Over the years we’ve come to know each other through this blog, AIA Conventions and online meetings or I may even have come to your office to spend time with you and your staff and work with ArchiOffice. So we have a personal relationship of sorts. I decided to make an entry here to all my architecture friends and share with you something personal.
Some of you know that in early 2010 I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to join BQE Software as part of their acquisition of ArchiOffice. My family located to a quiet area of Redondo Beach, only 3 miles from my office and I soon realized that we lived in a cycling mecca. Of course, coming from Chicago, where nearly all the terrain is as flat as the voices on America’s Got Talent, I wasn’t prepared for the abundant, steep hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. So I got off to a slow start.
In January of 2011, I vowed I wouldn’t drive my car to work anymore. My son, Jasper had recently turned 17 and took it upon himself to claim our old Volvo for his own. I got tired of starting up the car in the morning to the blaring beat of dub-step that he left on full blast. So, in the spirit of getting “fit” and being “green”, I retired my car keys, tuned up the bike and made it my daily routine.
In the beginning, I chose a 9 mile route which took me up 950’ on a category 3 climb, then dropping me on a steep run, down a frighteningly busy street to our office. I described this as 4 miles of agony followed by 5 miles of sheer terror. After about a month of this daily ride, I improved my time by 10 minutes and became bolder on the descent. I felt strong enough to move up to a 21 mile route that circumnavigates the peninsula. (see movie below). This is what I’ve been doing for the past 4 months.
My monthly miles have increased from 280 to 650 over the last 6 months. I’ve set a target to increase it each month by 50 miles. I’ve also completed 4 century rides (100 miles or greater) this year and have signed up for 4 more century rides. My wife says I’ve become obsessed. I’ve lost more than 25 pounds and she also refers to me as “manorexic”. All the hundreds of dollars I’ve saved in gas I’ve spent (5-fold) on biking gear – from clothes to equipment.
I think my wife has a point.
But here’s the real story. For years I’ve been driving my car to work. It’s easy. It’s habit. I did it without thinking. I had reached a new maximum weight of 196 pounds. Twenty years ago, when I got married, I was 172 pounds. I knew that I had gotten fat and lazy but I also knew that I could be better. I was not at my potential. I made the mental (and physical) commitment in January to change my lifestyle.
For the first month after making the commitment, I really struggled. There was some pain, but there was also a sense that things were changing. I wasn’t there yet but I knew I was on the road. Something good was beginning to happen. I slept better. I couldn’t wait to wake up in the mornings and take the ride. I also complemented my riding by changing my diet. I stopped eating the foods I knew weren’t contributing to good health. I gave up white flour products. I stopped drinking softdrinks. Empty carbs and sugars were rejected.
Today, I’m 27 pounds lighter than I was at the start of the year. I have exponentially more energy. The aches and pains that used to be a regular part of my life (back and knee ailements) are a thing of the past. My heart has grown much stronger and my resting rate dropped significantly. I am blessed with the most beautiful 21 mile ride to work each morning. I’ve made lots of new biking friends. And all the money I’ve saved on gas I’ve been able to give to my local bike shop in exchange for feeding my new addiction with embarassingly tight lycra clothing.
On the downside. None of my regular clothes fit and I look like a kid wearing his older brother’s hand-me-downs. My wife is tired of me telling her about all my accomplishments as I improve my stamina and speed. Her eyes glaze over as I regale her with stories about my weekend rides into the mountains and along the coast with my biking buddies.
All-in-all, I’ve put in the effort. I made a huge change in my life. I’ve improved the environment and my own health. The price I paid was a month of agony. An investment with a return beyond anything describable.
Punch line: This is what happens when firms make the commitment to change the way they operate and migrate to ArchiOffice. Sure, it’s not a “fun” process. We’re all comfortable doing business the way we’ve been doing it for years. We’re set in our ways. But we know that we can be better. If you get off your lazy butt, put in a little effort; you won’t believe how beautiful life can be!