I opened my eyes and sprang out of bed before my alarm clock had the opportunity to snatch me from the dream world. Why had I woken early and with such enthusiasm? This was the day I would attempt to cycle a Century; 100 miles in a single day. I jumped on the scale. 168.4 lbs. 21.4 percent body fat. I proceeded to check my heart rate variability, which was 61, almost in perfect relative balance between my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. I juiced some kale, drank a lot of water, and took my megadose of vitamins before doing a session of Wim Hoff breathing exercises.
I left my condo at 9:15 am and rode my bike to Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal, three miles from where I live. The ferry took me and my bike across the river and deposited us at the World Trade Center where I met one of my very oldest and closest friends, Ron Ferraz. I am lucky to have such a friend, for there are few people better suited for the monumental task we faced. Ron is an avid cyclist and competitive mountain biker with thighs that make ancient Redwood tree trunks look scrawny. Ron decided to do the ride on a single speed bike to make it challenging. That’s something I could not even fathom. I was thrilled to be taking such an unforgettable ride with someone I literally grew up with, frequently bike riding to places like the movies, Friendly’s, and pizzerias. He seemed as excited as I was for the grand adventure we were about to embark upon.
We began pedaling north, up the west side of manhattan. We moved fairly quickly, but there were people walking, running, cycling, and skating everywhere. There were also Jersey Barriers placed on paths, which slowed us down significantly, because of the recent truck terrorist attack exactly along the route we were taking. I soon found myself weaving in and out of traffic on busy NYC streets, shadowing Ron as closely as possible. It was simultaneously exciting and scary. We rode through Columbus Circle, Central Park, and cycled next to horse drawn carriages and rickshaws.
We eventually made our way out of Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge. Crossing the GW via bike was a surreal experience. I suggest everyone do it. If you don’t have a bike, walk it. You’ll thank me.
Once we crossed the bridge, we began to move quite quickly, going both up and down some monster hills. I was most satisfied by the fact that though I repeatedly thought about getting off the bike and walking the rest of the way up two exceptionally steep hills, I kept pushing, despite the pain. It made reaching the top a glorious experience!
By the time we were riding our last seven miles back downtown, it was pitch black out. Fortunately, Ron had brought a handlebar mounted torch that lit the way for us. This final stretch was truly exhilarating. Upon completion of our Century, we enjoyed celebratory beers (I had a gluten free cider) together as we waited for the last ferry to arrive to take me home.
So why bother riding a Century? My reasons are manifold. Remember, 4 weeks ago I was officially a fat guy tipping the scales at 186.2 lbs and 25.5 percent body fat. I had to train for this ride. Hard. For me, it was the first micro victory associated with my macro mission to reverse my age. I expect to experience many more similar small victories in the coming year. Completing this Century, I hope, will begin a chain reaction. The sense of personal satisfaction of working hard to attain a goal is a great feeling. I encourage everyone to do something hard. Anything. Something that takes grit, and determination, and extraordinary effort, and planning. Make no mistake; it feels great to set a goal and achieve it. I will set and accomplish many more this year. You should too.
So maybe everything I’m doing isn’t for you. Maybe you just don’t really want to live to be 120 years old. Of course I realize that my mission is a little strange. Just trying to lengthen one’s telomeres is quite unusual, but you’d have to be an absolute maniac to do everything I am doing to realize this objective. Yet, no matter who you are and no matter what your circumstances, there are some things I’m doing that you too can do that would prove beneficial, both physically and psychologically. Furthermore, most of you would like to live as long and as healthily as possible. Don’t forget that according to the CDC, 40% of all cancer is related to obesity, not to mention all the death and misery caused by heart disease and diabetes. So, you don’t want to take 10 minute long freezing cold showers everyday. And you probably don’t want to wolf down twenty vitamins a day. Or not eat anything at all on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But there are some things that I’m doing that you too can do that might prove enjoyable while boosting your healthspan. You can lift weights. You can eat a plant based whole foods diet. You can eliminate sugar and soda from your diet. Everyone can find 15 minutes to do some High Intensity Interval Training. And you can certainly ride a bike.
Cycling, in my view, is a fantastic place to start. Anyone can cycle a Century. Yes, even you. I don’t care how old or out of shape you may be. Especially if you are older, cycling is relatively low impact on your joints. You don’t need an expensive bike. Try it. Get started. If you consistently do it and enjoy it for a few weeks or months, then upgrade to a better bike. You go fast. It’s fun. It can be social. It’s great exercise. Just do it…