Do I still have it in me?

Uppdaterad: maj 8

2019 was another difficult year, I hadn't cycled as much as I intended to and the frustration with my former bike almost took away the joy of long rides - I started believing I couldn't do it anymore.

VÄSTERÅS 2020-05-04

My new bike, the Pelago Stavanger, is such a joy to ride!

Had me at hello

Hi, my name is Ebbe, I'm fat and I don't have a problem with that word. In fact, I look fat, have a BMI of 41, weigh fat (313 lbs / 142kg) and no, I don't see all fat as a disease or disorder. I own my fat body, it allows me to do the things I want. I enjoy snowboarding, longboarding, long walks, learning to cross-country ski, an occasional footbal, but most of all Cycling! But, a bike bought too big almost ruined it!

Two years ago I made the rookie mistake of looking into a bike and assuming that just because it said "58" on it the size would be the same as a road bike in 58 which is my correct size. I was all excitement about it because I wanted one bike to do it all and was looking forward to making the plunge into the world of steel bikes and the supple life!

It ends up that the Specialized Sequoia hade the geometry of a mountain bike, and the top tube had the size of a 61cm road bike top tube. The Sequoia had me at hello, and I thought that the extra reach could be solved with a shorter stem, which I bought, but the shortish head tube still made it uncomfortable for longer rides. I began to think I was the problem though...

The real culprit

Don't take me wrong, I still liked my bike, even though it always wanted to go back home at the very start of longer rides. Heavy wheels, too stretched geometry for me, an unresponsive back triangle too soft when I needed more power, made for a tiresome combo when tackling my favorite long ride to a place in our area of Sweden I just love to be at: Ängelsberg. In fact, I never made it there with the Sequoia.

Do I still have it in me?

Beautiful Ängelsberg, Sweden.

The question haunted me for months when I felt more and more discouraged of cycling with the Sequoia. But the answer came in the form of a new bike with the correct geometry and a much more responsive ride! "It wasn't a world record, but I needed to know. I had to do it. Suddenly it was done! I still got it! "

As the road narrowed and led to a short gravel path, there I was: Ängelsberg!

I guess from time to time, specially in the beginning of the cycling season, most cyclists have the same question. Somehow training indoors accounts for keeping the strength and the muscles in shape for what is coming next, but the question remains the same. I don't know for sure. I've never been the type that enjoys cycling indoor, so I cycle year-round on Ice, snow, rain, whatever nature throws at me - I love being outside. Who knows, my friends have told me about Zwift, and I quite liked the idea. I'm open to it. But, with places like this calling my name, "Watopia" will have to wait.

I stopped for a lunch by the bridge and enjoyed the sound of the waters and the local birds. The scenery and the clean air made me forgot a bit about the Coronavirus and the stress it has put on daily life. I intend to keep doing my solo rides away from everything as long as the authorities allow for it. I did, nevertheless, have a mask and some alcohol gel with me just in case.

Old school me was happy!

I'm from another generation. No amount of googling statistics, looking for optimal food brands, marking strategic points of recovery, calculating best possible routes, sitting and strategising at home could suffice - I had to get out there and do it! Had to explore, had to try, had to embrace the fat and the fight, had to Rocky Balboa the heck out of my legs and go face the challenge to find my answers! And, oh how rewarding it was!

I knew where I had to go, I knew what to eat as I diabetic ( I just love the Swedish Knäckebröd or hard bread sandwiches by Wasa). I knew I had to take extra water and not give a crap about the elitist cyclist's rule of not carrying bigger bottles nor top bags (bento bags for food etc) on the bike. This is my ride, this is my time, I don't care if my gears are Tiagra, my tires 40mm and my saddle is a heavy leather Brooks - and I love my lace-up leather gravel shoes without any carbon fiber! I have nothing against other equipment or bikes - but this is my setup and right now it works for me! I'm not one for making excuses, as mentioned I'm quite old school - I own my life and deal with it!

The Day after

The longer ride gave me such a boost that I just had to go out again the next day. Don't ever underestimate yourself. Believe, get ready, try, little by little. It's not a matter of achieving success or not, it's just a matter of doing it - again, again, and again.

What if I had found out that I didn't have it on me? What if I had failed again? Well, I've failed many other times before, some of those times I had to give up, it wasn't wise nor safe to keep on insisting. But, other times I had to improve, try, test, dare, and I was surprised with the outcome. It's no use doing things foolishly, I admit; we're too old for that. It's just that sometimes the little voice on the inside is right: "Stay loco, stay passionate". May you find the joy of riding and share it with others! May you do it passionately and wisely! May you come back stronger after Covid-19 and other strange times! May nothing quench your love for yourself, our planet, other people and our beloved Cycling Sport! - Ebbe Silva. A real fat cyclist.

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