food addiction

Maybe this is one of those things that is not news to anyone with common sense but I think it underscores the need for help with this type of thing and that you can't do it yourself! Stop kidding yourself (I'm talking to me here.)

Having a hard time switching from potato chips to carrots? You are not alone! As people in our country continue to grow more and more obese, many research scientists are putting in long hours to investigate biological causes. Last month, scientists from the Scripps Research Institute issued a report that shows -definitively, for the first time- that the same biological processes that cause drug addiction are behind the compulsion to overeat. Many obese people have been making this statement for years–that they feel out of control after eating junk food, and the more they eat, the more they want.Workingwellresources, Working Well Resources' Blog, Apr 2010

The whole article is worth reading.

I'm starting a 10 day food log tomorrow. The template for it was given to me by a friend who is the Fitness Center Coordinator & Strength & Conditioning Coach for a local college. I'll record in detail everything I eat, when and how much. Also, things like sleep, workouts and any illness. I'll forward these logs to him and then I guess he will advise me on what I could change. I'm glad it's only for 10 days. I find this type of thing tedious and difficult. How do you determine how much of the ingredients of a home-made casserole or goulash you ate in a serving? I look forward to making some changes though.

As for my aches and pains, I felt great today. Almost perfect. The only shoulder pain I had was when I wacked it into a door. :-(

I was worried about coming down with a cold too but that seems to have passed as of today.

I had intended to do a bike ride after work but decided I had too much to do to help Mrs. MTBMan1 prepare for a big garage sale tomorrow. I did get some exercise raking and mowing the lawn.

So tomorrow is the garage sale and Sunday doesn't sound too good weather wise. Maybe the gym. I'll start working those flabby arms!

I'd rather be bikin'!

Beautiful day today, even if a bit windy. But I had physical therapy today after work so ... no bike ride.

I'm doing really well. Both arms and shoulders were mostly pretty good today. Not perfect but darn near.

Got the OK from the PT to start working out at the gym again. Also, I scheduled one more appointment in a week but I can cancel it if I continue to improve.

I'm really anxious to do some upper body working out at the gym. I knew my arms were weak, they always have been, but I was horrified to see the hanging old-person flab on them in the mirror the other day.

It's not just the looks but a dramatic drive-home to me of the muscle loss that can occur as we age. That's going to impact just plain old living.

See you at the gym!

A Big Shock!

Well, I suppose I have a chest cold. Very slow progression, though. Just a little incessant throat clearing for a couple of days, now occassional coughing and the tight feeling in the chest. Don't really feel "sick" but after a day of it, I do feel kind of dragged down.

So, another day I opted to skip a workout. I did do a few shoulder exercises though. I am just doing 3 right now. As I get comfortable that I'm using correct form, I will add another and another and so on.

I did a new rotator stretch and strengthening exercise today and did it in front of the mirror with a short sleeve t-shirt on so I could see my arms. I had quite a shock. While both arms are disconcertingly skinny, the right one has this flab hanging down ... like an old person! Horrors!

I've always had weak arms. All my life. I remember as a kid having a hard time doing those overhead bars in the playground. In army basic training, I barely got through arm-swinging those overhead bars on the final PT test.

I guess that's why I'm having these problems now.

I've tried to build up my arms and shoulders at the gym before but I haven't been consistent enough or I try too hard, too fast and hurt something.

Got to do something about it!

Under the weather

It's gloomy and rainy here in the great northeast and I'm feeling a little off today so no training. Woke up with a lot of congestion and clearing of the throat plus very tired even though I think I slept well.

My aches and pains have been pretty good. I have the least left shoulder pain sitting at work and my right shoulder and arm condition has been very good.

Mrs. MTBMan1 and I have been discussing our mutual physical ailments and found out about "Sole Supports" brand of orthotics through Rick Olderman's Z-Line Training web site.

Mrs. has been increasingly frustrated trying to find shoes that work for her even so far as recently buying two pairs of each shoe in different sizes to fit her differently sized feet.

Rick Olderman promotes this brand of orthotics but he's in Colorado and we're not. We searched Sole Support's site for local providers and it turns out we have a chiropractor within 2 miles of us that fits them so mrs. is going to call tomorrow. Hopefully our insurance will cover them.

gloomy day ride

I was depressed today but I'm much better now after my ride (duh!)

It sprinkled a little in the morning and looked threatening all day but I went out anyway knowing I needed too.

I'm still not up to my minimum 2 hour ride on the weekend. Charles was not in church today so I'm assuming he was away and I didn't feel up to a Charles ride anyway. We usually do at least one hard hill and go out for at least 2 hours. (He's hard to catch too!)

The weather matched my mood but at least it wasn't windy. In fact, there was no wind at all. I didn't get rained on and managed to avoid getting held up by a train on any of the three crossings I encountered although I heard train whistles after one.

I just let it flow again on this ride. In other words, I had no training agenda. I took my favorite route out to the hills, getting out of suburbia as quickly as possible and avoiding heavily travelled roads. I got a good workout on Orchard Hill, the one steep hill on the ride. Sunday is a good day to ride. Low traffic unless there's some kind of special event nearby.

I did well with my shoulder(s) pain(s) on the ride. Lately, the right shoulder blade/arm pain/finger numbness has all but gone away. I still have a problem on the top of my right shoulder but that's been ongoing for years and I managed to not pull on it during this ride. If I have to pull on a climb or pedaling out of the saddle, I use my core muscles and forearms. I did pretty well remembering that on this ride.

However, I now have some pretty bad pain on the left shoulder blade on the inside facing my spine! I hardly felt it at all while riding though. I'm wondering if the road bike position is good for the shoulders as it is for my lower back. Rick Olderman, physical therapist and author of the "Fixing You" series, says most shoulder and neck pain is from one or both shoulder blades sitting either too low or too far from the spine or both. The primary and most basic exercise he uses to fix this is the "All-Fours Rocking Stretch". As I rode and observed my shoulder and arm position on the bike, I thought it was very similar to the stretch obtained using this exercise. Of course, in the exercise, the stretch is only held for 30 to 60 seconds not an hour and a half!

In any event, it didn't hurt so that's saying something.

I'm also trying to be careful with my lower body. I noticed on my first Charles ride this year that my left leg hurt behind the knee and in the Achilles tendon. Also I had some pain in the right inside hip joint near the groin which has been an off and on problem but hasn't bothered me all winter where downhill skiing was my primary exercise. Today, I did not have any pain behind the knee or Achilles tendon but noticed the beginnings of something on the outside left hip. I just backed off for awhile and it went away.

Wow! Am I falling apart? Well, I AM a year older.

All in all, though, I would say it was a very satisfying ride and I'm glad I went out. I always am! I'm grateful for Mrs. MTBMan1 who is always supportive of my riding and encourages me to go out with pushing me to. Thanks, Hon!

Here are today's stats:
Cadence: 69 RPM
Distance: 15.6 miles
Time: 1:14
Average speed:12.7 mph
Average heart rate:129
Max heart rate: 159
Time in zone 1: 17:35
Time in zone 2: 38:42
Time in zone 3: 17:26

More Aches and Pains

Are you seeing a theme here? If so, I don't like it.

Today while riding I was having some discomfort, I wouldn't say pain, behind my left knee and in my left Achilles tendon. This is the same thing I experienced a few weeks ago when doing a 2 hour ride with my buddy Charles. Then, I was pushing it too hard for an early ride in the season, trying to keep up with Charles. After that, I took it easy on short, 1 hour or less, rides after work. But during today's ride, I felt those sensations again.

So I tried to back off and also did some on-bike stretches of the hamstring on that side and that seemed to help. A personal trainer at the gym remarked, one time, that my hamstrings were extremely tight. By the end of the ride I was not feeling any pain. Of course it could have just been endorphin induced anesthesia. ;-) But no, I'm still good hours after the ride.

My right shoulder blade and arm pains are still absent although I still have a tendency to hurt on the top of my right shoulder especially when pulling up on the bike handlebars. Have to pull from the core and forearms. According to Rick Olderman that's probably a pinching of the rotator cuff muscle. I have just started to do some of the exercises he recommends in his "Fixing You" book series.

Also I have started having some pain in the left shoulder blade! Maybe now that the right one is fixed the pain has shifted over there. Hopefully the corrective exercises will eventually take care of that too.

My neck seems to be stiff too. It's hard to turn it to look left or right for traffic.


I hope I'm not bringing you down with all this but that's what's happenin'!

Like I said, if it's a developing theme, it's not one I'm happy with!

Mama was right!

Posture. We all learned about it when we were kids. You were always slouching on the sofa and your mother always told you to sit up straight. Mine did, anyway.
Shoulders back. Head up straight. Wasn't that the classic good posture? Turns out it's true. Not just for appearance sake but for your well-being.

Had my 5th visit to the physical therapist today. 3 more to go. That's what my insurance has approved. Once again I had neck traction, the arm cycling machine and pulling on the Therabands.

I continue to do well with this regimen. I didn't even have any tingling in my right hand at all today.

I am also starting to work with the Rick Olderman book, Fixing You:Shoulder and Elbow Pain. I am trying to be more aware of my posture and am doing one of the corrective exercises he recommends called the "All Fours Rocking Stretch". It is billed as "passively restoring normal mechanics of the shoulders and arms."

It feels good keeping correct posture but it can be tiring. I am throwing my shoulders back and also trying to keep them higher. I've noticed in the past when I've been working out pretty consistently in the gym on my upper body, it's easier and more natural to maintain a proper posture. I just feel good standing up straight and keeping those shoulders back. Throwing my chest out.

So I guess muscle tone and strength have a lot to do with it.

I'll just have to take a break now and then to rest but I'll keep working on it.

It's humbling to admit your mother's homely advice was right!

Depression or ... Just Sad?

I try to keep it light here but I have briefly touched on being depressed before. I like to put a positive spin on it: "I'm not depressed, I'm just highly un-motivated!"
I was thinking that I was depressed on Monday but later in the day as I thought more about it, if you're sad and there are reasons to be sad, that's not depression. Depression is a mental state that is all out of proportion to the reasons for it, if any.

I had specific reasons to be sad, which I won't go into here, not that they're too personal but like I said, I don't want to get too heavy. Anyhow as you may know when you are depressed or sad it's hard to get motivated to do anything. After work on Monday, all I wanted to do was lie down and go to sleep. But I know from experience that won't help. In fact, it most likely will make things worse. The last thing I wanted to do was go for a bike ride but I knew I needed to do it and that in fact, it might help. It did, of course. I had a good ride and it changed my mood. Then I had dinner and mowed the lawn, did the dishes and the laundry ... and then I was angry. Is there a moral here? Not really. Except I thought later that if doing the chores made me angry maybe I should've taken a break, nobody was making me do them except myself.

Today was an "eventful" ride. When I got the bike out, the rear tire was flat. I pumped it up and it held and I hit the road. After a few minutes, I stopped to check it and I thought it was going soft already so I went back, changed the tube out and set out again. But then I thought "no spare". So I headed up to "Mad Dog Bicycles" and picked up a spare tube and chatted with Matt for a few minutes.

I thought I would then be going home and forget about the ride but I really hated to do that especially since I didn't get to ride yesterday. It was 5 and I needed to be home by 5:30 for dinner so I set out to at least get that 1/2 hour in.

And that was it. I'm glad I rode even that little bit.

As an aside, I'm getting better at changing tubes. At the Ride4Love benefit ride last year, I watched my friend Brad replace my rear wheel with a smooth and elegant one-handed move. I was impressed because I hated taking the rear wheel off and on, I always got all greasy fiddling with the chain and derailleurs. Brad never touched the chain. Once I saw it done, I got the idea and I'm able to do it now. Not as gracefully as Brad did it yet but I'm still keeping my hands clean. And then actually changing the tube is not too bad. On my 27 x 1-1/8" wheel, the hole for the schraeder valve with the rubber strip is too tight to push the valve through. I have to lift the strip out of the wheel with a screw driver, insert the valve through the strip first and then through the hole in the rim. Then it goes in. Also I use a Crank Brothers speed lever instead of multiple tire levers and that makes things simpler. Getting the tube and tire back on the rim is much easier too. I don't know if it's because of the tire being broken in or the fact that I douse the tube in talcum powder. When I first got the tire I could not get it on the rim. I had to take it to the shop to have Matt do it. Embarrassing! Now I can do it easily with my hands without having to resort to using levers which can puncture the new tube if I'm not careful. (I've done it).

That's the upside of flats: I'm getting practice and it's not so much of a big deal.

As Walter Cronkite would say "And that's the way it is!"

random ramblin'

We've been having some stellar weather lately here in the north east. At least for cycling. Cool but not cold, warm but not too hot, yet! Light breezes but not windy. It doesn't get much better around here.

I've been having some great short rides. Great but not epic. Just about an hour. Still trying to build up my base and working out the "kinks". Both in the machinery (bike) and the machinery (body).

My plan is to ride when it's nice and do a stat bike workout at the gym when it's not so nice. That way I'll be more consistent. I also want to cautiously get back into some upper body strength building when I'm done with my course of PT.

I'm still doing physical therapy for my right shoulder and arm pain. I may have only one more session because I'm doing so well. I only have occasionally a little tweak in the top of my shoulder which I have had for years and sometimes I still get tingling in my thumb and index finger but it instantly goes away if I correct my posture. I'm wondering if the neck traction was too aggressive today because my neck is a little stiff and sore.

I also got these 2 books by Rick Olderman from the "Fixing You" series. His thing is making you aware of your own anatomy and how it's supposed to be positioned and moving and paying attention to your posture and how you move. You do a self-assessment or enlist the help of a physical therapist to determine what your problem is, e.g. dropped shoulder blades, and then prescribes various exercises to correct it. But a big thing is just self awareness. It's already made a difference with me. You just think about what you're doing more, especially if you're have some pain while you're doing it.

So yesterday's ride was just over an hour. It was a little on the cool side so I wore sleeves and tights. Again, I just rode for enjoyment, sometimes hard, sometimes resting. And I had virtually no neck or shoulder pain! I also didn't have any discomfort in my left leg which I was worried about. Just behind the knee and my achilles tendon were feeling off, I hesitate to say "painful", and so that's why I'm taking it easy and trying to be conscious of those areas. Making sure I'm warmed up and backing off if there's a hint of a problem.

Today, as I said, I had PT so ... no ride.

I did mow the lawn though! :-)

Why do you keep hitting your head with a hammer?

"Because it feels so good when I stop!"

Everybody who has experienced any kind of prolonged pain knows the euphoria of suddenly being pain free.

I am experiencing that euphoria.

I don't pretend to suggest that my pain is in any way comparable to the chronic, intractable pain that many people endure for years and years, nevertheless, it has been very wearying to sit for 8 hours a day at the computer at my work with the shoulder pain and hand numbness that I have experienced the past few months.

Today, since just before I took my bike ride at about 1PM I have not experienced any pain and very little numbness and tingling in the fingers of my right hand. It makes me very happy to say the least. Ecstatic, in fact!

The bike ride was just phenomenal. I didn't even have that right shoulder pain that I have had for years that especially manifests itself when pulling up on the handlebars while climbing or pedaling out of the saddle. And I think my body is starting to respond to the base building I have been doing. That is, taking it easy, doing controlled workouts in the gym at a very low intensity, just getting my body used to being in the saddle and spinning.

Today's ride was just over an hour. Again, I didn't try to hammer it and I wasn't particularly trying to take it easy either. Just have fun and do what I feel like doing. I hit some of the rollers pretty hard just to see how fast I could get on the downhill side and then on the climb, tried to keep my cadence above 80 RPMs. Then, when I felt tired or winded, I just backed off. That's what's great about the variety of terrain around here. It just makes for natural interval training.

Anyway, I was able to drink from the bottle, without pain, throwing my head back and I could also look right, over my right shoulder to check for traffic without any pain. Outstanding!

Ride stats:
14.6 miles
time: 1hr 7min
Average heart rate: 128
max heart rate: 159
Calories burned:748
time in hr zone 1:20%
zone 2:64%
zone 3: 14%
av cadence: 75 RPM
av speed: 13.1 mph

The Numbers Game

It helps that I'm such a geek.

I'm currently doing a program based on "The Heart Rate Monitor Workbook for Indoor Cyclists" by Edwards and Reed.
Actually, it's based on the tried and true concept of working out hard and then recovering for a day or 2 or 3 with easy workouts. Right now, I really haven't been doing any hard workouts. I'm just building my baseline by either taking easy rides outside on the bike or, when the weather is dicey, doing one of the workouts from the book in the gym on the stationary bike.

I like doing their programs because you have to focus on controlling your heart rate. It makes the time pass quickly and I like it better than trying to read or watching the television. It's also easier doing a focused workout like this on a stationary bike because you can pay closer attention to your numbers without worrying about traffic or running off the road or into an immovable object.

For example, today's workout was called "Ironsides. It gains you 93 training points and burns 279 to 363 calories in 42 minutes. Training points are intended to indicate the amount of training or "load" in a workout and is determined by multiplying the number of the heart rate zone by the number of minutes spent training in the zone. The zones are numbered one through five and go from lesser to greater intensity.

The sequence for the workout is indicated below and as you can see, the heart rate is varied quite a bit. It can be a challenge to keep it steady and just where you want it.
This appeals to my nerdy nature and, as I said, helps to pass the time because you are focused on maintaining the heart rate rather than how hard you are working or whether it is painful or tiring.
Actually, the hardest thing to do is to keep my heart rate DOWN rather than up. This is easier on a stat bike in the gym though than out on the road. I think because you have to deal with varied terrain but also because there is the element of balance to deal with that you don't have on the stationary.
The first section of the book deals with easier workouts in what are called the "Health" zones, Zones 1 and 2, 50 to 70 percent of your estimated maximum heart rate with occasional brief forays into zone 3, a "fitness" zone.
My idea for training this spring is to go through all these easy workouts to gradually build up a base which hopefully will get my body used to moving again on the bike without getting hurt.
Then, as I move into harder workouts and develop some soreness as a result, I will dip back into the easier workouts for recovery and so progress through the book and harder "real" rides out on the road.

At least, that's the plan.

For Medicinal Purposes Only!

By now I'm sure everyone has heard about the supposed beneficial properties of red wine and chocolate. This is not news. It's been going around for years. It's just that every now and then a new study comes out confirming the benefits. Plus everybody gets a kick to think of such traditionally comfort "foods" being good for you. Even my doctor recommended a few ounces of wine with a meal to improve my HDL cholesterol numbers.

So for a few months now I have been having a glass of burgundy or cabernet with my evening meal. This is the first time in my life that I've ever kept wine in my house. The only time I would drink would be every couple of months when we would have dinner out or visit relatives. Not that I didn't enjoy it. I don't particularly like getting "high", the positive effect lasts only a few minutes and then I get very lethargic, but I like the taste and it really enhances the enjoyment of certain foods.

And while I don't have chocolate every day I like to have a bite of strong, dark chocolate often. For my health, of course! ;-)
They say one small square is sufficient for the health benefits. More than that is counterproductive.

Today's workout was a very light one at the gym on that stat bike. Only 20 minutes, the workout was from the Heart Rate Monitor indoor cycling workbook by Edwards and Reed. I didn't even break a sweat!
I'm still being very careful building up my base. I'm keeping an eye on some discomfort in my left leg behind the knee and the achilles tendon. Even on an easy workout like this.

More PT!

Had my 3rd visit to the physical therapist today. As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was a nearly pain free day as far as my shoulders and arm are concerned. Just a very little numbness and tingling in my fingers which I am able to control by correcting my posture.

Today I did another round of therapy and exercises identical to the previous visit; squeezing my shoulder blades together by pulling on the elastic bands, the hand pedaling "cycle" and the neck traction. If I continue to improve, the therapist "guesstimates" that I should be done in 3 more visits.

I just ordered 2 books on Amazon by this guy, Rick Olderman, who is a PT with some very interesting ideas. Basically they have to do with fixing the root causes of physical pain. As I understand it from a cursory browse of his web site, it has to do with postural issues and/or improper use and positioning of muscles and joints. Makes sense. I am excited by this. I am hoping it will help me to ride my bike and ski better and help to prevent over and improper use injuries. I ordered the book on shoulder and elbow pain and the one on neck pain cause Mrs. MtbMan1 has been having some problems in that area.

We'll see.

Hopefully I can get a bike ride in tomorrow. Don't know 'cause they are predicting rain. If that is the case I will try to get to the gym and do a stationary bike workout from the Edwards and Reed book.


The weather, that is.

Perfect cycling weather. Mostly sunny, not too cold, not too hot. Slight breeze.

These are the ideal days for riding. Usually occur in the spring and fall.

I got out the trusty Raleigh today and rode for about 45 minutes before dinner. I really appreciate my old Raleigh Olympian. It's retro. Probably early eighties. Not the best years for Raleigh but my bike has been really sound. Maybe I would love a modern bike but this one works for me and I actually have come to like the way it looks. The shifting was working good today. Maybe the cables just needed a little limbering up after the winter.

I still had a little trouble with my new heart rate monitor. It wasn't getting a reading for the 1st 5 minutes or so. Or I should say it got a reading and stuck there. I think maybe it was the conductivity of the chest strap. Probably because it was cool, I hadn't developed much perspiration under it yet to form a good electrical contact. But it got working eventually. If it continues to be a problem, I'll try to get some conductive gel like they use on the EKG electrodes. I wonder if I can get that OTC at the drug store?

It was a nice ride. Maybe I hit it a little too hard out of the gate. I felt some discomfort on my left leg behind the knee and the achilles tendon. Might need to warm up a little more. But I was chompin' at the bit! Wanting to pick up where I left off last fall, I guess.

I rode straight out to the country. Meads lane

and then past 5 rivers to the railroad tracks

where I turned around and headed home. I just love the quiet rural roads the best. It's healing to my soul!

No Pain, All Day ... Almost!

Woo-hoo! Like Tigger, I'm feelin' fantastical!

Hardly had any shoulder and arm pain or tingling in the fingers all day Tuesday. And Tuesday is the day I spend the most time at a desk without moving around which has been my worst scenario for the shoulder pain and tingling.

I was optimistic about getting some relief via physical therapy but I didn't expect to have such dramatic results in such a short time! I've only had 2 visits to the PT. I have also been doing some exercises that they gave me. They only take a few minutes, 3 times a day.

The revelation for me has been that my neck is the primary problem and not the shoulder. That is, I DO have shoulder and arm problems and they ARE being addressed with some of the exercises I do on my own, but the severe pain and numbness that brought me to the doc is caused by a pinched nerve coming out of my neck vertebrae. That, like the road less traveled, has made all the difference.

Now, if I do feel the tingling fingers or the ache in the arm I do a simple "chin tuck" to open up some space between the neck vertebrae and relieve the pressure on that nerve. It's simple, quick, unobtrusive and can be done anytime, anywhere.

My expectations have certainly been exceeded in this instance and I am greatly relieved to know that I am not on my way to a crippling arthritic condition.

At least not yet! ;-)

Skiing and Aging

Today we put away our ski gear (again). Very sad. Putting the boots away was the worst. Harder than taking down the Christmas tree! It's a tacit acknowledgment that winter (and skiing) is finally over (like I said last week). I'm resigned to it. (Unless of course someone wants to treat me to a weekend at Killington or Jay Peak, ahem.)

Ok, ok, I'll knock it off.

It's just that I feel like time is running out. I'm 62 now. In 8 years I'll be 70. 70! Now that's old! And 8 years is nothing. I see people skiing into their 70s and they're pretty good too. But they've probably been skiing all their lives. I just started 4 years ago. I figure I need to get my technique down because my strength and flexibility are only going to decrease. I mean, I'm going to keep working out and doing my best to maintain and even improve my fitness but let's face it, in lieu of some miracle medical breakthrough, my body is going to deteriorate and then die in what ... 20, 30, 40 years at the outside? So I figure if I have good technique that's something you don't ever lose and it's going to help by requiring less strength to ski and keep me from crashing (as much). I want to live long enough to get those senior discounts and FREE skiing at Whiteface for the over 70 crowd! Woo-hoo!

I'm not trying to be morbid, just realistic.

We met a guy at Butternut who was in his 80's still skiing. He lived nearby, only 5 minutes away and buys season tickets. He only skis a few hours a day 'cause he's afraid of getting too tired and then getting hurt. Bones and joints are more fragile. Doesn't need to push it 'cause he can easily ski every day. That's the ticket!

On the upside, I have the same fondness for my Raleigh Olympian bicycle as for my ski boots. I dug the lawnmower out of the garage and had to move the bikes. I felt that same rush of pleasure looking at the Raleigh. Maybe it won't be too bad getting into cycling season. A different way to have fun and stay fit.

I think my snowboarding friend, Brian, is trying to torment me. Even as I'm writing this he sent me a dump alert from Mammoth in Cali. 20" of fresh powder last night! That's insane!

Had another visit to the physical therapist's today. Did the neck traction thing, my exercises, a new exercise with the elastic bands and pedaling at some machine with my hands. I felt great after the session. I love PT. I know some can be painful but my experience has only been positive. I just love working with the pros and learning about my body. The neck traction is very relaxing.

I mowed the lawn today. That was my "movement for the day", outside of the PT. Should have put the heart rate monitor on to see how much of workout I'm getting because I didn't have time to ride or go to the gym. :-(

Oh, well ... 'tis the season! Hopefully I will get some biking in one of these days!

OK. I give up!

All right, I'll concede. Ski season IS over. I mean, spring skiing can be great but absolute-last-day-to-the-bitter-end skiing can be well ... challenging.

Don't get me wrong. We had a great day today at Mt. Snow. It was their last day of the season and they were offering $25 lift tickets so we went.

As can be expected, the terrain was limited, lots of bare ground and closed trails but it was in better shape than Plattekill a week ago last Friday.

The snow was soft and slushy. Not too bad in most spots especially in the upper half of the mountain but it got a little hairy at the bottom at least on the green "Long John" trail that we rode all day. Deeply rutted and wet. There was even running water at the end of the day. I think some of the blues were probably in better condition but we just didn't feel up to trying them.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, weather-wise. It started out cloudy but soon cleared up into a nice blue-bird day but not too hot. It was very windy at times. Once it was actually hard to get out of the lift at the unload because of the stiff wind blowing directly at us!

So after we got our ski legs, it was fun but because of the conditions we felt limited even beyond the fact of so many trails being closed. Not quite like the peak of the season when the surface and base are so good you feel confident skiing just about anything and you don't get quite so tired.

On my last run I could feel that the heaviness of the snow had crossed that line for me where it was just too hard to push and I no longer felt in control. Near the end of the run someone had got hurt, there were ski patrol working on a fallen skier and others were falling on that very rough section right near the end so I know it wasn't just me. I called it quits.

Here I am striking a pose halfway down "Long John"

Slushy! This was much worse later in the day.

We rode this one trail all day long. Carinthia is now exclusively a terrain park area.

View. The best views were looking backwards while riding the lift!

Winter's done, dude. Get over it.



I admit it. It's shallow. Just the thought of going skiing once more tomorrow has made me happy.

Yes, a week ago Friday at Plattekill, skiing the slush in t-shirts,

as my daughter put it, was NOT the last day of skiing for us.

Tomorrow will be the very last day of the season for Mt. Snow in Vermont and most likely for us too. (I know, I said that about last week). The kicker is that the lift tickets will be $25! Woo-hoo! Otherwise, we couldn't afford the regular prices. Especially the weekend prices.

I am excited about skiing Mt. Snow again. It was the very 3rd day I ever skied in my life was the last time I went there.
We went on a Warren Miller freebie but they haven't offered it since. We really liked it and I am anxious to see how I do now that I've been skiing for 4 years. I was just skiing novice trails back then except when we went to Mt. Snow we took the wrong lift and wound up where the only way down was an intermediate. I was not too happy about that.

My daydream is to go to Killington after that. They may be open until may and are offering $49 lift tickets (their regular weekend rates are $82!) Then we would fly out to southern california to Mammoth Mountain where they just announced they will be open till the 4th of July again this year! They got 41 feet of snow this year so far, 2 of it this week. That's feet, pilgrims, feet! Then in August or so we could fly out to Mt. Hood where they keep a few trails open all summer! Then it's only a couple of months till ski season starts up again. Sick!

I didn't do any workout today. I was at a Men's conference with my church group all day. I suppose I could still have done something after I got home but ... well, I just didn't.

But I'll make up for it tomorrow.

Oh yeah!

Great Day!

I'm just feelin' great today. My right shoulder through right arm pains have been at their least troublesome than they have been for weeks.
Is it possible that just one trip to the PT yesterday could make that much of a difference?
My PT, Keith, put my neck in a traction thing that pulled on it off and on for 15 minutes with 22 pounds of pressure. Then he gave me some exercises, stretches really, to do on my own which I have started doing.

I think the neatest thing has been chin tuck that he showed me. Basically you just tuck your chin in towards your chest and even push it with your hand. It relieves the basic problem and can be done anywhere at anytime relatively unobtrusively.

What my basic problem is a nerve being pinched by the vertebrae in my neck. The tuck and the traction both open up that space so the nerve is not constricted. That was a revelation. I thought it might be a pinched nerve but I thought it originated in my shoulder. Also, the numbness and tingling in my fingers has been greatly reduced.

The bleed in my eye is going down slowly. It most surely has come from all the ibuprofen I have been consuming for the shoulder pain. I stopped taking it completely as soon as I realized that. Keith pointed it out to me. Good thing I don't need it today!

Today was on the cool side, in the 40's. Grey and windy. I could have ridden my bike but I wanted to do an indoor bike workout from the Edwards and Reed book. The one I did is called "Change of Heart" and is a moderate 35 minute workout that has 4 intervals working up to 70% MHR and then down to 60%. I went to the gym and used a stationary bike. I'm still building up a base and don't want to burn my legs up TOO bad as I hope to go skiing this Sunday.

Arthur Who? Part 2

OK. Arthritis is NOT the problem according to the physical therapist. After a lengthy evaluation, he said the problem is a nerve in my neck that is getting pinched by a vertebra.

He put me in traction for 15 minutes to open up the space between neck vertebrae and gave me some exercises to do.

Also he nailed the bloody eye (i woke up this AM with a broken blood vessel in my right eye)! He asked if I've been taking ibuprofen. In fact, I've been eating it like candy. That's it! Good call.

He is also a cyclist so he was able to discuss what I was doing on the bike that might help or hinder my healing.

He suggested using the camelbak to drink rather than throwing back my head and chugging from the water bottle which pinches the nerve. Also suggested an exercise I can do while riding: If I'm on a straightaway with no traffic and a white line on the shoulder to keep me on the road, I can look down while in the drops and tuck my chin in toward my chest for a few seconds. Then look up and repeat. This should help open up some space in the neck vertebrae. Cool, huh?

I always love going to the PT. It's so informative. Plus they've got all these high-tech PT toys that I've never seen before, like the neck traction machine.

So, no I didn't ride the bike or go to the gym after work, I went to the PT. That was my "movement" for the day.

Sigma Onyx Pro - HRM update

I've used my new Heart Rate Monitor twice now. Once at the gym on a stationary bike workout and once, today, on a 10 mile bike ride after work.

I like it.

It comes with a bike handlebar mount which I didn't expect. You can easily move the watch from your wrist to the handlebar and it's much more convenient to keep an eye on in that position.

In addition to showing your heart rate in beats per minute, it has a graphic display of the three heart rate zones in bar form which changes according to how far into the particular zone you are. Plus you get your % HR.

The navigation is also much more intuitive than the Sports Instruments model that I have. You just hold down any button for 2 seconds to get into the menu system and from there everything is self-explanatory.

So, I'm happy with it. As long as it holds up and keeps working properly.

As I said, I took a just under 10 mile ride today. It was hot, somebody said 89, but there was a breeze and it felt great, even though I am still trying to feel bad about the end of ski season.

Bike was running pretty good, still a couple of sluggish shifts from the big to small chainring but no dropped chain.

I'm still taking it easy, trying to build my base and feeling pretty good. Intensity was easy to moderate with an average HR of 121 (70% max) although I hit a max of 150 (86%) a couple of times. I really like that this HRM records your max HR.

Shoulder was feeling good. I'm going to physical therapy tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.
Let's beat this thing! (arthritis)

Arthur who?

Doc says my shoulder x-rays show a lot of arthritis!

Say wha!?

Isn't that an inactive old person's disease?

Hey, I bike, ski, hike, go to the gym ...

And 62 isn't .... old!

I will not have arthritis.

Next question.

Ok. Seriously, a new challenge. Otherwise what would I have to blog about?

One step at a time. Do some research. Physical therapist in 2 days. Let's see what they have to say.

Is this reversible? Or something I have to live with. And is it progressive?

Stay tuned!

Track My Mileage .... New for 2010!

Get it here!

Track MY Weight ... New for 2010!

Check it out here!

New Toy ... The Sigma Onyx Pro Heart Rate Monitor

I've needed a new Heart Rate Monitor for some time now. The old one broke where the strap is fastened to the watch. I tried super gluing it but it didn't last. Too bad 'cause it still worked.

So my new one, a Sigma Onyx Pro, just arrived today from Bike Nashbar. It was a good deal, they had a 15% off sale and it had good user reviews. So far I'm happy with it. We'll see how it holds up.

It records max heart rate which my old one didn't and has a nifty mount for my bike handlebars! Also the menus and setup are much more intuitive and consistent than my old one.

The only beef I have so far, and it's a beef I've had with just about every fitness product I have bought, is with the documentation. Specifically with installing the batteries. Now admittedly this turned out to be really minor but c'mon, even a can of soup has directions that say, open can, dump contents into saucepan, heat while stirring occasionally. Now if they can provide instructions for something that obvious, Sigma should be providing instructions on installing the batteries. The chest strap battery is already installed, fine. But the watch battery is out as well as the cover. The installation instructions say to be mindful of the polarity. That's it. And the kicker is, they don't indicate the proper positioning for the polarity anywhere on the watch or battery cover (that I can find). Ha, ha. Joke's on you.

I opened up the battery cover on the chest strap reasoning that they will orient the battery the same as for the watch (not necessarily a safe assumption but it's all I had to go on.)

As it turned out, I was right.

The other thing is they tell you is to open the watch "with tool". I assume I would need "tool" to fasten the battery cover on the watch as well. They don't tell you if the tool is something special that they provide, something special that you'll have to get somewhere else and they're not telling you specifically what it is or just use any old tool you have lying around that you can get to work (hammer, drill, sawzall, ?)

Like I said, it turned out to be minor after a little inspection of the pieces that came with it. They do provide a special tool. But why can't they do a better job with the docs?

Is it something particular about fitness products? My camelback was the same way. They didn't have anything at all in the way of documenation. I had to guess at everything. I even thought it was frozen on one ride because they said absolutely nothing about there being a shutoff valve on the mouthpiece. No information about how to clean it or what can safely be disassembled and what can't. This drives me crazy. It's totally unnecessary!

End of rant.

Severe Pain!

Mrs. MTBMan1 nailed it!

I had been feeling extremely sore from my upper arms, shoulders and pecs since skiing on Friday. In fact, I have never felt so sore from anything before. I couldn't figure out why.

I don't pole enough to cause that kind of pain and I only fell 2 or 3 times thereby having to push myself up with my poles. I've done that before and never had soreness from it.

But the Mrs. reminded me of the rope tow! That thing nearly pulled my arms out of their sockets! Of course. Three rides on that thing were as extreme as anything I've ever done at the gym!

Not to mention my first attempt where I was pulled off my feet sideways and held on thinking I was going to be able to straighten myself out. (let GO dummy!)

Real bright considering I had just gone for x-rays for my shoulders the day before. We tend to pooh-pooh our doctor's warnings and think we're invincible! Hey, I'm 62! What's it going to take, traction?

Anyway, mystery solved!

Pain ... The Good, the bad and the ugly

Pain ... The Good, the bad and the ugly

I'm in mostly wonderful pain today! Lest you think I'm sick-o ....

As you may know, if you've been following me, I really love having the well deserved pain of an intense workout. The proper muscular pain that you are trying to achieve in order to strengthen and grow those muscles.

I'm not sure why I like it. I can only speculate.

Perhaps it makes me feel more alive, more "in my body". Or maybe it's because it's associated in my subconscious with the euphoria of the activity that caused it. Or maybe it's just the sense of accomplishment, that I achieved what I set out to do.

This is from skiing yesterday. I didn't feel like I worked out that hard. It was mostly fun. But today I'm feelin' it almost everywhere, shoulders, pecs, calves. I had cramps in both my calves at different times last night and had to get up and walk it out.

I know as I get moving more today it will lessen. That's the good.

On the other hand, I have some bad pain. Not from skiing.

I've had a problem with my right shoulder for some years now. It's probably a torn rotator cuff. Went the doctor on Wednesday and he thought both shoulders might be torn although I've never experienced any pain in my left.

I don't think it's caused by but is exacerbated by bike riding, especially climbing or standing out of the saddle. In these situations there is some pulling up on the handelbars and I have learned to pull from my lower arms and abs rather than from the shoulder but it only takes forgetting on one pull to impact the bad shoulder negatively.

But even that is not what brought me to the doctor.

It's a new problem that is pain along the inside edge of the right shoulder blade (scapula) and travels down my right arm in various locations that change and ends in numbness of the fingers, primarily the thumb and forefinger and to a lesser extent the other 3 fingers.

I can't point to any event or activity that brought this on but I'm beginning to suspect it's posture related. I can control the pain by being careful about my posture. I need to either sit up perfectly straight, not rigid, or lean back slightly. Standing, it's harder to control.

I went for X-rays this Thursday and start physical therapy next Thursday.

I'm looking forward to physical therapy. I always like the opportunity to learn how to take care of my body from the experts.

On another note, the Mrs. and I got really muddy yesterday. This red mud that won't wash out! I'd like to say it was from flying through muddy washouts at high speed or spectacular crashes or even late-season pond skimming but it was from falling off the rope tow on the bunny slope!

We walked over the the beginners hill to watch our fam from Virginia and decided to take a little cruise to show them how it's done by the "experts".

First off, I grabbed the handle on the rope tow while standing perpendicular to the slope (duh!) with predictable results. Later on Mrs. MtBMan1 did something similar, I wasn't watching, and got covered with mud on one side. Very cool.

I don't have to worry about trying to stay humble. Life has a way of helping out with that. That's the ugly!

Day 12, 09/10 Ski Season ... Plattekill

Today may possibly have been our last day of this ski season but I say "possbily" because I am going to keep my options open. Lookin' at some Vermont areas.
Mt Snow is intending to be open next weekend with $25 lift tickets and Killington is selling late season passes good until May 2nd which, I guess, means they intend to stay open until May.

Of course, a lot depends on the weather. I love to ski but I would not want to be in the ski resort business!

It was not great conditions at Plattekill but hey, it's spring, pushin' 80 degrees and ... it's skiin'.

The snow was, of course, soft and wet, after all, it's in the 70's. Last year this would have been impossible for me but this year I can do it. I'm enjoying it. I'm able to turn without trying to push the whole mountain. Much less tiring!

The big problem was with the bare spots. The best run for me was a blue combo, Sundown then turning on to the "Face" which is the lift line. The only problem was that "turn". It had really deep ruts and was churned up and lots of mud and dirt mixed in with the snow which I think just spooked me. After lunch there were some bare spots on that turn which made the line pretty narrow.

So I was happy to ski Powder puff the rest of the afternoon. It's skiin'!

Had some fam up from Virginia so that was a treat for us and for them. They don't get to ski much down there even if they DID get more snow than us this year (humph!).

Here's da pics!

This is a turn on Powder Puff with a view!

As you can see, it's getting some bare spots. It was disconcerting when we drove up but it turned out OK!

This was looking up Sundown from the 1st hairpin turn. Favorite run of the day!

This is the other side of that turn on Sundown as I'm about to descend

Now I'm on "Shredded Mozzarella" looking back. Right where that skier is in the picture, is where
the turn onto the "Face" is that gave me trouble later. It was not too bad in this picture earlier
in the day.

Now, I'm about to start down "Mozzarella". Not bad here, but wait ...

Hmmm... Ol' Moz is gettin' kinda thin

I'm not going to attempt that! Don't even have to think about it! Off come the skis!

Maybe someone could do this on one ski .... not me!

Forget it! This trail was closed the next time I came down! The ski patrol guy said he walked it
too so I don't feel too bad.

I have to thank and commend Plattekill for a valiant effort ($20 tickets too!). Thanks for staying
open so we could have one more day! Sorry about the pictures of the bare spots. We really
had a great time. It was all skiable!

Squeezing the last drop out of winter

Squeezing the last drop out of winter, we are going to ski at Plattekill Mtn. in Roxbury, NY tomorrow.

My choices were, in this order: Windham, Plattekill, Jiminy Peak.

My reasoning was this: Windham has the most open terrain, 100% and they are close, within 1 hour, but the most expensive @ $39 (not bad, though. Killington is still $82!).
Plattekill is probably 2nd best terrain because they are also in the Catskills but this is debatable because they don't have the snowmaking to build up their base. On the other hand, they have $20 lift tickets which was the deciding factor for the Mrs.. We are also trying to be considerate of some relatives which we invited because they also have to rent equipment.
Jiminy was 3rd choice because 1.They are in the Berkshires which didn't get the late season Catskill dump. On the plus side for Jiminy, they have good snowmaking so their base is probably good. We could get e-tickets @ $25 a pop. We also have a 2 for 1 coupon and I think their regular lift ticket price is reduced to $39.

So there you have it.

I rode today, a short, base-building ride but I did lube my chain at least and it did seem to make things better.

I was able to downshift my front derailleur better although I did drop my chain downshifting this time.

I tried recording with the BlackBerry and VR+ software again. I stopped at the halfway point and confirmed it was still recording and it was. But when I got home there was a recording error and no recording. I think I might have run out of space on the internal storage or something the message said something about error saving.

Next time I'm going to try just saving it at the halfway point and see if that works. If there's not space to just save it internally and start another recording, I may have to upload the first file in order to make room.

I'm OK with that. This is all just an experiment right? Patience is the key. Right? Right?

It was warm and sunny. Probably 70 degrees.

It's some consolation for the end of ski season.