Wednesday, June 25, 2008

1,000 Miles

Well, my bike has passed the one-thousand mile mark. Three tubes, a replaced rear tire (because of the damn tube problem), a few nicks, a few very low-speed crashes (only thing ever hurt was my own dignity . . . I think I'm finally used to the damn clipless pedals), and a whole lot of fun.

This is the week for milestones, though -- yesterday morning, I finally made it to the office in under an hour. I swear, I hit my stopwatch and it was at 00:59:58.14. That wasn't much under that milestone, but it was what I was aiming for. Of course, I changed up my route this morning -- only added a half mile, but it was a pretty hilly half mile, and consequently, I added twelve minutes to my commute this morning. That said, with the construction on Trindle Road, and the reduced traffic on Schoolhouse Road, I think this may be a permanent change.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

When Ignoring One's Weight

Those of you who know me know that I've had some weight issues through my life. See, ever since I was a little kid, "eating" was one of my favorite activities (in fact, I remember going through a scrapbook from a young age -- soon after I had learned to write (and therefore, when I had good handwriting), "eating" was listed as one of the things I liked best). My highest recorded weight was 287 pounds -- although I probably broke 300 at one point. My lowest recorded weight since I've been 18 was 174. I know that I weighed somewhere north of 260 a few months ago, as I was at a doctor's appointment. But, I'm trying to completely ignore my own weight.

Reading Junkfood Science has really put a new spin on things for me. I mean, I've always known that BMI was bullshit - but just reading about how much of the "obesity crisis" is a media creation is quite scary. I mean, it is illegal to be fat in Japan! And, that 33.5 guideline -- even at my lightest, I wouldn't have passed that test. Mind you, I don't know how many Japanese males are 6'3" (now I have "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" running through my head), but I'm not reading anywhere that height is taken into consideration.

So, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah -- I'm biking into work. Now, I've been on the Wii Fit lately, because it's damn fun. The only thing is that it measures your BMI - and I'm considering just skipping the daily body test, so that my BMI is never calculated. After the issues I've had with weight, I really don't care what I weigh anymore. My goals are:

  • Exercise when I can
  • When exercising, push myself within my means, but never to the point where I may get burnt out or injured
  • Try to eat more fiber than saturated fat
  • Eat less meat
  • Limit salt intake
  • Limit my alcohol intake

Each of those goals has an ulterior motive, though:

  • Working out: look good on the beach, feel better about myself when I have to run up flights of stairs for an urgent meeting, be better in bed
  • Avoiding injury: seems self explanatory
  • Lower saturated fat/salt intake: I have a history of heart problems from both sides of the family tree -- no need to tempt fate
  • Eat less meat: feel less guilty about eating meat
  • Lower alcohol consumption: lower tolerance so that I get drunk faster

Right now, a lot of my friends & coworkers are commenting that I'm getting "skinny", but I don't know . . . although I feel like a schmuck when I'm asked how much weight I've lost and I have to answer that I haven't a clue. I'm going to try to stick with these goals for awhile -- while enjoying my favorite activity of "eating", and just see where things take me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Didn't Bike In

The disaster recovery was a disaster -- but we finally got everything working at the very end . . . meaning that we didn't leave the site until nearly 7:00. This meant that I got home a little past midnight.

I slept in. I did not feel guilty about it. However, I'll probably be leaving work early and getting a nice afternoon ride in. Or a nap. I haven't figured that part out yet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When trapped without a bike

I'm in the middle of the woods right at the NJ/NY border near the Tappan-Zee bridge. Here, I'm in the middle of a disaster recovery drill. The area is absolutely beautiful and it stormed last night, meaning that today was clear, cool, and non-humid. I miss my bike.

Of course, at a disaster recovery drill, especially when things aren't exactly going well, I find myself eating a ton of crap, drinking about 10 times as much as usual, and not working out. I miss my bike.

We should get back into PA tonight, and I will bike into work Wednesday/Thursday -- and I might try to get Friday in, too. I miss my bike.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bicyling Pictures

I'm hesitant to post these just because I think I've lost about twenty pounds since they've been taken, but here is a photo of me at the finish line from the Tour de Cure and here I am on the course.

Gas Prices

Gas prices reached $4.049 / gallon in Pennsylvania today . . . meaning that I'm saving $10.75 in gas today. In actuality, though, money savings might actually be significantly bit higher when I bike in. Sure, there's stuff like automotive maintenance, but I'm talking about lunch here -- when I bike in, I really force myself to keep to whatever food I can bring with me and/or keep at the office (and, because food is relatively heavy, I typically try to keep fruit, granola bars, oatmeal, and the like at the office at all times). Those of you how know me know that I have a healthy appetite -- and I wouldn't be surprised if I save an additional $6/day in food alone when I bike in.

Of course, today is different, as my wonderful wife drove in with Wyatt to have lunch with me. See, we participate in a veggie box, and they included strawberries in this week's package. Being me, I left them at home, so she offered to bring them to me, and we had lunch while she was here. I'm still not sure if the following counts as a "salad", but it was good, and biking 20 miles in 90° heat will undo most of the damage:

  • salad greens
  • carrots
  • tomato
  • steak
  • bacon
  • bleu cheese crumbles
  • onion rings
  • bleu cheese dressing
  • honey oat roll with butter
It was yummy, if not exactly "healthy" like a salad is supposed to be.

Another real benefit of the ride is the audiobooks that I'm listening to -- mind you, I typically am listening to some sort of audiobook whenever I'm in the car, but spending two hours listening really makes for good progress. Right now, I'm about midway through Wolves of the Calla, book five of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. It's the best of the books thus far - I absolutely love how he intertwines characters and plots from his other stories without ever making the stories actually reliant on those other items. I mean, so far, there have been clear references to The Stand and 'Salem's Lot, and I'm sure there have been a bunch more. King just brings back memories of these stories, but never forgets that he's telling his own, new story. Anyway, the books are fun. Now, I need George R. R. Martin to finish up A Dance with Dragons from his Song of Ice and Fire series.

Beautiful Mornings & Wii Fit

I know I've said this before, but there really isn't anything that beats collecting your thoughts to a gorgeous sunrise while working out. Even if you're doing so on the way to work. Today, I nearly broke that one hour barrier that I've been gunning for. Well, that's not accurate, I do not push myself on the way into work. My goal is to come into the office relaxed and not drenched in sweat (as it is, I'll generally get in and sit in the A/C for a good 10 minutes before I even think about changing into my work clothes). Still, though, making the commute in an even hour is a goal I'd like to attain.

It's funny, though -- on the way back home, when I will push myself as hard as I can, breaking the hour barrier is near impossible. First off, the weather is much hotter, so I need to watch myself. Second, there is about a 400 foot difference between the office and home -- meaning that the entire path is just slightly uphill for most of the way. But, the biggest issue is that I am in rush-hour traffic (well, not in it, but alongside it). The roads I ride have very cozy shoulders, but that doesn't start / stop the traffic lights. I'd say that on my typical ride home, I spend 15-20 minutes just stopped, waiting for the light to change. Of course, I also take an alternate, less-direct, much less trafficked, and hillier path home. It might be awhile before I manage to break the one hour mark there -- still haven't broken 1:15.

I also love the Wii Fit. Nintendo has really figured out how to make something fun, addictive, and good for you -- it's really spectacular. Of course, there is some level of Japanese bluntness (the damn thing no longer calls me "obese", just "overweight), and I get yelled at if I don't log in every day. Due to my arm issues, I can't quite do the pushups that it asks me to -- so I'm called "weak", but still - the thing is a blast. In fact, depending on what you're doing, working up a sweat is quite easy, even if you don't realize that you're doing it. Anyway, my current "Wii Fit Age" is 43, which makes me sad -- but I'll get that down . . . I think it's so high because I am as unbalanced as a one-legged piano.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Week After the Tour

Actually been meaning to post for the past couple of days, and just never got around to it. The day after the Tour, I took myself on a 30 mile bike ride -- this started as something where I just wanted to get my legs moving, and ended up with me just "going". I even biked to work on Monday -- then I hurt my knee. I'm still not sure what I did, but somewhere along the way to the office, my knee started aching. Then, it ached all day and I biked home slowly. Since it still ached a little the next day, and I figured it might be best to take a day off. The thing is, the weather was absolutely beautiful on Monday and on Tuesday. I remember sitting in my office all day Tuesday calling myself a wuss.

Wednesday was threatening to rain all day, so driving in was a little easier to explain in my head (especially through the downpour from about 11 through 2). The thing that sucked, however, was that things were actually quite pleasant while I would have been on the road.

While it is very humid today, and is threatening to rain, I still biked in, as I won't be able to tomorrow. I'm noticing that my average and maximum heart rates during the journey are declining, the number of calories I'm burning is declining, while my time stays about the same -- this leads me to think that I'm just getting into better shape - which I certainly can't complain about.

Comparing myself at this point last year, I think I was still catching my breath by this point a year ago. In fact, I recall heading out to dinner with my father in law a day or two after the Tour and him commenting about a bike ride that his brother wanted to take him on -- I believe it was "Across Wisconsin in 6 days" or something like that. At the time, I agreed with my father in law. A 60 mile ride in one day seemed like enough for a month. After last year's ride, I didn't get on my bike again until at least two weeks later. After this year's ride, though, I couldn't wait to get back on the road, though. Funny how a little bit of discipline will change you.

For anybody who might be interested, my playlist from the Tour de Cure
AerosmithBack In The Saddle
AerosmithDude (Looks Like A Lady)
AerosmithEat The Rich
AerosmithLivin' on The Edge
AerosmithLove In An Elevator
AerosmithRag Doll
AerosmithSweet Emotion
AerosmithWhat it takes
Alice CooperPoison
Alien Ant FarmSmooth Criminal
Beastie BoysFight For Your Right (To Party)
Beastie BoysIntergalactic
Beastie BoysSabotage
BeatlesA Day in the Life
BeatlesAll Together Now
BeatlesCome Together
BeatlesHey Jude
BeatlesI Am The Walrus
BeatlesIn My Life
BeatlesI've Just Seen A Face
BeatlesLucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Black CrowesShe Talks to Angels
Bon JoviLivin' On A Prayer
Bon JoviWanted Dead Or Alive
Charlie Daniels BandThe Devil Went Down to Georgia
Def LeppardPour Some Sugar On Me
DMXParty Up (Up In Here)
Dr. Dre (feat. Eminem)Forgot About Dre
Elvis PresleyA Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix)
EminemLose Yourself
EminemSquare Dance
EminemWithout Me
EverlastBlack Jesus
EverlastWhat It's Like
Faith No MoreEpic
Frankie Goes to HollywoodRelax
FugeesThe Score
George ThoroughgoodOne Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Geto BoysDamn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta
GorillazClint Eastwood
Guns N' RosesLive and Let Die
Guns N' RosesParadise City
Guns N' RosesSweet Child O' Mine
Guns N' RosesWelcome To The Jungle
Guns N' RosesYou Could Be Mine
Ice CubeIt Was a Good Day
James BrownLiving In America
Jay ZCan I Get A...
Jay Z Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
Juelz SantanaThe Second Coming
Kanye WestJesus Walks
Kid RockBawitaba
Kid RockCowboy
Living ColourCult of Personality
Men At WorkDown Under
Midnight OilBeds Are Burning
NWABoyz in the Hood
NWAStraight Outta Compton
OasisChampagne Supernova
OutkastMs. Jackson
OutkastThe Whole World
PixiesWhere Is My Mind
Public EnemyFight the Power
Puff DaddyCome With Me
QueenAnother One Bites the Dust
QueenI Want It All
QueenUnder Pressure
QueenWe Are the Champions
QueenWe Will Rock You
Quiet RiotCum On Feel The Noise
Red Hot Chili PeppersAeroplane
Red Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magik
Red Hot Chili PeppersBreaking The Girl
Red Hot Chili PeppersCalifornication
Red Hot Chili PeppersCan't Stop
Red Hot Chili PeppersGive It Away
Red Hot Chili PeppersScar Tissue
Red Hot Chili PeppersSuck My Kiss
Rolling StonesPaint It Black
Rolling StonesStart Me Up
Run D.M.C. (feat. Aerosmith)Walk This Way
Sam KinisonWild Thing
Skid Row18 and Life
Snoop DoggGin and Juice (featuring Dr. Dre)
t.A.T.u.All The Things She Said
Tom PettyLast Dance With Mary Jane
U2Sunday Bloody Sunday
Van HalenJump
Warren G (feat. Nate Dogg)Regulate
ZZ TopLegs

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Tour de Cure

I made it -- 62.5 miles in four hours & 20 minutes, and that included all of the rest stops. I'm quite proud of myself. The only thing that really don't work out was the weather. I spent the most scenic portion of the ride biking through a torrential thunderstorm. I was waterlogged. As a plus, the weather was so miserable that I held a significantly faster pace than I thought I was capable of holding.

Last year's tour really kicked my butt. But, rather than blame the after-affects on the fact that my training regimen consisted of following a 12 mile ride every-other week with a six pack of beer, I blamed the bicycle I was riding and King's Gap. I have upgraded my bicycle from a Cannondale Hybrid to a Giant Road Bike (that certainly makes the goings easier), but being out of shape is being out of shape - there is no way around it. I found this to be especially true as I went up King's Gap. This is an approximate 1,200 foot climb over 4 miles - daunting if you're not used to it, but not "difficult" to most bicycle riders. I got to the top of the mountain and stopped only because I felt like I should - but I was ready for a lot more. This was a "regular old ride", nothing that required the psychological prep work that I had gone through. It was a beautiful ride, true - but nothing to write home about.

Last year, though, geez -- I was having issues keeping any sort of cadence going (the only one that I was able to get to work for me was about 30 RPM -- I see now how people were able to fly right past me), it felt like my balls had been permanently relocated to a space 6 inches inside my lower intestine, and my heart was just about done with me. This year, it was just a fun little climb.

It was on the way down the mountain, though, that it started raining. I knew I was in trouble about 12 miles into the ride (well before the King's Gap climb) when I was coasting along and then really had to start pedaling just to keep straight - the wind had gone into "fierce" mode. That died down after a few minutes, so I figured the worst had past. I was wrong. As I started down King's Gap, little droplets started falling . . . nothing major, just a reminder that rain was called for that day. About 10 minutes past the entrance to the mountain, though, I stopped at the rest station and the rain started falling a little bit harder. I kept cover until things appeared to be lightening up, got back on the road, and then the thunder started. I know people who are diehard bicycle commuters, and they're prepared for any sort of weather, but I don't see how you plan for this. I was having difficulty seeing much beyond 20 feet in front of me, the raindrops were cold and they stung. By this point, I had met up with a few other riders, and we kept with each other for awhile. My original intent was to keep my speed around 16-18 mi/hr while riding . . . when you add in the rest stops, the entire loop would have taken me anywhere between 4:45 and 5:00 to complete at that pace. The last 35 miles of the ride, however, had me biking anywhere between 19 and 24 mi/hr -- I just wanted out of that weather. Braking distances went up significantly, drivers were being crazy -- I turned on every light that I had (just because a 250 pound rider with a bright orange bicycling jersey wasn't enough in these conditions). After about two hours of the downpour, the skies did lighten up, and the last half hour was actually a pleasant commute -- although kicking up water & road dirt with your wheels doesn't make for cleanliness at the end of the day.

I completed everything in 4:20, burned somewhere north of 3,300 calories, and I'd say that I finally felt "clean" after the fourth time I scrubbed my body in the shower. I was just covered in road grime.

Still, though, I had a blast, and I managed to raise more than $600 for diabetes research. The only thing is that I really wonder what happened in the organizational aspect of this year's Tour. The only truly "helpful" person was just some asshole at the beginning of the ride telling everybody to grab a cue sheet at the top of his lungs. Nobody else seemed to know anything about what was going on. When I stopped at the rest stations, they were all horribly unprepared (no buckets to dispense water with, no cups, in one case, the rest area was completely empty). Two turns had very misleading cue marks. When I got back to the end of the ride (the 25k scheduled for 10:00 was canceled due the weather and the fact that there were tornado warnings), there was no area for check in (so I can't be certain that they're not out there looking for me right now), and I found out that riders were told to "take more direct routes back to the school" on account of the weather. First of all - I wasn't told that, even though I stopped at each of the very under-prepared rest stops, and I wouldn't have had a clue as to how to get from point X (being anywhere along the tour) back to Yellow Breaches Middle School in the most direct route.

Still, though, I had a blast -- even had enough in me to bike to the grocery store that afternoon to pick up lunch supplies, and I'm just dying to get back out on the road again.