A Coder Looks at 40

Published: 15 Mar 2024
Rediscovering my love of cycling

A short history

Early Saturday morning the weekend before I turned 40, I stepped on the scale to see 248lb (112kg). This was really disheartening knowing that just a few years before I had been around 160lb (72kg). I went out that day and got a membership to the local YMCA. The following Monday, I went to the pool to swim for the first time since high school. I also got my bicycle down from the dark, dusty corner of the garage I had hung it in all those years ago.

September 2022

I had been swimming for a few months and was working on doing a full 1650 yard swim. But I had also really fallen in love with my bicycle again. I have so many good memories of riding my bike with my dad and grandfather as a kid and every time I get on the bike, I’m reminded of those times. I try to be a good steward of cycling when I go outside and spend most of my time riding in the farm land around me so that I’m not disturbing traffic. I was riding along minding my own business when I was run off the road totalling my bike. Thankfully just bumps and bruises for me.

October 2022

I was finally able to replace my bike with a beautiful Trek Domane, just in time for winter to hit the lovely mid-west. So I started looking into ways to make indoor cycling more bearable. I had spent years in the past riding an old wheel on fluid trainer trying not to absolutely hate every minute of it. I also needed a new trainer because my old one wouldn’t work with my new bike due to technology changes in cycling.

Enter Zwift

While looking at trainer reviews I discovered an app called Zwift. Zwift is a virtual cycling simulator, but it’s also a massive multiplayer online game. My inner cyclist fell in love the second I read about this game. I ordered a new wheel off trainer and created an account on Zwift. While waiting for my trainer to arrive, I read every article and watched every video I could find about the game.


My first ride was an absolute blast. When I first started zwifting I literally just had my bike on a trainer in my garage and used an iPad to run the game. Even though I was zwifting in my garage in the late fall, I quickly added a blower fan to my setup as I was getting uncomfortably warm while I was riding. I stuck with this from October into January and managed to drop about 25lbs (11kg) over the months since I had started.


In January 2023, we had an ice storm and I fell. I hurt my hip pretty bad and let myself stop riding or swimming. I went months just ignoring my zwift and my gym memberships out of laziness. Finally in May I stepped on the scale and was once again unhappy with the numbers. Time to get back on the horse… or bicycle in this case. I had managed to meet up with a few local cyclists over the winter and mentioned that I was going to try to ride about 15 miles. One of them very kindly offered to ride with me. So, at around noon on a Saturday I met up with my buddy and we went for a ride. We ended up going about 20 miles. It took nearly 90 minutes and I was dying almost the whole time. During our ride, he told me about a local group that does a ride every Wednesday very close to where I live.

I also restarted zwifting during this time. I met a few people in the game that had their own community of awesome cheerleaders so I had both virtual and real life friends to hang out with nearly every time I got on my bike. Zwifting was an absolute life saver for balancing my desire to ride my bike, but also still being able to work and have a home life. I zwifted most workdays, went to the Wednesday night group ride nearly every week, and tried to get outside as much as possible on the weekends.

Riding with the local group ride started with a 16 mile route that absolutely kicked my butt that first week. Every week I got stronger and eventually the 16 mile group split in to two groups so we had a 16 mile and a 20 mile route. By mid summer I was pushing hard and having a great time leading the group along the route.

Cycling Events

My local friends told me about all kinds of fun semi-local events. I did a few, but the one I really set my sights on was a 50 mile event. As I worked on improving my fitness over the summer, I decided that I wanted to do this event and complete it in under 3 hours. When the day rolled around, I was all kinds of nervous, I had only done 50 miles once and it took nearly 4 hours. I crossed the finish line at 2 hours 58 minutes. I was so proud of myself.

I kept riding into the fall, and kept going on zwift once it got too cold to ride outside. I even managed to complete the Rapha Festive 500 by cycling 500km (311 miles) between December 24th and 31st. I also discovered a whole community of zwifters on twitch which led me to start streaming my indoor rides. If you’re interested, you can find me on twitch here. I have regular workouts 5 days a week and occasionally also ride when I have rest days.

2024 to Today

Overall I have lost 65lbs (30kg) putting me at 183lb. I weighed more than that when I graduated high school. My weight loss journey isn’t over, but I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made over the last 10 months. I got it in my head last year that I wanted to do the annual ride across my state. 160 miles and I have 14 hours to complete the course. Since January, I have been working on my endurance cycling fitness. I have also roped in a few of my virtual cycling buddies into doing this ride with me. I’m so happy I have rediscovered my love of cycling and love the health benefits I’ve gained since I started.

Written by: R.James Solenberg