re·nais·sance – From Old French renaistre: To be reborn. Rebirth. Revival. A period of new growth or activity.
My dad Greg is in the midst of a renaissance, and he’s wearing it well. Watching him take up cycling has been a joy, and sharing in the ride is even better.
For years Greg has worked. Not just punching a clock, but real, meaningful toil. Despite his estrangement from the couch and relaxation, at 69, his health and fitness have taken a beating. Greg, a former college football star, started his cycling dream at Ride The Rockies 2006. He was 61, 85 pounds overweight, clueless about cycling, and the only volunteer to be our support driver. He caught the fever. Greg stopped thinking about his back injuries and bad knees. He disregarded the sleep apnea, heart medications and neuropathy, and started to dream of conquering the ride himself. In 2010 Greg bought his first recumbent bike. Since then he has lost over 45 pounds. He can leap up and down stairs without losing his breath. Now Greg rides a stylish road bike, and says his knees and back feel better than they have in 20 years.
Atrial Fibrillation has been a constant hobgoblin for Greg. Two surgeries with mixed results and years of pharmaceutical experimentation have not chased it away. Some important medications hinder Greg’s muscle recovery, others put him at high risk for bleeding. Yet a lighter body and stronger heart has been helpful to keep his heart beating steady more often than not.
Training has been a revelation in Greg’s renaissance. He’s not the kind of guy that has nothing to do. Nor can he persuade himself to spend much time in a gym. Food is Greg’s achilles heel. My mom is a classic midwestern cook whose pot roast and mashed potatoes make you reconsider the importance of your riding weight. One cannot judge my dad’s waistline until trying my mom’s apple pie. It took an extra large goal to give Greg the motivation he needed to cut back, get on the bike every day, and train. Some local group ride wasn’t going to cut it. But Ride The Rockies? An irrational, unattainable pipe dream? Yes, that’ll do the job. The onward march of time, toward a ride so daunting and un-fakeable, has a way of realigning the most ingrained of routines; even 60 years of bad eating and sleeping habits. Perhaps age or health concerns sparked the idea for life change. Maybe it was the five new grandchildren he has accumulated since his first day as a support driver. But it has been Ride The Rockies that really gave him the fire that fueled his renaissance.
When you meet someone beating the odds (and there are MANY on this ride), it’s almost impossible not to pedal away without embarking upon your own revival. Here’s to my fellow riders and the mountains we all must climb. See you on the ride!