Tuesday, July 30, 2013

August Challenge

I have been very inconsistent with my fitness lately so I need something to kick-start things heading into fall and better riding weather. So I've decided to create a challenge - ride everyday in the month of August.  I'm not putting any restrictions on distance or time, but I will get on my bike and ride all 31 days in August.

I got the idea from Clive Chapman's blog when he accepted a challenge 2 years ago to bike everyday in July.  I'm a bit late to the party so I am going to do August this year.

Anyone want to join me in this challenge?

In the past I have set an arbitrary minimum distance for a ride to be counted for a challenge, but I am not doing that this time.  The challenge is just to get on the bike every single day in the month.  I will post daily on how far my ride was that day and give a total distance for the month as well.  I would expect to exceed 250 during the month of August.  We will have to see when its all said and done.

As Mr. Mercury said, so eloquently;


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another early morning ride

Up and at it again at 4:00 AM.  Even though I got less sleep than Monday morning it was just a little easier to get up and out there.  There was a lot less internal dialog.  I felt more like just getting it done, which I did.

I was surprised as I checked the pressure in my tires this morning.  Seems the humidity helps keep the air in them as they were only down about a pound of pressure from Monday.  Normally after 2 days they have been down 5 to 10 lbs.

There really wasn't much remarkable about this morning's ride.  There was a slight breeze, maybe 5 mph out of the southwest which I didn't think was a big deal.  Sure it was a headwind on the slight uphill and a tailwind on the downhill, but I didn't think a breeze that light would have much effect.

Seems I was wrong.  My top speed was almost 3 mph faster than Monday's ride and my overall average went from 13.5 mph to 14.1.  That is a big change.  I shaved almost 2 minutes off the time it took to do the same distance.

Seems there is a lot to be said for aerodynamics, even at the slower speeds I'm riding as opposed to say, a car.  Since I ride in an upright position, the wind does have a significant impact on my speed.

Keep those pedals turning!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I fought the law and I won

That is Newton's first law of motion which states, and I quote:
An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Basically I was at rest, nice and snug in my bed when the alarm went off.  I rolled over, turned it off and even went so far as to reset the alarm for 5:25 thinking that I was going to remain at rest.  Then I started fighting.

I fought my own excuses for not doing what I know is right.  The thoughts went through my head:

"I'm too tired."

"I have a slight headache."

"I can do it tomorrow and still make 3 days this week."

I fought each one with logic and desire:

"You won't be any less tired if you go back to sleep."

"That's no excuse, it will probably go away as soon as you are up and moving."

"Tomorrow never comes."

In the end I won and got myself out of bed, got dressed and went out for a ride.  Once I was out on my bike I was feeling much better.  I was certainly glad I didn't give in to my excuses.

I ended up riding a good 10 miles this morning at an average of 13.5 mph.  Not bad for such an early morning.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


OK, to set the record straight, my original intention was to get up early and do a nice long ride this morning.  Staying up to 3:30 in the morning, really put a damper on those plans.  The reason for wanting to get n early start is the heat.  Let's face it, Las Vegas, in the middle of summer, is hot.  At 12:00 today were were already at 99 degrees.

So, I decided instead of a long ride, I decided to try out a couple of segments I had found on Strava which are close to my house.  Neither was very long - one was 1.3 miles and the other was .3 miles.  Add to that my normal one mile loop and I had 3 segments I wanted to work into a quick ride.

I'm here to say that I made it and I didn't die, but it was very hot.  The total ride was just under 6 miles in 26 minutes, but it was worth a ride 2 or 3 times that length on a cooler day.

It took close to an hour too cool off once I was back in the A/C.

It was a tough ride, but I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

it's 4:00 AM...

and I just got out of bed.  My alarm went off to let me know my time for sleeping was done and now I had to make good on my commitment to get back to doing what I need to do.  In the dark I find my cycling clothes and get dressed by feel.  I head downstairs and grab my Garmin Forerunner, take a long drink of water and get my last stick of gum from the pack.  You might wonder why I would get a stick of gum.  Well its pretty dry here in the desert southwest and a friend of mine (thanks Mary!) told me how chewing a stick of gum can keep your mouth from going as dry as the desert while you are working out.

I head into the garage and pump up my tires to the recommended max of 83 PSI, grab my helmet and gloves, switch on my Garmin and open the garage door.  I roll out to the end of the driveway where I turn on my head and taillight, put on my helmet, slip my hands into my gloves and get ready to go.  I notice that while its not exactly cool, its not baking hot either  A check of the temp shows its 79 degrees.

I mount my bike, hit start on my Garmin and off I go.  My goal for the morning is just to put in some relatively easy miles to ease back into the regular riding routine.  The first lap around my 1 mile loop is uneventful aside from the number of cars driving on the street.  Normally I'll see 2 or 3 cars in an entire morning ride.  This morning, everyone seems to be up trying to beat the heat as there were 5 cars in my first lap.  Not a lot by any means, but each is its own cause for concern as I know they aren't expecting anyone riding at this time of day.

I get into a pretty good rhythm for the first 3 or 4 laps, but I notice that my left knee is starting to hurt.  Not sure what that's about but I keep on going.  At lap 5 I realize that only riding 10 miles in the last 6 weeks has taken a toll on my endurance and my legs are starting to feel it.  I keep pushing, knowing that I'm not breaking any speed records but also knowing that all of the effort will make me stronger.

On lap 6 my hands are tingling on the bars.  This is where I really start to understand how regular riding does condition your body.  Laps 7 and 8 were my slowest and were work, but not insurmountable  I decided a nice 8 mile ride was a good place to start on rolled into the driveway at the end of the 8th lap.  Looking at my Garmin, I had travelled 8.28 miles in 37 minutes for a 13.3 mph pace. Not Bad.

This is the restart of getting myself into a better place physically.

Keep on riding!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It truly is an adventure...

When I decided to start this blog over 3 years ago, I was trying to decide what to call it.  I knew that a lot of what I would write about was riding my bike as I had fallen in love with riding again after many, many years.  I also knew that this blog would be more than that.  In order to ride more and enjoy it more I needed to lose weight and get healthier than I was.  There just was no 2 ways about it.  In order to ride more, and as a side effect of riding more, I knew that my weight had to change.  It has, but not nearly as much as it should.

Its truly been an adventure over these last 3 1/2 years in that I've had my ups and downs in both achievements and in my weight and fitness levels.

Unfortunately I've been on a bit of a down lately.  I haven't been watching what I eat as I should.  I haven't been riding and being as active as I should and my current weight shows it.  I have not been on a scale since I completed the Biggest Winner challenge back in May, but I know my weight has gone up by how my clothes are fitting, by how I look in the mirror and how I can feel the extra weight walking up the stairs.

Am I back to my heaviest, no.  Have I gained 15 or 20 lbs?  Probably.  There has been a real lack of motivation to get up at 4:00 am and get on my bike.  I like to kid myself and say I'll do it later, but later never comes.  I've told myself every excuse in the book - I'm tired, its too hot, its too windy, I'll do it tomorrow, my back is sore, I don't feel good... on and on and on.  the reality is these are all just excuses for me to stay in bed or to stay in my chair with my feet up, watching TV or playing on my computer.

The irony is I spend a good deal of time reading about other's adventures and accomplishments on the bike or getting fit and healthy while not doing it myself.  That has to change.  not tomorrow, not next week but today.

I know from experience that huge changes all at once don't work for me and are not sustainable in the long run.  I've drastically changed my diet and it usually last 4 to 6 weeks or so and then I get bored and feel too restricts and just go back to overeating unhealthy foods.  I've started rigorous, daily exercise regimens for them to fall apart after a week or two.

My goal for the next week is to start tracking my foods again and limit my portion sizes to stay withing a 2300 calorie a day allotment.  I'm also going to wear my fitbit daily and increase my steps to at least 5000 per day for the next week.  Along the way I plan on getting more miles in on my bike, going back to my goal of at least 3 days per week and hopefully more.

I am not getting younger, nor am I getting healthier with my current routine so now its time to apply myself and do what I need to do to get it done.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A nice Saturday ride

Saturday morning came and my grandson got up before the heat was too great so we decided it was time for another ride.  He had been asking to go, but it was always after it was well over 100 degrees and that was just too hot.  This morning it was only 93 or so and there were actually a few clouds about so it was time to go.

We headed to the garage, me following him since he had no patience waiting for me to get my shoes on.  He had "checked" his tires, but only by feel and he was about 10 lbs. low on the air pressure.  Of course he then had to wait for me to top mine off - they were close to 20 lbs low.  It is amazing to me how quickly the tires lose pressure in the heat and dry conditions.

I decided to take him around my normal training loop which was about a mile in length and the goal was for him to ride 5 miles.  We started off and he was raring to go.  He set a relatively quick pace for his 20" and it didn't last very long.  The route takes us on a gentle climb up the block, around the corner and up a little hill. He was quickly slowing on the "hill" but made the first lap with no problems.

On climbing the hill the second time he said hit was time to stop for a rest.  We pulled over and he removed his helmet and relaxed for a minute.  Then he was ready to go.  I don't think he got much rest there in the time we took, but he felt it was enough.  We completed that lap and moved into the third.  He again wanted to rest at the stop sign at the top of the hill, but I convinced him he could keep going and he did.  I showed him how to recover on the gentle descent and he rested his legs.  he did decide he needed a drink as we approached the house.

As he headed in, I told him I would be back and took off for a lap on my own.  I think I doubled my speed and halved my time on that lap.  As I approached the house he wasn't out yet, so I did a couple of circles in the street waiting for him.

He came out and jumped on his bike with out his helmet thinking I wouldn't notice.  I sent him back in to get it and we were then off for another lap.

I could tell he was getting bored with the route, so to vary it, I took an lap around the inner loop through a small subdivision the main loop rides around.  After this we headed back towards the house and he asked if he could be done.  I said sure since the sun had come through and he had reached his goal of riding 5 miles in one stretch.

As soon as my wife came home he couldn't wait to tell her "Grandma I rode 5 miles!" and he was very proud of himself and I of him.

Here is a look at the Strava for the ride:

I had told him I was going to look for a larger bike with gears on it for him so that is my mission this week so that we can extend his range and get something that he can put more miles on.  I'm looking at a 24" mountain bike as he likes to take his bikes off curbs and over obstacles instead of going around them.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Decision made - focus on riding

For the last several days I have been toying with the idea of possibly competing in the Pumpkinman Sprint Triathlon coming this October.  I've been looking at where I am and where I want to go fitness-wise and trying to decide if I want to put my limited time over the next few months into a multi-sport effort, or if I want to focus on one sport.  I've decided to focus on one sport for this year, but I will do Pumpkinman in 2014.

With the upcoming rides and a few more I want to do in the next year, I think I should focus on improving both my speed and stamina on the bike.  I want to get to a point where the 100 MON next year is no problem.  I want to be able to do the Tour De Cure and other events without being the last rider.  In order to do that I have to be more disciplined and focused on riding.  Besides I enjoy riding so much more than running that I'm more likely to do it.

I've spent a lot of time over the last few day reading other's report on rides they've done.  From Fatty's epic 10 part (so far) report of the Rockwell relay (Part One here) to a few of the other teams reports like team Crankenstein and Team Keep It Clean.  I've also read all of the 100 MON reports that Fatty has posted.  These have all inspired me to ride more.

Add to those stories various journals on Crazy Guy On A Bike and there is a real desire to improve my ability to ride longer distance and to experience more of this country from my saddle.  Andy Peat's journal of going south from SanDiego through Central and South America is really inspiring.  Especially his images from Macchu Picchu.  Mark and Julie Lovegood's Transam journal on a Pinot tandem is inspiring as well.  All the people they've met and the kindness shared restores my faith in the goodness of people.  Then there is Bobby and Thane's journal of their Transam journey.  Their insights and passion for meeting the people and rejoicing in the freedom and ability to tour is infectious.  That they are from Michigan makes them kindred spirits.that they only met less than a year before starting their tour is just astounding and shows great faith in each other.

These journals make me want to improve my abilities so I can get out there on the road and experience some of this first hand.

So Starting now, I have new goals and a plan for improvement.  Acknowledging that it is just too blasted hot to ride during the day, I will get out at least 3 times per week for the next couple of months.  These will be early morning rides to hopefully beat the heat.  Once we have some cooler weather, probably about mid-September,  I will be increasing this to 5 rides per week.  I am still planning on hitting my goal of riding 2013 miles this calendar year.  I realize I am a bit behind where I wanted to be, but there is still 1/2 a year to make that up.

Get out there and ride your bike!