What Six Months of Sobriety Has Done for Me and My Riding Mar 14, 2018

We often read about people taking a month off from drinking, for a number of reasons. Perhaps to lose weight, or gain clarity, or most often, “I’ve been going at it too hard.” Well, what happens when that month turns to two, then three, and doesn’t stop at six? A while back, I was dealing with depression, stressed out, gaining weight, increasingly cynical and argumentative. Drinking had become a daily habit, usually beginning after a ride, or after growing tired of sitting at my desk working. The day to day grind had been complicated with a new form of cyclical behavior; ride bikes to get over the hangover, not just for enjoyment.

When you’re riding to get over a hangover, you’ll find that you don’t really enjoy riding bikes anymore. Or at least that’s how I was feeling. Every ride was a struggle, both mentally and physically. I felt drained, exhausted and would get angry at myself for “letting myself go.” In reality, I was in great physical shape, my body was just mad at me for poisoning it.

Then I went to a doctor for my semi-regular physical and got some bad news.

You know that box on your medical check-in sheet where it asks how many drinks you have a week? Well, who answers that honestly? I never have and up until my mid-30’s, I could get away with that. My blood was healthy, I have always been very physically fit, so my blood levels would oftentimes reflect that. This time, however, my blood was in the red. Ok, bad analogy, but you know what I mean. My doctor alerted me to my liver and kidney levels were elevated and told me that I might want to think about a life without booze.

Bummer.

Or was it? At that point, I had already taken a month off and was feeling better. Part of me wanted to “sober up” before the bloodwork to perhaps trick the results and give myself more reason to continue drinking. I realize this now, well after the fact. Drinking for me had become just as much about denial as it had been an escapism from the day-to-day realities of being a small business owner.

That was October. I had “quit” drinking momentarily in September. It is now March. In that time, I’ve learned a lot. Most of this is anecdotal – I’m not a doctor – but this is what I’ve learned about myself and more importantly, what riding means to me now.

Lucidity

Everyone says they feel better after a month of no-drinking. For me, however, it took longer. Three months in and I could pop out of bed at 6am, feel great and get right to work, without the need for excessive coffee or a cup of Skratch Labs. That stuff is great for chasing a hangover. I found myself being less argumentative. Less negative, more outgoing and more open about my emotions. On top of all this, I’ve lost around 20 lbs.

Perhaps one unexpected side-effect was that not drinking had hurt a lot of my social relationships. Luckily, I gained mental clarity with sobriety, so I could acknowledge this and adjust my behaviors. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out how to be social when others are drinking or drunk. There’s no easy answer here, as I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Temptation

Traveling to bike events like NAHBS used to be alcohol-fueled social events for me. Now it’s all business. I guess that’s not fair. It’s work, stressful work, but this year, I was able to actually work hard and still have the energy to talk with my friends in the frame building industry. When I’d finish up for the night, I’d relish sleep but wouldn’t pass up an hour-long, turned three-hour-long conversation.

Holidays were tough, but my partner is supportive and we’ve found other ways to get faded. Here’s where I should point out that I’ve maintained my weed consumption, usually through edibles or a tabletop vaporizer. I’ve had a medical card in California since moving here and enjoy the high Sativa strains for working and the edibles help me get a solid night’s sleep.

Perhaps the most tempting scenario is the post-ride drink. I’ve not been a fan of beer for some time now, but for whatever reason, when we finish a big, hard mountain bike ride, all I want is an IPA. I crave that hoppy, high-alcohol flavoring, whereas before, it was my least-favorite form of alcohol, second to Scotch. That said, I do miss the flavor and burn of a young bourbon or cocktail, but I do not miss how I feel afterward. I don’t miss the person who I become when I’m drunk and I don’t miss the morning after.

That’s perhaps what I’ve learned the most in all this. I weigh the risk vs. reward more and more with everything. While I’ve yet to get follow-up bloodwork, I will say I feel like a completely new person, who could live forever. It’s been a stressful few weeks over here, and all I can think is how glad I am that I’m not drinking right now.

On Sober Riding

Even though it appears to be the contrary, I don’t get to ride as much as I’d like. Nowadays I’m probably on the bike three solid times, for rides over 20 miles, yet under 50, including the weekends. This four-hour window has been contingent upon how much work I’ve been taking on. Work is crazy right now, with commercial shoots falling in between busy website work.

While my riding time has been reduced, my riding strength has increased. Remember, before I’d mostly ride to work off a hangover. Now when I ride, it’s about the enjoyment, the experience and chasing clarity. I actually like riding now and value it even more. We all have strong days and sometimes riding less is actually better for our muscles, but the thing is, since I quit drinking, there’s less self-doubt or dialog about quitting. When a group breaks away, I can now hop on their wheels, whereas before, I’d be too groggy to.

How Much Longer?

Honestly, now when people have booze around me, my stomach churns. A few months back, I’d have a Pavlovian response, but now, my body is like “get that shit away from me.” Who knows how long I’ll keep it up, I want to get more bloodwork done and talk to my partner about the long-term. Her takeaway is she wants to live a long time and wants me there with her. I guess I can’t argue with that…

If you’re struggling with alcohol, or have been considering a drying out period and have concerns, drop them in the comments.

  • Jim Seely

    I was the kind of drinker who upon announcing that I was 5 years sober, people who knew me said, “Good! You need it!” 5 years is now 25. Have a cuppa tea!

  • Area45

    Good on you John. Take care of that liver man!

    • And kidneys. That was the scariest part. The liver will heal over time…

      • Area45

        I’ll show you a pic of my wife’s liver after it was pulled out. Cirrhosis is gnarly. Her damage wasn’t caused by alcohol but it was still Cirrhosis and startling to see.

  • benreed

    Stories like this are why I don’t talk up “post-ride beers” anymore. I don’t want to poison bikes for people that are struggling with this.

  • Nice work John! Totally feel you on using alcohol as a decompression from stress or a ride. I rarely drink to excess, but do have some alcohol nearly every day to unwind. Hardest part for me when I’ve done a month off here and there is the social component, and happy hour business meetings.

    • When I used to do it in Austin, the bars gave free Topo Chico to “DDs” – here in LA, not so much. So I rarely go to bars and move meetings to coffee shops.

  • dan scheie

    Good on ya, John!

    As someone who really enjoys IPA’s, ice cold grapefruit seltzers really hit that spot for me.

  • Pancho

    Good on you John. This a hard reality to face! I went 3yrs without drinking or drugs and it was amazing! I’m now 2yrs back into the life style and I find my self dealing with the same issues that drove me to stop….. Obsession of a drink, the feeling of hopelessness, and loosing enjoyment of doing things without drinking! I find myself thinking about quitting again which is usually a goos sign that anyone should! Thank you for your honesty!

  • Congratulations John. I’ve been debating going fully sober this year to see if it would positively affect my riding. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Donald Stevenson

    It takes character to share your experiences so openly and to embrace a modesty in the face of forces greater than yourself. It shows responsibility to use this forum for good beyond what is expected. It reflects maturity to prioritize the love of a committed partner. You have modeled reflection in a way that young people who follow you can emulate. Rubber side up is all good, but rubber side down is what gets you home in one piece. If that’s Radavism, I’m in.

    • This means a lot, Donald. Thanks!

    • Jordan Muller

      Radavism. Fuck ya.

  • Rad man! It’s also cool to see more bars in the LA area with educated bartenders who can whip up some great mocktails too.

    • Haven’t even thought of that! Sweet.

    • Kerry Nordstrom

      I second that…google “Non-alcoholic shrub” There are plenty of awesome flavors to be had that don’t require alcohol.

  • Christian Donaj

    congratulations man!
    I stopped smoking 13 month ago and within the first month I also did not drink any alcohol and yes in the beginning it’s “weird” and most of the people can’t understand.
    The biggest and most rewarding benefit of this is to become a better or fitter cyclist, what else do we want? We can enjoy harder climbs and longer rides with less time spent into recovery.

  • Matthew Rayment

    I stopped drinking on the 27th of December, for similar reasons to you, John, and found massive benefits to this. Had two beers on Saturday just gone and went “no, not for me”. Rather than being a massive reward after a break it was kind of a drag. Happily sober.

  • tim early

    i applaud your honestly. although i’m not a drinker and never have been my father was (died at 44 with cirrhosis of the liver) so its a vice i’ve always stayed clear of. social gatherings still remain somewhat awkward for me. as the event moves on i find it harder and harder to carry on interesting conversations. it used to be a real issue for my wife and i. she was a social drinker and i didn’t enjoy watching the “transformation” as the evening progressed. we’ve worked through that now are a better couple for it. no more judging or criticism on my part, we just enjoy each other, our friends, and our surrounds. peace.

  • spokes612

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, John. I had made the same decision recently and had been struggling with what to do in social drinkig situations. I really took a lot from your post. Your experiences gave me the inspiration to keep going down this road. Thank you!

  • Gabriel Dumapias

    Thank you for opening up and sharing this journey. I too have been on this same path. I came to realize I could only be the best version I always had imagined myself to be in my head if I just quit drinking. I did, and I can’t be any happier. It only gets easier every day.

    Oh, and taking marijuana seriously definitely helped.

  • Brian MacKenzie

    Thanks for posting this. I don’t drink out of personal preference, and oftentimes the entanglement of biking and drinking culture can be difficult to navigate and feel exclusionary.

  • Zian

    I’d love hear about experiences staying sober while socializing with drunks.
    One of the best nights of my life, I was seriously ill, but two of my dear friends had just gotten engaged. I partied with everyone ’til sunrise completely sober and found it was just as fun if not more fun than when I drink. I told myself I could and should try this more, but I’ve found I’ve never been able to without “external” factors like being sick.
    I should mention I rarely drink by myself, and am blessed in hardly suffering from hangovers so I *usually* don’t regret anything in the morning.

    • Man. Where do I begin? All my friends like to drink. Every bike ride ends with drinks. I live next door to GSC – which is the best day drinking spot in Silver Lake. Drinking has been as much of a part of my life as cycling. I usually hang out til things get sloppy, then I go to bed.

  • Bradford Smith

    Congratulations John. I really enjoy the evolution of the bikes, riding, lifestyle and health that you have come to cover. You really do put it all out there and stoked you are in a healthy and happy spot! keep positive buddy!

  • C Law

    Thanks for sharing John. I made a similar resolution recently. I’ve experienced many of the same benefits and have struggled with the same issues. I think it helps to put it out there for friends and family. People tend to respect the choice more when they realize that you’ve made a choice. With regard to temptation, I have two personal examples that might be helpful. First, in social settings, I find that sticking with a standard substitute can limit the temptation. I like kombucha. Many breweries in Colorado have it on tap. It looks like your drinking a beer it can be easy to forget that your not (if you like kombucha). The ritual satisfies the urge somewhat. Long-term, I’ve resolved to allow myself alcohol in limited amounts. My GF and I use a refrigerator magnet system to keep track. 5 drinks a week. The hardest part is sticking to it but having a buddy system helps. When friends and family come to town and want to party or your traveling, it can be a slippery slope. But like you, I’m am seeing too many health benefits to moderation not to want to keep it going.

  • Ben Rex

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I agree with you, I don’t drink like I used to and I have to
    make it a point to be more intentional with my social life and interaction without the booze.

  • Jason

    I’ve been a big fan of this site for forever – peering at the random assortment of bikes, then getting excited to ride the 2 to 3 bikes I have waiting in the garage.

    This post – another level.

    Over the years, I’ve seen bikes be an unimaginable force of change for so many people (myself included), for the simple fact that riding is the best fucking thing ever. Used to be BMX was that force – the creativity, overcoming pain or the impossible. As I’ve broaden my scope I’ve come to realize it’s just bikes – any and all. I guess it’s just that bikes make you want to feel/be young.

    I think Crandall said it once: A bad day on a bike is still the best day ever.

    Hope to cross paths with you John at some point.

    • Thanks man! Hope to meet you too… and Crandall is the best!

      • CJones

        It was briefly discussed in The Come Up interview Catfish did with Crandall about a year or so ago, but Crandall has been sober for awhile now. If you like FBM and Crandall the interview is long, excellent, and worth checking out. He noted his 666th day on instagram last year. How cool is that?

        https://www.instagram.com/p/BDY4wDhPjYV/?hl=en&taken-by=crandallfbm

  • Sebastian Burnell

    THANK YOU. THAT IS HELPING ME A LOT! I’m in that spot myself…

  • radlandscyclist

    This is the kind of post that I love. Cycling is so much more than racing and bike statistics. It affects everything about life, including our health and beverage choices. Thanks for this one!

    Also, I found that I enjoy a post-ride Topo Chico way more than a post-ride beer! Maybe it is time to relocate to Austin!

  • Superpilot

    So good that you are putting this out there, congrats man!

  • Keith Gibson

    Great post- thanks for sharing.

  • M.R.

    Many of us have battled demons. Thanks for your honest and open words, they are definitely thought provoking. Best of luck to you.

  • Ray Juncal

    Good on you John. I have some experience along these lines and you are spot on for sharing.

  • Jason Berkey

    Honestly thanks for sharing. I can say that I stopped the drinking chain going on 5 years ago now. I can state that personally I have never found the ability to socialize in the same manner when people are drinking but you adapt your mannerisms to it. The one thing I find is reminding myself that others are not necessarily themselves so take things with a grain of salt most times. Good for you man, keep it up!

  • Jared Jerome

    Thanks for putting this out into the world, I know there’s a lot of people (including myself) that feel similarly or have experienced this.

  • Cheers John, thanks for sharing! I’m at over two years booze free myself, and couldn’t be happier with my decision to quit. I used to think that I was a “craft beer connoisseur”, and after giving it up, for a long time I really thought I missed the taste, but after more time, I realized that connoisseur b.s. was just a story I was telling myself to justify my alcoholism. The only thing I miss now is that feeling of escape that I know can come from the bottle, but all I have to do is go for a ride (or a run) to remind myself there are so many better/healthier ways to seek out that escape. But it’s crazy and sad how intertwined booze and cycling culture are, and being at the heart of it, I’m sure it’s been harder for you than most to break from that mold, so good on you!

  • James Ganino

    Thanks for sharing this John and giving hope to others that may be struggling with addiction/depression. My experience is that it was very difficult to put down the bottle in the beginning but after a period of time it opened my life up to a whole new experience and my outlook on life completely change for the better. And now 6 months has turned into 6 years. If anyone finds they can’t do it on there own, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help as most of us had to do the same.

    • Tjobrien

      well said my dude

  • Pam N Michael Martin

    My one month has turned in to nearly six years. It is the best decision I have ever made. Keep it up John, you’re doing great!

  • Superpilot

    Actually interesting how many people came here with the same issues, and had also made the same decision to quit.
    I can understand the awkward feeling when socialising, and as a dad, if I’m sober-driver I find I really get tired early in the night. I think really, if your friends understand you, they’ll be fine if you head home at midnight rather than 3. If not, they are not really your friends. And you’ll find you socialise better during the day out riding or whatever, so they will have to change their socialisation with you too!
    It’s also interesting that people are replacing alcohol with the green. I could see where you replace one with the other as a coping mechanism, just fill the gap that booze left, albeit no hangover with the green. Also it would be easy to replace it in social situations as well. And we all know people that overuse. It’s funny the things we do to have fun, basically poisoning our system with ethanol or smoke to get a buzz.
    Of course there are alternatives now, if I needed it for chronic pain, I’d rather eat the green than smoke it, and now they have supplements.
    I’m going to have the quitting conversation with my wife again thanks to this article, I think it will be good for me. Inspired.

  • rjrabe

    It’s been sixteen years and I haven’t missed it once. The social aspect can be hard at times. Do what feels right to you and know you’ve got support. Good luck, man. Take care of yourself.

  • Matt Ruscigno RD MPH

    Right on, man. I was going to volunteer help with social situations when not drinking but then I realized I’m not very good at it either despite over 20 years of not drinking!

  • Peter Chesworth

    Coming up to 6 months. Sleep better, more productive etc but still miss the taste of local riesling. Sugar craving quite strong.

  • John Geiger

    It’s a journey, You will discover more changes even at 1 year and 2 years sober. Enjoy the Ride!

  • Sarai Snyder

    This is the main reason I had to step back from the cycling world. Stay healthy!

    • It’s a rough industry for alcohol consumption. Hope you’re well, Sarai!

  • Belvedere

    Thanks for sharing this John. I too have much of the same experiences and have started down my own path of drying out. Godspeed brother!

  • AJ Tendick

    I needed a break that’s turned into a 6 month break also. In hindsight, you can certainly pick apart all the reasons/times when you shouldn’t have been, or that it was a crutch for life that turned into something worse. You can also see much easier everyone else that’s doing the same thing, which can be a little tough, especially for me because I own a brewery. Plenty of great things happen over a beer, it’s the not going over the line thing that gets fuzzy. I can totally see now why some folks need to abstain 100%, it’s just easier somehow than the constant modulation of moderation. More power to you John for sharing, the world could use some more transparency and empathy and this delivers on both counts.

  • multisportscott

    John, this piece is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I don’t think I am struggling with the drinking, but am wondering if I’m getting depressed. I am constantly cynical and argumentative, my workmates and wife can attest to that. I constantly feel slightly overweight, slow and unfit, and as a result of this I’m really unmotivated. I miss being motivated. I miss the feeling of being fit and strong. I’m going to be 49 this year, perhaps the looming big 50 is starting to bite. Perhaps it’s time to consider a break from drinking.
    Thanks again for you words, for this site and for your honesty. Keep up the awesome work man, you’re an amazing artist

  • Tjobrien

    just keep trying to do the right thing and be off service to others and mostly try enjoy the day, easier said then done but its not a bad way to try live either, just for today brother.

  • Joshua Meier

    Thanks for your honesty and openness, John. I stopped after a New Year’s Day get together that left me wondering why I kept doing that to myself. I can totally empathize with the feelings of depression and cynicism that you mentioned. I found myself moody, short-fused, and unmotivated far too often. Also, as someone who works in the arts, my creative practice was slowly coming to a halt. It’s only been a short time now, but I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. I’ve always respected your work and your position on things, and posts like this are really inspiring. All the best.

  • misc

    John, thanks for sharing. So it seems that we stopped drinking at around the same time. I was a binge drinker for more than 15 years and I now know that stopping was one of the best decision I’ve ever made.

  • Adam Clement

    Contrast. Life is so much better with it. Without it the sameness becomes numbing. Why is cycling so important to many of us? Perhaps the strain and self suffering of riding makes us more aware and appreciative of what comes in between. If quitting something is hard, then I reccomend doing it all the more. The harder it is to change the more rewarding it will be. Being in control of oneself is a very empowering place to be. Thx for the story John!

  • owmurphy

    You and this site continue to inspire! Thank you.

  • CTDSAC

    In the words of Slaid Cleaves, ” My drinking days are over, no more nights at the Carousel, my buddies say they’re going to miss me, they can go to hell”

  • I quit more than 3-years ago after waking up with too many hangovers. The hangovers meant riding wasn’t as much fun and I’d often put off the ride altogether.

    I haven’t touched a drop since and have no intention ever too again. Riding feeling fresh and fit without the aftereffects of alcohol is one of the best feelings in the world.

  • smoovebert

    Booze just started naturally kind of happening less and less as road and cross and dirt rides have started to take up more of my time in the past year—I just don’t have the sort of motivation to get out of bed and ride when I’m hungover and I’ve just been enjoying riding too much to let it get in the way all the time like it used to. ALSO, edibles and vapes have been helping.

  • Monica De Leon

    I stopped drinking 13 months ago. It wasn’t excessive, but it was daily and work stress was the driving force. I still find myself craving it once in a while, but never enough to have one. I don’t think I’m having the same experiences in terms of clarity, at least not consciously. I don’t know if it’s permanent, but I do know that when I think about having a drink I feel disappointed in myself. I guess that’s a whole other issue I need to figure out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Peter Chesworth

      Complete ditto.

  • Pascal Opitz

    It’s been a year since I stopped drinking, not because of volume but because I had to look after mental health and decided that any stress to my system I could cut out had to go.

    I do totally get the post ride beer craving, and recently have turned to the German non-alcoholic varieties … They supposedly are a great recovery drink, with some studies even claiming they lower inflammation and stuff, but they totally hit that thirst sport for me.

  • Jordan Muller

    There was a documentary a few years back about the Race Across America (endurance road race) that had an interview with Lance Armstrong and to his credit (and not much is) he said that there must be some kind of common thread among endurance athletes that is them trying to escape something. Like the intense physical exertion and the training and everything is most likely in response to something internal that is being ignored or covered up. I can personally relate to this as I often feel the most calm and grounded in the exhaustion after a big day in the saddle. By looking at all these comments in this thread it seems that this is a shared experience, and I assume that many here would agree that the bike is so much more than an adventure tool or piece of gear, it sometimes becomes our therapist and confidant. Hats off to everyone being so transparent on here today, and good luck in your journey.

  • Patrick Walker

    John thanks for sharing this. I quit drinking back when I was 20 our of necessity and have had similar experiences as you described with your life after. This life thing is a huge giant awesome unpredictable thing and I’m happy I got to read that. Thank you sir.

  • Sage Bornhauser

    This might be the final reason why I’ll be putting beer on the back burner this year. Great read. Thanks!

  • Kate Sage

    Booze has never been my favourite, and I go through natural cycles where I can drink and where I just hate the stuff. I do find it very challenging to be social without drinking though, and my social life suffers when I am in a non drinking phase. Not just because it is harder for me to be extroverted, but because its just not enjoyable being sober around increasingly drunk people. I wish we spoke about this more, especially in the bike industry.

    • It’s been something on my mind and soul for a long time and I’ve finally come to grips with it.

  • Alex Ryll

    Certainly an honest and thoughtful article, I must say John. With the stress that comes from graduate work in anthropology, especially with my focus, “beer and bikes” has been a chosen mantra for awhile. Its a release, one that needs re-examination from time to time, with regards to drinking within the Chico, CA community. Thankfully, the support is there when it comes to scaling back, and many friends ride and abstain. All the best, keep on rocking man!

  • marty larson

    Similar spot. Its not that I drink too much. I think its just that I drink too often. I don’t drink to excess. I might get buzzed in a couple settings. Its just that it happens frequently. I’ve done the slow down trick before for big races, and lordy if it doesn’t work. Beer (yummy beer) and whisky (yummy whisky) always manage to find their way back in.

  • Richard Sachs

    Thank you for this entry John.

    You’re a mensch.

    We need more mensches.

  • Kevin S. Batchelor

    Thanks for sharing this, John. I relate to feeling like the odd man out when my friends are going hard in the proverbial paint or when it’s time to hit the afterparty around trade show season. It’s gotten less weird for me as I’ve gotten older but occasionally it can still feel like good reason to call it an early night. I echo your sentiments about having a supportive partner. This world can make me feel lost and alone enough as it is. Without my wife’s support, I’m not sure how I’d make it through. Best of luck to you in your journey and good health to you as well.

  • Patrick M

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been struggling with alcohol for over 10 years. Now I’m in my 30’s and little over 1 year sober and never looking back! I’m not straight edge or preaching AA, but if you have a problem with alcohol just ask for help. You will be surprised to meet like minded people that just want to be normal. By “normal” I mean without running to the bottle every change you get. I would drink if I was happy, sad, tired, even if I stubbed my toe haha. Do I miss it sometimes? Yes but, I don’t miss the hangovers and people telling me all the stupid shit I did that night. One thing I do notice is I finally feel in touch with reality and not in the fuzz/haze that I was in everyday for 10 years. Plus riding is more amazing, faster, stronger and just plain fun again.
    Cheers!!!

  • Tranquillo

    Looking back, I think my 10-12 year old self is worth aspiring to – an excitable, optimistic, energetic lover of activities, friends, laughs and bikes. I initially had fun with alcohol and weed in college and a little after and then realized it’s kind of limited in what it can do for your mental and physical outlook in the long term. So I stopped all of it. The hardest part for me initially was convincing friends and, especially, new acquaintances that not getting high wasn’t due to some other factor like being a straightedge or religious or addicted or a wimp.

    Your friends are your friends – they will want to be around you if you don’t get high with them. Once you get the hang of it (which is essentially making it clear to yourself and your friends that this is how it is) hanging out with friends that are high when you are not is actually very fun. You already know how an alcohol or weed conversation is likely to go. So with your clear head and broad perspective you can have them on the ground peeing their pants laughing over your surprisingly illuminating conversational diversions. Muy profundo!

  • Pretty wonderful stuff, thank you for sharing.

  • Drew Thornton

    This is just what i needed. Cheers john.

  • Thanks for sharing! I was diagnosed with colitis about 5 years ago and this past year it was “upgraded” to full on crohns. In that time I’ve dabbled with all sorts of prescription anti-inflammatories, which I didn’t consider a long term solution, and currently I’m on a self-injection drug I take myself every two weeks. I deal with some side effects but all in all I feel pretty good.

    Just had my yearly colonoscopy yesterday and apparently things aren’t looking better down under. Surprising to say the least – cause I feel better than I did a year ago!

    Anyways, that was a wake up call for me to start taking my diet and lifestyle a little more seriously. First I’m cutting the alcohol for sure, and then I’ll be looking into a diet that reduces inflammation rather than promotes it like my current one does.

    It’s odd being the youngest one in the colonoscopy waiting room by at least 30 years every time I’m there – but makes me think I should act now, for real, to avoid complications down the road.

    PS – turning 26 this month!

    • Ornotbike

      Hi Miles, I developed UC when I was 18 (20+years ago). It wrecked me for a good 6 months before I started responding to the drugs and then took well over a year to get back to where I had been (racing). Luckily I responded well to one of the simple anti-inflamitory meds with only a few flareups and then kind of “grew out” of the uc in my late 30s ( but I still get an annual scope ). I think one of the biggest changes in the past 20 years w/ chrons/colitis is the anti-inflammatory diet. The advise from my western doc vs my naturopath is often wildly different. While I don’t strictly follow the anti-inflammatory I know what foods can trigger symptoms and I’m currently on the no gluten train, which isn’t a party, but it’s not so bad either. One other thing that I find interesting for a variety of reasons including its anti-anflamatory effects is cbd ( John ;) ). Best of luck with your treatment, I’m sure you’ll get it under control.

  • campirecord

    Great text. Although I have taken your route a while back, I still have a drink of wine with a top meal. I still have to review my other escapes. Still looking to slowly lower edibles while increasing cbd’s. Keep weekdays clear. I do however recommend a few good (rare but possible) 0% beer. Germany brought truck loads at the Olympics as recovery drink. Like a Nanny State IPA.

  • Andrew

    Authentic as fuck John. 👊

  • Ultra_Orange

    Now maybe people will stop treating me like an alien when they find out I don’t drink. Stopped 2.5 years ago and make an allowance once a year to have a drink. And since then my treatment by other cyclists had been weird, like I have an illness.

    One of the biggest changes for me was how stupid I found drunk cycling after I got sober. And how frighteningly many in the community defend it.

  • RHE

    Thank you for your post. There are huge pleasures in not having the dulled edges from drinking. A small set of pushups instead of a beer or wine (if yr at home). And in bars, a pint of seltzer and a tint of black tea in it / the swanky bars in yr neighborhood, they’ll do that / it’s not an IPA but it’s akin. A goal, to ride happily until your last day long in the future / not drinking = building the base miles with joy not suffering. And so good to have the love of a partner who wants to ride when yr old too [review some tandems] Ron

    • Love seltzer, but never thought to put a spot of black tea in it. Good call, thanks!

      • Röbby Sanfranciskö

        I usually do seltzer with some angostura or walnut bitters and some lemons/limes/oranges when I’m chilling. Technically bitters are alcoholic but in the same way extracts are, small drops as flavoring shouldn’t have any effect

  • Jeff

    That comments to hours ratio. Your post is four hours and already there’s more than 80 heartfelt, supportive comments. This is the kind of stuff I vibe with. Not thru axles nor new standards, but how life opens up when body and mind are generously cared for. Overriding peer pressure is tough, so I wish you tailwinds on your journey with sobriety. I haven’t used drugs for almost four years and it’s worth it.

    • So true.

      • Jeff

        So many voices speaking together on this topic. I feel tears in my eyes. Damn

  • Darren McElroy

    Good on ya John, and the entire Radavist community. I admire the humility with which you wrote that piece, and the vulnerability you embraced in posting it. How rad to read through the comments! I know you have always strived to make this website a safe place to share ideas and opinions. And this piece, along with (at last count) 86 honest, positive, inspiring comments is proof that you are doing a mighty fine job. It seems everyone here has either struggled him or herself, or at least known someone battling these demons. I’m really thankful for this honest post and the community’s incredible reaction to it. Cheers to you all (err, not cheers…you know what I mean!)

    • Darren, thanks man. Also just noted your email address… LOL

      • Darren McElroy

        Haha, indeed. I was pretty happy with that one!

  • Michael Liu

    Hi John. I don’t know you as a cyclist, personally, or through any other encounter for that matter. But I feel connected to you as a human being thats willing to share their struggles in social stigmas. Thanks

  • Trevor Martin

    John – I gave up drinking roughly 8 years ago. I still struggle with depression, anxiety and being stuck in my own head, but quitting drinking has been the best decision I’ve ever made. I can only imagine where I’d be if I maintained those struggles on top of drinking regularly. Going out with friends who drink was easy. If they love and support you they don’t give a shit, its the going out with new people/coworkers who don’t quite get it, that’s a bit more challenging. I attribute some of the highest points in my life to my decision to quit drinking. I received all of the benefits you mentioned above and so much more when I learned to be less socially dependent on things like booze. I commend you on taking such a huge step man. If ANYONE else here is struggling through shit and wants to chat, please feel free to message me. We are all a part of such a wonderful cycling community and we need to stick together.

  • Another on the sober train for a long time now. Agree with those who point out that talking about it is a great aid.

    Appreciate the humanity John – really does have me loving the site even more.

  • Adam McConnell

    Hey All,
    The story sounds much like mine. I used to drink on my ride home just to get a buzz. Life hasn’t been any easier. In fact harder. My Father passed and work is crazy challenging. But I ride. I commute by bike and I look to explore longer distances when life allows.
    I’ve been sober for 10 months. But I’d like to think I’m a better partner, father, friend, rider, employee and citizen.
    Good on ya John. Thanks for sharing. You’ll inspire, and in this case it may be life changing.
    Strength to all who struggle with this.
    Adam

  • Turkey Warlock

    So good.. Really felt connected to this. My good friend and I have gone through these same struggles. We’re still trying to find a median to our drinking and riding or better yet overall drinking. Its not easy when so many good times are wrapped around it, trail beer, post ride beer, ride to a bar whatever it may be it can all be taken to far at times. Waking up the next morning regretting the extra few drinks the night before gets old specially when you could be out enjoying a good ride. Props to you man! Hope everything turns out good in the bloodwork

  • DopePedaler

    How long prior to stopping in October had you been struggling? I have been considering a clean month but have also been thinking about my long term health.

    • Oh man. Last year was rough. For a number of reasons. I had been going pretty hard since April of last year and on September 7th, I decided I didn’t want to drink for a while. From September through now, the opportunity has arisen multiple times – like when I stashed some Obsidian Stouts during the Death Valley Tour for Erik and Dylan. I could have had one the night I was caching our supplies. Getting through those moments made me feel even stronger about my willingness to stop.

      • DopePedaler

        Yeah for me it has been “oh wait but so-and-so is visiting town this weekend” and “but it’s so-and-so’s birthday coming up” and all my friends getting married. It’s not so much a craving for beer/liquor but I suppose it’s a ‘might as well have one’ attitude that has been hard for me to change. Then that will just snowball. Kudos man. I’m going to give it a try.

  • Thank you John – really appreciate this as someone who quit drinking at 24 by necessity.

  • Richard

    The only thing more amazing than this article is the outpouring of support it has garnered. Nice work John, both for your candor and for the amazing community you – and your many enthusiastic and talented contributors – have curated here.

    • This website is only here because of this community. I am eternally grateful for everyone who visits and engages in conversations. xo

  • DamagedSurfer

    Hi John,

    How many day afters have been wasted by night befores?

    Too many in my past to even begin counting.

    I’m with you man.

    I’m stoked to see the positive support on the site.

    Best of luck and riding!

    • DopePedaler

      oh man i can’t even count the number of morning rides i missed

  • Dana Kreger

    Stay with us

  • Stefan LSC

    Howdy John
    Thank you for your report and insights and all the best for you!
    So far, I have never thought about this topic directly, but who I read your report, I realize that it affects many people. when we go biking with our friends most people have a beer on the table and only a few a cola or something like that. why it needs it I do not know. For me, it’s about the fun of biking and to see the friends and there is no need for alcohol.
    Greetings from Switzerland
    Stefan

  • Props for putting all this honesty out there. I hope some folks really take the time to read this. It’s been 24 years for me, and I survived the skate industry and cycling industry with no alcohol. You got this!

  • Fredrik

    Great to hear John. Haven’t had a drink since new years and i’ve not missed it one bit. Can no longer stand any type of high to be honest. Clean body, clean mind.

  • singlespeedscott

    Good to read you’ve cut back on the grog. I’m lucky to drink 12 stubbies in a year. At uni and as part of the army, drinking was a fact of life for me. I was always a bit of a 1 pot screamer and always suffered badly with hangovers. I don’t miss those days and have better things to do with the next day than suffer through it with a bad head and a crook gut. Keep it up the sobriety you don’t need to drink every day. If you suffer from depression I would suggest you cut back on the pot though. That really will bring you down in excess.

  • Oli Culley

    One of the best posts I’ve read on this website, and I’ve enjoyed A LOT of The Radavist’s posts. Keep up the good work!

  • 12 years straight edge here, so I can assure you the being social side of things will come easier, but it does take a little while. For me the only time I’m around drunk people is when I go to a club, and then everyone is so drunk they don’t know I’m not, so I can act like a dick and no one pays me any attention. In terms of my friends around me drinking, they’re all respectful of my decision and understand why I chose this path, so I can only hope yours, and the people that you meet in your line of work, will respect your decision to abstain from alcohol too.

  • chris bushell

    Great post and thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work.

  • Pascal K

    Thanks for sharing this John, I wish you all the best.

    I think this post is also a good reminder that we all have shit do deal with. Reality is not always bike rides in perfect weather and being stoked on everything all the time, like social media portraits often. Looking at peoples feeds who are supposedly living “the life” can inspire for sure, but it can also get you down if you are dealing with depression or general negativity in life. So seeing this post shows me that we are all human and all struggle some way or the other. And I think we (or at a least myself) all need this reminder once in a while to not get caught up with comparing ones life with somebody else’s filtered version of it through social media.

    Thank you and keep up the great work.

  • Kevin Ehman

    one year strong for me, best thing I’ve ever done. got my head straight, first and foremost. no more wasted days with a hangover, regrets and depression. reached many fitness goals way quicker than expected because of improved health, motivation and adherence to a plan. saw through fake friendships and cut toxicity from my life. all pretty standard stuff, but it’s amazing the overall effect it can have.

    congrats to you John, it ain’t easy stepping back from the lifestyle our subcultures are wrapped up in. respect for your transparency and openness, as I can see in the comments the reverberations are very real. so many of us know a shared struggle!

  • Robert Franklin

    I first came to prolly for the Cthulhu/cycling mashup. One of the reasons I stayes is the sense of raw honesty in the photography (‘shopping out the sticks that prop up bikes notwithstanding).

    This post turns raw honesty to 11, and it resonates. Keep it up.

    It might be tough to keep this up at Land Run; the push to drink Iron Monk at Finnegan’s on St. Patrick’s day after the ride will be strong. Know people will be there supporting you if you don’t. I’ll look for you in Stillwater to shake your hand I’ll be on a Rodeo Labs Flaanimal, probably DFL.

    • Robert Franklin

      This post reminded me of a bike culture habit we should probably rethink. I was under the impression all bike shop employees ever wanted to be tipped in beer, until I showed up with a local brew and learned everyone in the shop had stopped drinking.

      Now I hit the bakery down the row of shops and bring cookies.

      • Richard

        Same. Asked my local wrench what his beer of choice was after he did a favor for me and he replied: “Pastries.”

  • Phil Nigash

    Congratulations John, and thanks for being so open about this with us.

    I stopped cold turkey three years ago, after decades of daily abuse. Drinking felt almost like a job to me and, just as you said, made life on the bike miserable. I was convinced that I was an alcoholic, addicted to the feeling of being buzzed. What I found was that it was habitual for me – a daily routine. And like all habits, they’re hard to break. The first 6 months of my self-imposed sobriety were murder. After years of always having a drink in my hand when I wasn’t working, not having one made me feel empty and incomplete.

    What you wrote hit the nail on the head. With alcohol no longer being a priority, I feel more vibrant and live every day with a sense of clarity that I hadn’t enjoyed in years. While my situation didn’t result in bad blood work, I feared my yearly physical because I knew that sooner or later I’d get the report that you did and it would be my doctor telling me to quit instead of making the decision myself.

    I’d tell you to stay strong and keep yourself on this path, but it sounds like you don’t need to hear it. Your intelligence and self-awareness is undeniable, and your fearlessness to share this story is commendable. Thanks again for being open about this. I’m sure it’s going to inspire a lot of your readers who find themselves trapped and are afraid to get out from under the weight of this problem.

  • Steve

    Been following your journey since back in the prollyisnotprobably days, back when you’d post reviews of the BMW Gangsta Track and comps of you doing fixie freestyle in williamsburg, before it turned into yuppie stroller country.

    It’s been these kinds of personal posts, such as this one, or your post on weightloss (motivated after you got roasted on Fyxo’s down under rides) that have been the best content, IMHO. And truthfully, as your product content has gone up, I wish your personal updates/reflections had gone up accordingly as well, but I also get it – not everybody wants their life to be made into content.

    Anyways, this all to say that yeah, I come for the bike content & photography & adventure rides, but I generally have stayed for John Watson.

  • Thanks for sharing and stay up!

  • Brent A Shultz

    Right on! I quit about 2 years ago when alcohol started affecting me strangely (1-2 beers would make me feel way messed up). Soon thereafter I found out I had “the `beetus”, so fortuitous choice and all that. I can say with great confidence that quitting drinking and taking charge of my health changed *everything* about my life. While I had a whole stack of excuses to not ride/hike/whatever, I threw them all away, and I feel like I can do damn near anything in my mid-40’s–way more than I could do physically in my 20’s or 30’s. The drinking culture around bikes seems a little weird sometimes–I joked about the irony of me buying a surly 24 pack rack with the folks at the LBS, but I’m secure in my lifestyle and other folks ought to enjoy themselves too.

  • Ronald Burgundino

    I quit for 3-1/2 years and felt very Similar to the way you an others have commented here so I’ll spare any details . About 9 months ago the social side of or the lack thereof led me to return to my old ways. It was bliss at first but now as everything you mentioned got better with abstinence it has completely reversed. The anger has returned and the 20 pounds has returned and I don’t see much of a future if I continue. I’ve quit before so I can do it again but it seems like it will be much harder this time. Just wanted to share this and thank you for sharing as well, it’s motivating

    • Ben Brady

      Secure your social scene and then let them know a little while later that you need to quit drinking. Even my kickass alcoholic friends backed me up and we still kicked it at bars and parties. The social complications are tough, but they aren’t your biggest hill. Congratulations on being able to stop drinking, not get after it. You’ve identified why it was important, now make it a finish line.

      • swtchbckr

        My trouble is, that when sober, hanging out with drunks is really boring. They all become dicks. I’ve struggled with being sober around drinkers for a long time, so my scene would have to totally change before I stopped drinking. That said, I’ve made some better decisions around how I hang out with my harder-drinking mates lately, and my consumption has dropped

        • Ben Brady

          Hang out with the ladies at the table near your drunk, dick friends. They usually don’t want to get wasted and they’ll be cool with you just chilling with a lemonade or a cup of coffee.

  • I hereby dub quitting booze, but still doing weed, “high sobriety”.

    Congrats, John.

  • Chase McNeill

    Thanks for sharing. Been thinking lots of these thoughts, so it’s great to see them all in once place.

  • Jed Kornbluh

    I hear you, man. I’ve cut back and don’t really miss it. I’ve also subbed in CBD and occasional THC to mellow me out, but when I’m riding all of the time i don’t need that as much either. In an industry full of beer drinking bruhs, this bit of enlightenment means a lot. Chapeau.

  • Megan Archer

    This resonates with me so much. I gave up alcohol in July for a handful of reasons similar to yours and at the time I wasn’t sure how my life would be without it. Working in the bike industry has been challenging on its own but being sober added a whole new level of difficulty to the mix. The risk vs reward is one of the many things that keep me going and like you, when I’m around alcohol all I can do is think about how much I don’t want alcohol. Social situations still have me scratching my head but my sleep is amazing and my energy to do this life thing has improved 1000x. My bike riding and racing has taken a new form and I don’t know how I used to function with hangovers and headaches 3-4 times a week. No matter what you decide for the long haul just remember that it’s okay to be sober and you don’t owe anyone an excuse for why you choose not to drink. Thank you for your honesty :)

  • voiceofreason6

    Glad you’re headed in the right direction. But one statement you made is slightly worrisome. Your weed consumption is up. When people tackle addiction, they can easily substitute one thing for another. Some folks go to food, etc. But to increase use of a mind altering substance would be something I would keep my eye on. I’ve been sober for over 20 years now so I have a little experience. Much continued success to you and keep focused on life and two-wheeled machines! Love your work

    • I probably smoke two times a week and eat gummies four. It helps me sleep and that’s what I got my medical card for: insomnia.

  • Agleck7

    Another good strategy for cutting back on drinking is to have kids. No time for it!

    • David Gaible

      Amen! With kids you want uppers (coffee!) not downers.

  • Tom Rehulka

    Congrats!

  • masmojo

    Congratulations, I had a similar experience at the doctors office, but at the time I really didn’t drink much; so when he told me to cut down I pretty much stopped entirely. It wasn’t hard for me to do, but as time went on I had to doubt if my drinking was the culprit and not my diet. Too many fatty foods. I too lost some weight at first (10lbs), but slowly it came back.
    One of my favorite bands that I would see regularly had their musical career stymied by substance abuse within the band. At one point they had to come to grips with it & what they said was “it’s not about saying No; it’s about saying Whoa” in other words moderation. I started drinking lightly again 10 years ago. I keep a bottle of Jeager or tequila in the freezer & maybe a bottle or two of beer in the fridge. I limit myself to 1 or 2 drinks, generally on a Friday or Saturday night, because I do feel like the occasional drink can be good for you.
    The trick to making this work, is to not be an alcoholic, if that’s your issue then by all means stay far away from the alcohol.
    Anywayz, good luck to you in your pursuits.

  • Nick Erickson

    Love the sobriety/recovery photos.
    Congrats on the 6 month mark.
    Weed, when done right, seems to be the lesser of the 2 evils. I’m sure you’ve noticed what we prefer up here in The Bay;)

  • Jeff Menand

    Well done is always better than well said. Keep up the charge John.
    My guess is you are a better person to work for, work around and work with. Leadership roles pose one of the most complex and stressful scenarios when alcohol is entrenched. Parents,Teachers and Bosses are the original community builders, and we all grow stronger when our influencers are stronger.
    Thanks for adding strength to our community.

  • Kevin Johnston

    Sending all my Good Vibes your way John and to everyone on here supporting each other.

  • Mika Marttila

    Thanks for sharing John!

    Few years ago I decided to try a dry year. No medical issues or anything, I just felt like it. I wanted to see how the world would look without alcohol infused eyes. At first I didn’t tell anyone and was curious to see how many of my friends would even notice. Some did, some didn’t, only very few felt offended that I didn’t drink when everyone else was.

    I was surprised that it didn’t have a bigger impact to my social life. Usually I just went to sleep earlier than everyone else. I didn’t wake up at 6AM, though! I got used to sipping non-alcoholic beer on social occasions.

    After one year I resumed drinking alcohol but way less than I used to. I’ve had maybe two hangovers since which is best thing ever! It’s sometimes painful to tolerate when people get super drunk and repetitive around you. Then it’s time to go to sleep and not start calibrating yourself by drinking same pace as they are. Nowadays those three hour long discussions just move from alcohol to water to sleep at some point by mutual agreement.

    Ever since my first child was born 4 months ago I’ve drank even less than that.

  • Will

    I’ve never been much of a drinker, so watching people from the sidelines over the years has been amusing. Certainly could be frustrating in my younger years when everyone wanted to party and drink, and I’d prefer to be outside in nature, which usually meant alone. I’ve even felt like I missed out on most of the “college experience” by not drinking or going to parties. Sometimes it makes you feel like a smug asshole to be the only sober person at a party, but I’ve learned to blend in. I do like to let loose from time to time (I work at a brewery now for crying out loud, previously I was a geologist – and geologists like to drink!), but 95% of the time, I’m totally fine having a drink or two, then pounding water. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been sick from drinking, and they were all over a decade ago (grad school…).
    Anyway, I guess my point is, don’t let the social pressure bother you. There’s plenty of people out there who aren’t heavy drinkers, but we can be really good at blending in. I drink occasionally because I like the taste of beer (not all of them obviously), not because I like to get drunk.
    Cheers. ;-)

  • parkpy

    I’m really disgusted with myself for not having the ability to go more than a day without a drink. Biking was the main motivation for me to be able curb drinking. I feared bonking and I did my best to stave it off.

    That was before me son. Now I’m lucky to ride more than 20 miles a week. And that’s just my commute to work.

    I also have been told that my blood results are concerning. I have very low while blood cell count, very high iron levels too. Oh and I have a fatty liver. I could easily solve this if I quit drinking. But it’s hard.

    It’s even harder when everyone I know tells me I’m not a drunk and that I’m being dramatic when I opt out of social drinking for the sole reason of wanting to improve my health.

    I’ve got to be mentally tougher. I can’t quit drinking altogether, because I’ll find another unhealthy vice. I’ve got to slowly become less dependent.

    Quitting smoking was way easier. No one supported it. Everyone was disgusted by it. And I loved how I felt when I didn’t smoke.

    Drinking is different. Everyone does it. People frown upon people who don’t drink. People who don’t drink are weird. They make people who drink uncomfortable.

    Maybe what I’ve got to do, is find something else to consume in those settings. Like a pie. With ice cream. Or just delicious food that I can use as fuel for the next mornings ride.

    Glad you posted this. Curbing my alcoholism has been amazingly hard. And I can’t rely on people’s disgust of my habit to help me because everyone I know loves my habit (drinking).

    If only my wife would tell me to stop. She is the one who got me to stop smoking.

    • Wow man. I’m deeply moved by this but I want to encourage you to do what your body and your heart is telling you. It’s hard but nothing good is ever easy. 😘🙌🏻

      • James Milton

        All you need is to start with is one day. Just see how it goes.

    • RHE

      There’s a lot of help out there for you. Ask for help, AA, just once even.. Deflect the people who question you, ‘this is what i’m doing right now, how’s everything with you?’ If you’re with people who ‘frown upon’ you, smile nicely, and back away with love towards them. [and again, a plug for club soda + tea, looks like an IPA, has that skunky IPA flavor sorta, and will stop people from questioning you. Alls you have to do is make one good decision in the moment. And then if you want, link the next one back, one good decision in the current moment. Best wishes. Life is short.

  • Rallysmurf

    Longtime NON fan first time commenter. Not of your work it’s great. Your person has now gained my respect also. Great to see your full life start. Welcome.

  • Ian Connelly

    this is inspiring, thanks for posting it!

  • Datech Dahaus

    Thanks sharing story. My dad and uncles (3 brothers) died of liver cirrhosis in their late 60’s. I promised myself never to walk in his path. I drink on special events, and drink to enjoy the mood, and never get drunk. Music and cycling are both my highs. DTDH!

  • Martines

    For years I was self medicating depression with alcohol, sweets and food in general. I didn’t recognize I was medicating SOMETHING until last year. Sometimes it helps to have a name for it. Sober for the last seven months I was really struggling with insomnia at the beginning.
    Now I sleep well have my eating under control and know what’s going on when THIS FEELING arises.
    It helps to have a name for it!
    Thank you John for making alcohol a subject!

  • Scout Dedalus

    Great angle. People don’t really stop to consider that alcoholism has not only been normalized–but glorified.

  • Theodor Rzad

    First, I want to say FUCK YEAH to you John for your courage to share such a personal experience publicly on this killer platform you’ve created and to everyone who’s contributed to the discussion so far. I’ll try to post a more personal perspective this w/e when I have some time, but in short, I too am in the ‘dry county’ club (8 years now) and can easily say it’s one of the top 3 best commitments I’ll ever make (after marrying my fine lady and my share of the process to create our now 6 yr old son ;).
    I never really had a shutoff valve but really went down the rabbit hole while my wife was in treatment for cancer. My abuse of booze turned out to be the glue holding together the other issues between me and the life I actually wanted. Also like many of us here, returning to my deep love of cycling was one of the core pillars that supported my early trek out of ‘Borracho’ land.
    Also, check out ‘Empowering the Sober Self’ by Martin Nicholaus for a non-religious, pro personal agency approach to achieving sobriety. I read it before I knew anything about the ‘LifeRing’ thing that grew out of it, so I can’t comment on that.
    Here’s to facing down all the shit overdrinking was helping us avoid!

    Ted Rzad

  • Jimmy A Keithley

    Thanks for the honest thoughts. Keep it up

  • salsarider62

    In 1989 I swapped booze for bikes. Never looked back. The bike is a better bargain. Good on you.

  • Big ups! 🙌🏻

  • Dave Whiteway

    I’ll admit I’ve never been able to fully quit booze but late 30’s me has moved to more of a quality over quantity proposition. Whereas late 20’s me would buy a case of domestic beer I now buy craft beer by the 6 pack for around the same amount of coin and make it last about as long as the case used to. I also cut down on the drinking outside of social events, no beers when I get home just for the hell of it.

    While I applaud total abstinence if you can do it, I believe making alcohol (or anything else) fit the lifestyle you want and not the other way around works well for me.

  • Alistair Dickson

    Well done and good article.

  • Johno Montgomery

    I dried up for about 8 months after a nervous brakedown over a bottle of wine. I remember wanting to cut myself and that scared the shit out of me! I felt way better but I missed the taste of beer. Strange to say but it was true – nothing else could compare to the savoury quench of a piney beer. I’m now back to drinking a couple of beers on the weekend nights.

    I have to agree with you about clear communicatiion with your partner. It is crucual for a healthy relationship with alcohol. Wives can often see things beofre they appear :)

    Good on you dude!

  • William

    I stopped drinking four months ago after a long complicated relationship with alcohol as both recreation and self medication. This piece hit me hard. A lot of the things you talk about are the same things I’ve been wrestling with and discovering about myself in my dry period. Thank you for writing it.

  • Eric Meier

    Thank you for writing this. It is what I need (the article and the comments) to begin my path to sobriety.

  • Rick Jacquemard

    I ride with a group of sober riders in Boulder and Denver. Check us out, The Phoenix is a sober active community http://www.thephoenix.com

  • Matt Appleman

    Thanks for sharing your story, it’s tough putting it out on a shingle.
    Regarding “group drink” awkwardness, the most important part is you be you. I’ve never been much a drinker.
    I usually get the “can I get you something?”, to which I just reply, “no thanks”. 90% of the time that does it.
    For those whom are persistent just a, “Thanks, but I don’t drink” or “I’m working through some things” suffices.
    If you’re not “accepted” by this point, it’s best to move through and find different conversation, crew, or event.
    Sure there might be an awkward moment, but that’ll pass in a few seconds: stick true and get on with the party!

  • Hollis Duncan

    Remember your CAPS LOCK twitter rants, those were nuts sifting through the shrapnel in the mornings from Euroland, but I loved the spirit which was always genuine. Listen to your girl, John, she knows best and be sure to leave your camera at home sometimes.

  • Nate Christy

    Thank you for posting this, John. Ive worked in bars for a while, and I am sick of drinking. Its cost me a lot over the years, in many ways.

  • Ian Guignet-Simpson

    this is brave and brilliant.

  • Ken Regehr

    Thanks for sharing this John and all the other folks on here with their own stories. I cut out alcohol a little over a year ago with the support of my amazing girlfriend who has done the same. We’re both much happier for it. I needed the support much more than her so I’m lucky to have her at my side. It was really only difficult for the first week and I quickly started to enjoy how much better I was feeling and other than a few times I felt the temptation I haven’t looked back. I can only reiterate what others on this thread have already said about how much better their lives are after stopping drinking. I just got back from an 1800km bike tour that I’m sure I would not have had the follow-through to organize in my drinking days and I’m already on to organizing awesome new adventures that now seem possible. Personally I see no reason why I would ever want to drink again. Anyone thinking about making a change in their lives, it’s well worth it.

  • Shane Wildasin

    Thank you for posting this! I’m a little over 6 years sober, best decision of my life was to quit drinking. The post-ride and social gatherings can be a little awkward at first, but it gets easier. I raise my glass of unsweetened iced tea to you my friend, and wish you good luck and keep up the great work!

  • Simon Velez

    Been 4 years for me , still not missing it , and yes , definitelly a friendship purge

    • kinda wild how so-called friends ostracize you when you quit drinking or imply that you’re no longer “fun.”

  • Quit drinking in 2003. One of the best decisions ever. Lots of parallels in my experience to what you shared here. Congrats on ditching the poison.

  • Stuart Hanson

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Michael Johnson

    I’ve been sober over half my life. Sobered up at 25 and I’m 51 now. When I sobered up I dropped skating and sort of floundered around figuring out what was next for excitement. I stumbled into cycling much the way I did skating. It just sorta called to me and felt right. Even after all these years, I don’t think of myself as someone who quit, just someone who’s not drinking today. If you’re struggling, seek help whether through professionals or a self-help group. Whatever works for you. A “higher power” isn’t necessary. Be aware that there’s no way around being uncomfortable in the beginning.

  • The section on temptation is interesting to me. As a cyclist who has tried and failed with AA, I am looking for inspiration.