Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I bought a spin bike for the house. I never could figure out or trust rollers and none of the other exercise bikes in my price range seemed like they would hold up so I bought a spin bike. Spinning has taught me to be less concerned with mileage and with average speed – there is no speedometer, odometer or any other kind of meter on my spin bike. I could wear my Garmin, but it won’t show any progress – only time. That’s what I’m focusing on when I’m spinning – riding for x number of minutes at a time.

Now, granted my time on the spin bike is currently fairly short – only in the 10 minute range, but that will be increasing as I move forward. My goal is to spin at least 5 days per week.

Some people call it boring, but I find it relaxing. It gives me a chance to retreat a bit from the chaos of the house and focus only on one thing – turning the cranks. Its almost a zen-like feeling as I focus solely on what I’m doing and leave the rest to resolve itself.

I know riding the spin bike this winter will give me a new appreciation for riding my bike and actually going somewhere. Sure I’ll still be doing my training loops and out and backs, but I think I will enjoy them more.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Afternoon Ride

Took the afternoon off yesterday and decided to ride on a trail near Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Its called the Railroad Tunnels Trail. For the first half it follows the old railroad bed where the tracks for transporting the materials to construct the dam once laid. Along the way they carved 5 tunnels through the rock to facilitate the journey – hence the name.

The temps were in the low 50’s with a very light wind and lots of sunshine – a gorgeous day to ride, if a bit cool in the shade.

I have to say I really enjoyed this ride. It had a very different flavor from my early morning rides which are mostly about getting in the miles as quickly as I can and then getting home to get ready for work. This was a pleasant roll along a fairly smooth gravel trail with some gorgeous views of Lake Mead and the surrounding mountains. Add to that the bonus of actually going through tunnels carved through the mountainsides and it was truly a lot of fun. There was, however one disappointment for the ride – you can’t actually ride to the dam along the trail. It ends at a series of steps and from the top, you cannot see the dam.

I have ridden part of the trail in the past with my grandson, Jacob, but we only made it about halfway – just past the third tunnel. What was interesting is that beyond the fifth tunnel, the trail leaves the gentle, fairly flat railroad bed and takes a fairly dramatic descent to the steps area. I didn’t realize how dramatic until I got to the bottom and then had to ride back up. The total elevation change was 586 feet according to my garmin, but it was the unexpected nature of it that caught me off guard.

This ride reminded me what it is I enjoy about riding my bike – getting out and seeing things and covering distances much easier than walking. Was I fast – definitely not. With all my stopping to look and talk to hikers along the trail, plus taking pictures of the big horn sheep, it took 72 minutes to cover the 7.22 miles I rode. A short ride by a lot of standards, but a huge one in my book as it helped to rekindle my fire for and love of riding.

Also received a delivery last night via UPS. It is an exercise bike so that I can keep up with my riding in the colder weather. Sure, I know its not that bad, being only in the 30’s, but I find myself using that as an excuse for not riding. This removes the weather as an excuse. It also allows my to jump on and do 15 or 20 minutes several times a day if I want to. I have big plans for improving my stamina and strength using this new equipment.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So Many times

So many times I've started to write a post, gotten lost in the middle and never went back to finish it, and therefore never posted it.  I'm starting to really notice a pattern here - not just with the blog posts, but with my weight loss efforts.  Many times I've started losing weight, getting healthy and then gotten lost and abandoned the journey.  Not anymore.

I've watched the Biggest Loser every season from season one.  I've seen amazing transformation
occur on the show and seriously have thought to myself "I can do that."  I don't see it happening as
quickly as on the show since I have other things, like a job and family obligations, that prevent my dedicating such large amounts of time to it, but there is no reason I can't do some work outs and watch what I eat and get healthy.

Thoughts are easy. Ideas come all the time.  The hard part is putting those ideas into action on a daily basis.

 I've noticed that there is a need to have some sort of emotional revelation or catharsis in order for the new lifestyle to really stick.  Those that have a breakthrough emotionally on the show are the most successful when it comes to maintaining the healthy lifestyle beyond the show.

I'm waiting for it to click for me.  I'm waiting for it to become second nature.  I'm waiting.  Maybe that's the problem - I'm waiting instead of doing.

I want to be the person who can go for a 50 or 100 miles ride on the weekend and not think of it as any great feat.  I want to be the person who would rather ride/hike/run/??? instead of sitting on the couch
watching it happen or on the computer playing games.  Right now, I'm not that person.  Right now I prefer staying nice and warm in the house.  I prefer playing on the
computer and watching TV.

If I could ask one thing of all those successful people on the Biggest Loser, it would be when did it change for them?  What made it change for them?

I did a triathlon lastyear.  Sure I wasn't fast and finished 376 out of 383 overall, but I did it.  I had planned on doing it again this year, but I lost my way.  Training became a chore.  My motivation evaporated.  It was no longer new and exciting.  I shied away from the work I needed to do.  Part of it was the training route
was more difficult than the flat I rode/walked previously, but that should be a good thing.  Instead it made me not want to ride it.

Somehow I need to rekindle the fire to actually go out and do the work.  To face the cold and early mornings.  To set small, incremental goals and then achieve them.

I read Fatty's blog.  And The Trailer Park Cyclist and Elizabeth Waterstraat’s and I think to myself “why can’t I do these things?”  I mean, Fatty rides 100 mile MTB races, completes marathons and triathlons.  TJ
(The Trailer Park Cyclist) rides centuries for fun on a monthly basis.  Elizabeth completed Ironman KONA this year for the second time and did it in 10:22:02  which is amazing!  In my mind I tell myself that I can do these things – all it takes it hard work and dedication. And that’s where I have a problem.  Staying motivated to do the work to get out there day after day and do what needs to be done.

I should have been happy when I completed Pumpkinman in October of 2010.  I was, but I was also feeling that maybe I cheated and it wasn’t such a big deal because I hadn’t worked as hard as I could have so didn’t end up with the time I could have.  I knew I put in some work to get ready, but when I truly examine it, I didn’t put in as much as I could have.  I expected to feel spent at the finish line, having given everything I had to complete the race and I really didn’t feel like it.  There was still gas left in the tank and I think that is what makes the accomplishment feel lessened somehow.
I’m looking forward and trying to set some goals and trying to decide what I want to accomplish in 2012 and I’m not sure yet.  I need to do some more soul searching and see what gets me up and out there.  One big
event will be my 50th birthday.  The question is, what should I do to commemorate it?  What will be my
motivation to do the work day in and day out? When will the work become fun?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn - A time to begin?

Autumn is the time of harvest, the time for enjoying nature's bounty.  Not typically a time one thinks of for getting back on track with a fitness and weight loss routine.

I will admit it, I have not been following any plan for the past 4 months.  I have not watched what I eat, I have not exercised, I have not been active.  That's the cold hard truth.  Sure I sugar coat things and try to give reasons or make excuses, but the bottom line is I indulged myself calorically and was nothing more than a slug sitting, watching TV or playing on the computer.

Sure I had great intentions and high hopes for myself, but I never got around to putting those intentions into any kind of meaningful action.  That is changing here and now.

I am restarting my fitness and weight loss drive and I'm going to try and hold myself accountable by posting my goals and my progress here.

My slovenly ways have led to my gaining back a significant portion of the weight I had lost last year leading up to Pumpkinman.  Here I am one year later and almost 40 lbs. heavier.  Yes, 40 pounds!  So, now is the time to get my ass moving and do what I keep meaning to.

I've started by modifying my diet.  I am going back to the low carb diet as that is what seems to work the best for me.  It is fairly simple and straight forward.  Its so much easier for me to just say no to certain foods than to eat them in moderation.

My goal is to be under 400 lbs by Thanksgiving and in the 370's by Christmas.  These are aggressive goals and will take work and dedication, but that is my plan.

Today's starting weight: 427.4.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Technology is wonderful

Support a worthy cause for free!

As I've written before I love technology. While it’s not essential for working out, it makes the tracking and record keeping much easier. It can also help raise money for a worthy cause - World Bicycle Relief. Technically it’s not the technology itself that is supporting this great cause, but the record of our training that helps.

I could go through a long explanation in my own way, but it would be redundant since Fat Cyclist, Elden Nelson, has done such a great job of explaining how this works here. Essentially, you sign up with this awesome site, +3 Network, Join Team Fatty and then upload your training data from your device like an iPhone or Garmin. Plus 3 Network then does the math and SRAM makes a contribution for your efforts.

It really is that simple. Even with my sporadic efforts so far this year, I've helped raise over $10 for this cause. Fatty has set a goal of raising over $120,000 this year and I know we can certainly do this. This may just be the extra motivation I needed to get back to a more consistent training routine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I've started walking again on a regular basis and my wife has started to join me (I'm so proud of her!). As I'm doing this I'm logging my activity into both and so that I have a record of what I've done and how well I'm doing. It helps me to track calories burned and fitness levels.

One interesting thing I've found is that if I walk 45 minutes at a 3.0 mph pace I will burn around 500 calories depending on which tool I use to enter that information. This is a pretty good work out for me and I'm definitely tired when I'm done. If I bike for the same 45 minutes at a 12.0 mph pace the calculators show me as burning around 800 calories. I find this very interesting because I'm much more tired after the walking than I am after the biking.

I do realize that no calculator is going to give me exactly what I burn calorie-wise while exercising, but it seems to me there is a disconnect between the 2 activities. I have a feeling the calories burned for the walking are on the low side and the calories burned for the riding are on the high side.

Regardless of the actual numbers, the important thing is I am getting up and getting active and burning calories. I know it is doing god for my body and my health and I am committing myself to keeping up with both activities.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Training is something that takes hard work, dedication and Time. There is a commitment of time needed to become proficient at any sport or activity. Training for a triathlon takes more time because there are 3 sports involved that one must train on.

This is something that seems self-evident at first glance, but when you stop to really look at how much training, and therefore time, is needed to prepare for an event, it can be a bit overwhelming. I bring this up because I asked Michele if she would do the Pumpkinman triathlon with me this October. With a bit of reservation and some thought, she actually said yes!

I was very happy and agreed that I would work with her to get her ready. We basically have 5 months before the event and I figured this would be more than enough time. Until I sat down and really started to plan exactly what training would have to be done to get her ready. Then I started looking at how much time we had available and when and realized that we really don't have enough time.

2 things are working against us. The first is that Michele is currently not an athlete and is essentially starting at 0. The second are commitments beyond work that would limit when and where we could train. The 2 events she would need the most work on are the bike and the swim. Everything I've found says that she needs to be swimming at least 3 and more likely 4 days a week in order to get to a proficiency that would allow her to be successful. Unfortunately we do not have a pool so this becomes a much greater commitment than the 3 to 4 hours per week of actual swim time.

The second issue is we are going to have our 2 oldest grandsons for 7 weeks over the summer and this precludes both of us heading out in the morning for training rides or runs.

With all of these factors taken into consideration, we've decided that doing the Rage in April is much more realistic. So that is what we are going to do. As a first step along the route to the triathlon, Michele got up early this morning and joined me on one of my loops. It was very hard for her, but she did it and I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bike Race Report

Well, yesterday I completed my first race of the year and second organized race ever! It was the Bike Race for the City of Las Vegas Corporate Challenge. It was a fun race.

The Venue

The bike race was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway complex at the north end of town. We actually got to ride on part of 4 of the separate tracks within the complex. This was part of what made the race so enjoyable. I got to ride my bike where the Nascar drivers fly around at 200 miles an hour! I got to experience the tackiness of the starting area where NHRA funny cars compete at over 300 mph! We also experienced part of the road course and the smaller 1/8 mile "Bull Ring" track. In between we rode the length of the grand stands and wove our way through various parking lots.

The Race

I knew I was going to be one of the slower riders so I lined up near the back of the pack for the mass start of the race. As the time got close I, along with most others, checked our bikes one last time, made sure I was in a good gear and had just a bit of nervousness waiting for the horn to sound. Once it did we were off. The initial pace was a bit slower than I had expected, but I think that was mostly because we were grouped pretty tightly at the start and most of those competing had very little actual race experience. We were all a bit leery of causing a crash. I have to say that thankfully I didn't see any crashes during the race, but I did see one of the faster guys sitting on the side of the course with his front wheel bent pretty bad. Once we got started and every got their rhythm I was feeling pretty good. We wound our way through the infield, past the Neon Garage and out through the tunnel under the track. We took an immediate right and hit a fairly steep climb I had not been expecting.

We were climbing from the lowest level up to the level of the grandstands. By most standards it wasn't a big climb, but it was pretty steep with a grade near 10 %. I quickly down shifted and ran out of gears. I was going along in my granny gear and noticed my bike showed 3 mph and others were walking their bikes up the hill faster than I was progressing, so, 2/3 of the way up, I got off and walked the final 1/3. I think it was a great move as I was able to keep up with those around me and was actually able to pass a few riders on the flats through the grand stands.

Once we cleared the grandstands and wove our way back through the parking lots, we hit the drag strip. Now the strip was interesting as there was an uphill component to it that got up to a 3% grade or so at the finish line. It was also interesting in how the rubber gripped the tires and actually seemed to make it harder to ride as there was increased friction. Now I know that's a good thing when you are accelerating away from the line and not wanting your wheels to spin in your supercharged, nitro burning dragster, but it certainly added to the difficulty of riding your bike down the track. I think those of use with fat tires had more of an issue than those with the thin road tires.

The pay off for all the hard work climbing the hill at the end of the drag strip was immediate as we quickly descended the same hill back towards the speedway and it was great. I think I hit 30 mph along this stretch and got to rest just a bit.

After some more touring of parking area we then dropped onto the road course for about a mile and it was fun following the curves and thinking about how I would pick my lines if I were racing in a car.

From the road course we hit an access road that was the worst section of the entire course and it had some sand and loose gravel in a few spots. Fortunately it didn't look like anyone fell in that area. We then hit the Bullring for a trip from the pits, around the far end of the track and back through the pits. I enjoyed this as we had watched a few races here and it was interesting seeing exactly how much banking is on the track. Seeing it up close and personal is so much different than seeing it from the stands.

I had been following a couple of rider since we left the drag strip and they were just a few lengths ahead of me. As we were into the home stretch and heading back towards the Speedway I was keeping pace and I even thought to myself I would give it everything I had in the last sprint to see if I could catch them. As we entered the speedway through the tunnel, the riders gained a bit on my and even though I sprinted faster than I thought I would (my bike comp said 23 mph at the line) they had a little more speed so I never did catch them, but it was fun chasing them just the same.

My finish

I finished the race in 43:52. Not bad for an almost 10 mile course. I actually achieved the pace I was hoping which was over 12.5 mph average. The disappointing thing was I didn't earn any points for my team, but for good reason - my age group was the largest of any! Who would have thought that there would be 13 men in my age group? I did finish 12th out of 13, though. It’s funny, 2 years older or 3 years younger and I would have earned points for my team. Of course we had an awesome team and ended up taking first in our division - winning the gold medal.

I plan on doing the race again next year on a different bike and with more training and I hope to shave at least 10 minutes off my finishing time!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bicycle Race - what to do????

I've been looking at the calendar and just realized the upcoming Corporate Challenge Bike Race is in just over 2 weeks.  We've gotten confirmation that the course will be between 12 to 14 miles long at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Now, I've ridden at least this far on many occasions but the only time I ever "raced" was during Pumpkinman last October and I have to say I was pretty much on my own there except for those from the longer distances going by me climbing up from boulder beach to boulder City.

I did watch the Coprorate Challenge race last year and know that there will be a mass start and everyone will have to sort themselves out according to their abilities as the race progresses.  What I'm not sure about is how should I attack this race and what strategy should I use over the next couple of weeks to prepare.

My morning training loop is a good one mile loop but it does have a bit of elevation change with about half of it uphill and half down with almost no level ground.  Is this good to practice on since the course at the speedway will be basically flat with the exception of the tunnel and entrance/exit into the speedway itself?

As for the distance I am stepping up my morning routine to 12 miles per day this week and 14 per day next week in preparation for the event.  I also plan on at least one longer ride both this weekend and next in the 16 to 20 mile range.

Does anyone think this is enough or should I do more?  I should put here the disclaimer that by no means do I see myself winning my age group.  I just want to finish and hopefully not be last!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Technology is a wonderful thing. It can help track things like distance, speed and time on a bike ride or run. It can also help to motivate us to do more and be more active. I recently ordered an xbox 360 with the Kinect controller because the idea of being active while participating in video games appeals to me. Sure I love to sit for hours and play my games on the computer, but the problem with that is I am literally just sitting there turning into a lump. So after seeing this system advertised for the 1000th time and reading up on it I said "that is for me" and I ordered it.

It came while we were on the cruise last week (that's a whole other post!) and I set it up on Monday. The first game I tried was the driving game - Kinect Joy Ride. Now I've played my share of driving games in the past, but never got a workout, but this was different. Since your body is the controller, you have to move and be active to play the game. I had fun and felt a bit of burn from having to stand and hold my arms out to steer as well as lean and bend to perform stunts. This was awesome!

The second game I tried this morning was the Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout. I have to say that having Bob and Jillian thee guiding, pushing and commenting on what I was doing was great! I followed the prescribed activities and set-up my profile and took the fitness test. It was harder than I anticipated and I only earned a moderate recommendation, but I figured that was a good start. I then let it do a body scan and with the exception of it showing me as 3 inches shorter than I am, it was pretty accurate. I manually adjusted the height and moved on to tell it how often and for how long I wanted to work out. It then created a 12 week plan for me and we were off as my first workout was scheduled for today.

Now, I don't know how many people watch the biggest loser and see how they sweat and work and think "I can do that", but I'm here to tell you that many of those exercises are simply not as easy as they look. I figured I needed to ease into regular exercise so I set my desired length to 20 minute work outs and I was definitely feeling it!

It was funny, there I was thinking I was really moving and doing the exercise but the system was telling me to make adjustments as I wasn't following the on screen trainer as well as I thought. In my mind I was bringing my knee up to my chin, but in reality it was only to my waist and the game called me on it! :-)

I am very happy with the product even if it does have a bit of a HAL9000 feel to it as there is a red light on the sensor when it is active.

One other piece of technology I'm using is an online site called My Fitness Pal. It allows me to track my calories both eaten and burned and I think this is going to be a very important tool in my fitness journey. The URL is

Monday, January 31, 2011

I need a plan

OK, I’ve been winging it in terms of my working out for the last few weeks and I’ve realized that its not been very productive. Without a plan of action, I’m finding it too easy to put off my working out. Too easy to think “I’ve got time,” or “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Well my tomorrows are running out if I hope to be in any kind of real shape to compete in the Rage Triathlon on April 16.

April 16 is only 10 ½ weeks away. 75 days is all I have to whip my butt into some sort of shape to complete the event. I haven’t even walked more than a quarter mile at a time since Pumpkinman in October, let alone started any kind of running program. I haven’t been in the water since then either.

No more excuses. Time to lay out a training plan and then get to completing it. I have to put in the work if I’m going to get the results.

As such I’m now going to lay out my plan for getting my training in between now and April 16. Generally speaking my plan is to Swim at least one day a week, bike 3 days a week and walk/run 3 days per week. Some weeks I may in fact do more than this, but I hope to not do less. This week I am planning on doing a minimum of 35 miles on the bike ( 2 x 10 mile morning rides and a longer 15 mile ride to blue diamond on the weekend). I’m also looking at walking 3 days at 2 miles each for a total of 6 miles. Lastly a swim of 1000 yards.

The flip side of this is to watch my calorie intake. If I can also trim another 30 or 40 pounds during the same time frame, then I’m doubly a winner.

So, to keep myself accountable, I’m going to publish each week’s plan and then each week’s actually training right here for all to see.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Its simple, really...

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my weight loss and fitness journey.  I’ve been
reading many different blogs and articles on such topics as Metabolic Efficiency, vegan lifestyle, and countless miracle diets and exercise plans.  I was trying to wrap my head around all of this very diverse information and figure out which of these was “the” plan for me.  I then happened on a blog written by Shawn Tyler Weeks titled 344 pounds. 

It was like a light bulb went off.  There are no miracle diets, no special foods nor specific exercise routines to lose the weight.  It’s a simple formula really – consume less calories than you burn and lose weight. It really is that simple.  Shawn has lost over 130 pounds doing just that.

One of the hardest things to do is to identify exactly how many calories you are consuming.  This is
where an awesome, free site can help.  Its called My Fitness Pal. It’s a free site that allows you to enter the foods you eat and track calories and fat and carbs.  It also allows you to track the calories you burn through exercise.

That’s the second part of the simple equation – if you want to lose more weight then you have to get off your ass and move – be active.  It really doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as you are up and moving you are burning calories.

I’ve started tracking my calories, both consumed and burned, and have come to a conclusion that really isn’t much of a revelation if you know me – I have a problem with portion sizes. 

I have always been a big eater and have conditioned myself over decades to grab massive portions of food when I eat.  I have been complimented in the past on how much I could consume.  Obviously if I’m consuming that much then the equation is out of balance and the surplus calories are adding weight on. So, one of my biggest areas of work is to make sure that I watch my portion sizes and keep them reasonable.

 Here's to a new simple lifestyle change - watch the calories and get moving.  Let's see what a powerful combination these 2 things can be.