Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thoughts on Clydesdales

Clydesdales (the horses) are truly majestic animals...the Kings of All Horses (at least that's what I call them), but you never really see them in motion for more than a few minutes at a time. They are on the parade routes and at Sea World, wanting all of the attention and admiration from the crowd, for just basically being the largest among their own species.

I think I heard once that they actually get to eat oats, soaked in Budweiser...not too shabby, if you're a horse.   I prefer nachos with my beer, but have cut back on both.

Despite their "kingly stature", they're slow and have no endurance. They are enormous, wear expensive gear, go short distances and then stand and wait for recognition from the masses. I can actually identify with that.

Here are some Clydesdale in a parade. The video makes my point, but the highlight is the crazy cameraman who did this "Cloverfield"-type filming at the 5 second mark to run ahead of the Clydes. How many people were injured in the making of this movie?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

100 Miles in Five Days! Day 5 = Goose Egg!

Okay, I will get no miles in today, but still pleased with my efforts over the past four days.   Got too busy as I headed out on the now infamous Mexico Hunting Trip.  I will do my best to eat well, not kill and not be killed.  God is with me, along with several good men with guns.  I am covered.

I have a few scheduled posts of random ideas that have been rolling around that will post while I'm gone.  Back in a few days. 

Keep Riding, everyone!

Big Clyde

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

100 Miles in Five Days! Day 4 = 15 miles

Thanks for the great support regarding my run last night (really a walk/jog).  It was a good workout and surprisingly more enjoyable and even easier than I thought it would be.  I did add it to my week, because I feel I got as much of an aerobic workout as I did on longer rides.

Today (Tues), I worked out in the evening by riding 15 miles on my trainer. For those of you who aren't too familiar with cycling, a trainer is basically a small stand (which my kids call the Cyclops), that turns my bike (which Neighbor Ted calls the HUCC-B), into a stationary bike.

That seems so crazy! My "inexpensive" bike ($600) + the Cycle Ops 2 trainer ($225) = the same type of fitness machine that my grandma used in the 1970's.

This is why the terrorists hate us! I've spent a lot of money in order to pretend to ride a bike indoors, because it's kinda cold outside and I like to watch tv when I am pretending to ride a bike.

But I turned those pedals and sweated up a storm tonight. 

Mark it, Dude.

P.S.  For those of you who read about my friend, Doug, I have a great update!  His surgery was last week and he received definitive results that he is entirely cancer-free now!   I saw him today and he now just has to recover from an 8" chest incision (actually on three different tissue levels), so he'll be back at work in a week or two.  Chances of recurrence are high, but now that they know what to look for, they can spot this type of cancer quickly and kill it again.   God is good (and so is the Mayo Clinic).

Monday, January 25, 2010

100 Miles in Five Days?!? Day 3 = Couch to 5K

...And now for something completely different. 

I did not ride today.  After a full workday and a rare weeknight dinner with the family, I wasn't able to workout until about 7:45pm.  I just couldn't bring myself to get on that bike (on the indoor trainer) and didn't want to ride for an hour or more in the dark. 

But I knew that I had to burn some calories...third day in a row.  I had read recently about the "Couch to 5K" program and wondered if I was even able to jog.  My last jog might have been about 20 years ago.  The first week of the program includes a 3x/week routine of 30 minutes of alternating between walking and jogging.  I did it, it was fun and a good aerobic workout for me, even though it was only 30 minutes.
We'll see how the knees and feet feel soon.

I'm not sure yet if I will try to convert these walking/running miles into equivalent "cycling" miles.  I have heard that some studies compare the workouts like this:  4 cycling miles = 1 jogging mile.  I'm sure there are many theories.  I don't have an opinion, other than I think this 30 minutes did in fact seem close to the workout of a one hour bike ride for me.   My standard cycling pace is about 13 mph.   If I had to pick a number of "cycling miles" tonight for my 30 minute jog/walk, I'd pick 9 miles.  Is that a cop-out?

I just want to claim some credit for my sweaty workout.  What are your thoughts?

Big Clyde

Sunday, January 24, 2010

100 Miles in Five Days! Day 2 = 13 miles (again)

At least I'm consistent!  Another 13 miles today (two loops around my river track).   Busy day with church for the first half, then some family time and finally a ride.

I'll need to make better progress tomorrow to work toward finishing off the last 74 miles by Wednesday night.  But it is definitely still in my sights.  Likely will do a quick early morning ride, then, longer at the end of the day. 

A close friend of mine is recovering from cancer removal surgery last week.  We hope the results will show that he is completely free of cancer, but we won't know definitively for a few weeks.   His name is Doug.  I am still so concerned, but will leave it to God and his medical team and family in hopes for a complete recovery.  It looks like I might see him on Tuesday.  If you pray, please pray for Doug.  Thanks.

Keep riding everyone!

Big Clyde

Saturday, January 23, 2010

100 Miles in Five Days! Day 1 = 13 miles

As you may have seen, I have a goal for mileage each month of this year, 175 miles.  That actually may increase in later months, but believe me, it is an aggressive goal for me right now.  I was off to a good start during the first two weeks of January.  But now I've realized that my month will be cut short by a few days, including a weekend, so I've got to catch up and finish my 175 mile goal by the end of the day on Wednesday. 

I'm so grateful for some recent comments of encouragement, including the challenge by Larry to get my 175 in this month, issued last night.  That makes today "Day 1" of my challenge. 

Today, Saturday, I rode only 13 miles...not enough to keep me on pace, but I was delayed by the morning rains (we actually had HAIL last night).  Yes, hail in Tucson, Arizona.  I had some time to ride in the afternoon, but then had to head home to watch the kids, while my wife went to work.  

I'll post daily through Wednesday, logging in my miles.  Check the section on the right for the January miles to see my progress. 

Keep riding,

Big Clyde

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hunting in Mexico: What Could Go Wrong?

In one week, I will leave my beautiful wife and three kids and go on a hunting trip in Mexico.  I will be going with a few other guys that I know.  I am not looking forward to it.  I am a city guy (or at least a suburb guy).  I don't hunt, I don't shoot, I have no "gear" and basically, don't even like camping.  In fact, on this trip, I'll just be watching the hunters (the rugged version of watching paint dry).

I envision crouching down in some bushes for hours on end.  I clear my throat.   Our guide angrily whispers "shut up, there's an bull elk 1,000 yards away across that valley and he might hear you!"  So, we'll all be sitting there, crouched down, eating jerky and pooping "over there", then digging a hole to cover it up...for five long days.  Plain and simple, this just might be horrible.

So, I started thinking that I would get some workouts in during the trip.  You know, just going for long walks, enjoying the quiet dignity of nature.  But then I'm sure there could always be some other guys 1,000 yards away whispering to each other "shut up, I think I see a bull elk, walking on his hind legs over there..."  Then, I'm a dead man.  Better stay with my guys and the guns. 

So many questions:  Will my blackberry get service out there?  How many days can I go without pooping?  How will I stay properly caffeinated (I'm a 4-shot espresso drinker in the morning)? 

Please help me...any suggestions as to how I should cope and pass the time out there?    Your comments would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Control The Beast - Lessons from Avatar

I saw Avatar this past weekend.  I liked it.  I even liked the earlier version called "Dances With Wolves". 

Given that it is the most expensive movie ever made and will likely be the biggest grossing movie ever made, there better be some take-aways or lessons in there somewhere.  During this explanation, I'm going to keep it simple, without character names, etc.  It's not a movie review.

The lesson that I learned came from a scene where the Na'vi (Blue-Cat People!) were on a hunt to find their own personal flying beast.  Once they find and tame their flying beast, then they will be inseparable.   "But how will I know which beast should be mine?", the new guy asked.  His mentor said "It will be the one that is trying to kill you...either you will tame it and be successful, or it will kill you."  So, the guy quickly finds a nasty huge beast that obviously wants to kill him.  They take some swipes at each other and the guy gets hit and thrown around, clearly not succeeding.  That big snarling beast is too huge, mean and strong!  The other Na'vi say that our hero will surely die. 

But the hero doesn't give up and slowly gains the upper hand and finally overcomes the beast.  The beast gives in and realizes that our hero will be the master...the one "in charge" in this relationship.

What a great metaphor this is for the battle some of us have with our health!  Whether it is food, exercise, alcohol, drugs, etc., you likely have a beast out there that is slowly destroying you.  Sometimes, we so much believe that we can't overcome our beast, we even try to believe that we like having it be our master (what Devil invented the term "comfort food" for food that is high in fat, carbs, etc.???).  We like the ice cream, the booze, the couch (eventhough all of these things can ultimately make us feel badly about ourselves and limit us).

It is not easy to tame our beasts.  But Avatar was right about it:  You can't reason with your beast, you can't talk it to death.  Plans and charts and blogs might be helpful little tools, but this battle requires action.  You must launch a focused attack on your personal beast.  Either it controls you, or you control it.  I have to control my own beast.  I will fight it with miles on my bike, better food choices...basically eating less and moving more.   I won't give up.   You shouldn't give up either.

Big Clyde

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today's Ride...20 miles, Flat*!

In many ways, January is a re-start to my cycling efforts.  November was this intensive month of new milestones for me in my distance and frequency, all culminating in my first big race at the end of November (yes, someday soon I'll quit talking about it!).  Then, December was basically a time for me to do some casual rides with friends, avoid the colder weather outside and restore some balance by spending time with family.  All of that equalled "no training miles" in December.

I have been feeling it on my rides this month, until today.  I rode 20 miles in 90 minutes (a "low-to-medium" distance for me), but I can feel my speed and strength coming back to where I was in November.  Only now, I am riding more miles than I did then (per week).  The year is starting off well.  Better food choices, more miles on the bike and a detailed plan for the year with supporters (who are watching).

Did my 20 miles today and was going for another quick 3 around the back part of our neighborhood when I got a flat tire*.  No compressed air tubes and I was close to home, so I walked it in, will fix it tomorrow after church and then, do another 20 to get my 40 miles in for the week.

Keep Riding!

Big Clyde

Friday, January 15, 2010

Food Scientists Have Done It Again!

Okay, maybe this one isn't real.  But you know that you were thinking "good idea!".  Only a matter of time, people.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Tizzle Wizzle Show...On A Bicycle

On the day before the Casa Grande Century ride (1/10/10), I was dreading it because I had not been training in December.  Which meant that the ride was going to kick my tail.  I am decent with that, provided that I am not getting it kicked it in front of my better-trained friends.  At the last minute, Graham decided to do my 35 mile ride with me, rather than the 66 miler he had planning on doing.

Graham said "I ride 35 miles each way to work every day (and back home again), so this will be easy.  We'll just have fun, no big deal."   Graham was looking forward to this ride as just a simple Sunday ride with a friend, but nothing that would break a sweat.  It was going to be a party on wheels, where we would laugh and hang out, simply pedalling for 35 miles.  When I think of it that way, it actually sounds fun to me too.

But, it was definitely a workout for me and I was sore and walking funny, even two days after the race. 

It reminded me of a very recent Saturday Night Live sketch, called The Tizzle Wizzle Show.  Watch how the new guy quickly realizes that "fun and games" can turn into a nightmare really fast.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Casa Grande Century - done and done!

Today, I rode the 35 mile route of this race, which was really more of a numbers, no medals, no timed starts/stops.  Regardless, it was distance and one of my race events that I listed on my 2010 goals.  Nice to scratch one off the list!  Also, I rode 47 miles this week, exceeding my weekly 40-mile goal.

I rode with new riding buddy Graham, and my good friends Jim and Lisa.  They are all great cyclists with many miles in their past.  But today, they wanted to settle in and ride at my pace, the entire way.  We averaged about 13 mph, which is about what I expected I would do.  It was slightly slower than my El Tour pace, but that had a lot of downhill miles.  So, in spite of no training in December, I am pleased with the pace and the miles completed.  Here they are:  Graham, Lisa and Jim...still smiling after our ride!
Mostly, I want to say how blessed I am to have these friends that slowed their game to be with me.  Neighbor Ted would have come along, but had to attend a funeral.  Our thoughts were with you (and you called like 5 times!).

And Graham, Lisa and Jim, if you are reading this, I can assure you that you moved high up the list where I rank my friends.    You guys are near the top!  (I keep the top two slots open, just to keep everyone striving for improvement!).  Sorry, Neighbor Ted...I know you had to attend a family funeral, but you still missed our ride and I have a zero tolerance policy...back 8 spaces down the list for you.

Keep riding!

Big Clyde

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's NOT a Mountain Bike (So, don't call it that)

I received a nice call from Neighbor Ted today, just checking in before our race this weekend.  He knows that I am not looking forward to it and probably wanted to encourage me. 

He explained that he also is not ready for his 62 mile route of the race on his road bike and that might be similiar to my 35-mile route on my "mountain bike".  I heard his insult, but let it pass.  I am a tolerant person.  He went on to say that " a mountain bike like yours is just heavier and more difficult to ride longer distances".   Gutsy.  He repeated the insult...I had to stop him because this is not new territory between us.

For the record, my new bike (purchased 11/09) is NOT a mountain bike.  As of today, I have reminded Neighbor Ted of this fact on no less than three occasions.  I should know it is not a mountain bike, because I sold my actual mountain bike in order to buy this one.  Why would I sell a mountain bike (with little miles on it) in order to buy a brand new one?

"So, what would you call it?", Neighbor Ted challenged.  He had a good point there, because after my impulse-purchase of it, I talked with the sales guy, the fit guy, studied the Scott Bicycle brochure, websites, etc. and they all had different descriptions of it.  Still, I had to answer Neighbor Ted with something definitive.  "It's a Hybrid, Urban, Commuter, Comfort Bike", throwing together every word that had been used to describe it. 

"Okay, fine", he said, "so it's a HUCC-B...not a mountain bike.  Are you happy now?", he asked.  Not really, but I am trying to be. 

I wanted a bike that would be faster and lighter than my old mountain bike, but would not put me in a more aggressive bent-over riding style (like a road bike).  My belly tends to get in the way of all of that bending forward.  For now, I'd rather sit more upright, like a country gentlemen riding an old-fashioned bike.  Sadly, I also wanted to make sure that I had a bike frame that would be strong enough to handle my Uber-Clydesdale body.

I wanted to love my new bike and get to a point, where we became one:  man and machine, bonding together on this great journey that would be a turning point in my life.  I have read about cyclists that just get so comfortable with their bike that the rider and bike almost know each other, work together.   Cooperation, progress and efficiency are the results of this partnership and the two act as one, enjoying their time together.

I have that relationship with a few things:  my ipod, my dog Mighty, my family (most of the time) and my La-Z-Boy DreamTime Recliner ("built with a luxurious shape and a sophisticated attitude", according to the brochure).

But not my HUCC-BAfter the El Tour race, it pretty much just stayed in its place, leaning against the wall in our garage...mocking me.  It was like one of those tough kids in high school, leaning up against a wall, smoking as they watched you nervously walk by.  Like my bike was saying "you gonna ride me?  No?  Didn't think so!  Yeah, go on inside, Big Clyde, and settle into that lazy-boy chair of yours." 

I will bond with my new bike soon enough, shaming it into submission with every sweaty mile.  If it behaves well and I am feeling kindly, I might even wipe it down after the race is over.  For now, I will appreciate it for all of the HUCC-B adjectives above, understanding that it is not exactly built for great distances or speed.  At this point in my life, neither am I.  Maybe after 12 months and 2,100 miles, that will change.

Keep riding everyone!

Big Clyde
P.S.   Thanks for the call, Ted.  You are forgiven.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Goals and Events

My blogging slowed down dramatically in December, as did my riding.  I started this blog as my excitement for my first cycling race was approaching.  Though the 35 mile route of El Tour de Tucson is low mileage for many cyclists, it was major for me and I am proud of what I did.  But once that goal was achieved and the colder weather set in, I left the bike in the garage except for some smaller social rides.

Now, it is time to get back to it.  I started the riding in May of '09 simply to lose weight and become more healthy.  I made good progress in that area, but it can slip away quickly if I don't get back in the saddle.

So, here are the 2010 goals that I'll be working towards:
  • 2,100 miles on the bike, which is about 40 miles per week and 175 miles/month.  Even doing three easy rides per week, this should be easily achieved, but I need to work on longer rides* (regardless of the speed for now).  This is not really an aggressive plan, but should develop the "consistency" habit that means I will always be doing something.  Follow my progress on the right in yellow.
  • El Tour de Tucson - 66 mile route (11/10).  This seems as much of a challenge as my 35 miler, based on my training last year.  The only caveat would be if one of my kids or my wife wants to do their first race on the 35 mile route.  I'd love to do that with them.
  • Tour of the Tucson Mountains - 27 mile route (4/10).    This should be an easy ride, but I will be doing it with Crazy Jim, who is newer to cycling.  Still this will be another milestone event for me to train for, working on some endurance and speed.  Each race will be a learning experience.
  • Casa Grande Century - 34 mile route (1/10/10).    Wish I had been cycling in December, because I will be doing this race without good preparation.  Nonetheless, it will be miles and I'm glad to finally have a follow-up to El Tour. 
  • Weight loss - I'm still not comfortable putting my numbers out here, but I will focus more on what I eat in 2010 (didn't pay much attention in '09, hoping that the cycling alone would do didn't).  I am forecasting that I will lose about 40 pounds in 2010.
  • Distance* - I realize now that I made two mistakes in my training in 2009.  Most importantly, I didn't train consistently...I had great months, then 3-5 weeks of inactivity.  Secondly, I focused too much on speed, rather than distance.  I need to develop enough stamina to go on much longer rides.  As it is, I turn down my friends very often because a Saturday ride for them might be 40 miles, which seems too challenging for me...probably more of a mental block, than physical, and I need to get past that.  Need a "big ride" at least twice a month...start with 21 miles as a minimum for a "big ride".
Finally, I should say that everything else in my life is going very well right now (family, work, health, friends, faith)...I have been blessed with these positive things in my life and I believe that God is calling me to finally get serious about improving my health.  I will not waste this time.

Keep riding everyone!
Big Clyde

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The "Final-Exam" bad dream...on a bicycle

I realize that is a strange title, but I can explain.  It seems like there are a few dreams that most of us share:
  1. The flying dream - This is an awesome one!  When will this be available in pill form? (and still be risk-free, won't make you stupid and be legal).
  2. The underwear dream - This usually occurs when I am feeling behind or stressed at work and somehow, in my dream, I am running around trying to get my work done, despite being in my pajamas or underwear.  Don't deny it...I'm sure you have had this dream too.
  3. The "final exam" dream - I find myself in some classroom where I realize that I am about to sit down to take a final exam in chemistry or economics.  I remember that I had signed up for the class long ago, but just kept avoiding the class, homework, etc. and now it is time to take (and tremendously FAIL) the final exam.  I still get this one, eventhough I took my last final exam in 1988.
Well, I basically lived the "final exam" dream at a party last night.  We were all having a good time, then Neighbor Ted and our buddy Graham said "So, we're on for next Sunday.  It's going to be fun!"  "Uhh, next Sunday?," I said.  Neighbor Ted said "Yeah, we all agreed to do the Casa Grande Century (bike race) on January 10th."

From the back of my brain came the realization that we had committed to do this race (somewhat recently, in fact), but I had forgotten about it, or at least how soon it was coming.  And by the way, I have not been riding much at all over the past three weeks either.  Though I had committed to only doing the 35 mile route, I still should have been working up to it.  I had the same feeling that I have when I get the "final-exam" dream...oh, I'm so busted.   I will do it, but it will be slow-going.  Ugghh.