Bluefish Solitude

After stepping outside, I pulled my bicycle from the shed, and gave “Black Betty” a pre-ride inspection. Everything was in working order. I straddled the Felt Broam, strapped on my helmet, hit start on my Garmin GPS, and shoved off. The familiar click of my cleats in the pedals forced the corners of my mouth slightly upward. I’d waited for this ride, this adventure, for days.

The familiar click of my cleats in the pedals forced the corners of my mouth slightly upward.

The growl in my belly reminded me I needed breakfast, so I pedaled through town to catch the Greenway Trail toward Starbucks. Betty’s tires sung their low rumble on the pavement below. The sounds of city life filled the air. Cars whizzed pass. Horns honked in the distance. Voices chattered. Dogs barked. City sweepers scrubbed the streets with a whirling hum.

I pedaled to the café, ordered bacon cheddar bites, and grabbed a few protein bars for the trip. At the register, one of the baristas asked to take a picture of my 2022 Great Cycle Challenge jersey. To some in Starbucks, I was only a middle-aged man in cycling shorts, but at heart, I was a kid seeking adventure.

Leaving the coffee shop, I hammered down New Forest Highway out of town. The sky hung heavy with humidity and left my skin moist. The noise of town faded to the occasional passing vehicle. Then I turned onto Squirrel Bridge. I settled into my pace and rode, soaking in the experience. This was what I had hoped for all week. As I turned onto Bluefish Road, I noticed the silence. No cars. No voices. Only a few birds chirped as the sand crunched under Betty’s hungry wheels. Although my lungs and legs burned, my heart filled with peace.

I was miles away from the cares of life.

I was miles away from the cares of life. The sense of freedom bubbled from the depths of my soul. A grin stretched wide across my face, as I realized the reason I ride. I find happiness and contentment in the solitude found on backroads like Bluefish Road.

Yes, that’s why I ride. Where do you find peace and solitude? I’d like to hear about it in the comment section.

PS- If you’re wondering, the ride was a little over 47 miles long.

Let’s Roll

I made a goal to roll

The order is confirmed. Paid in full. I’m ready. (I think.) Well, I better be, because I registered for my first gravel cycling event in October.

Last April, I entered my first organized bike ride. I completed the road portion of the Wild Chicken 100 that stretched 62.9 miles (or 100 km) under four hours. The course meandered through the main streets and backroads of Ben Hill, Irwin, and Coffee counties. The weather was cold and windy, but I loved the experience. I can’t wait until next year!

However, it’s time to tackle my next cycling challenge. The Pecan Shaker is a new edition to the Stuckey’s Gravel Roll Series taking place in Hawkinsville, GA. Here is a description from the events website:

This ride coincides with the harvest season for Georgia pecans. Celebrate the timeless tradition of pecan shaking with us by pounding miles of southern mixed surface roads while passing through mile after mile of pecan groves.

Known as the Harness Horse Capital of the World and the City of Thirteen Highways, Hawkinsville is also home to lengthy stretches of unpaved roads. We honor the heritage of horse racing by bringing a new generation of racers on mechanical horses to town.

I’m so excited!

“Son, if you’re going to do something, do it right.” I can hear my mama’s voice now.

“Yes, ma’am.”

That’s why I’ve registered for the long ride. It’s 103 miles of mixed surface roads with 71 of those miles unpaved. There’s over 3,400 ft of elevation too. Awesome! I might not set any records, but I’m riding to finish this crucible!

Who’s with me?

I’ll be training over the next several months (and don’t forget the Great Cycle Challenge in September) to prepare. I’d love to have you follow along with me here on the blog and on social media. If you haven’t already, please subscribe and follow me on Instagram.

What personal health goals have you set? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

A Hobby Changed my Life

Overweight. Always tired. Stress levels maxed. Type II diabetes taking me on a never-ending rollercoaster ride. That was a description of my life only a year ago. Now I’m leaner, more energetic, off all meds, and happier. All because I started cycling.

A before picture at 270 lbs and after at 230 lbs.

If you followed me on social media then, you probably already know I’ve been dubbed as the “Pedaling Preacher.” People offered up hashtags like #pedalingpreacher and #pedalfasterpastor as I shared my fitness journey. It was not uncommon for people to message me or sometimes come up to me in public to tell me they were inspired. It felt good (odd but refreshing) to hear these kinds of remarks.

Honestly, a hobby changed my life. Yes, I know my hopes of winning the Tour de France it zilch, but I don’t want to imagine my life without it. It gave me an outlet to improve my physical health and have fun while doing it. But it also helped with my mental health too.

I have struggled with handling stress and anxiety for years. Often, I spend most of my time “in my head” without any physical exertion. That’s not good. Cycling gave me a positive way to cope with stress.

I’m writing to share that everyone needs a hobby, an outlet to express themselves. Cycling (and writing) happens to be mine. Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy? How do they impact your life? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

Honestly, a hobby changed my life!

Here is a picture of my new gravel adventure bike, “Black Betty.” She is a Felt Broam I purchased from Hubs and Hops in Thomasville, GA. Check them out on Instagram.