I wanted to take a moment to talk about last Sunday’s ride, and explain how important it was to me. Provide a little context, so to speak.

At the bar after the ride, some of them were still surprised that I had hung in there and completed the entire 43 miles. I was overweight, slow, and I didn’t have the fancy bikes they had. Although it wasn’t at all meant to be malicious or demeaning, when they doubted me during the ride, I started to doubt myself too.  I started to doubt my ability to even do the full 50 miles during the actual MS Ride, and wondered if I had finally bit off more than I could chew. What was I thinking? I’ve ridden between 18 and 23 miles three times now since late April. And here I was, trying to ride 50 miles, attempting to keep up with people who take spin classes during the week?

I’ve always been a fighter. Back in 1992-1994 at CHSN when I lived in Rockland, I took AP courses in Bio, English Language, and American History. When I took the AP American History in my junior year and AP English Language in my senior year, I didn’t immediately perform well. Both respective teachers, accustomed to working with the “smart” kids, suggested a few early months into the classes that I should drop, and move into the Honors version instead. Both times, I was devastated. I liked being in the courses. I was pushing myself, and I was learning.  I didn’t want to drop and give up. I’m a fighter.

Maybe the teachers were reluctant to have me waste their time and my time. Maybe they felt it would just be better for me. Instead, for both classes, I opted to stay late every week after school to work on practice essays and assignments with my respective AP teachers. Seriously, every week. In the end, after the doubts, I passed both AP exams with a “3” score, which meant I passed. Both of my doubting teachers were surprised and proud of me. I’m a fighter.

On this ride, I was being doubted and doubting myself. Yes, it’s true that I’m not currently as fast or as young as I used to be. I’m 34 years old, I don’t have they energy to stay up late anymore, and my body is more creaky. But so what? Some things don’t change. I’ve been calling this “The Year of the Turnaround.” I have been adamant about going back to basics, and focusing on improving myself. Being true to myself. Being who I am. After all this time, I felt that I had not been true to who I was, what I am capable of, or achieving what I wanted in life. I had stagnated under the weight trying to raise two young children with my wife, and maintaining a house, and all the new expenses. It’s been a daunting task for both of us these past five years.

Five years later, the stress is beginning to lift for us, and we’re happier now. The kids are getting easier to manage, and we’re getting things done. This year is the year of the comeback. I call it “The Year of the Turnaround.” My wife and I are finally focusing on taking care of ourselves, enjoying life a bit more, and smiling. We’ve been going out more, got the house painted, and been cleaning the clutter and detritus that has accumulated over five years. Personally, I want to return to being the man I used to be, and that includes getting back in shape.

So when these people on the Sunday ride started doubting me, it felt like a setback. I doubted myself and what I was trying to do. Trying to improve. Trying to be. I could have given up, taken the easier route, and let them go on ahead, while I should turn around. I’m happy to say declare that some aspects about myself never changed. I never stop fighting. I hung in there. I did it at my own pace, but I rejoined the group, and I made it to the finish line.

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years. I’m a fighter.