100, so that’s a nice long recovery period.
So you’d think I’d start getting myself in shape and stuff. Which leads to the second, most important reason I’ve managed to let myself go to fat like this.
I am currently the very picture of a physical state that may be impossible for any sport but cycling:
I am Fit-Fat.
Which is to say, thanks to a nice dry winter, I kept on riding. My legs and lungs are actually really great right now (see picture above). I was able to ride the White Rim in one day, on a singlespeed, without particular difficulty, and I felt good enough that I went riding again the next day.
That’s the “Fit” part of Fit-Fat.
The “Fat” part is because I am part bear. Which is to say, when it’s winter, I eat a lot. And I have to fight a near-constant urge to climb into a cave and sleep for a couple months.
The danger of being Fit-Fat is that it kinda sneaks up on you. Winter comes and goes, but you’re still wearing the larger, loose-fitting jerseys, which you used to tell yourself you needed to wear because you had a base layer underneath. But deep down, you know that you’re wearing them because the so-called “base layer” is just a big ol’ gut.
And you find reasons to not get on the scale.
But because you’re strong and have a good aerobic base, you can — in general — still hang with everyone one during the group rides. Sure, you work harder on the climbs, but you’ve got the legs to make it work.
And then full-blown Spring arrives, with Summer hot on its heels. And there is no hiding. If everyone else is Fit, being Fit-Fat isn’t enough.
I’ve got to lose some major weight, pronto. Or I’m going to be writing stories about how The Hammer had to wait for me at the aid stations at the Breck Epic.
That prospect does not delight me.