The “right” stuff

One of the best things about having accidentally moved last year has been living in the “city” again.  It’s a rare day that I don’t see at least a dozen dogs being walked by my window, their owners getting as much exercise at the dog. Skateboarders, runners, and lots of bikers.  Ann Arbor is known for its bikes, and that spills out into the smaller towns so they can get their 20-100 mile ride in.  It’s not unusual to see people in specialized uniforms and bike helmets, even right outside my window as they get to the hilly paved roads we’re known for.  Weekends bring so many bikes on the road you’d think it was a road race.  Seeing all these slim (or slimming) people out working on their health is a great goad to getting yourself out, working on your cardio or muscle strength.

Pulled into the sport last year, Guy has been biking himself into better shape, me reaping the benefit of those tight biker shorts, but it wasn’t until Thing Two got involved that I became jealous of them having something to do together that was mildly competitive.  I miss the time I used to spend with my boys, and I look for ways to keep involved, not just at the side line, but actively involved.  (We used to do martial arts together until I damaged my lower back, and then we moved and just didn’t find a school we liked.)

For almost a year now, I’ve been tripping over specialized shoes with toe clips, washing water bottles, and finding wrappers to tiny candy bars and salt blocks.  Strange sets of biker clothes, jerseys, special socks, head bands, and gloves keep showing up in the laundry with specialized washing instructions.  I can’t do much more than hang them up and hope the right person takes them to their closet because both Guy and Thing Two keep coming home with new clothes and knowing whom gets what is becoming a challenge.  (Honestly, it’s like living with two teenage girls.)  There is stuff everywhere!  In the back room, my kitchen, the mail as they get more stuff . . .   But then I see them both whizzing by my window looking good in different ways, and I don’t care.  Except that I saw something I wanted and wasn’t sure I could have without sacrificing something equally important.

It takes me a long time to decide if I want to take on a new “hobby” mostly because I know if it doesn’t fit into my demanding work schedule, I won’t do it.  I’ve been exercising for almost a year to strengthen my back, fitting my 20 minutes easily into my day and not needing anything but an elastic band and some floor space.  (I don’t like needing a lot of stuff to get things done.)  It works, and I don’t see myself quitting.  Biking, though, is a commitment by the looks of all the stuff that has taken over my mud room, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle not only the time it needed, but the things that go along with it.  These boys have a lot of stuff.

So . . . after a lot of soul searching, I gave it a whirl.  Got myself a cracker-jack bike with tires that can handle dirt roads as well as paved, a helmet, and one set of riding clothes, and went out for a quick 7 miles.  The verdict?  Not that bad.  Oh, I was bad at it, but I could do it, and I didn’t need a lot of stuff.  I’ve been at it for almost a month now, not going at it as hard as Guy, (who gets cranky if he doesn’t get a ride in every day) but enough that progress is being made.  I now have a nicer pair of shoes to bike in, though they are not the toe-clip kind and never will be.  I also bought a second jersey with long sleeves so I can bike a bit longer into the season.  I have a time/speed/average readout on my bike because I’m competitive, and I want to know if I’m getting better right NOW!  I have never eaten a salt block, and never will.  Guy and Thing Two are in it for a different reason than I am, but it came together for me this weekend when the three of us went for an early morning ride, my skills finally getting to the point where I’m not such a pansy and might be fun to ride with once in a while.  We came back tired together, having done something we could all relate to.  I might not have a lot of “stuff”, but I’m getting out of it exactly what I wanted, and that works for me.



Filed under Drama Box

57 responses to “The “right” stuff

  1. That is very cool… My girlfriend Missy Caulk lives there and has a gorgeous real estate blog where she shows off such cool eye candy of your area. I keep thinking when I go to the Detroit conference I have to get Missy to come out to Chicago and play with me. I love my ActiveRain peeps. We are always getting together for something real estate related (happy sigh).

    Hubby is trying to teach the boys to ride their bikes. Mike keeps asking me if I want one. I keep ducking the issue. After reading this I may have to reconsider. Maybe… 🙂

  2. James R. Fox

    Hi Ms. Kim All the stern athleticism from the ladies here reminds me that I can(some days) do half a mile at a really fast shuffle on my walker.My old cat Smudge thinks I’m totally insane(of course most cats think that about most humans)

  3. jkh

    Re your cycling, both the “boys” and as a family: YAY! I’m telling you what you already know here: staying tight with your loved ones as they grow and change means you grow and change, too. I’m so glad you have worked on recovering your strength before jumping into a new activity, and paced yourself.

    About the laundry: I have a little “carousel” that has 2 clothespins per arm, 8 arms that join the central post, that can hang on a shower rod. Designed for socks, but excellent for things like mitts, headbands, bras, etc., those small items that need to air-dry. It folds up like a little umbrella without the fabric (can be stashed in a plastic bagel bag) so it’s great for travel. And I use lingerie bags to corral those small things in the washer and to keep them separated from the rest of the load that goes into the dryer. Oh! and try a slosh of white vinegar in the rinse to knock out detergent residue–very important when chafing is an issue…

  4. synde

    Heya Kim- wait you moved???? how did I miss that? I also got into working out.. I started running lost 40 pounds and feel great.
    I am really jonesing for another Hallows book..

  5. tim collins

    Dear Kim. I am sorry you injured your lower back. This means hi impact sports are out .It’s funny, I had a vivid dream last night I was running, near flying through a park only found in my dreams, leaping down 12 and 6 step stairs in one leap. Running across green hills of grass, cutting 90 degree turns and the ground beneath my feet a mere blur . I used to be a runner, very light weight who’s time out at sea made me very agile. I woke up at one with my heart pounding. The sad I was once able to do all of the above.
    I suspect Guy and son feel the same way about biking . Unfortunately due to the unusual stress a bike can do to you (Talk to Any Doctor.). I would not reccomend it. What I do reccomend is to get into swimming. It can only help your back and core strength.(Which comes in very helpful in later life.) Also swimming gear is dirt cheap. Just please be careful with your back. The stories I could relate to you.
    Yours in Space and Time. Tim

    • Not liking swimming so much, Tim, and it doesn’t matter how good it is for you if you don’t do it. I’ll stick to biking. My grandpa was a biker into his 80s. That works for me.

  6. Jemma

    Oooh this sounds great Miss Kim.

    I have a friend in Denver who took up mountain biking about a year ago, her goal was to lose weight and wow has it dropped off! She loves it too and has been completely caught up in the hobby like Guy.

    I wish I could get that excited about exercise but I find motivation so hard. I have been riding my bike too and from my pilaties class though and actually enjoying the short rides but I’m so out of breath so easily, I definitely need to do it more often.

    • It can be addictive, Jemma. There’s lots of boxes that can be ticked off in this sport, from weight to socializing, to accessories, too cardio and muscle strength. And some people just like the clothes. (laugh)

      That’s great that you work at your health!

  7. Last year my boyfriend and I got new bikes. We both went everywhere on them growing up as kids and we missed it.

    My bike was my independence.. my freedom. Alas, when I hit high school, a car was what impressed me and I lost touch with my bike. I’ve been wanting to reverse that.

    I’m glad this is something you and your boys can do for family fun. Playing together is key!

    I must say when I bought the bike, I had to ride it as soon as I hit the parking lot. The second I zoomed off the wind tickled my face & it brought a smile from ear to ear.
    However, I don’t remember the hills being as hard back then, as they are now.


  8. KeeleyS

    “Honestly, it’s like living with two teenage girls”…Been there, done that. Be thankful it’s only trying to sort out their stuff. At least there is no fighting over clothes and makeup. No tearing through each others closets and drawers(This is mine, this is mine…I never said you could borrow this!)No clothes flying down the steps and out the door(At least my neighbors get entertainment!)It’s a wonder they are still alive. The boys argue and are done with it. The girls let it linger for days. No wonder I have grays in my hair!

    Hope you enjoy the cycling! It can get expensive, but once you have your basic gear you’ll be okay. This is the best time of year for it. Not too hot, not too cold. Leaves will be changing soon so it’s gorgeous riding. Start slow for about a week, then up your mileage gradually until you reach their level. Too much too soon and you will not be able to use your legs. Best of luck and have fun!!!

  9. Charlotte McClain

    Seems like everyone is on a health kick this time of year. Three of my friends came back from summer vacation with the same goals for this school year as me, get healthier. I thought about a bike, but right now it’s still hitting 110 everyday so it’s not as much fun as it sounds, but my Wii keeps me company. Good luck in the new sport.

    • The trick is to find what works for you, your schedule, and your social life. It’s easier if you work the social into your exercise. Friends do make it a lot more fun. I hope you find your outlet soon, Charlotte!

  10. Terry T

    I’d love to be able to bike around but this apartment is small, no room to store a bike, and any “riding” would be more akin to Deathrace 2000 drying to dodge absolutely insane and careless drivers(which could be far more dangerous to my health than being overweight).

    • I hear what you’re saying, Terry. We could not bike in Rock Hill, but they recently implemented a goal to become the South’s biking city, so we will see.

  11. Jessica

    You must try tandem cycling. My husband has been an avid cyclist for most of his life and while I enjoy riding, I’ll never be at the same speed or level, which makes riding together not much fun.

    That is until he bought us a tandem. Now we can ride together, and since the front and back pedals are on separate chains, I don’t even have to pedal as the same rapid pace he likes. Actually I can even stop pedaling all together if I need to break but that doesn’t go over well 🙂 I highly recommend the new Schwinn cruiser style tandem, it has several gears, separate pedals, and nice cushy seats, plus modern brakes. It’s rather on the heavy side but pretty easy to operate, and you can often find used ones that aren’t too expensive. And you can easily fit luggage on to it to bring along a picnic lunch

    • Tandem. That sounds like fun! But alas, not for me. I’m far too competitive, and I want to do it MYSELF! (puts five-year-old-self back away) -laugh- I’m so glad you found a way to make it all work for you. That is the trick.

  12. Chris

    Hi Kim! You might want to investigate some specialty bike seats:

    I’m an older lady, and I found riding on the standard seat put terrible pressure on the public and back-of top-of-thigh area (and it’s very bad for your circulation in those spots too), so I got a seat that supports the seat bones and doesn’t have the part between the legs, and it works great!

    And let’s be honest: no one wants poor circulation and potential nerve damage in the “playground”! You might want to point your guys to those seats too, because the standard bike seat is just as bad for guys as for girls, in the pubic area.

    Good luck and have fun biking! 🙂

  13. Great biking at Gallup Park if you’ve moved from C to A2 🙂

  14. Maryellen

    That’s awesome, Miss Kim! 🙂

    My husband and son did the “Savage Race” on Saturday, came home caked in mud, scratched up, exhausted and happy. Honestly, if they were dogs, their tails would have been wagging. My son said, “We crawled in mud with barbed wire right above us and then we had to jump fire pits! Mom, you shoulda come with us! You’d have LOVED it!” … Yeah, son, sure!

    ….. He’s a nice boy, but I don’t know where he gets his ideas from! 😀 LOL!!!

    Have a great day!

  15. Jade/Third Coast

    Biking is such a great form of exercise, I really need to get back into it, but not before this heat breaks. I don’t have any special equipment, not even gears on my bike, but there is only one hill around here and it can be avoided. The helmet is something I should definitely get, but as for the rest I just wing it, kinda like I did when I was a kid. I put on whatever is comfortable and just go until I can’t go anymore. I just have to be careful about turning back at the right time so when I run out of energy I am back at the house. I have a couple of friends who are seriously into mountain biking. Talk about equipment!

    • That’s it exactly, Jade. You go as far as you want, both in speed, distance, and accessories. I would advise getting the helmet, though. I honestly don’t even feel mine when it’s on, they are so well designed. And if you do, try a different one. They are all shaped a wee bit different.

  16. Beckie

    Similarly, back in April I was talking to one of my colleagues, who (at that time) had lost 20 lbs since he started working at my university. He’s my age, and that’s some pretty impressive dedication to making himself better; it inspired me to get back in the pool and start swimming again. I’m up to doing a mile (most nights) in the pool about 3 times a week, and feel myself getting cranky when I have to adjust my schedule.

    Congratulations on finding something that helps you, and gives you bonding time with your own family. 🙂

  17. My brother has taken up mountain biking and is now addicted. I was surprised, and jealous, when I saw how much weight he’s dropped. I haven’t been on a bike in years.

  18. James R Fox

    Hi Ms. Kim-It’s Jim from warren. Have you thiught of going to a gentler dicipline like judo? I once saw a movie of our founder in Japan fighting multiple opponents at 82. If you have to try you’re not doing it right,The opponent does the work.Much better on the bod.(I have a very out of date black belt(first) I used into my 50’s to defend against drunk drugged insane clients(Smoking crack,drinking Mad Dog,and taking thorazine does tend to do that):-)

  19. I injured my back last year and have been working out with a trainer and weights and it has improved. I used to love to walk but that isn’t working for me so I was thinking of biking. How is your back doing with the biking?

    • That’s great, Colleen! My personal improvement over the last year with my back has been fabulous, and I look back at the exercises I began with and what I’m doing now, and I feel really good about it. I’m a dedicated strengthen/stretcher, but I can’t help but feel like I’m on a knife’s edge even with the progress I’ve made. “Stray but a little, and the fellowship will fall.”

      I was worried about the back when I started, but it is not giving me any new twinges from it. If you are having issues with walking, I’d ask a professional therapist about switching to riding. The impact is lower, but you have to have the ability to move fast to keep from falling over.

  20. Randy


    Yeah, you’ve joined the ranks of the road addicts. Welcome! My primary dependency is running, but I dabble with the bike as well so as to be ready for an occasional du or tri event. It you decide to stick with it, the bike will eat up some of your time, obviously, but it may also become a new tool for your creative thinking. I’m not sure why, nor if it’s just me, but some of my best ideas “arrive” when my feet are dragging and my heartrate is redline. If nothing else, it sounds like you’ve discovered a new opportunity for quality time with the boys in your fam, and I’m sure that’s motivation enough right there.

    Happy writing (and riding),


    • Hi Randy. I know what you mean! Once you master it enough to fall into the zone, you can get a lot of creative ideas. I’ve not yet found the zone, but I know it’s there. 🙂

  21. Antonio

    “Stuff.” I remember George Carlin used to do a bit about people and their ‘stuff’ and how we can easily beome inundated by the stuff in our life. He advised people to buy a second home ‘just for the stuff.’ Hey, that’s kinda what you guys did, right?

    Have you ever tried skiing? Snow skiing? You’ve got a few places w/n driving distance of you. I know what you’re thinking–you can’t because of your back. Actually, I know a few people(including my aunt who is in her 60s) with back problems who ski with no problems(because of the incline of the slopes and snow cushions falls/it’s the trees you have to look out for!). Still, if downhill skiing isn’t for you, cross-country skiing sounds perfect for your family. You won’t get a better or more enjoyable workout in the winter. And you probably have golf courses and other open spaces nearby where you wouldn’t have to drive far. You can rent the ‘stuff’ while trying it out. Just an idea. 😎

    • I remember that bit, Antonio! He’s one of my favs, actually. Not so keen on the potty mouth, but I can over look it to get to the funny stuff.

      I used to cross country ski when I was a kid. If I could do it in shorts and a T, I would. I have issues with the cold, and I know it. Just call me a wimp.

  22. Mendi in STL

    Heyde Hey Kim!

    LOL, That’s funny, it’s like that on the weekends out here in the boonies! We’ve got lots of back roads where the speed limit is 35 MPH, so the bikers flock out here. Only problem is there aren’t good shoulders and lots of curves, that equals fun for them but heart attacks for those of us who live out here and happen upon them driving our cars. I’ll stick with my stationary bike, but love heading to the trails on occasion. Keep it up, it’s a fun way to get some exercise and fresh air!

    • Hi Mendi! I know you mean about the roads. I love that this is a biking community in that 90% of the drivers know the etiquette and are respectful. It makes a big difference.

  23. Howdy ma’am,

    It’s great that your family does things like that together. It’s a shale so many families don’t follow your example. If they did, there would be a lot more kids stating out of trouble. I salute you and “Guy”.


    • shale=shame


    • Mendi in STL

      those tenny tinny buttons are nasty!

    • jkh

      Mendi, you reminded me of a scene from my childhood: My dad, with fingers thick and stiff from hard physical work, doing up my little sisters’ Sunday School dresses, breathing heavily and saying between his teeth “mmmmh, little bitty, [mumble] buttons…” Thanks for the chuckle!

    • Vampyre, I second that. 🙂

      LOL@Mendi (silly grin)

      JKH, it made me think of my neighbor cursing the buttons on his blackberry every time he is forced to answer a text message (LOL)

    • That’s part of it Vampy, but the truth is I just like my boys. They’re cool to be around and have interesting ideas and opinions. If I have to work a little harder to keep up with them now, I will.

      On second thought, maybe girls would have been easier . . .