30 Oct. 2013: Revisions, numbers and 28 miles.

I have enough of them to do at work. Company books, navigation charts, etc. Today I can revise my actual weight and physical progress. I stood on the scale in Newark’s hotel this morning in my work outfit ready to go at 223.4 pounds with my cell phone in my pocket, belt and shoes on. Rounding up, I have lost 17 pounds. I feel more upright. The exercises are heavy into cardio yes, but the leg work acts with my lower back muscles a bit and I feel myself throughout the day standing up easier and not feeling tired later in the day as much. The kind of tired that makes you lean on things, or slouch around anyway, and I just feel better overall now about myself but that doesn’t change what things hang over me that I need to get done. In the past I had to get a FAA medical to fly the plane. I have been watching that blood pressure stabilize at something like 116/90 but back in September it was 110/70. My diastolic dropped something huge from this somewhat slight change to diet and I’m sure the exercise is fixing it.. Sure there was a two week period I was in sort of a funk. I only did the bike thing once in the hotel each week, but I did some basic squats and lunges a few times so I didn’t completely quit. There just was not much cardio until a week ago. When I hit the hotel bike again I was remarkably feeling better than before. Then I finally got on the real bike after rain and cold kept me off of it for 20 days! I layed down just over 28 miles averaging 16.5mph until the rest of last night’s chimichanga told me I should stop and go home. I was going that way anyway so take that chimichanga! (You were so good!)

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Motivation – not just for me…

After I learn how to be in shape, perhaps I can learn how to write.

I am learning that the more people discover what I am doing, the more they follow through with what they are doing. I learned my father started Weight- Watchers around when my daughter was born earlier this year. He is now down 25 pounds! He has a ways to go but when the parents were visiting this summer, I could tell the difference and they noticed something was working on my end as well. When they left, we agreed we would both be alot slimmer when we saw each other again. My wife likes what she sees now that I have lost, by now, 17 pounds. She admitted that she is thinking more about healthier foods for not just when I eat but for the family and herself. That’s how it starts, a bug in the back of the mind. It’s something you consider when you decide what to do next. It wasn’t there before. I even tried a recipe at home one night that was good but lean and healthy. I can’t believe I was doing such a thing. It was kind of fun to do! I’m known for making good pizza and also eating good pizza. But cooking anything beyond awesome pancakes and food for a charcoal grill? Not me. no way! And here I was making baked chicken Parmesan. My father in law is now working on the Exercycle he has at his house. They always had it but it held alot of clothes for a while. Once in a while one of them takes to it but he is beginning again. that is good. I’m sure what i’m doing will help a little. My wife is trying to get more stretching in and on occasion if it’s nice out does a quice 30 minutes or so around the neighborhood on her bike. A nice Trek cruising bike. That is so great. My older daughter wants to go ride with me too but I have to explain just how fast I will go and how I need this big ride to get in better shape. I will still ride with her around the block or to the playground because getting the kids involved in what we all do, helps them understand us better, and not feel left out. Lastly, I tried on my interview suit I bought and was tailored for in 2003. I fit. With a few more pounds I will fit like I did 10 years ago. This made me smile quite a bit and I know that I am on my way. What troubles me is the jacket part of the suit felt loose and baggy. I am not sure if that was the style then or if I just don’t have the upper body muscle I did back then. I was moving alot of freight boxes every night of my life then but I wasn’t ripped or built or anything in the arms, I do know that the 51 pound television in the garage feels suspiciously heavier than I remember it used to. I think upper body muscle mass probably has something to do with that. Either way, I think a trip to a tailor might be in order when an interview comes around for the next, better job.

17 Sept. 2013: 1 month gone. My first 20 miles. I’m getting better!

I did 20 miles. This day was one month since I first got on the mountain bike for a serious ride. I averaged nearly 16 mph and did it in 1h17m. At this point I brought along two water bottles and a cliff bar in my pocket. One water bottle had some diluted no-carb orange Powerade zero. I was working on the belief that you don’t need carbs until 40 minutes in so whatever drink you use with electrolytes shouldn’t have carbs (sugar) in it until then. So I brought a cliff bar for those carbs. I don’t know how accurate I am in that thought but it seemed to work fine. After 50 minutes I was out of regular water in the first bottle and started the orange bottle. I was feeling good. I could tell I was using my muscles constantly, I could feel that slight burn of lactic acid building up if I really pressed on. I like to ride with just feeling it in the top of the knees and gear myself for nearly 90 rpm cadence. I knew by counting the Mississippi’s. At each number count the alternate foot hits the bottom of the down-stroke after a revolution. I’m popping two gears down and getting out of the saddle to burn up the short hills and rises just to keep the speed up and recover on the slight downhill on the other side. The Strava app has numerous sections put up for times during this route I have found and some names are seriously fast. As an idea of how fast I am compared to those times, I will list one name right here. A three mile section takes Taylor Phinney 6m16s to complete. Me? 11m14s. I am new, a month on the bike, and I am half as fast as an Olympic athlete who is young and is only going to get stronger! This is humbling seeing how much more work there is but I’m in no way trying to be that good. I never will be. I just want to be as good as possible. That is what this whole process of the 40th chainring is about.

That is the hard part. Knowing this is a long term challenge. Trying to keep myself going because it is so easy to slack off, but I can’t do that. There are too many things that need me to work on this project. Kids, family, work, etc. I’m not stressing out over this, it’s just that little push to stay on it. I’m having fun every time I ride. I rode past an older couple parked on the side of the road, both of them with easels were painting the scenery. I’ve noticed the grasshoppers are jumping everywhere in the fall. Hitting my shoe, riding a cycle and jumping off. The season is changing. It’s best to experience that instead of just watching.

8th Sept. 2013: A demonstration of wasted energy.

My first ride out on the Cannondale is eye opening. I rode 11.2 miles in 43 minutes. It would appear I am 25% more efficient in speed along the same route as the K2, but the other details the ride log shows is that I am twice as fast as my mountain bike on climbs and about 50% faster on descents. The total difference is 12mph vs. 15mph average speeds. I will be picking up the pace as I get better in how I approach climbs, general technique and gain more endurance, especially when I lose more weight. (I have since picked that speed up to the mid 16’s over 90+ minutes and will write about that before long) Oh, I can hear the wind noise. That was different. I did not hear that on the mountain bike. I know now that a certain wind noise equals twenty miles per hour or more…that’s something to shoot for. The road bike is so much better to use, but I am discovering physical limits once I hit an hour. The back starts to feel tired and I start to lose a bit of energy from the legs. This is where I began to look at further hydration and eating while riding. This bike can go a long ways and it’s got the ability to do whatever I need it to do. It is stiff for power transfer up hills should I need that. It’s got a slightly higher bottom bracket (crank set) in case I wanted to pedal around corners that aren’t too sharp for the purpose of, let’s say, a criterium that needed to be raced next summer when I’m in better shape. Whatever I need to do, the CAAD9 can take me there with flexibility. It will go as fast as my engine will.

What’s the biggest difference? Occasional waves from other riders. I never got that on the mountain bike no matter who it was. I was thinking of selling that mountain bike but I am having second thoughts. It wouldn’t cost too much to re-shock it to something more air oriented to work even better off-road but really, what time do I have for that? Another energy waste is the accessbility of road bikes. I open my garage door and ride and end the ride at home. With a mountain bike, i put it in/on the car, drive 20 minutes or so then get out, ride it only an hour, put it back in/on the car and drive home having only an hour ride. the road bike saves me 30 minutes over that and I get 50% more exercise. I don’t see many days the mountain bike will be ridden. I’d like to have more up to date shocks but it would also be nice to possibly sell it for a few hundred and start funding a cyclocross bike build. Did I just think that?

Craigslist Cannondale

(I have been writing posts but only got around to actually publishing them just now. Things are going well and I will begin to do weekly posts or musings as they come to me. Here is another of the backdated events in the line of progress.)

I clicked and Craigslist opened. In Colorado there are a bazillion bikes to sort through. How was I going to do this? Ebay has search fields to pick through by frame size, frame only or complete bike, bicycle type, etc. Craigslist is that junkyard of piled parts cars you have to sort through yourself to find what fits your needs. I knew what manufacturers were well regarded not just in fashionable names but by desired characteristics. I didn’t want a flexible bike. I wanted a firm ride that could take my weight but also could handle the future me. I needed a bike that could take me farther and be better than I could be but, reasonably affordable. As I get better, the bike should be capable of doing more as well. Heck I wanted the best bike in the world and I wanted it for nothing. That’s about how cheap I am.  That’s about what the general public is like to I suppose. There is not much of a budget to buy a bike at this point. Two kids and a household income that really does not result in much savings equals a serious budget shortfall if a major purchase is made so a new bike is out of the question. Used? I figure about $500 is the absolute maximum but I would rather have something for $400. I searched for about two weeks watching everything in my size. 60-62cm bikes, reviews to see what frame sets do what and how well. Component groups. (If I want to fall in line with the rest of riders, I will have to adopt ‘Grouppo’ as the proper phrase I guess.) There are so many things that make your head spin but the thing to remember, is that I don’t need awesome parts because I’m not awesome enough to take advantage of those parts. I just need a bike that can grow with me. Truly awesome parts need truly awesome riders, and even the guys riding awesome parts really aren’t as awesome as those parts demand they be.

I click on alot of things. I was watching two bikes in Ebay that went for a landslide of money. I was hoping to be lucky. Many bikes passed my eyes but way at the bottom, was a month old ad for a CAAD9 Cannondale. The seller had no idea of its year or size. It did look like a big frame and he did say the owner was 6 foot 5! (His brother in law) That is quite a tall rider and I’m sure the bike is too big for me but I still wasn’t sure of the whole scenario surrounding the ride. I looked up the frame dimensions of the biggest version of this bike on the Cannondale site and saw it just might fit! It was close. It was very close. So close that the stand-over height of the bike might work out…but perhaps not on a warm day (If you know what I mean.)  I called the number on the off chance it was still there, being all month old and, oh wow it was! He recommended I come over and try it on to see if it fits to resolve any curiosity he couldn’t answer. Well, after a sat on it I determine it is still too big. I didn’t feel like I had enough room to really move about the bike to use it right. At first, it was Just on the big side. It was a 63cm size. It was a 2009 and had not been ridden in about a year or so, stored inside leaning against a wall. It was straight. It was all there and the components looked like they were all in good shape, just dirty. It needed to be cleaned up and tuned with a new rear tire and that alone was about $200 with new bar tape. I told him someone would probably low-ball him at $500 for it and he right on the spot asked if I would take it for that. I talked him to $450 and bought it thinking I could get it cleaned up nice and sell it for at least $750 on Ebay, but the more I casually used it, the more I realized that it actually does fit me rather well. I got used to how it is supposed to fit. I’ll be darned this bike is starting to feel right.

I decided to keep it. It’s a just over three pound frame and some of them have been built to sixteen pounds in weight which is apparently a nice light bike! It’s probably twenty pounds as it sits now having a lower equipment group and heavier basic wheels. I will upgrade some of the less expensive parts soon as I get more comfortable and find some limits here and there. It is quite a nice stiff Aluminum framed bike. With my weight and increasing fitness, this thing could come alive.

It’s time to go ride it and find out just how much of a benefit a road bike is over a mountain bike.

Travelling for 4+ days of work again. How do I eat each time without destroying the progress?

There are a lot of people travelling for work. Sales and representatives. All of them have to eat all week. It’s too easy to go to the Denny’s or Friday’s or Flingers next door to the hotel or eat whatever is at the airport. I bring my own food. I have to because eating out every day is really bad for you, but I can also save a car payment every month bring my own stuff to work. It’s simple really. Pack what you need, and buy a blue headache bag from a pharmacy to hold the ice in. that goes on top of the food keeping it all cold in your lunch bag. You can too take that through airport security! As long as you don’t have any liquids or gels in there you’re fine. Bring sliced meat and wraps. If your company has a rental car for you then hit up a nearby grocery store for yogurts and fruit. There are solutions, you just have to spend an extra five minutes making them happen. Here is what I bring on a 4-day trip:

4 greek Yogurts with fruit on the bottom (because if in original flavor they’re about as nasty as licking gym-socks)

Big Ziplock bag of Almonds. (I eat a handful of these mid-morning or mid-afternoon before dinner if I’m feeling a bit hungry, but never more than that.)

Half pound of roast beef and half pound of Turkey or chicken slices.(try to get lean. Should be about 6 slices=1/2 lb.)

Bag of the mid sized whole wheat wraps. (They equal about 1.5 slices of bread each. They have a better flavor too and pack nice and flat on top of everything making more space,)

3 foil packed tuna salads (or you can use foil packaged tuna itself. I just like the salad. These work great on post work out recovery on a wrap, especially the flavored ones)

3 Campbells bags of soup. I don’t eat these too often but carry them in case I’m hungry. They’re chunky and taste great and microwave in the bag in 2 minutes. Drink out of a coffee cup)

4 cliff bars (or similar energy bars. You can go for protein but I find that not as necessary since im not building mass. Im building endurance I just need fuel and recovery + potassium.)

Some instant oatmeal packs. (They are nice to have in spots where the restaurants are closed in the terminal and im just hungry without a microwave around. Add hot water to half a cup)

That’s about it. I do a Yogurt plus fruit (Bananna I try) in the morning with a coffee. About an hour later or so I eat handful of the almonds, then a slightly early lunch where I have a wrap of meat. I’m in the hotel after that or in the early afternoon I’m on my way there so I eat a cliff bar so there’s something in my stomach for the exercise I’m about to do when I get to the hotel. I follow it up with a tuna wrap. Later on there’s dinner. I can do a soup and another wrap (they can get boring if I just do those all the time) or that’s when I go for a lighter fare dinner somewhere hopefully around the hotel or the hotel itself. I lowered my fats and chemicals and upped my proteins and vitamins and electrolytes. I don’t have unnecessary carbs at wrong times of the day. Compared to what I used to bring this is a lot better.

19 Aug. 2013: “Your speed is: 07 (but only if your effort is good enough)”

It’s time to get to work. Yeah…again but I would see just how far of a ride that next town over would be. Hygiene, Colorado is a stop for a lot of cyclists having a brief rest. If you arrive at the intersection on a weekend, you will see a pile of bikes by lunchtime Saturday or Sunday, and people, some oddly, walking around on their hard-soled cleated shoes. The views over there are really good. I rode that same path again. First the gravel loop and then I broke away to Hygiene. I reached the intersection and went south just a little bit to see if what I saw last fall was still there. I think there is an old small English car hidden away in an open barn and possibly visible from the road if the area vegetation isn’t too much in the way. I had to see but no dice for me that day. I went up the road to the north of the intersection about a mile then turned around and rode back home. My phone app (Strava) displayed the whole route. 11.8 miles and it took me an hour on a 30 pound fat tired full suspension mountain bike. There were also other little things I discovered about this app. There are some segments of the route people have designated as, well, as a timed section. Something you can see your performance on and compare it to anyone else with the same app. If I paid some money to this software I could see where I stand against other nearly 40 year olds in the area. I might have to do that.

The difference between a mountain bike and a road bike on identical sections of road is shatteringly depressive. As a demonstration, I passed one of those ‘your speed is’ radar signs. I found out that it will not register a speed unless you are going 7mph. 6? Oh your’re not worth a street signs time! 7 is just fine so it will display your slowness. 07 it said. Then It said 12 and a cyclist on a carbon Cervelo went past. Grey hair, slow cadence, 100% faster and he was not trying. I was learning how far I had to go if I wanted to keep up with even a slow group of riders. I also really had to find a decent road bike at this point. I did a third ride on my K2 six days later and it took about the same time but I felt a lot better. I had been at work for another week and ate properly and got in my exercise in varying hotel fitness rooms. The leg work is really going right and I’m finding out the right cardio.

Where I stand in the Chainring: Determined but pragmatic. I knew I wouldn’t have instant success yet especially in a county that breeds Olympic athletes, but things are falling into place with the exercise in hotels making a difference on the bike when I get home, even if minor it’s progress.