Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

I rode at 5:30 in the a.m. yesterday.  The cold front was moving in and it was pretty chilly.  I rode 12.25 miles in an hour, trying to increase my speed at times, then recovered for a bit...then repeat.  The wind wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, so it was a good quick ride, but cold.

Later in the day, we celebrated my girl's 14th birthday.  She is sitting next to me now while I type, so I am debating if I should blather on about the usual flood of memories that come to mind from our life together.  She is a wonderful young lady, but I confess that I miss the early days as well when we would play games like "Hey, that's my chair!" and we would do the "10 second tidy" when we cleaned up her room.  My wife and I are so blessed to have her (and her two tweeb brothers, as well!).  Our friends still wonder how we could have ended up with such great kids.  They are the joy of our lives.

I just sold my big boy bike (the Trek 4500), so I am moving into an exclusive relationship with The Grey Goose (the new bike).  Not fully used to it yet, but I'll give it a good breaking-in this weekend!  Looking for a good, long ride, regardless of speed...need to get used to being on the bike for longer rides in prep for the big upcoming race.

Question:  have you started listening to Christmas music yet?  I broke it out a few days ago.  I am embarrassed to say that Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" is in my top 10 (okay, top 5). 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...

Tuesday night.  The wind is howling (okay, not howling, but there is definitely wind) and tomorrow's high temp is supposed to be only 55, with winds around 20-30 mph.  This is NOT Tucson weather and I don't want to ride in that!

But I am going to ride in that.  During my Monday ride, I learned that I have to train in all kinds of weather, because El Tour may bring heavy winds on 11/21 and I can't wimp out on race day.  So, I will be out there tomorrow.

By the way, in the past two days, a co-worker and my doctor (!) have been somehow inspired by my efforts and are taking up cycling.  They might be thinking "if he can do it...", but it makes me feel good to think that others are getting inspired. 

Oh, and my new bike comes with a bike seat that feels like I am riding a 2x4.  Oh, the humanity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today's ride...21.5 miles

This morning, I started with a hill climb, then hit some headwinds as I rode a new route (in just under two hours).  The wind was a big challenge for me and I felt that the bike needed to be adjusted to fit me properly (which I did after work today).  I probably worked harder than I have before, but I was miserable.

I realize that I need to work on my inner demons that keep feeding me negative attitude was so bad during parts of the ride, because of the difficulty.  My friend J, who is an experienced cyclist, says that I am just not used to "suffering physically".  I've never really been an athlete, so I somehow missed the lessons of suffering through some tough training periods in order to gain improvement.  So, now when I am challenged while riding, I find myself doubting if I can keep going onward.  But that is just a mentality that I can work on and replace with a more positive outlook during a challenging ride.  I have to.

I went to my doctor for a routine check-up.  I've lost 6 lbs since I was in last April and my blood pressure was great (it had been creeping upward).

Next up:  a shorter, but intense ride on Wednesday, then a longer Saturday ride.  El Tour is 26 days away!

Keep riding,
Big Clyde

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Maiden Flight of The Grey Goose

So, I bought a new bike last night.  I had been riding my Trek 4500 mountain bike (with some street tires).  Given that I am larger than the average bear, it was a good, sturdy bike for me (though it has never seen a mountain, mountain trails, etc.).  However, it was heavy and probably a bit small for the type of riding that I have been doing.  I am riding more often now and starting to go greater distances, so I wondered if a crossover bike would help me.

This is a great season to buy bikes because the dealers are closing out '09 models to make room for the '10 models.   The dealer recommended a Scott Sportster.  It is light grey and some of my friends have said that I will "fly" on future rides, if I get off the mountain bike and switch to more of a street bike.  So, I am calling this bike the "Grey Goose (it is grey, I hope to "fly" on it...and I really like Grey Goose!).

I went out for a ride this morning, but kept it only to an hour, because I need to adjust the seat and bar for a better fit.  I'll tinker and head out again tonight or tomorrow morning.

...And yes, I know it is kind of stupid to name the bike...but it amuses me, so I am going with it.

Keep riding.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's ride...12.8 miles

Early this morning, I went for a "quick ride" of 12.8 miles in an hour.   It didn't feel quick at all actually, it was tough and left me winded pretty often, given that the first five miles were uphill (climbing about 500 that alot?  It felt like alot).   The downhill part was fun, obviously, but does not last very long.  Have I mentioned that I am exceptional at going downhill?  Seriously, it is pretty much the only activity where gravity stops being my enemy and becomes my greatest ally.  I'm like a professional at going downhill on my big boy's the only time when I feel like I can possibly beat the typical 165 lb skinny cyclists out there.  Everyone gets to be good at something.

Anyway, at least I got my ride in this morning, which will help me prepare for longer rides this weekend.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to the "Cyclops"

Back from vacation, back to work, back to my planner...oh, look, El Tour is just about one month away. Several early appts this week will prevent me from riding early in the morning, so I am back to riding the "Cyclops" trainer at night. In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had purchased a CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer, which is basically a high-end stand that converts my big boy bike into a stationary bike, so that I can exercise without leaving the castle. My kids call it the Cyclops.

Rode tonight for 45 minutes. How many miles? What intensity?

Wish I knew...anyway, I must have burned some calories and at least got back to exercising. I will do this more throughout the week, then bigger rides on Friday and Saturday mornings. Looking to ride at least 25 miles in two hours on one of these rides!

By the way, my ipod has been rolling The Fratellis (the Costello Music album). Why aren't they famous?! Try will enjoy.

Keep riding.

Vacation's over

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, wrote the poet, Robert Burns. One week ago, I intended to get right back on my bike and get more miles in. I was going to go out during the early morning, before we took a short family vacation. That would leave my wife to do all of the packing and kid-wrangling, which she was okay with. Yet, on that morning, I couldn't bring myself to take off for two hours leaving the burden to her. As it turned out, she did most of it anyway, but maybe I get points for hovering nearby.

We traveled to Prescott and Verde Canyon, AZ to see the fall colors, take a long train ride and walk around a town that was not littered with Circle K's, Subways, and strip malls. On the train ride, we even saw 6 bald eagles (or the same two eagles three times...the debate continues on that one). We finished the week by going to a Tim Hawkins comedy concert at Radiant Church in Surprise, AZ. It was a great night and seems like a fast-growing church. It had three jumbo screens, impressive a/v equipment, a cafe in the lobby and a drive through espresso hut in the parking lot (I'm not kidding)...I just wondered why there was no cross in the sanctuary/concert hall/studio. If I understand John 2: 13-23 correctly, Jesus might have been angry with this commerce in his Father's House and might have started flipping over tables and scattering the money-changers. Seriously, no cross in a church?!?

Anyway, busyness crept in and I have been off my bike for a week. The time with my wife and the kids was great! I have to keep reminding myself "don't look back at missed goals with regret...just keep riding". I will post again soon with my progress.

Big Clyde

Monday, October 12, 2009

...and for my next trick?!?!

Yes, the applause in my head is beginning to die down, as I get used to the results of my first "big ride" two days ago. I realize that to most cyclists, riding 23 miles in two hours without stopping is maybe just a warm-up. But for this "new-to-cycling" Clydesdale on a mountain bike, it was a major achievement. Slow and steady sweat is the grease of improvement. Um, now what?

Granted, I would be happy to just relax for awhile and bask in the glory of it, but cycling is not really a crowd pleaser and even my internal applause meter is settling down. Certainly, I can't give in to my previous mentality. For whatever reason, I think that I reached my current weight level by following logic and common sense:
1) if something makes you happy (like yummy food), then have some! and then, have some more!
2) if something makes you tired, sweaty and sore, then stop it...asap.


This thinking still makes sense to me...but if we followed this logic, then would we really have ever gotten off the couch to build bridges, grow food, invent cars and ipods, and help other people? In fact, by following my instincts, I could see us all ending up like the "advanced society" in "Wall-E", where everyone is morbidly obese and just sits around in these mobile recliners eating Taco Bell and watching tv. Sounds like a decent weekend when you have the house to yourself, but it is no way to go through life.

No, if I can become more fit through cycling, then I think just about anyone can. (Your mileage may vary.) I'm not ready to disclose my current weight, just realize that I am the largest person that I personally know (and have ever known) and have never been an athlete. Yet, after a few months of sporadic bike riding, I just rode my bike for 23 miles.

And in 32 hours, I guess I'll go do it again. Ugh.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Big Saturday Ride

Bad news/Good news this morning.

The bad news is that while I was on my ride, I missed a nice waffle breakfast at home with the family. I love waffles...and I will now think of them all day.

The good news is that I did accomplish my goal of riding for two hours today (my normal ride is about 1 hour & 13 miles). During those two hours, I rode up some good hills and covered 23 miles. The time and mileage are far beyond what I have done before, so I am very happy (but still somewhat upset about missing the waffles...mmmm, so warm and syrupy). After all, while my family was stuffing their cute faces with waffles, I got to squeeze some disgusting energy gels from a foil packet into my mouth. (Note to time, don't let the foil packet touch the fillings in your teeth. Hard to explain the sensation, but trust me.)

Miraculously, still no weight loss since I started all of this in May...likely has to do with not altering my eating habits much, which are not great, and my inconsistency in riding. I am in a nice pattern now though and am going greater distances, so maybe weight will start coming off. Can't get sloppy now...the El Tour de Tucson now haunts me.

Keep riding.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

6 Weeks to El Tour (and I am not nearly ready!)

Two things today:
1. I rode the cyclops for about 20 minutes, just wanting to do something today. Certainly a short workout, but it fits with my new mantra: keep riding.
2. I honestly just came to the realization that El Tour is a month and a half away. Granted, I am only doing the 35-mile route, but that is about three times farther than I have ever ridden at one time and I thought I would be much further along by now. I should have ridden more consistently in Aug and Sept. Got to try to make good progress now.

Next rides: an easy hour-long ride tomorrow before work. Then, a two-hour ride on Saturday, my longest time in the saddle. Um, yeah. Good times.

Keep riding.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Riding the "Cyclops"

Today was my first day using the CycleOps Fluid2 kids call it the Cyclops. I knew that there would be times when I couldn't get out to do my regular routes, so I wanted to have a way to train at home for shorter periods. I ordered it from someone on eBay (who must have also been a dust collector, or a lover of cats).

Got it hooked up to my big boy bike and rode pretty aggressively for about 25 minutes. Not my actual goal for the day, but it was better than nothing. I wish I knew my cadence or speed...was I going 7 mph or 17?? I'll work on that one later.

I also found out today that my company had an all-employees mtg today (I didn't show) and they announced that several of us will be riding in El Tour de Tucson. I was not really ready for much publicity about my goal here...don't want to be the new side bet around the office. But I guess it is official now, so I have to make it happen.

Looks like I'll be riding the Cyclops more often now.

Keep riding.

Big Clyde

Monday, October 5, 2009

Today's Ride

Not much time today, so I just rode a short loop of 6.5 miles in about 33 minutes. I hadn't ridden for a week and chose to go in the afternoon. Though it is getting cooler here in Tucson, I still felt a bit wiped out. Maybe it is because I hadn't slept well last night.

I don't know if such a short ride is at all helpful to me, but it was better than laying on the couch, so I'm glad I went. I know that if I continue to go frequently, my strength will build and I can push it harder.

Will ride again on Wednesday for at least an hour, then a longer ride on Saturday.

Day One for this Clydesdale!

Okay, in reality...this isn't my first day of cycling. I actually started in May of 2009 and have ridden a few times per week ever since. I have seen improvement in my strength and stamina, but am very much a beginner and want to increase my ability.

Secondly, I am likely too big to even classify as a Clydesdale rider. I don't think Clydesdales wimp out as often as I want to...I have read some blogs or comments from "Clydes" where they talk about riding in competitive races, doing 3-hour rides, etc. I'm not there yet.

My typical rides are only about 13 miles in a one hour period. This weekend, I will ride 90 minutes and will record the distance (18 miles?). That would be my longest ride to date.

All of this is in preparation for my big goal for this year: to ride the 35-mile route of El Tour de Tucson on 11.21.09. This will be my first race, EVER. Easy for many people, but it will be a major event for me.

So, why do the blog? I am new to blogging as well, but I really want to improve my health by bicycling and thought that the blog could be an interesting way to document the process. Sadly, I have started other exercise programs before and quit, which is why I need to lose the weight! But for many reasons, cycling could be so great for me and I have a great family and a lot of friends who are encouraging me along the way.

To all of you, I hope this is interesting to you in some way. If you have advice, encouragement or questions, I welcome them. Should be a good ride.

Big Clyde