Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3rd Annual "Best Christmas Video Ever"

I am showing it again, because it makes me so happy.

I present to you...the Best Christmas Video, Ever!

This is from "Gotta Be Andrew" from Wales.  He calls it a Christmas parody.  Okay.  Regardless, I am glad he put it out there.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Christmas at the Clyde House has taken a serious turn.

My 10-year-old boy has barricaded off part of our dining room where he is creating an art project for Mrs. Clyde.  We are all eating on our laps until he is done with his masterpiece.

My 13-year-old boy is playing the child's version of the "Hi, Bob" game by counting the number of times any version of "Captain Jack Sparrow" is said in all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Someone please tell me that there will be a future career choice that can benefit from his cataloguing skills.

Finally, my 16-year-old daughter is extremely pleased with her Christmas gift purchase for me.  She has told me twice in the past two hours, how excited she is and that I am not to enter her room until Christmas morning.  She stated that a python is now guarding her door.  She even posted a sign with this picture on it:
Yes, the guy looks like me. 
She is a clever girl.  For all I know, she is experimenting with pot in there or writing the next Unabomber Manifesto.  Nonetheless, I am banned from her room.

It is a cheerful house when the elves are hard at work.  It reminds me that I better get to the mall pretty soon.

I hope all is well at your house!

Big Clyde

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Longest Mile

I ran last night for the first time in two months, I finally went for a run.  Two miles in exactly 28 minutes.

Mile #1 started with 5 minutes of walking.  Then a 2 min run, 2 min walk interval.  I finished mile #1 in 15 minutes. 

Since it was an out-and-back and I was now warmed up, I decided to run the entire way back at a light pace.  Mile #2 took 13 minutes.

The hardest mile was #1.  It didn't really take me 15 minutes.  It is pretty fair to say that it took me about two months, due to my procrastination. 

I knew that I was much heavier and my legs were out of shape...and, and, and.  Thus, that first mile was a long one.

But once I got out there, mile #2 was not really bad at all.

It was good to be out there again.  I will do the Sun Run 5k or 10k in late January and see what else is coming after that.

Big Clyde

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just Like Antone

One of the curses that my wife has had to endure in our almost 21 years of marriage is when I ask her "How about that guy?...Do I look like him?"

This usually happens when we are out running errands somewhere and we see some other big guy with a weight problem.  Most often, I am way off and have chosen some guy who is much rounder than me.  It is hard to get a true sense of perspective when we tend to just see ourselves standing in front of the mirror.  Maybe that is why so many people have their "a-ha" moment when they see a photo of themselves (from the side, or the back).

Anyway, we have been watching The Biggest Loser this season and met Antone Davis.  He is similar to me in a few ways:
  • He's 6'4" (193cm)
  • He's bald (or shaves his head, like I do)
  • He's in his mid-40's, married with kids
  • He has battled his weight for awhile now
About two weeks ago, we were watching the show and my wife initiated the comment this time. 

"That's you," she said.

At this point, Antone probably weighed just above 300 lbs.  He looked like me (but with a better tan).  Though he once weighed 476 lbs, he was now in my neighborhood.

Last night, we watched the finale and he weighed in at 245 lbs.  He reminded me of a body type that I once had (except the huge muscle tone that went with it). 

I lived in Japan in my early 20's and got down to 217 (basically because I only ate ramen and drank beer and rode my bike everywhere.   Hmmm).

I am not trying to get down to 217.  Maybe not even 245.  250 sounds good.  Now, I can even picture what I would look like. 

Remember the phrase about Michael Jordan?  "I want to be like Mike!"  That is silly for most guys.  They will never grow to be 6'6".

But I can be just like Antone.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The December Mantra

I've avoided the scale for a few months now.  For a few reasons (and a lot of excuses), I've also avoided:
  • egg white veggie breakfasts
  • my running shoes
  • water
  • my blog
  • your blogs
  • sweat
  • fruit and veggies (are they even still in season??)
  • my bike
  • the "Big Clyde"(*) sandwich at Subway (foot-long ham with tons of veggies, no cheese and vinagrette)
  • 2011 race schedules

Here is what I have spent my time on recently:
  • family evenings at home
  • work with new bosses and some new strategies
  • pizza
  • candy
  • my La-Z-Boy DreamTime Reclina-Rocker
  • ice cream
  • laziness comfort
  • a warm house, sheltered from the cold outdoors

Honestly, I don't predict a change in behavior tonight.  Or tomorrow. 

But I want to get back to that feeling of having lost 50 pounds like I did a year ago.  I dropped the weight and I did it pretty quickly. 

It came off quickly and pretty easily with food choices (in the first few months) and then increased exercise.  It is math, like we all know.  Burn more calories than you take in. 

But what about the yo-yo pattern?  How about those stats about how so many people lose weight, only to gain back even more?  Sure, that's me (now).  I am the cliche.  Guilty.  Now, ask me if I care.

I can't change history.  I had a tough year and focused elsewhere.   Whatever.

But I'm not done yet.

The future is unwritten...for all of us.

Here's my mantra for December:

"The best way
to predict the future
is to invent it."     - Theodore Hook

There, I feel better already.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, my friends.

Big Clyde

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Punkin" is not a word

Unless you are less than 6 years old or over 60 years old, please go ahead and just pronounce it like this:


Thank you.

Big Clyde

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Things

Thanks for the good words on my previous post.  If you were local, I'd buy you a pint.

In advance of Thanksgiving, here is a list of the things that I am thankful for today:
  • My wife, three kids and I are healthy and happy.
  • The kids are doing well at school.
  • In our community theatre company's upcoming performance of Aladdin, my youngest son will be the Sultan and my older son will be Genie (the role he was born to play).
  • My daughter is planning her school's winter formal dance and is a member of National Honor Society.
  • We are very happy at our new church. This is more meaningful than I can really explain here.
  • My mom is healthier now than she has been in 20 years.
  • My dad just came out of back surgery (which went well). He also dropped 98 pounds over the past 2 years and now weighs less than he did in high school. All due to nutrition choices. Amazing!  (Got to get me some of that!)
  • At work, we are starting to settle in to the new "normal", where only a few of us are still working here in Arizona. But the transition has kept me very busy lately. It's good to be busy in this economy.
  • I have an excessive amount of vacation time saved up, which I hope to utilize this holiday season.
  • We are heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is my favorite time of year.
And now, I present you with a video from last week's SNL.  It kinda features Andre the Giant (my alter ego).

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Red-Shirt Season

Still here.  Nothing to report in terms of The Clydesdale Project.  No recent miles, no calorie-counting. 

There is a difference between giving up and not moving forward.  I anticipate moving forward again with training for another 5k, then 10k in January.  But I have not been exercising for awhile.

I started this blog in 2009.  I wrote a lot of posts and read/commented on many posts.  I trained and raced in El Tour de Tucson (34-mile route).  But my wife was working about 60 hours per week, my kids were in different schools that weren't challenging or fulfilling and I had A LOT of free time.  In hindsight, we were all doing our own thing and not too happy.

In 2010, I raced more, lost a lot of weight and learned that I can develop new healthy habits.   The kids got into a new smarty-pants school, which was very challenging for all of us.  In a few other areas, we worked very hard and ended the year with a major transition in our lives.  We ended the year feeling worn out, unhappy and facing a lot of question marks ahead.

In 2011, my motivation was elusive.  I remember starting to write several posts about my goals for 2011, but never finishing them because I just didn't have much motivation.  Things were too challenging in other areas of our lives.  So, I stayed at home much more, ate whatever and gained back a lot of weight.

Though I had some successful events this year (running a 10k, 30 Days of Biking), I am coming to think of 2011 as my "redshirt season". 

The term "redshirt" is used to describe a student-athlete who does not participate in competition in a sport for an entire academic year.

At age 45, I am clearly not a college athlete.  But it is fair to say that I spent much of this year on the bench (and even healing up a bit).

I read posts that call for "no excuses" and that "time in training is really better for your family in the long term".  I get it. 

I've also seen training become obsessive, which can be challenging for families and marriages.  We all have different priorities, different motivating forces and different lifestyles. 

My priorities?  Being a good husband, a good father, helping with homework and chores, paying the bills, doing my job well and being present.  I can do that and be overweight.  It's just nothing to blog about.

Can I carve out 30 minutes a day, 5-6 days/week for exercise?  Sure.  I have to.  I've got to get back in that routine.  And I will.  I am finding my motivation again and have been looking at training schedules and races for 2012.

Thanks for staying with me and encouraging me along the way.

Big Clyde

Friday, November 11, 2011

These go to 11...

Enjoy your 11-11-11 day. 

Also, I was surprised that there were only two comments on my idea for a prequel to Mary Poppins, posted here.  I'd love to hear more feedback if you get a chance to read it.

Big Clyde

Friday, November 4, 2011

Made-Up Movie: The Sweep

(As I wrote in my previous post, imagine that you are a top executive at a movie studio. This is my pitch for a new movie...would you give it a "green light"?)

The Sweep

genre: action/drama

London, 1896. It is pre-World War 1, but tensions are running high between Germany and England. Within the British government, there is a covert committee that is focused on gathering intelligence. They are concerned about rumors of "sleeper cells" of German spies, living in London. It is believed that Germans have placed spies (even as families!) throughout London neighborhoods and that they are plotting to destroy England from within it's own country.

Their biggest problem area is within the densely populated rowhouses of London, where houses are 3 stories tall and connected to each other using adjoining walls, forming a row of houses. If they suspected a German spy living in one of the center houses, how could they ever listen in on conversations and strategies?

Clive Bertram was a gifted British gymnast. At 21 years old, he was on a great adventure...the Greek Olympics had been revived and he was representing his country at the Summer Olympics of 1896...the first international sporting event of the Modern Era. But he did not win. The Germans were bigger, stronger and more experienced. The swept the gymnastics event and even mocked the other athletes, including Clive.

As he was boarding the ship to return to England, Clive was approached by two men, who represented the intelligence committee of the British government. They asked Clive if he would like to use his gymnastic talents to protect his country. "Protect them from who?" Clive asked. The men pointed to the Germans who were nearby, celebrating their Olympic victories.

Clive agreed. His task was simple, yet dangerous. He was to spy on the suspected spies that might be living within the rowhouses. How? He would be working undercover as a chimney sweep. These rowhouses all had chimneys, given that fireplaces and coal furnaces were their only heat source. The coal fumes would clog up the chimneys and therefore, a "chimney sweep" would need to be hired to clean out the chimney.

As a "sweep", Clive could slip down into whichever houses he needed to in order to listen in on conversations, enter into vacant rooms and gather intelligence. A perfect plan for a gifted gymnast.

(obligatory montage training scene)

One day, on his way to a nearby building, he saw a girl who was crying in the park. He had a younger sister himself and wanted to console her. She was 14 years old and had been adopted when she was little. She said that her parents were cruel, often neglecting her and leaving her shut into her room for days and days, with little food or attention. Her name was Marta.

In time, we learn that Marta's parents are among the list of suspected spies that Clive has been investigating. He took particular interest in her parents because he wanted to make sure that Marta was going to be okay. As the intelligence committee learned more about this family, they suspected that Marta's parents were indeed German spies who had adopted the little girl simply to appear as a family to avoid suspicion.

The German spies were getting busier with meetings in their home and more activity that concerned the Brits. Their increased activity needed more intelligence gathering than a "chimney sweep" could provide on a daily basis. He needed to get more info. He decided to trust Marta and enlist her help against her adoptive parents.

Wanting to escape the cruelty of her German spy-parents, she agreed to help Clive and the Brits. Together they gathered intelligence and would regularly "sweep" the home for details.

Their intelligence pays off and the British soldiers invade the home. In a dramatic standoff, Marta's "father" holds a gun to her head and takes her as a hostage. She begs them for mercy, but they admit that she means nothing to them and she was merely a part of the ruse. Clive saves her and her cruel parents are killed. The spy network is fully revealed and many German spies are arrested.

The British government is so pleased with Clive that he becomes an officer of the British Crown in a quiet ceremony at Scotland Yard. He agrees to remain in his undercover role, given that more spies will likely invade (as we lead up to World War 1).

But he now needs to really blend in with the local people. He comes out of the shadows and becomes known as a humble and friendly chimney sweep. A regular fixture among the rowhouses of London. And to avoid any questions as to why a talented Olympic gymnast would become a chimney sweep, he chooses a new name. Clive Bertram simply becomes known as "Bert the Chimney Sweep" to the local neighborhood people.

And the young girl, Marta? Now once again orphaned, she becomes a ward of the state. Within days, she is adopted by one of Bert's bosses (Mr. Walter Poppins) and taken into his family. Wanting to leave her early life behind, she reinvents herself as well and becomes "Mary". As she grows up, she devotes her life to caring for the neglected children of a nanny.

Bert and Mary still see each other from time to time, though no one knew their history, until now.

The end.

(Notes: by now, you've likely realized that this is my idea of a backstory for the two main characters of Mary Poppins. Even as a kid, I always wondered how they met.  You can tell that they have an interesting history and seem to drop in on each other's lives.  This backstory seems a fun and plausible beginning.)

Casting suggestions:
David Henrie

Elle Fanning

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Two Shall Become One (finally)

I am combining my two blogs into this one, The Clydesdale Project.

From the beginning, my focus here was to see if a big guy could lose weight via cycling.  I then learned a bit about nutrition and started to lose weight.  Then, I started running.  I have really treated all of these things more like hobbies than permanent lifestyle changes.  That doesn't work for me.  My old habits continue to creep in unless I am very focused.  So, the Clydesdale Project and my effort must continue on.

But I also enjoyed the writing element of blogging.  Aside from cycling, food and mileage, it has been fun for me to share some stories and thoughts with you, some family and friends.  So, I started a second blog:  Clyde Explains.  There are some funny stories there, all true.  But a while back some of you suggested that it just might be easier to throw it all into one blog.  I'm finally getting around to doing that.

I certainly intend to keep the focus here on exercise, health, races, etc.   That is what most of you are focused on as well.  But I will also add in a few random stories and ideas that interest me and maybe some of you.

Below is a post that I originally had on the other site.  I need to re-post it here because the follow-up post is coming in a day or so and I figured that it might need some explanation.

I play a game with my kids that we call "Made-Up Movie". Actually, I stole it from Adam Carolla's radio show that he used to do.

The idea is that you basically create an idea for a movie that could potentially be pitched to Hollywood. I am not in the business and not interested in being a writer for a living, so the ideas go nowhere outside of our family...until now. From time to time, I will blog about one of our many made-up movie ideas.

Some of these ideas will include casting suggestions. Some will be prequels or sequels. They all are formulaic, meaning that I am not reinventing story structure here. They may seem to be cliche or similar to typical movie genres. That's the point.
But I bet you would want to see these movies, if they were at your local theater!

We see so many tired movie plots getting greenlit in Hollywood that we started thinking that we could come up with equal or better plotlines. It's just an updated version of the cavemen sitting around the fire.

Next movie: The Sweep

(P.S.  Does anyone know how I can transport the old blog posts into this blog without dumping them all into our current date?  I'd rather just somehow insert them into the historic dates as they were written.  ???)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

About the job...

I realize that I have been off-focus for awhile and virtually abandoned our Fall 31 Day Challenge.  My apologies to those of you who committed to join me.  I hope that my poor performance in this challenge didn't derail any of you.

Given that this blog is largely my diary, I wanted to take a moment to write down some feelings of my recent work issues and how things feel so differently now.  I think that my stress at work has affected my workout commitment (and I also know that many of you would not allow work to be an excuse for reducing exercise...we're all different).

Here's the situation.  I am in the housing industry, selling building materials for a large publicly-traded company.   We are the high-end product and NOT the cheapest...a tough sell in this market.  Our sales began to drop in August of 2008.  Layoffs began happening in my company and among my customers.

image of Sword of Damocles
Imagine that EVERY MONTH, you knew of friends and co-workers that lost their jobs (or had their companies close down entirely) and they just went away.  This is what I have lived with since 2008.   I have learned the term "Sword of Damocles".

Every month, I could have shown a running list of people I knew that lost their jobs in my industry and this doesn't mean that they switched companies...they just were unemployed, or if lucky, found a job in some other business.  It feels a bit ghostly. 

Within my company, the layoffs would happen every 2-3 months or so.  And each time, my co-workers on the sales team knew two things:
  1. Our lack of sales were the cause of these layoffs (which left us with feelings of guilt and pressure).
  2. Any one of us could be next, which my boss frequently and gently reminded us.
So, my wife and I have dealt with reduced compensation (lowered sales commissions) and the feeling that EVERY WEEK could be my last with the company and that it would be very difficult to find a new job within my business.  A job in a different industry (where I would have no experience) would likely pay much lower.  Stressful for this this husband and father of five.

It all came to a head about two weeks ago, when it was announced that our local division/factory was going to be shutdown forever.  Dozens of people were given their 60 days notice (but some were let go sooner).  Of the 75 employees (including people in my department, my boss and HIS boss), only 14 of us "worker bees" will still be employed.  Everyone else has either been given a severance package or offered a position with the company in another state.

My new bosses from California have been meeting with us and our customers, as they strategize how we do this transition.  They have been great.

After a long day of meetings, I was dropping my boss at the airport and finally had to ask the question that I never dared to ask since 2008:

"Is my job safe now?", I asked.

He quickly responded "Yes...we really need you".  He explained that there will be no further layoffs and that they have confidence in me to do my job.

I feel like I can finally exhale and leave this worry behind me.  Clearly, I still have to do my job well and our business may struggle with this transition.  But I am no longer bracing myself for impending unemployment.

Time to get back to the Clydesdale Project and get some miles in.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, my friends.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Before I get into the title, lemme explain a few quick things:
  • At work, we are still reeling from the closure of our division and the layoffs of so many people.  Yet, I am soooo grateful to be one of the few who get to keep their jobs.  We are no longer a factory with tons of, about 15 of us will just be a remote outpost, needed now more than ever.  LOTS of work stuff on my plate right now.
  • My eating is decent, but not great.  I suppose I am an emotional eater, but it is a better explanation to say that Honey-Nut Cheerios is easier to grab than making an egg-white omelet with asparagus.  Maybe it just feels easier.  Nonetheless, my focus is elsewhere, not on counting calories.  Got to get back.
  • I haven't run in awhile, but have been on the bike a few times recently...need more of both.
So, where did I get the title from today's post?  From my bicycle accident last Saturday.

We did the "Launch The Loop" ride in Tucson last Saturday.  I did it with Crazy Jim.  We had ridden the same loop a few weeks earlier, but they continue to modify and link this connection of bike paths, surrounding the center area of Tucson.  The connection of several bike paths form a 22 mile loop that is mostly car-free.  In a year or two, it will be 55 miles.  Good times.

In most cases, the bike path is wide...two cyclists can ride, side-by-side, going both directions.  So, there could be 4 cyclists passing each other pretty comfortably.

But when going under a street, you go into this tunnel-type of path, which is a bit more narrow.  I was riding on the flat part of that stretch and starting to come up out of the underpass and was approaching a blind corner.  I couldn't see the cyclists coming toward me in the opposite lane.  They were coming downhill.

I saw a young girl, perfectly holding her line.  Then a slightly older kid.  Then an adult.  I remember thinking "look at these people just popping up from around this corner...", but we were all in our proper lanes.  Beautiful!

And then, the next person popped up, but he was in MY LANE.  We collided.  I braked hard and felt my rear tire raise up as my front tire locked up.  I struggled, then was able to remove my foot from my pedal.  He must not have reacted as quickly, because we hit and he went down.  Everyone stopped.

An older cyclist behind him started scolding him for riding in the opposing lane (my lane).  I was stunned that we had just hit, but amazed that I was still upright on my bike.  I kept looking for damage to my bike or to my body...nothing.

The cyclist was a teenage boy.  He reminded me of Axl on the tv show The Middle.  He was flat on his back and then got up and assured everyone that he was alright.  He started smiling and told all of us "don't worry...I've been through other accidents like this one, but WORSE!   I'm fine everyone, I'm fine."

He didn't apologize.  He didn't get that he put me and other cyclists (including those kids) in danger.  He didn't get that you shouldn't try to pass someone or ride in the opposite lane on a blind downhill curve.  Perhaps he'll learn someday. 

Crazy Jim and I stopped about a mile later and we couldn't believe that there was no damage to me or the bike.  He thinks that I might have reached across with my elbow or arm to protect myself, but I don't remember that. 

It was exciting, no one got hurt and it made me appreciate more than ever my strong and unbreakable bike.   And my kids now think I'm awesome.

By the way, if you haven't yet seen that show "The Middle", I encourage you to check it out.  It is very clever, eventhough it looks like an old re-tread of the typical family sitcom.  Our family likes it so much because we each identify with our tv counterparts.  We are like them, but slightly better.  There may be laundry baskets to empty and counters that need cleaning, but you can tell that this is a family with few fights and a long life together.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Shoe Dropped

It is a tough time in the housing industry and yesterday, we announced a big consolidation with our factories.  Many people lost their jobs and our customers are concerned.  Fortunately, I am still employed but have to focus on work pretty heavily to manage through the transition.

I did manage to get in a good ride last weekend with an old college friend.  And I have a longer city-ride this weekend.

Stay well, everyone.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11 of the 31 Day Challenge

I have been behind on blogging, but have been doing well on my exercise, compared to some recent weeks.

So, I certainly have earned my 5 Day badge and am now pursuing my 10 Day badge for 10 Days of exercise. 
Not yet mine...but soon.  How about you?
I missed a few days and have some intense work events out of town over the next week.  Could be challenging.  I will come up for air on 10/19. 

I have seen that several of you have been more diligent and I commend you.  Keep at it.  We have 20 days left this month!  If I do something daily, I can still complete 27 days this month.  Good enough for me.

Big Clyde

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5 of the 31 Day Challenge

(Click HERE for a new post on my other blog).

For those of you have have jumped in on the 31 Day Challenge, how is it going?

We all have our own goals.  Crazy mileage, daily workouts, eating "clean" for the month, etc.    So, today is Day 5 and I am wondering how you are all doing?

As for me, I am very enthusiastic and doing well.  I have pledged to do some mileage (walking, cycling or running) every day and counting my daily calories.  I would love to have achieved a perfect record this month, but I did not workout yesterday.  I was up very early and drove to a meeting a few hours away.  I got home just in time to see a friend who is going through a very tough time and then to see my daughter get inducted into the National Honor Society at her school.  We are so very proud of her.

So, in my first four days, I exercised three times and ate well each day.  Once I achieve one more good day, I will have earned one of these:
If YOU have achieved 5 awesome days, then grab this image and post it on your blog.  Thanks again to Jess for creating these buttons for us all to use.  There are more to come, so let's all stay on track.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Big Clyde

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The 31 Day Challenge Begins Saturday

Jessica from See How She Runs and I are going to be doing a challenge for the month of October.  If you accept our challenge, (starting October 1st), you work hard toward your specific goal for the next 31 days. 

It is simply called the "Fall 31-Day Challenge".   

What can you do in the next 31 days?
  • Can you do some form of exercise EVERY DAY?
  • Can you ride your bike 150 miles?
  • Can you run or walk 30 miles?  50 miles?
  • Can you lose 15 pounds?
Let me answer that for you...of course you can.

Our challenge to you is this:

What WILL you do in the next 31 days ?!?!

Respond back here with a comment or at Jessica's site with your commitment.  Then, we'll request updates once a week.

For those of you who are pledging to exercise daily (like me), Jessica has created "buttons" that can be placed on your blogs that show 5 days of exercise, 10 days, 15 days, 25 days, and 31 days.  (They look awesome, Jess!). 

Join us.

Big Clyde

P.S.  If you want to join in and toss it up on your own sites, that is fine with me.  Jessica did the artwork, so please make sure that she gets the credit!  Thanks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looking for an Oktober Challenge? (Me Too.)

Last year, I partnered up with Patrick (formerly of The Road, but now at for the OktoberFast Challenge.  It was fun and several people joined in.  The goal was simply to set some individual goal for the month of October to give us all a bit of momentum to work towards.  For some it was pounds lost.  Others chose mileage or workout sessions.  Oh, and we encouraged people to share any "Oktoberfest" beers, foods or autumn-like experiences.

Can I get an oom-pa-pa up in here?
Anyway, I'd like to join in with some others for a similar challenge for the month of October.  Do any of you know of any existing challenges out there that are starting up, or do you have any ideas/graphics for a new challenge?

Big Clyde

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Connect 2 Tucson Ride

On Saturday, Crazy Jim (my good friend) and I did this ride and it was great for us.  The ride was meant to show people the new links that now connect some bike paths into one larger 22-mile path.

Crazy Jim downs one last bite before the ride.
Crazy Jim earned his nickname this weekend, because prior to the ride this Saturday, he had not been on his bike in about 3 months.  Amusing for me, painful for him.  But he is a trooper and never complains.
A gorgeous bike path with the sun shining through the trees!  Loved it!

As for the bike path itself, we were mostly on actual bike paths along the Rillito River in Central Tucson.   The fact that the City of Tucson has connected various river bike paths is commendable and should continue to boost cycling in Tucson.  On the city streets, we were nearly always on designated bike paths that were wide enough for us to be two-wide.  There is an even greater set of connections coming soon that will make this a 55-mile loop.  (Although I've come to realize that the "loop" that they speak of still involves crossing some city streets in crosswalks, etc....a small price to pay).

We got there and were reminded that the event was sponsored by a "move beyond fossil fuels" organization.  Depending on family size, geography, job location, etc., going car-free just does not work for everyone.  However, I commend those that DO choose that lifestyle when they can.  Personally, I try to take my bike or walk for most local errands.   That never would have occurred to me two years ago.

The ride was awesome.  We went at a very steady pace of about 17 mph for the first 11 miles.  Given that we were getting through town and then following a river, the first 11 miles were somewhat downhill (downstream).  It looked flat, but it is pretty great to be going 17-18 mph with little effort on my heavy commuter bike.  For the second half, we were riding slightly uphill (upstream).  It never looked uphill, but it did slow our pace and we were both getting tired.
Waiting for the train to pass...

I feel a bit pathetic about getting tired on a 23 mile ride.  It is not that far, given my history, but I haven't ridden this far in one ride since March.  Instead, I've become more accustomed to 30-45 minute rides.  I need to expand that into 1-2 hour rides more often.  It was fun and it felt like a great accomplishment.

Every Tucson race ends with a mariachi band at the finish line.

At the event, I was able to see a friend of mine who is the editor of  I'll write more about him in another post.  He has a great website that features not only Tucson-based cycling news, but links to interesting stories nationally and internationally.

I also was able to test drive an electric bike.  That was a first for me and it was a blast.  More on that later also.

Keep moving everyone!

Big Clyde

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spinning Wheel - Song #1

 A longer post today with many pictures and a great song.

Let's start with some music.  I've chosen "Spinning Wheel" from Blood, Sweat and Tears. 

According to an old article in Rolling Stone magazine, the "Spinning Wheel" in this song is the band's way of saying that things always come full circle. In the first two verses, he says that it's a shame to become preoccupied with your problems. Whatever is troubling you, whether it is lack of money or homelessness, it will work itself out one way or another and it's just not worth getting upset over.  "Ride a painted pony, let the spinning wheel spin'' suggests a merry-go-round. They are telling you to just get on the ride and let it go. It will eventually stop.

Good advice. 

Though this little countdown series started as a silly thing about my misgivings about selling my gorgeous vintage Schwinn Collegiate, I've enjoyed playing through some videos.  As always, I choose to find some deeper meanings in certain song lyrics.  The description above reminds us that we are very adaptable and resilient.  If you have struggled or are struggling with certain goals or life issues, do your best to keep your head up and pedal through, day after day.  No one has a constant winning streak.  There will be setbacks, but that should not stop us from continuing onward toward improvements in the future.

This resonates with me, since I find myself still very overweight as I hit my two-year blogging anniversary.  I was heavy, lost a lot of weight (with great fanfare from many of you), then quietly and steadily gained back quite a bit.  My big cycling race, El Tour de Tucson, looms again in November and I feel that I am again in bad shape.  But I know that I can drop weight, build up my stamina and enjoy the process.  I'm not going to let the setbacks get me down.

I went out for a late afternoon ride yesterday.  It was just over 9 miles, but it was a bit tiring.  Still 100 degrees outside, with a decent wind blowing...not ideal riding weather.  My bigger ride on Saturday will be at 7am, so it should be much cooler.

And now for some pics:
The one and only bike, built for distance, errands and comfort.

My velodrome...I ride in a suburban area, set in a valley.  Great views!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Want You Back - Song #2

It was 1969 and I was four years old.  I'm sure I didn't know who the Jackson 5 was by listening to the radio, but I definitely watched their tv cartoon.  That led me to love their music.  This song is one of my favorites. 

So, here is song #2, pulled from the same era as my recent bike.  I am glad that I sold it because it was the right thing to do.  But I still want it back.  "Oh darling, I was blind to let you go..." (music starts at 1:21)

Before I sold my Schwinn last Sunday, I went for a great ride through the neighborhood. Autumn has come to the Tucson desert. Just the week before, we had temps over 100 degrees and our afternoon monsoons. Both of those elements are likely gone now and that makes cycling so much easier here. As I rode around, I could smell a fireplace or small backyard burn going and it reminded me of my childhood. I used to ride my bike everywhere. I want to instill that same feeling for my kids with their bikes.

On Saturday, my friend Crazy Jim and I are doing a 22-mile ride on Saturday that is called Connect 2 Tucson.  The good people of Tucson have connected two different bike paths to create a safer, longer path.  In time, it will be a 55-mile path.  Awesome.  Driving in traffic is not tremendously dangerous for experienced cyclists, but very tough on beginners and families.  A big loop (with virtually no hills) will certainly build cycling in Tucson.  I'll let you know how it goes!  Here is the map for the route, or click the link above for more info.

Big Clyde

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crash - Song #3

Okay, okay...I know that this list may be a bit silly (it's already wearing on me), but I like music and had fun thinking of a list of songs to commemorate the sale of my nice vintage Schwinn bike.

#3 on my countdown list is actually a video from the movie Mr. Bean's Holiday.  This was a great film for our family.  We first came to like Mr. Bean when our kids were of the perfect ages where they were still quite innocent and liked Mr. Bean's playfulness.

In this scene, Mr. Bean is trying to catch a chicken that has been loaded onto a truck in France.  His only chase vehicle?  A bicycle (that looks a bit like my beloved bike).  I love that he's not decked out in spandex, helmet and has no bike computer that tells him his pace and mileage covered.  That was what I enjoyed when riding my fun bike around the neighborhood.  And the song is pretty fun too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cherry, Cherry - Song #4

Do you have a name for your bike?

I think it is is funny when I read people's names for their bikes and I like the idea that people have such affection for their bikes, but I have never been one to do it myself.  I do have my sturdy commuter bike, which I call HUCC-B.  In reality, it was Neighbor Ted who sarcastically named my bike the HUCC-B.  But it came from an authentic place, so I kept it.

But my beloved vintage Schwinn Collegiate?  I never named her.  And now she is gone, traded in for some folding money.  What have I done?  I didn't even have a name to call out as she rode off in the back of that crappy Toyota pick-up.

She got the way to move me...

So I started thinking of music.  My ipod is always with me and I started rolling through some songs.  And her name came to me.

From Neil Diamond's "Hot August Night" album in 1973, just one year before my beloved was manufactured at the Schwinn Bicycle factory in Chicago.

So, here is song #4 in my countdown of tribute songs to my departed "Cherry".  Enjoy.

Come back tomorrow for #3. 

Big Clyde

P.S.  Took the HUCC-B out for a hill-climb ride tonight.  I just about blew a lung, but it felt good to be back on a bicycle, which I couldn't ride for awhile due to a case of lethargy and injury.  Back in the saddle again.   Thanks for never giving up on me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

There She Goes - Song #5

I am filled with regret this morning, my friends. 

I sold my 1975 Schwinn Collegiate last weekend.  What a shame.  I'll miss that bike.  Perhaps you have seen her, if you were following my blog last year at this time.  Read about her here.

In July of last year, I stumbled upon an old cruiser-style bike and became pretty interested in getting an older Schwinn, just to cruise around the neighborhood.  After cruising Craigslist for a few months, I found this gorgeous Schwinn...all red, chrome and beautifully-maintained. 

Though fun to ride, she was not nearly as comfortable, efficient and versatile as my HUCC-B (my tough-as-nails commuter bike). 

So, I didn't ride it as much as I thought I would and wanted to clear some space in the garage.  I got a good price and the new owner seemed to appreciate her vintage style as much as I did. 

As she rolled out of my life, I had some seller's remorse.  My wife thought I was being ridiculous (not the first time).   A song came to mind, "racing through my brain"...

Since I'm in a silly mood about losing selling this beautiful work of art bike, I will be posting five songs over five days, that portray my feelings of loss.  Come back each day this week and feel my pain.

Big Clyde

Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Schedule? Advice needed.

Hello, friends.  I have healed up quite a bit from the back pain that I experienced a few weeks ago.  Physical therapy and time have really helped. 

During this time period, however, I have not eaten well and not exercised much at all (running and cycling).    I'm fully out of all good habits, but otherwise doing fine.  If I were a 26-year-old, that might not be a bad thing.  But I am 45 years old.  This is the age when obese men and women get diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the concrete begins to set in to that sedentary lifestyle.   

I've read many blogs and people talk of "returning" to their exercise routines from their college days or their younger years.  That is cool.  I admire that.  So many people were pretty active during their teen and early adulthood years.  They remember the early morning runs, or football practices, or track meets.  They had the discipline of early morning workouts or steady routines.  I would guess that those memories give them confidence because they can recall their efforts and rewards from the past.

It's almost amusing to me that I never had those experiences.  I never really saw the benefit  in all of that sweating and exertion. 

Where am I going with this?

I need to get a consistent workout schedule. 

When I started this blog (nearly two years ago), my wife worked A LOT of evenings, the kids were younger and homework was minimal.  Family dinners were rare.  I had lots of time to blog and could leave the kids for frequent nightly workouts.  But now, we are all home every night and we are enjoying family dinners together and there is a constant need to assist with homework. 

Do I workout right before dinner? 
After the kids have gone to bed (sacrificing some time with my wife)?
The dreaded early, early morning workout?   (I've never been a fan)

One thing is "life/health clock" is ticking and I've got to get back to consistent exercise.

What works best for you and your family?  I welcome your advice.

Big Clyde

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lowered Expectations

As I recover from a bulging disk in my back, I am reminded of the dialogue between Vizzini and Fezzik in The Princess Bride movie:

You were supposed to be this colossus.   You were this great, legendary thing...

I had a personal challenge to achieve this summer.  
I was going to get down to my fighting weight by September 5th. 
I was going to do the 10k in mid-September (my second 10K). 
And let's not forget my Feets Of goal to run, walk or shuffle every day in August.

Well, I got a bit distracted, got sick, then got injured.  So much for my plan.

I have been going out each day for no more than 30 minutes at a time, walking at a decent pace.  That's it.  I am feeling much better, but still in a lot of pain after I have been sitting down.   On my walk last night, I was actually feeling good enough that I decided to start running.  I was going at a pace of about 12 min/mile for only three minutes.  Not too speedy and not too long.  But by the end of my 30 minutes, I was limping home.

I will keep doing the core exercises, the walking and doing them both DAILY, without fail.  But I am very disappointed in myself. 

This isn't uplifting, I know, but it is just what I am feeling now.  I hope you are all doing much better than me.

On a more positive note, please check out my other blog, Clyde Explains, to read a funny story that happened today.

Big Clyde

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Slow and The Furious

I hate this.  My back must be healing, albeit very slowly.  I have a bulging disk and it makes everything a bit more difficult.  The meds definitely help ease some pain, but make my brain get foggy and I have slept more this past weekend than I care to admit.

My "workouts" (hardly a fair term) are 15-30 minute walks around my neighborhood.  On the good walks, I try to walk without any limp whatsoever.  I know that this all will heal, but for now, it just sucks. 

And now, my new pledge...

I, Big Clyde, do solemnly swear
that I will be diligent in healing up from this back injury
and when healed,
I will not take exercise for granted.
I will ride my bike,
or jog or run
and even do the core exercises,
which I have avoided over the past 18 months
(so that this doesn't happen again).

How ironic that I am more diligent now with my Feets of August challenge than I was earlier in the month. 

Big Clyde

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Official...I Am a Shark

You may have heard the phrase "If a shark stops moving, it will die".  This is true for most sharks because their forward swimming motion forces oxygen through their gills.  Without forward motion, they don't receive oxygen and they die.  

How am I like a shark?  Well, I learned this morning that I have to keep moving or suffer the consequences. 

I am standing as I type this right now.  Want to know why?

I am standing because I have once again neglected my "core", irritated my disc in my lower back and am having trouble sitting or lying down for any prolonged amount of time.   Today, I am walking with a limp.  It takes me about 90 seconds to get out of bed or get out of my car.  If I drop something on the floor, forget about it.

This happened before.  As an overweight guy with weak abdominal and core muscles, I have often had "back problems".  In time, it would go away.  But I didn't realize that the trauma inflicted (even briefly) to my discs in my vertabrae doesn't always heal fully.  So, each time I "recovered" from a back pain incident, I never returned to 100%.  Unless we really work on strengthening our core muscles, it seems that each future session of back pain causes a bit more damage or becomes more difficult to heal.

What caused this recent flare-up? 

Too many days at my desk, working on a big project for work.   I also was a bit sick and therefore did not workout much at all for the past 2-3 weeks.  I could feel my back beginning to tighten up over the past few weeks and kept telling myself that I REALLY NEEDED TO GO FOR A LONG WALK, but I didn't most of the time. 

By Monday, my back was becoming pretty sore.  I walked a bit like Frankenstein, but didn't let the pain stop me.  Then, I lifted some very heavy stuff at work.  That made it worse. 

I walked two miles on Tuesday night.  Walking always used to help.  Then, I walked a fast 4 miles on Wednesday morning.  By Wednesday night, I was in tremendous pain.  I couldn't bend forward.  I dove into an old bottle of vicodin and tried to power through with my normal work week.  The pain only increased.

I gave up last night and called my doctor and a physical therapist, who both were able to see me this morning.  I have definitely damaged my disc over the years.  I don't know if it is herniated or bulged, but they gave me two shots into my rear-end today, have prescribed vicodin and flexeril, and said that my work schedule and 2-4 mile walks only inflammed an already bad situation.

I am encouraged now to walk at a normal pace for 15 minutes at a time, four times per day (max).  The therapist said that bike riding is out for a week or two, same with running.  The 10K that is one month away should now be a 5k.

Bottom line:  I did this to myself.  If I had simply walked everyday for exercise, which was the plan for this month, this wouldn't have happened.  Going forward, I need to add in some specific "core" exercises 2-3 x per week.  

I am embarrassed about this, but grateful that I am getting off pretty easy.  Pain-killers and daily walks are not bad medicine at all for a short while and I really hope that I am never foolish enough to do this again.

I am a shark.  If I don't move...well, I'll pay for it one way or the other.

The Feets of August is still in play, now more important than ever.

Big Clyde

Monday, August 15, 2011

Okay, Here's the situation...

my parents left town for a week's vacation.  (some of you will get that...if not, watch this after you are done reading).

When I have been away from the blogs for awhile (a week), I feel like I should explain.  To all of you diligent folks out there, that explanation would be much better written in mileage or food choices, but I have not been strong on either.   But I am feeling back to my regular self again.  
Pretty nurse! (sorry that they got my big foot in the picture).
 First the quick explanation:
  • I somehow came down with a weird gum infection that became a problem.  Got pencillin, which made me a bit naseous.  It didn't work after a week's regimen.  So, the dentist doubled-down and gave me a strong antibiotic (I am larger than most and maybe needed medicine intended for clydesdale horses).  He advised that it might make me more naseous.   It did.  I simultaneously lost my appetite and felt bloated.  I am finally feeling better now.  My love/hate relationship with the field of dentistry continues.  Look for an upcoming post on my other blog Clyde Explains in the near future.
  • The kids are all back at Hogwart's their smarty-pants weirdo charter school.  All three kids are under one roof.   They are cheerful and happy to be studying physics, latin and other subjects that were not on the curriculum at Weatherwax High School in 1984.
  • Mrs. Clyde is back at work.
  • I am ready to get back to work on The Clydesdale Project and Feets of August
Feets of August has had a bumpy start to say the least, but it is not forgotten.  And yes, Mrs. Johnson, you had a brilliant idea that I can always make a strong showing in Feets of September.   Let's see how the next two weeks go.

Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

Big Clyde

P.S.  By the way, if you are a recently added follower, please drop a comment below with your blog address.  Sometimes my "follower" widget doesn't always show the newest people and we would love to get to know who is new.  Thanks.

P.P.S.  For those of you who have asked about my faith, church, etc., all is good now.  The family is happy in worship at a new place and we still have some home-based weekly stuff with great friends.  I am feeling restored.  Thanks for asking.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Out of Sorts

My brief momentum is under attack.
  • I became sick about 8 days ago and it has worsened each day.  I have been on antibiotics that make me want to hurl a bit.  I'm hurlish.
  • We did get a new air conditioner, finally.  My family is speaking to me once again.  It is huge, extremely efficient and a bit pricey. to pay for it quickly?!
  • I am no savvy investor, but I have money in the stock market.  I could use some funds to pay for the air conditioner.  Been watching the news lately??
  • I have been thinking a bit about the show "Lost".  Do you remember how they were all stranded, stuck on the same island, yet also at odds with each other, in divided camps?  Sometimes allies, sometimes not?  My family and I recently reunited with some of "the others".  It went well.  At some point, you realize that "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose" and it requires less energy to get along than to hang on to frustrations from the past.   Perhaps we will all live happily ever after.  It only took the Oceanic castaways six years.  Maybe we can do it in just one.
Sorry if this is a bit cryptic.  I feel terrible and wanted to post something. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Feets of August - The Beginning

In late March, I found out about "30 Days of Biking" for April.  I did it and it was a blast.  Very fun to "force myself" to get on the bike every day for a month.

My ankles look big, but my shins are AMAZING!
On July 30th, I started wondering what would happen if I did something similar in August, only with running or walking.  Some days would be runs, according to my 10k training plan.  On "rest days", I could certainly do a casual 20-30 minute walk...that's still exercise, but likely not stressful on the joints, etc.

And so it begins...


I know, I's kind of cheezy, but I like it.  Join me if you like (run it through Labor Day, Sept. 5th to make a full month).  Through the month of August, I will be on my feet with a fast walk, a slow run or my usual huffy-puffy-shuffle.  Regardless, I'll be out there every day*.

Day 1 - Monday.  I decided to start very late at night after watching Breaking Bad on tv.  So late that night, I wimped out walked and enjoyed the silence.

Day 2* - Tuesday.  Bought bottle of vodka on way home from work for a celebratory drink after a great month at work.  One medium drink made me again postpone my run until very late at night.  Then came the lightning storm. I chose life!   But I failed at "Feets of August" on Day 2.
Photo by David Sanders of AZ Daily Star. (please don't sue me)
Day 3 - Mrs. Clyde invited me out for a date night.  The kids stayed at home.  I couldn't resist.  Ate too much, including dessert, at Chili's.  Nothing redeeming about it, except for the fun flirting with my wife!  Drank a powerful margarita.  Went for a rambling walk, then run of 2.66 miles.  Wanted to puke the entire way.  (Note to self:  alcohol before running is a bad idea.  Add in some french fries, chipotle mayo, jalapenos and "molten chocolate lava cake" before running and you can go ahead and consider yourself a complete idiot.  Learn from this, Clyde.)

So there you have it.  A slow, inconsistent and borderline-drunken start to "Feets of August".   As you can see, it can only get better from Day 4 onward.  Join me.

Big Clyde

P.S.  My only idea for a logo for this month is to show a picture of my feet in the Brooks Beast shoes.  If you want to join in and/or want to come up with a better logo, be my guest! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Our 19-year-old air conditioner finally died on Tuesday.  We have applied duct tape, band-aids, and short-term remedies for the past few years, but it finally died.  

Given that we live in the Arizona desert, our house rose up to approx 87 degrees.  Yes, it cools down a bit between 11pm and 5am, but that only brings it down to about 82 degrees. 

It is time to buy a new unit, which will be costly.  It has taken me awhile to figure out how to get it done and we will have a new unit installed tomorrow.  Hopefully.

I've let this distract me from my exercise goals, until today.  Tonight I'll go out and begin a new program I am doing in August.  I am very excited about it and will write about it in a few days.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Big Clyde

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I gained two pounds last week.  Over a two-week period, I am still down 8 pounds, but need to get moving back in the right direction.

What changed?  I ran fewer miles, ate heavier foods and drank less water.  My family returned from a week-long trip and I know that I just chose to be more casual about it all.  I certainly know that there are ways to fit low-cal and exercise in with family time.  But I was not making those weight loss choices last week.

Back at it today, though I need to get back on my running schedule, after missing my long run on Sunday.  I will get it in tonight.

Have a great week everyone!

Big Clyde

Monday, July 25, 2011

Clyde, the Jury

If I had more time, I would write this in the style of a film-noir, private detective.  But I am busy so, here's a quick update...

Several weeks ago, I received a summons to report for jury duty today.  Faced with my civic duty and my desire to earn an income, I requested an exemption.  They were processing my request.

By this weekend, I was supposed to know if I was required to report for jury selection or working at my job all week.  Since I received no notice either way, I had to work most of the weekend to get my assignments done just in case. 

As of mid-morning, I am a free man and back at work.

Between my work schedule and my 10K training plan, I barely had time to fit in watching the first 7 Harry Potter movies in the last week.  This was the commitment that my wife and I made to our kids, so that we would be prepared to see the final movie sometime this week.

As for food, well...yeah.  I've been better.  See you at the weigh-in tomorrow.

Big Clyde

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why Run?

"Obesity finds it hardest to catch up with those who are running."
I was out on my run early this morning.  Do you know who I saw?  Women, of various ages, that likely weighed between 120 and 160 pounds.  Occasionally, I will see some guys out there, but they are also well below 200 pounds.

There are not a lot of big guys out there running.  That either means that 1) the big runners become small runners very soon or 2) big guys simply do not run.

So why am I doing it?  I ask myself this quite a bit, especially given that most of my friends who workout, are just into cycling.
  • I like running because I get to stay close to home (within a few miles anyway).  I love my neighborhood and I love knowing that home is pretty close, even if I am running.
  • I like running because, unlike a weight machine, I can't quit if I am 2 miles away from home.  Yes, I can slow to a quick walk (like I recently did), but my runs are an "out-and-back" venture.  No quitting once the journey has begun.  I always have to finish the workout in order to get home.
  • I like to run because it keeps me away from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, meds, etc.
  • I like running because it is primal.  Animals run.  Kids run.  People living in caves at the beginning of time had to run.  If there is an emergency, you run.  For decades, I couldn't do this very basic thing.  Now, I can.  I just want to do it faster and longer.
  • It burns a lot of calories...
  • a cheap price.  No gym membership, no gear is required and no equipment failure.  You can get started by opening your front door.
Yes, running is tough.  But I feel tough because I am running.

If you run, why did you start and why do you like it?

Big Clyde