Life is Goal-Oriented

coaches know bestMy hybrid mountain bike is pretty old. No, not old like me but I know what you’re thinking. Though that thought has some truth as these old legs are no longer in basketball shape. Jogging also hurts the ankle that’s weak from years of basketball. No cardio really means no desserts and no wash-board-type-six-pack abdominals (but honestly, I never had that to begin with…really, so don’t ask me to rip off my shirt like Hulk Hogan…err, you youngsters can just google him). Apply life-lesson here: always have a long-term goal, set short-term goals to help reach your long-term goal, enjoy the journey there. Example: you want to get to the other side of the river but there is no bridge and you don’t know how to swim. (Everyone should know how to bike and swim but that’s another story.) To get to the other side, you need to set up or look for rocks big enough to step on to reach the other side. By “rocks” I mean short-term goals. And by “other side of the river”, I mean long-term goal.

POINT A: I need to exercise. I want to bike more but a better bike would help.

POINT B: Get a bike that will make me ride like Lance Armstrong. Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking that Coach Mark should get a motor bike or have 911 on speed dial. Here’s the lesson kids: don’t act on first impulse. I want a better bike but I’m not going to run out there and buy it because so often, I want something and when I get it, I don’t use it (sound familiar?). If I earn it, it will be more valuable to me. This is to ensure that my new bike will not sit and gather dust when I get it. In the end, getting exercise is the objective.

Back at point A, I’m staring (mentally) at Twin Peaks and I’m making a commitment. “I’m gonna bike that thing!”…20 times.

The Plan & The Goal

So what’s the plan old man? Easy, I will bike “that thing” not once but 10 times…make it 20 times because 10 might be too easy and 15 is not going to kill me but 21 will, so it’s settled: bike from Glen Park to Twin Peaks 20 times and the reward will be that new bike. There is no deadline but the end of July sounds good.

Some Uncertainties

It’s summer time in San Francisco. It’ll be windy. It’ll rain and there are so many cars. What if I don’t make it? What time is the best time to ride up there? What should I wear? Will the wind mess up my hair? Will there be people passing out water when I ride by? What about dogs? Stuff like that.

The Journey

Ride #1: It was the toughest. I didn’t have the stamina nor the strength. I pushed myself to finish knowing that my body will adjust and get stronger for the next time. “If it doesn’t kill me, it will make me better.

Ride #2-6: For the most part, with each ride, things got easier. The only true battle here is the weather and finding the right time to go biking. It rained one day. It was foggy every day. I went at noon. I went in the afternoon and before dinner. I found that listening to music was an added bonus. Around the bend, sometimes the wind would hit me like a blitzing linebacker. Even on a downhill, I’d still have to pedal.

Ride #7: This was the night ride. It was 10 PM and I wanted to see what it’s like. Surprisingly, it had the same amount of cars going up and down the hill. Like the previous rides, everything remained the same. Although, I wouldn’t do it again because the darkness adds to the danger of cars and potholes.

Ride #8 & #9: A goal I had in the beginning was to take 2 rides back-to-back. It was a good day for it so I went up, came down, and went up again. Mentally, the second time was a breeze because muscle-memory took over and in my mind, the ride has already been mapped out. That was a good surprise. A third time? I’m not crazy.

Ride #10: Ride 10 was a milestone because it was mentally comforting to know that the rest of the rides after this one is a race to the end. It was sort of like “it’s all downhill from here” kind of thinking.

Ride #11, #12, & #13: This unusual year of San Francisco weather has finally broke because we got our 70 degree days of hotness, 3 of them. Not only is good weather helpful for enjoying a bike ride, I finally found the right time to hit the road. The constancy of 6:30 AM rides allowed my body to recover properly and my body is physically at it’s peak in the morning. I am also seeing the same bikers doing what I do. Who knew? I just don’t like it when I see them come down and passing me on their way up again. I feel better when I point to them and say “good bikes” and then I point to mine and say “bad bike”.

Ride #14: After 2 days of blistering heat in the 80’s, the fog rolled over the city nice and thick at 6:30 AM. The road was wet. The view from the peaks looked like an expressionistic painting with a palette of white (if you took my art class and paid attention, you would know what I’m talking about…maybe…yawn…zzz). All I could see was a hazy white sun and it’s reflection on the bay, an out-of-focused sun sitting on top of the water (see pic below). On the way down, still worrying about water falling off the trees and dampening my hat, I get a drop of water right in the eyeball. Good thing I was cautiously slow due to the wet road. Otherwise, I’d be a much scarier coach with an eye-patch.

Ride #15: Done, 5 to go. We also ended our 2nd week of summer camp. It’s starting to feel like a family as we work hard together, play together and eat together. I wonder how many players have personal goals for summer camp, goals for the upcoming season and goals for the team. “See the work, do the work, if you don’t see work, go find work, don’t make excuses and get lazy.” When my alarm goes off at 6:30AM, I better roll off the bed and get on that bike. I can’t even begin to think about the weather or how my body feels because there’s work (a ride) to be done and I’m gonna get it done.

Ride #16, #17 & #18: 16 and 18 were nothing out of the ordinary but ride 17 had it’s own story. I just came back from a road trip to Scottsdale Arizona that took a week. I was sure I was out of shape. After a breakfast crepe on Valencia and 22nd, I made a left on 18th and began a climb up to Clayton which turned into Twin Peaks road, the backside of Twin Peaks. Up top, I’ve been taking photos overlooking that road leading up to the Peaks and wondered if it’s easier. It felt like a steeper climb in a shorter amount of time. I was afraid I’d throw up and waste the $10 I spent on breakfast but I didn’t. When I got to the top, it was satisfying to know that I’ve taken both routes up to the peaks.

Ride #19 & #20: The end of the 20 rides was a back-to-back. I didn’t want to wait another day to finish and I had a new bike waiting for me at home that I picked up from coach Silva in Scottsdale. He used to ride it to practice when he had coached with me at Galileo, sort of like what coach Ben (Moore) does now. In a way, I’m joining coach Silva and coach Ben’s elite group of biking coaches…starting tomorrow. I am done with the 20 rides to the Twin Peaks but I’m sure I’ll ride up there now and then. Thank you for reading and I want to leave you with one thought, “it’s not about setting a goal and achieving that goal, it’s about the process of achieving that goal“. The experiences from ride 1 to 20 have definitely made me a better person. Oh, by the way, if you don’t know how to ride a bike, you should learn.

Crunching the final numbers

The first ride was on May 25th. I posted this article on June 19th and the last ride was completed on July 6th. The earlier timed segments of the climb was 30 minutes to the top of O’Shaughnessy and 15 minutes to the top of the peaks. The final time-trial was 16:30 and 11 respectively. It’s not a world record as there were plenty of bikers flying past me but it’s a mark of improvement which is a natural progression when you are work on something. Out of all the times to ride, I enjoyed riding in the morning the most.

A photo is taken for each ride to the top.