Getting in shape for a sport you haven’t done in a while can be a real challenge sometimes. Especially when there is lots of pressure to do things faster and harder.

On Monday the 17th in 10-degree weather, I went to the garage and brought my bike inside the house to start training in-place for the annual Cycle for Survival event (see February 18 post). It’s the only time I ride a bike all year. Knowing that the snow was going to soften from predicted warm weather, I went cross country skiing in the afternoon, my second time this season. We had 18-24 inches of snow. Tuesday I spent an hour shoveling snow off the roof. Wednesday morning I played tennis for two hours and then that afternoon had my first cycling session: two 13-minute rides separated by a five minute rest.

Uh oh…I could feel some strain just walking up the stairs afterward. The legs were rubbery. Next morning was tennis again, but I made it through all sets without a fall, and my game wasn’t that bad. The legs still worked ok.

Friday I biked 27 minutes nonstop, and Sunday was a 50-minute ride. So I am almost there.

How do people cycle for 4-8 hours with minimal breaks?

But this Sunday March 2nd, I will be pedaling beside them, trying to keep up. The hard part is when the spinning instructor yells that “We are going up a hill now, so out of the saddle and pump those legs ’til they burn,” as if that’s a desirable condition. I get so competitive that I do my best, in spite of the relatives who worry that I am going to pass out from exhaustion. However in the midst of all the young people around me, I can’t imagine staying seated and simply poking along as if I were on a quiet and level country road.

As my 23-year-old daughter chided me, “it’s only an hour Dad, so I don’t need to train for this.” And a friend who made a sizable donation wrote that she now “expected” me to do two hours. I hope she was joking, because that seems pretty daunting right now. Let’s see if I can cycle an hour without much more effort…and still be able to play tennis 8+ hours a week, ski and shovel snow without aching.