Friday, April 29, 2011

30 Days of Biking - DONE! 204 Miles in April

I am exceptional at going downhill.  Have I ever mentioned that?

I am very proud to have just completed the 30 Days of Biking Challenge, as well as my goal of riding 201 miles this month.  I actually ended up with 204 miles in April, with 344 cycling miles year-to-date. 

Why is this great news for me?

Because I have been wandering a bit this year, without a significant goal to work toward.  I RAN my first 5k last September (2010) and got 3rd in my age group.  Then, I RAN a 10k in January, 2011...another good goal for a guy like me.  But after each one of these races, I rested...for a month or so because there was no big epic event ahead of me.  I had actually committed to a half-marathon in late March, but began to realize that these "event-based" goals did not make as much sense to me anymore if I didn't have an ongoing, consistent exercise habit.  Sure, I could have trained to complete the half-marathon, but without a near-term carrot dangling in front of me, was I really developing consistent exercise habits?

So, in March, I cancelled the half-marathon and went low-key.  I committed to run OR bike, 6 days per week.  I called it The March Experiment.  I ran 27 miles and rode 104. 

When I read about the 30 Days of Biking Challenge for April, I thought it would be a fun way to really get back into cycling and keep me focused. 

When you add it up, I increased my cycling mileage by exactly 100 miles from March to April and exercised every day (eventhough a few of those days were only 10 minutes on the bike).

That is two months of exercising nearly every day.  I have not done this level of exercise in the last 25 years...and it is something for me to celebrate.

What's next for May?  
  • Another 204 bike miles? 
  • 250 miles?
  • Start running again like the March Experiment?  (I don't want to lose my ability to actually "run", but I really enjoyed the cycling much more.)
  • Finally get serious again about my nutrition?
  • Another 30 Days of Biking? 
You tell me.  That's right, I am asking you to set a goal for me in May

I am always inspired by all of you and you are a varied breed out there.  Some of you are hardcore tri's, just hoping that I will really get into racing form (I love that).  Others of you know that I have lost weight, gained it back and you have encouraged me to focus on nutrition.  And many of you are still wrestling with old habits and overcoming that sedentary lifestyle, just like me.

So, please give me your ideas.  I rarely turn down a challenge.  I will carefully consider anything you send my way and commit to one of them.  In the meantime, I will be on the bike!

Thanks for mentoring me on this journey, my friends.

Big Clyde

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Tires = Greater Speed?

I purchased new tires for my bike yesterday.  I am very excited about them, but let me offer a few quick admissions:
  • I know...that my bike is a commuter/hybrid bike, very heavy and not a racing bike.
  • I know...that I would go a lot faster if I weighed a lot less.
  • I know...that my new tires are pretty basic LBS (local bike shop) tires and nothing to brag about.
Yeah, but still...

I am so excited because after the past few months of more intensive training (first running, then cycling), I am already getting faster on my bike.  After about two years of staying at the same approximate pace, I am now regularly riding about 2.3 mph faster.  On a proper road (racing) bike, my pace would be much faster.  But on my tank-like bike, I am really starting to see increased speed.  Could be the intensity, could be the increased mileage.  Either way, it is a great feeling.

So, I am expecting that the new tires will also help with speed.  They are somewhat lighter, thinner, and have less tread and rolling resistance than my old tires.  And then there is the "placebo effect"...I will GO faster, because I think the tires will make me go faster.  It's like I'm a 7-year-old and just got a new pair of sneakers...Hey Dad, watch how fast I can run!

Old:  Continental's Double Fighter II

New:  Continental's CityRide

Someday, I may go for a road bike and enjoy the speed that comes with it.  But for now, I love that I can use the same bike for monthly mileage, trips to the store and "packed-dirt" bike paths with the kids...all on one bullet-proof bike.

Good times.  Keep moving everyone!

Big Clyde

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

30 Days of Biking - 39 Miles To Go!

Well, I wanted to thank you for the encouragement to ride 200 miles this month, which will be a personal distance record for me.  Previously, the most I have ridden in one month was 161 miles, so this morning, I actually hit my PR by rolling over the 162 mile marker for the month!  Feeling good.

Except I had to walk my bike during the last 1/2 mile to my house. 

Last night I went for a ride and nearly collided with a golden retriever that was running solo with it's leash trailing behind it.  Susie Ponytail was out for a run with her two dogs, but let the golden run free.  I was going at about 19 mph down the bike path and saw the dog playing in the river bed beside the path.  Then, it started running toward Ponytail and she didn't seem to focused on warning me, stopping the dog, etc.  I skidded to a stop, leaving about a 15 foot trail of rubber on the path. 

I am not opposed to ponytails, dogs or sharing the path.  But if you are out with your animals, please keep them on the leash, unless you are at a dog park or something.  Otherwise, it is unsafe.  Enough said.

So, this morning I went out at 5:30am (which I hate) to chase down my goal of 200 miles 201 Miles this month (thanks for the extra challenge, TRI714!) and at 8.2 miles into my ride, my rear tube went flat.  A quick inspection revealed this: 
So, I am both frustrated, but also a bit proud that I have ridden about 1500 miles on these tires and have actually worn them out (thanks, in part to the golden retriever)!

Now, I have to buy new tires, asap.   Some have suggested the Continental Gatorskin series (great for durability, but not as comfortable?) or the Cityride (better for comfort, good rolling resistance and wide enough for the weight of me and my bike).

Any recommendations?

Big Clyde

Sunday, April 24, 2011

30 Days of Biking - 200 Mile Challenge!

Adapted image by  Original image by Rudolph Zallinger.
 My 30 Days of Biking Challenge is going great!  I have now ridden my bike 24 days in a row and am at 141 miles month-to-date.    Given that I am riding daily, am not a part of a cycling club, can't commute and am never gone longer than an hour or so, I think the mileage is pretty respectable so far. 

My heaviest cycling month of all time was about 161 miles, last November.  I am at 141 miles so far, and I know that I can get to 200 miles this month if I put in just about 10 miles each day.  That would be pretty cool!

I have been wandering somewhat aimlessly this year without concrete goals, aside from doing my first 10K in January.  So much of last year was spent pursuing some epic achievement or event.  That was fun for me to do, but there was always a bit of a "what's next?" letdown when I was done.  The real goal of The Clydesdale Project is to develop lifelong habits of better nutrition and exercise.  Isn't that better achieved by developing daily or weekly habits like this 30-Days of Biking challenge? 

This month then, is a great event for me....look at the benefits:

30 (consistent) Days of Biking! 
My biggest mileage month ever (scheduled)! 
Increased speed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Big Clyde

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mission: Holland

While Crazy Jim and I were coming out of the brewery (before we headed to Man Camp), I received the best offer I'd seen in a long time:
For the first time ever, the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Schiphol) have created a 10-City Bike Tour of Holland using KLM’s iconic ceramic blue houses as inspiration for the trail! And now we’re on the search for two incredible duos to bike their way through Holland, serving as travel hosts and sharing their experiences online with our thousands of fans across the globe!

Could two of YOUR readers at The Clydesdale Project have what it takes to bike through Holland’s authentic towns and countryside? We’re looking for entries that showcase engaging on-air personalities, prove the team’s adept biking ability, and of course, demonstrates a passion for Holland! Audition videos can be uploaded and entered via Holland or KLM’s Facebook pages starting today through May 1, so please encourage your readers to enter this unique trip of a lifetime and upload their audition video today!
We will announce the two winning biking teams and how your readers can follow their adventures (and win special prizes just for watching!) in mid-May, so be on the lookout for a second announcement in a few weeks!

CJ and I pretty instantly thought that we should go for this.  Yes, we were at the brewery and strangely kept pronouncing it "Hooland", not "Holland", but we were getting pretty serious about this.  Our chances of getting picked were pretty good.

We are both better-looking than most men and would therefore attract the female viewers worldwide.  He is a tech expert who could handle the skyping, syncing, filming, tweeting, facebooking, etc.  He also can fix anything...a good guy to have on a long trip.  Though he doesn't ride very often, he is foolishly willing to sign up for any race or challenge and just plows forward into the challenge.

My talents?  Well, I can talk...into a mic, on video, interviewing the local natives, etc.  And I've been on the bike quite a bit lately and am also up for a fun challenge.  (Note: "riding a century" still does not seem like a "fun challenge" to me).

So, we decided to go for it. 
We texted our friend who is a director of short films and recruited her.
We contacted our friend Yvonne who is from The Netherlands and told her we would need her help.
We didn't tell my wife...better get a few more plates spinning before I break it to her.
We started outlining our audition video.
We started discussing what we knew about Holland...and realized we were the products of the U.S. public educational system and knew nothing about this region.

These were the questions we asked each other as we drove home from Man Camp:
Crazy Jim:  Where is Holland?
Big Clyde:  What are The Netherlands?
Crazy Jim:  What language do they speak there?
Big Clyde:  Could it be Dutch?
Crazy Jim:  Like "Danish"?  What's Danish?  Like the pastry?
Big Clyde:  No, Danish is kind of like Denmark.
Crazy Jim:  But "Dutch" is like "Deutch" "Deutchland"...that's Germany.  So...where are we?
Big Clyde:  I hope we don't meet up with any Belgians.  I don't care for them.  They all smoke and they talk really least that's my impression based on the two Belgians I've met.
Crazy Jim:  Wait, where is St. Pauli girl from?  Is she in Holland?
Big Clyde:  Don't people from Holland wear the wooden shoes?  Will it give us plantar fascitis?  Not good for the bikes either.

When I got home, we had our family dinner and I broke the news.  Mrs. Clyde was very encouraging, though a bit disappointed that I didn't want to do the trip with her as much as I did Crazy Jim.  Later that night, we looked into the details. 

And discovered that the winners are going to be chosen soon and the bike tour begins in about a month and neither one of us can pull it all together that quickly.  Reluctantly, we will have to bow out of this one. 

(cue sad Hollandian music).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Man Camp - Re-cap

Last weekend, my friend and I went to Man Camp.  I didn't really want to go, but my wife encouraged me to do it and since it was going to involve a road trip and cycling, I signed up and recruited Crazy Jim to come with me. 

We left Tucson at 8am on Friday morning and arrived in Flagstaff around 1pm.  We hit Subway, then found the local bike shop to get a cycling map of the area.  I was looking for some big miles, but the town was pretty cool and there were several small brewery's nearby, so we just cruised on bike to the Northern Arizona University campus.

We realized pretty quickly that we were out of place on campus.  If we had blue windbreakers with "SECURITY" in yellow lettering we would have looked okay.  Instead, people either had to assume that we were professors (not likely) or that we were creepy grown men that like to ride around college campuses in the middle of a work-day. 
So, we left the campus, rode around a bit more and ended up (not surprisingly) at the Lumberyard Brewery Company.  We quenched our thirst and quenched it again (more me than Crazy Jim, our designated driver).

The Man Camp itself was great.  10 of us in a cabin, virtually all of us were strangers to each other.  Fred, our "cabin leader" brought a blueberry pie for our cabin.  Weird, but really an awesome idea, if you think about it.  I told him he was the best camp counselor I ever had.

In the middle of the night, I heard one person snoring.  Then, as if the other men were somehow joining in the chorus, there were about four guys snoring.  It was like four rottweillers fighting over a bone.

I can't describe the smell of the cabin in the mornings.  10 mouth-breathers in a closed room for 7 hours.  Add to that the smell of some b.o., random shoes and dirty socks...all in a 20' x 40' room.  It made us want to get out of bed in the morning and get out of the cabin.

When we went to go riding in the afternoon, I found that I had a flat.  Crazy Jim wasn't that interested in riding, so I rode his bike (a nice Trek commuter) down some mountain roads, but it was a bit bumpy without shocks and my bigger tires. 

Me and Crazy Jim...out on the trails.

Back at camp, I inflated my tire and rode a bit, but it deflated quickly.  At least I got a few miles in and it made me want to take my bike out on some trails back home.

I'll leave the spiritual lessons off this post, but there were several great takeaways for me.  In particular, I felt inspired to be a better husband and to get more involved in a local charity on a regular basis (involving my wife and kids as well).
Crazy Jim and I had a blast and headed home Sunday afternoon.  I rode the Schwinn Sunday night, a classic beauty that always makes me happy (but I still am hoping to sell it).

By the way...the 30 Days of Biking Challenge is going perfectly.  I have ridden my bike every day (except for two days on a stationary bike) since April 1st.  It is fun whether I am just doing a light cruise in the neighborhood, running errands or going for some distance.  Interesting challenge and one that I just may continue into May.

Big Clyde

Friday, April 15, 2011

Man Camp

These are my bunkmates at Man Camp.  Only friends are allowed to see you in your underwear.
Crazy Jim (my buddy) and I are off to Man Camp this weekend.  It is a Christian Men's Retreat in Williams, AZ.  Feel free to joke, but no haters please.

Mrs. Clyde strongly suggested I go to this, perhaps hoping I will become a better man, or at least grow stronger in my faith and get some much needed time away from work, etc.

Crazy Jim and I thought that we would get to skip a Friday at work, possibly drink a beer or two before the conference gets started and get some cycling in each day.  The retreat brochure promises "hours and hours" of free time.  Nice. 

So, we are off with bikes loaded.  I will come back with some nice pictures of our mini-road trip and hopefully, some decent mileage on the bikes.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Big Clyde

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Much Does Your Bike Weigh?

Okay first things first...I have now ridden my bike 13 days in a row.  It is interesting to me because I am intentionally not going for a workout each time.  Some of my rides each week are just cruising around the neighborhood.  I look forward to it each day.  The combined mileage of easy neighborhood cruises and some more aggressive workouts will lead me to more mileage in this month than any other I have ever ridden in my life.  Pretty cool.

 Now, on to today's topic:

A friend of mine, Fizzhog of the UnFat Project, just purchased a new bike. 
It is pricey. 
It is used by famous cyclists. 
It weighs 16.1 pounds. 
It is a racehorse. 
He will love it and I fantasize about what it would feel like to ride it.

My bike is the opposite. 
It was fairly cheap (about $750 with all the modifications and stuff on it). 
It is not a roadbike and there are no famous commuters. 
It is is really heavy. 
My bike weighs about 35 pounds.
It is a clydesdale bike!
It can ride on any terrain and can carry groceries on a milk-crate on it's rear rack. 
It feels bulletproof.
I love it because it is built well for a guy of my size. 

So, how much does your bike weigh? 
And how important is "bike weight" to you?

I am curious to know because as I am riding more often now, I find myself wondering how much bike weight matters when it comes to speed.  On my 35-pound commuter with wide tires, I can't seem to get much above the 13mph speed on my average rides.  I know that my weight plays a big part in that, but am I doing an equal amount of work as someone on a very light road bike?

Big Clyde

P.S.  Fizzhog, enjoy the new ride!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dark Shiny Diamonds On The Street

I was busy during the day Saturday, unable to ride until it was dark...and raining. 

Spending most of my life in Seattle, I am very used to the rain.   But I never rode my bike in the rain.  I think Billy Joel sang something about it being risky.

But I am committed to riding my bike for 30 days in a row, every day in April.  Even the rainy days (or nights).

What I like about riding in the rain at night is seeing the droplets of water flying up off my front wheel in front of my headlight.  They look like diamonds flying up toward me.  It happens when I am going slow, so I usually only notice it in the very beginning, but it is strangely beautiful and a nice distraction during the slow warm-up period of my ride.

On Sunday, the weather improved, but was still cold.  It was sunny and probably 63 degrees, but I thought it was warmer and wore a t-shirt and shorts...froze the entire way.  14 miles, starting with the La Canada hill.

10 days of Biking, so far so good.  20 days left.

Keep moving everyone!

Big Clyde

Friday, April 8, 2011

Biking on a Business Trip (Sucks)

Not much to write here, but I just wanted to post some minor mileage over the past few days, while I was on a corporate trip out of town.

On Day 6 of my 30 Days of Biking Challenge, I used the fitness room at the hotel.  Nice resort hotel, with great equipment, but I HATED the stationary bike.  I only was on it for 6 miles, which would have been a light and enjoyable ride on my bike path at home.  But on the machine, it felt tiring, pointless and a bit grueling.  Don't get me wrong, I am proud of myself that I got some exercise in, but surprised how much I disliked this kind of workout.

Day 7 was a bit of the same, only this time with some vodka in me a few hours prior to the workout.  Gee, I wonder if this is why  I felt sluggish on the stationary bike.  4 miles this time.

Day 8 (tonight) - Returned home from the trip at 6pm, went to dinner with the fam, then a quiet ride around the village for just 3 miles. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Days of Biking - Days 4 & 5

Me and Mrs. Clyde out for a ride.

This simple challenge is going pretty well so far.  Sure, how hard can it be for a guy to ride a bike 5 days in a row?
Good point.  And yet, I am all about celebrating the victories and trends (big or small).
I rushed home from work on Monday night and checked in with the fam, then announced that I was going out for a ride.  Surprisingly, the lovely Mrs. Clyde jumped up and wanted to go with me. 
She has a new Trek road bike, built for speed.  I have the world's heaviest commuter bike, loaded down with racks, lights, cable & lock, not to mention a "clydesdale-class" cyclist.  My bike is built for toughness and comfort.
Yet, when we were not even a mile from our house, she was pushing the pace.  I kept thinking,
  • "what's the hurry?"
  • "shouldn't we be pacing ourselves?"
  • and finally "I've ridden 10x your mileage over the past 18 months and there is no way I am going to be dragging my tail far behind you!"  (Not too proud of that one).
So, my wife pushed the pace on the outbound leg of our 8 mile ride.  Good times and I have really enjoyed the recent rides with the fam.  It is so much more fun to be out there with someone else.
Tonight, I worked a bit late then we went out for a nice dinner as a family before I take off on a business trip.  No time for a proper ride tonight, so I will just ride 2-3 miles around the neighborhood.  In keeping with the challenge of riding my bike for all 30 days in April, I am still 100%.
Keep moving everyone!
Big Clyde

Sunday, April 3, 2011

30 Days of Biking - Day 3

Just a quick update on Day 3...

I took out my vintage Schwinn Collegiate to borrow some tools from Crazy Jim.  He lives nearby so it was only about a mile, but very fun to ride this classic bike with it's gorgeous red paint and shiny chrome.  Given that I was just in our neighborhood, I went casual with flip-flops on my feet and no helmet.  It reminded me of my childhood days before helmets, spandex and bike shorts.  In the right environment, going casual is a great way to ride.

Later in the day, after doing a lot of yardwork, my daughter and I went for a 7-mile loop near our house.  Rest assured, we were in full safety gear this time and had a blast together.

Day 3:  8 miles.

Good night.

Big Clyde

Saturday, April 2, 2011

30 Days of Biking - Days 1 & 2

This is my big news!  Inspired by Clive's post on his great blog, I learned about the 30 Days of Biking Challenge. 

What is this thing?  "30 Days of Biking is a challenge to ride your bike every day for thirty days during the month of April. It is what you make of it. Your goals drive what the event means for you. The one common theme is that we all ride every day!"

So, whether it is a ride around the neighborhood, a commute to work, getting errands done or a good workout, the idea is to be on the bike every day for the next 30 days.

I have been a bit absent from blogging lately and will be using this weekend to catch up.  I found, not surprisingly, that the more I worked out (in March), the less time I had to post on my site and catch up on others.  So, when I did some poking around yesterday and found Clive's post about this, I jumped over the the 30 Days site and registered.  If you haven't done it yet, I am sorry to say that I think they closed registration at the end of the day, April 1st. 

However, none of us are really into following the rules, right?  If you'd like to join in, I suggest you start immediately and give yourself a quick "catch-up challenge" to make up for missing April 1st.  Or just ride for the next 30 days.  Your call, but the overall challenge is simple and should not be too intimidating to anyone. 

For example, last night I finished work at about 5:50, got changed and went out for a 15 minute ride.  It is Tucson, so it was blazing hot already and I did work up a quick sweat.  Then, I returned home and went to my son's talent show.  Not an impressive workout, but I was happy to get out there.  Day 1.

I may still do some running this month...we'll see.  But I have been splitting my workouts between running and cycling and will use April as a cycling-heavy month.  I love my bike, so I am really looking forward to this.

Day 2.  I was shoved out of bed at 6:15 this morning (due to previous instructions given to Mrs. Clyde...thanks for the discipline, honey!).  I am not used to morning workouts and can't tell you how much I hated getting out there.  But, once I was rolling, I was happy to be out there.  Exhausted, but happy.  I rode the La Canada hill, which I hate, and then finished with a nice 15 mile ride.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Big Clyde

Friday, April 1, 2011

March Rides...Out Like A Lamb

Early in March, I wrote this post about how I was starting to ride my bike more often (after a long, cold, lonely winter hibernation).   I paraphrased the old weather slogan "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb".  Perhaps that phrase was the foreshadowing for my cycling efforts this month.

I started very strong, like a lion.  I ended March more like a lamb.  So be it.

I rode 104 miles in March.  I ran 27 miles and worked out a total of 15 days.  I was really consistent until about 10 days ago, when I tapered off and only worked out three times since then.  Maybe this was my "fourth week" or recovery week.  Nonetheless, on various different levels, I rocked this month with running, exercise frequency and developing some good habits. 

Work became pretty intensive recently and it has definitely had an impact on my exercise lately.  Things seem to be settling down now, so I am back at it.

I will have some big news tomorrow.  Thanks for following along!

Big Clyde