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FOOS Rider

No, this article is not about a soccer-like table game. As with my other articles, this is about mountain biking. In this case, FOOS stands for Fat, Old and Out of Shape, which pretty much reflects the current situation.

I was doing pretty well until I had a few falls that resulted in some injuries. In the far distant past, these injuries probably would have been relatively minor and healed up fairly quickly.  Not any more! Now it takes a lot longer to heal. In my youth, things might have been sore for a few days and then I be back to normal pretty quickly. Now, it takes many times longer for the immediate pain to disappear and what seems to be exponentially longer to have all of the little remnants of the injury disappear. Throwing another crash on top of a previous injury is a recipe for staying off the bike for quite a while to let things stop hurting. These compounded injuries sapped all of my riding enthusiasm because it wasn't fun to ride because it hurt. That's where I have been. That is what happens when you get old.

So while I was licking my wounds, I went through a highly stressful situation at work. The details don't particularly matter. The end result was that I slept less and ate more in a failed attempt to relieve the stress and feel better. Without riding, my caloric output decreased while the input was the same or higher. The predictable result is putting on some weight. But let's not let it slide as "weight" and call it what it really is...fat.

Combining the lack of riding with some extra poundage gets me to the Out of Shape part of FOOS. Sure it is expected, but this much? It seems like every hill climb (and every mountain bike ride around here has a pretty good hill climb involved) slaps me in the face and then kicks me in the gut, leaving me as a little puddle of panting protoplasm on the side of the trail. My friends have been good sports about it, but I know I have become the anchor slowing down our rides.

My "rational" self knows the situation and is willing to cut myself some slack, but the "inner" self still thinks that I am young and in great shape and I should be racing up and down the hill. I am regularly confronted by the stark difference between this self-illusion and reality, but that hasn't done too much to change my self perception to something more realistic. Just as my rational self knows that the children of friends I haven't seen in a long time are much older now but my inner self thinks of them as still being infants or young children, my self image seems to have been frozen at some point in the now distant past.

Put these together and I have become the FOOS Rider. I should accept it and move on but I don't really want to. I should be young again. Injuries should heal immediately. I should have a metabolism that burns all of the food I can eat. I should have no worries real or imagined. Or, perhaps, I should give in the rational mind and admit to myself that it can't be and be satisfied with my current situation and adjust accordingly. Maybe I should...

I have also noticed that I am a bit more hesitant on descents and going a bit slower in an attempt to avoid another injury, but this means that descents are a bit less fun. Combined with the climbing effort required, the fun factor has been reduced lately.

I am well over-due on getting a new mountain bike. My ride has 12,000 miles of mountain trails on it and parts are wearing out. It is only a matter of time before the frame develops a crack. I know I should get a new bike and I have the means to do it. I just haven't had the enthusiasm to test ride bikes lately. Between being a FOOS Rider and the decreased fun factor, I fell unworthy of a new bike.

I have started trying to address this, starting with the OS part of the term. I have resumed my weekend rides on the same trails that we always ride. My summer ride group has resumed. I am commuting to work on my road bike at least twice a week. I am still slow and get tired climbing long hills (the result of all the FOOS factors), but I am slowly getting back into shape. When I make the commitment to myself, I can start work on the F factor. I don't have a good plan for the other O.

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