Charlie Sterling was a hell of a nice guy. In the ’70s he coached soccer with my dad, a couple of British expats driving all over New Jersey to bring the gospel of their native game to American kids. Charlie was always cheerful, wickedly funny, and generous.
I remember sitting in his kitchen on one visit as he buzzed around making dinner, pasta with garlic bread. He was a dervish, and I remember thinking, “Why is he in such a rush? That can’t be healthy.” Charlie’d had a heart attack already at that point, and he would have others. Good, kind Charlie didn’t know how to slow down.
I was thinking of him again last week while I was on vacation. It was the third or fourth day of not engaging in the mania of full-time work/parenthood, and my train of thought had finally slowed to some notional level of coherence. I realized I’d been moving at Charlie speed. And that’s not good.
I like to think that, the older I get the better my habits get. I eat better. I exercise more, but also take the time to recover. I prioritize sleep. I tell my kids I love them. And lest I begin to sound like a sanctimonious prick, let me say that I don’t do any of these things perfectly or with absolute consistency, but I do them better and more consistently than I used to, which I think (hope) is a function of maturity (but probably just a heightened sense of mortality).
What is it they say, “First we form our habits, and then our habits form us?”
Cycling habits matter. I’m never going to be the best trainer, but the closer I get to the right paradigm, the more I enjoy each ride, the less I struggle, etc., etc. It’s taken a long time to force myself to start eating early in long efforts. It’s taken time to keep myself from packing in every ounce of junk food I can fit in my pie hole after a full day on the bike. And sometimes I fail, but I know better, and that’s worth something.
This week’s Group Ride asks, how good are your habits? Are you a shit show on the bike, careening from one ride to the next, snatching at small scraps of fitness, and suffering all year long? Or do you keep it tight, long, slow miles in the spring, intense in the summer and fall, and then tapering to rest in winter? What is your best cycling habit? What is your worst?