Monday, March 25, 2013

Scared of Commitment

I've never been one to shy away from commitment.

Once, when I took a full-time job at a financial institute, the manager asked me to commit to staying with the bank for at least a year. It wasn't the career of my choice: I had started at the bank as a part-timer while I was in university. When I graduated, there were few to no jobs in my chosen field.

I'm an English major. Go figure.

So, when I was asked to commit to staying full-time for a year, I agreed. And I stayed for almost two-and-a-half years.

I wasn't afraid of commitment.

Lori and I moved in together after dating for about two-and-a-half years. Another two-and-a-half years after that, we married. We've been together for 24 years, this month. In that time, we've had two wonderful, gorgeous girls, and the fun hasn't stopped.

So, no, I'm not scared of commitment.

At least, I wasn't scared of commitment until this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Lori signed the two of us up for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour. It's a cycling event that takes us from Algonquin College, in Ottawa, through the Ottawa Valley, past Perth, and on to Queen's University, in Kingston.

And back.

It's a two-day event, where our bags with a change of clothing, toiletries, and other personal effects are transported ahead of our arrival. At Queen's, we get cleaned up, are fed, and given a place to sleep. The next morning, we pack up, get back on our bikes, and ride back to Algonquin College.

Each way, it's approximately 177 kilometres. Round-trip, it's more than 350 kilometres.

The furthest I have ever cycled in one go was a few years ago, on Thanksgiving, where I hopped on my hybrid bike, a heavy, thick-tired, accessory-laden ride, and trekked from my house to the Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park. On my way there, I periodically stopped to snap photos of the changing autumn leaves and the views at other lookouts.

Along the Gatineau Parkway, the road was so steep at times that, moving in first gear, I could have made faster progress had I dismounted my bike and walked. But I persevered and made it to the lookout, where I snapped a few photos, ate a snack, drank a full bottle of water, and then turned around.

The round trip took me almost five hours. Total distance: 80 km.

Last summer, on my new road bike, I mapped out a circuit of the city that took me from Barrhaven to Hogs Back, through Vincent Massey Park, following the Rideau River all the way to where it met the Ottawa River, to the National Gallery, behind Parliament Hill, along the Ottawa River to Lincoln Heights, following the transitway to Algonquin College, and straight down Woodroffe Avenue to Barrhaven.

The 50-kilometre loop took me barely more than two hours to complete, including the occasional stop. I completed this route a handful of times over the summer.

So cycling 177 km in one day is an intimidating challenge, to say the least.

But we've paid up, so I'm committed.

This weekend, the reality of this cycle tour set in when I picked up my bike from a cycle shop, having paid $45 to have it tuned up. I also bought new pedals, a second bottle carrier, new, bigger bottles, and new cycle shoes.

My ride was ready to go. Now, it's time for me to get tuned up and in shape.

I've returned to the gym, where I plan to use the spin cycles at least three times a week until the snow melts, and the roads and pathways are cleared of salt. When I'm able to cycle outdoors, my 50-kilometre loop will resume.

I'm also going to return to my lunchtime power walks: three kilometres in under 30 minutes.

Those walks start today. I may even be doing the course while you're reading this blog post.

If so, wish me luck. Because I don't have a lot of time to train, and I'm scared.

But committed.


  1. Ross, don't be scared. You'll do just fine. Once it warms up we can go on some easy rides together. Any questions you have about preparing for RLCT - ask me. Don't be shy!

  2. Thanks, Vicki, I'm sure that Lori and I will be relying on you a lot.

  3. This is epic and extremely impressive - good for you both!
    I'm curious to hear about your training process; cycling is so very different from running (spring goal, FYI is for me to get a bike...)

    1. Hmm... training... right.

      So far, my plan is to do a one-hour spin at the gym, three times a week. And I'll also do a 3K power walk during my lunch breaks at the office. Because I don't race, when time is not a factor, I can get on my bike and go forever. I expect this ride to take between six and eight hours.

      My wife runs and swims as part of her training. She'll start training on her bike as soon as the snow and salt are gone.

      We'll see how it goes.