Written Aug 21, 2007

Where is the warning label that is supposed to be on bicycles? Surely there is supposed to be one.

Here are the ugly details. 48 years old, 5’7″, 220 pounds, until 11 months ago smoked like a steam locomotive, leading a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

I bought a bike three days ago. That is, a bicycle. Peddle powered. First time out I took it easy. A casual little 2 mile stroll through the rice fields. Is it OK to call them rice fields?

I’ve heard the phrase rice paddy before. Is that what these are? These large plots of flooded land with lush green rice plants growing in them? As the plants mature the seedy tops begin turning from green to golden. Some are starting to do that now. You can tell which fields/paddies were planted first by looking at the color of the seed heads.

Second day out I’m on a mission. I intend to ride nine miles from home to my work site and back. It’s just over 18 miles all together. Seriously, how hard can nine miles be in flat land? Most of the trip is through the rice fields safely protected from traffic. Only the first and last miles have any hill climbing or exposure to traffic involved in them. Nine miles in, nine miles back. Piece of cake.

9.27 miles later, according to the GPS, I’m at Burger King soaking wet with sweat, ordering breakfast and coffee. As if I needed a diuretic to assist me in my efforts at total, potentially fatal dehydration. I must have been a disgusting site for the other diners. They were all fresh and clean looking as if they were recently showered and powdered and combed and, uh, groomed.

And me? Great rivers of sweat ran down my face and neck. My tee-shirt was two tone. The lower dangling part of the shirt was its normal blue color while the upper part was a much darker, wet blue, and clinging tightly as only soaked cotton can. I had wisely thought to really slop on the deodorant so I was doing OK in the stink department. A quick sniff of the pit area confirmed odor abatement success. “I’ll have the number two, large coffee please.” I heard my red face proclaim.

There had been a morning sea fog covering the area so I hadn’t been riding in the sun as much as in the shade and still I was soaked. Breakfast eaten I went to the office for two hours of work (disguised rest). My office has an exceedingly good air conditioner. As I sat there in the air conditioned comfort of my office my legs began to remind me of the torture I had just inflicted upon them. I’m sure they were collaborating with each other as they both began to become sluggish and stiff. I had to be off for home before they opted for a work stoppage.

There was no sea fog now. Pure unadulterated brilliant sunshine with 90% humidity. Lovely day for a ride. I would later discover the temperature to be 92 but that little fact escaped me at the onset.

Nearly home I began to tremble. My body had consumed all of the readily available energy at its disposal. Workout enthusiasts have a phrase for it. I think it’s called boinging or maybe boinking. I call it an intolerably low blood glucose level. I guess it takes a while to start pulling on the energy reserves stored up in my ample belly.

Seven years and thirty pounds lighter ago I noticed the body’s rapid use of readily available energy while climbing Mt Fuji. Now as then I noticed the trembling when I stopped to drink some of the water I had brought along. Climbing Fuji I had anticipated the need for rapid energy replenishment. I had not given nearly as much thought to this little excursion.

I was only about two miles from home.

One mile later, sitting on a bridge while traffic whizzed by, I stopped to take more water. The trembling was worse now and my mouth had gone from dry to sticky. Yep, sticky. That point when you can feel the parts of your mouth pulling on the other parts as you try to open it. When your tongue is Elmer’s glued to both the roof and floor of your mouth. It’s as if your tongue were a finely applied line of denture adhesive designed to keep the floor of your mouth firmly in contact with the roof. No slippage here! Thirsty is an improvement on this stage of dehydration.

I consumed the last of my water and pressed on. This was the hardest part of the return journey. Cross four lanes of very dangerous traffic (I think all traffic in Korea is dangerous), over a pretty good sized hill and a three tenths of a mile later I’m home.

I turned the AC on and searched for a quick way to both hydrate and energize simultaneously. The answer? Fresh Honey dew melon in the fridge. I ate three quarters of it. Yep. That’s three over four. I wanted to eat the last quarter but I was afraid the melon might return to torture me by exiting my body via the same pathway it had entered. It seemed important to me that the melon make the entire journey through my alimentary canal.

The GPS indicated a trip of 18.7 something miles. It felt more like 187.
I took another ride today. It was much more reasonable ride of just 7.3 miles according to Google earth. But still, my body aches. Legs, back and for some reason, arms.

So here’s the warning. Fat old guys who buy a new bike should break them in slowly. Don’t say you weren’t warned.


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