Today, Memorial Day 2010, Mrs. MTBMan1 and I just took a walk.

We drove about an hour east into Massachusetts and to the summit of Mt. Greylock where we hiked a part of the Thunderbolt Trail.

It was kind of a pilgrimage for us.

In case you don't know (you probably don't), the Thunderbolt Trail is one of the oldest ski trails in the country and in 1936 hosted the United States Eastern Alpine Ski Championships. For years it's been unused until this past ski season when it was resurrected for a race.

There is a movie about it, Purple Mountain Majesty which documents the history of the trail and helped to inspire it's recent renaissance.

Unfortunately, (stupidly), I failed to bring a GPS or heart rate monitor. We would have liked to know how far we hiked, elevation and calories burned in particular.

I'm guesstimating we hiked about 3 miles and at the steep grade and rough terrain that's sayin' something. Part of the hike was along the Appalachian trail.

It was great to get out in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the breezes and vistas and reminisce about last ski season.

Here are a few pics from the day.

Yours truly at the summit

Certain notable points in the trail are designated by signs

A look down the Thunderbolt Trail from "The Big Bend"

Typical of the trail back up to the summit:

Hills ... Love 'em ... Hate 'em!

Sometimes I dread climbing and sometimes I love it.

Actually I was really looking forward to the hills today. I haven't climbed in this particular area all season. This was the second time I've ever done this climb and it seemed easier today.

It was certainly the perfect day and my favorite time slot. Sunday morning, early before everybody's up for the day. Charles now lives about 2 miles from my house so he met me at 6:30 and off we went. It was about 58 degrees, calm and no rain predicted.

As you can see from the graph below, it's mostly climbing for the first 16 miles. Definitely all climbing from the 10 mile mark where the climb into the Thatcher Park area begins. At about 11.5 miles is the start of Indian Ledge Road, today's big climb.

I was surprised at my heart rate numbers. I averaged 130(75% MHR) and topped out at 155 (89%MHR). Low for me for a hard climb like that. I have a theory that I run a lower heart rate in the morning than in the afternoon and evening. One time I took a group ride around 6:30PM and was shocked at my relatively high HR numbers. And I didn't feel that I was working particularly hard either.

My computer for some reason measured about 7 miles less than the actual mileage. I'm sure it had to do with the fact that the sending unit got shaken loose at a particularly rough downhill and I had to stop and reposition it. So my mileage and time numbers are not particularly reliable. The GPS reported a high speed at one point of 58 mph! I doubt that although I got going pretty good on the way back down from summit. Nothing quite like a long downhill run after you've earned it!

Almost back to my house I nearly skidded out on a sharp turn. It felt like a flat in the rear. Sure enough the tire was soft but not completely flat. That was a new tube that I just installed last weekend on a ride. After I got home, I patched the tire. Upon close inspection I can see that my rear tire is shot. Cord is showing in some spots and there is a hole clear through the tire! Time for a new one. My LBS isn't open again until Wednesday so I may be riding one of the mountain bikes till then unless I can find a 27" tire in Albany on Tuesday (Monday's a holiday).

Here are my numbers:
Average heart rate: 130
Maximum heart rate: 155
Total ride time: 2:34
Total ascent: 2854 feet
Total descent: 2835 feet
Cadence: 64 rpm

And here is the route I call simply, Indian Ledge:

indian ledge

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Can't brag about this one!

Today I rode with my friend Brad and his wife Jaime and their 2 little kids. Brad and Jaime were on a tandem mountain bike and the kids were being towed in a trailer. Brad was the "puller". The bike alone weighs about 50lbs.

It was an easy ride for me. With their weight, they made good time going down hills but of course were much slower going up. Brad was a pretty good racer with an Air Force team in Italy a few years back but he's out of training now but I have to give him credit. We went up Orchard hill which isn't that long but it has a few steep sections. I certainly couldn't have done what he did. Nor would I even attempt it. ;-)

Brad and Jaime are planning on doing the tandem thing with the kids in the trailer for a 50 mile benefit for Love146 which I will also be doing so that's what they're training for.

They usually do a 26 miler but after orchard hill Brad was fried and opted to turn back with me. I wound up doing 19 miles and had a really invigorating but not too hard ride.

I hurt for Brad. He's very ambitious attempting this. Of course he's only 28 but you can still hurt yourself.

Here are my numbers:

Here is the route we took:

Voorheesville 1-1/2 hr. loop

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Why Bother?

Weighing myself, that is.

I can feel the "extra" when I bend down to tie my shoe or fasten my pants. I know it's not good.

I'm a numbers/graph type of guy but I like to see the line go down not up.

It's like doing my personal finances. It's fun when I'm flush with dough but when I know things are tight, I'm reluctant to do the budget or cash flow.

It's not about regular exercise. I have no problem there. It's just about eating. The body doesn't lie. You take in more calories than you burn ... you gain. Simple. Sure, it's harder for some of us than others, that metabolism thing ... some people can't gain a pound to save their lives ... but no use crying over it.

It is what it is.


I did it again.

Today was a day with no expectation of getting any kind of workout in. I worked a little late plus I had a meeting at 5:30 to 7.

When I got out of the meeting at 7, hmm, it seemed a little bit light. Like I might have time for a quick ride.

So that's what I did. When I got back to the house, I changed in record time grabbed my gear and was moving on the bike by 7:09.

I took what I call the "short loop", 7.9 miles-ish, which of course traverses Meads Lane, one of my favorite roads.

Once again, as I did yesterday, I tried a high but not maxed effort over the 2 mile length of Meads. 152 bpm or higher which puts me in the 88% to 90% of maximum heart rate range. This is sustainable. At least over that distance. I hit a high of 159 bpm or 91% of max. Again, I'm not gasping for breath but breathing pretty hard and regular. Puffing, I call it. And my legs are working hard but not screaming for relief. I'm maintaining a good speed and cadence too. I'm liking this.

Here are today's numbers:

And here is the route:

meads - short loop

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No Sprint

As promised, I did not ride or go to the gym yesterday. No time. That's OK with me. If I can do 6 out of 7 I'm down wi' dat! And if life gets in the way so I can't do that, well, I'm not going to obsess over it. It was a nice, and I think, well deserved rest.

Today they were predicting possible violent storms in the afternoon so I thought I might wind up at the gym but it was almost clear skies when I got out of work although in the 90s.

But hey, no big deal. I rode a 100k when the temps were in the 90s with 3 broken spokes on my rear wheel. No big deal. And I'm in better shape now than I was then.

I rode one of my usual after work routes which all seem to end up traversing Mead's Lane. But I tried something a little different. Rather than doing 2, 3 or 4 all out, pedal to the metal sprints. I tried to find a pace I could sustain for a long distance. And that seemed to be about 88% MHR or 152 bpm. I maxed out at 159 bpm, 91% MHR. At that pace I was working pretty hard, I wasn't gasping for breath but huffin' and puffin' in a pretty consistent rhythm. I wouldn't be inclined to carry on a conversation, let's say.

That worked well. It's much more pleasant than those all out sprints and I got a pretty good average speed (for me) of 15.2 mph.

Now if I can just lose 20 lbs. I'll be flyin'! ;-)

Here are today's numbers:

And here is today's route:

meads - medium loop via poplar drive at EveryTrail

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I'm an addict!

I said yesterday that I definitely needed to give my butt a break and maybe just take a walk and go to the gym to do an upper body workout.


I went for a bike ride. :-)

Especially when the weather is this gorgeous I just can't not do a bike ride. But seriously, I really need to work on these arms!

Yesterday was a real recovery ride but today I hit it moderately. Only 2 or 3 sprints and then just rode how I felt. Which was pretty good.

My average speed was 15mph which I was surprised at 'cause I wasn't really trying for speed particularly. I'm happy about that. I hope my computer is OK. It never agrees with the GPS app on the BlackBerry. The GPS always shorts me as to mileage and speed. Actually I know the GPS is wrong at a couple of spots. My highest speed on this loop ALWAYS is the end of Van Dyke where there is a dip down then up and I usually slam it to see how fast I can go. I didn't do that today but I did hunker down onto the drops to get the aerodynamic effect and I still got 34 mph out of it. My all time best on that dip is 38 mph and change. One time the computer showed 44 but I know that was a malfunction!

The GPS showed other spots as my high speed that weren't even downhills. Uh-uh. But I'm still happy with EveryTrail GPS because it automatically maps my route. Fun and a real time saver.

Tomorrow I will definitely take off because it is my late day coming home from work and I don't have time to ride.

I can live with that.


My legs are toast! After that 3 hour ride yesterday. A 3 hour ride is generally no big deal to me so I was surprised at how fried I was. Maybe I've just forgotten how it feels since it's been so long since I'd done one. (first this year?)

All my rides lately have been 1 hour or under with few exceptions. After I got home from the ride I mowed the lawn and installed air conditioners in the house so that may have contributed to my fatigue.

It didn't seem that bad while I was riding. Even up to the end with it's couple of big hills.

Today, I felt was a good day to completely abstain from riding and to recover as much as possible but by suppertime I just didn't feel right. Kind of out of sorts. Couldn't clear the cobwebs out of my head. That sort of thing.

So I decided to take a recovery ride. The more I thought about it, the better I felt. But I promised myself "Real recovery ride". No hammering trying to catch somebody who passes me or trying to maintain a high cadence on the upside of the rollers.

I think I did pretty well for once. My average HR was 100 and I managed to keep it below that for much of the ride. I tried to keep my cadence above 80 rpms when possible without going too hard up the inclines.

The only thing that really needs a break is my seat! Maybe tomorrow I will just take a walk and work my arms at the gym!

I won't bore you with today's numbers. They're pretty unexciting, as they're intended to be.

Here is the route which I call "Meads - short loop". Only about 7 miles and change.

meads - short loop

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The bad news is ... I got a flat!

The good news is ... I'm getting much better at repairing them! :-)

I really wish I could
1. record my thoughts while I'm riding
2. record some video while I'm riding

I have so many thoughts while riding that I'd like to share here but can't remember them all hours after the ride. I had an idea to use the voice recorder on the blackberry but I can't find any software that does voice activated recording. I don't want to listen to hours of wind noise to capture a few "utterances"! Also, the GPS app "EveryTrail" is running and I don't think it would keep running under the voice recording.

I tried to take a few pictures on today's ride but it spoils the enjoyment of the ride to have to stop, fish the camera out of a back pocket and snap the picture. At least to do it as often as I would like. The ideal would be to get a helmet cam and run the video during segments of the ride. Then I could either share the video or clip a few frames out as "photos". But the Vholdr helmet cam that I would like is about $350, I think. Not yet.

Today I decided to ride 1-1/2 hours out to and along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path. I don't think I've done this ride for a couple of years, the main reason being sections of the ride are through unpleasant city streets. This ride was no different, of course, but I pleased to find that some of those streets had been resurfaced since I rode them last making them safer and more fun to ride.

There are some "off-pavement" shortcuts that I took. This is one of them. The last time I took this (years ago on a mountain bike) there were no concrete barriers and no fallen tree. At first the tree looked like it was deliberately felled to block the path at closer examination, it looks like it fell naturally from rot. I had to slide my bike under the tree and then crawl under myself.

By the way, I'm riding my skinny-tire road bike not a fat-tire mountain bike:

This is a bridge in Normanside, a little village off the main road. I like to call it "the land that time forgot!"

The road down to and up out of Normanside we used to call "the yellow brick road" for obvious reasons. Some years ago, someone decided to pave over it. Now because of wear and tear and neglect, some of the bricks are starting to show through again.

This is the start of the Albany section of the bike trail. Here, it is called the Corning Bike Path after former Albany mayor Erastus Corning.

This is the other end of the section, in Menands. After this, it's more city streets. Menands, Green Island (pleasant) and Cohoes.

After about 3 miles of busy and mostly unpleasant city streets, except for Green Island, here is the start of the bike trail proper in Cohoes:

Just before my projected turnaround point at 1 hour and 22 minutes, I got my flat! Physically, I was a bit fried but I did ok changing the flat. I had a nice fresh new tube with me. The only thing I'm leery of is my pump. I can never trust that it's putting air in the tire. After I got home and checked the pressure it was only 40 lbs. I usually put 90-100 in it.

Here is a picture, almost home, at the end of the Albany city section.

Right at the street sign, I turn the corner and ....

Back to heaven! Down into Normanside. You'd never know you were right on the edge of Albany.
Here's a shot of the Normanskill River from the bridge.

All told, I don't know if it's worth all the city riding to go just an hour and a half each way on this ride. Sometimes I drive to the trailhead in Cohoes and start there.

Here are today's numbers:
And here is a link to the route:

mo-hud 18 miles and back at EveryTrail

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2 out of 4 ain't bad!

Last weekend, I was looking at the possibility of not getting a ride in from Monday to Thursday because of various commitments. As it turned out, I was able to ride on Monday and Thursday. Not epic rides by any stretch but rides nonetheless!

Today I did another short ride, about 50 minutes, which I will call "rr n back" because I go out to the train tracks and back, more or less. Once again, I had no particular training objective, just healthy exercise (and fun).

I think I did pretty good, though. On the first roller on the route at the end of Van Dyke road where it tees into Meads Lane, I hammered it down the hill to try to get a good maximum speed and then the up side is quite steep. I usually also see my maximum heart rate on this little "sprint". That was the only all-out interval that I did although I did do some moderate to hard segments. In any event, I am feeling it in the legs now and my numbers were pretty good. Average speed was 13.8 which is good for me for not really trying.

This weekend, probably tomorrow, I plan on doing a longer ride, 2 to 2-3/4 hours. I most likely will be doing it solo as Charles' son is getting married this weekend so I doubt he'll be able to fit a ride in. ;-)

Here is a link to my numbers for this ride: http://mtbman1.sweat365.com/2010/05/21/to-the-tracks-and-back-bike-ride/

And here is the route:

rr n back

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I finally lost 2 pounds. Don't break out the champagne yet. I mean 2 pounds in one day? C'mon. Water weight or something. But I'll take it!
If you look at my chart: you'll see my weight is mostly at 200 lbs when it's not crazy all over the place.

I can almost guarantee this will happen when I go to bed early, i.e. don't eat late at night. I only had 1 12oz can of diet pepsi but most foods contain some water. (how much water is in saltine crackers? Maybe it's the salt. Doesn't it cause you to hold water?)

Anyhow if I can not eat at night after dinner or hold it to just one low cal dessert, I will lose some weight. That's how it works for me. I know right before bed is the worst time to eat high cal or high carb snacks. I am so good the rest of the day. I'm rarely even tempted to over eat or eat poorly.

Today was a problem. I had a work conference at a hotel this afternoon. It started at 12:30 but they advertised that they would be having HORS D'OEUVRES. I ate my apple and my orange before going so I wouldn't be ravenous. The HORS D'OEUVRES turned out to be cheesecakes, brownies and cookies! Not exactly lunch fare.

They were serving a sit down dinner later but I felt I needed something before then so I nibbled on a few of the desserts and had coffee and diet soda throughout the afternoon. Not the best of diets!

Later, at the dinner I had fish, salad and vegetables but I couldn't resist one spoonful of the cheesy au gratin potatoes. I did not have dessert.

One the plus side, the weather was great and when I got home I still had enough daylight for a 45 minute ride. Again, it was just a ride for pleasure. No training objective. I warmed up easy, hit it hard in a couple of the usual spots, then cruised easy the rest of the way. Here are the numbers for that ride:

And here is the route. I call it "Two Stubs" because I go out and back on a stub of Meads Lane and then the stub up to the railroad tracks and back just to get a little more distance out of the ride.

two stubs at EveryTrail

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I like to eat

As I said earlier this week, I don't expect to get any workout in this week, ride, gym or otherwise, because of other commitments, mostly work related. However, unexpectedly, I was able to get a ride in on Monday. Yesterday was work late and then a meeting and today was a seminar 2 hours away that got me home too late for any exercise.

I did get a little hang time with a buddy of mine tonight and I told him about my frustrations with losing weight and he made some suggestions that he said worked for him in the past. It mostly involved munching on veggies for snacks and eating lots of salads. Big ones if necessary. I'll give it a try, maybe. The issue of course, is breaking a habit and/or replacing it with a better one. In this case snacking on veggies instead of cheese 'n' crackers. Good stuff vs. bad stuff. Getting to prefer the good stuff over the bad stuff. They say changing a habit takes about 21 days. Not sure where they got this number or who "they" are.

I know one thing, though.

I like to eat.

Life is Cruel

When I was 17, I had a weight problem ... how to gain some. I was the proverbial 97 lb weakling (well, 155 lbs. but at 6 feet that was skinny). I could eat anything and everything and I did but I couldn't break 155. The first time I was able to gain weight was in Army basic training. I got to 180. But that was in full field dress, about 20 lbs of gear so it was more like 160. I attributed that to the intense daily physical activity. Pre-dawn runs, PT, marches, etc. Plus all the food you could eat.

Between ages 30 and 40, I was still skinny but developed a paunch. Then after 40 I steadily put on weight up to an all time high of 222! Now, I'm eating much less and much better than ever and exercising pretty vigorously on a daily basis but can't seem to break 200, at least it's very hard. A few years ago, I got down to 182 on Atkins but that diet was just not sustainable for me.

The hard core realists out there say it's just a matter of simple math. If you take in more than you burn, you gain. I know that but it doesn't seem fair that it's so hard for some of us. I know people middle aged and older who couldn't gain a pound if their life depended on it. So, apparently their metabolism is higher. Are they "hotter" inside? Running a constant fever? Can't be. How does that work? What does that mean "higher metabolism". Rant, rave, rant, rave ...

My hope was that I could build up to enough exercise that I wouldn't have to worry about diet. Apparently that is not the case.

Don't tell me to suck up and deal. I know that! And I will!

Ha, ha! I slipped a ride in today.

Yesterday, I didn't think I would get another in until Friday ... but ...

After supper it looked good to get an hour in before dark so out I went. Mrs. MTBMan1 graciously gave me up and scooted me out the door. I hope all your spouses are as supportive as mine! Yes, it's fun but it's primarily about staying healthy and alive so we can enjoy more of our life together. The fun provides the motivation necessary to keep on going.

Oddly the "EveryTrails.com" GPS app for my blackberry has freed me up to vary my routes more and do some exploring. It's not like I couldn't have done that without the GPS but I like to map my rides and if I do whimsical routes that retrace sections it's harder to manually do that on a mapping program. The everytrails app is so easy and slick that it's no problem at all.

Today, as yesterday, I did a random, route as you go ride. That is, I didn't really know where I was going until I got there! I made decisions turn by turn. I went up Pangburn road which we used to live at the bottom of. I remembered it as such a formidable hill on foot but it wasn't as bad as Orchard Hill although it went up basically the same terrain. It's actually the next road south from Orchard Hill Road. It's a go up and back kind of road because at the other end is a really bad stretch of Delaware Ave. No shoulder, narrow road and fast traffic. Not pleasant or safe. That's why I've never tried to bike it before. I didn't want to just go up and back but so what?

This ride worked out almost exactly as long as my regular "Dunkin' Donut" route. About 14 miles and change.

I rode it too hard for a recovery ride. Again I just did it for fun and I'm feelin' my oats these days. I'll get my rest this week I'm sure.

if you're interested, here are my numbers from this ride and here's the map:
pangburn n back at EveryTrail

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The Jungle!

The Jungle encroaches constantly upon everything. You have to keep hacking away at it ... constantly ... or you'll be overwhelmed. And you have to keep at it day after day. It doesn't matter if you cleared your way yesterday, today it's back again.

What is this "jungle"? Things that consume your time.

It looks like I may not be able to bike or go to the gym this week until Friday! Tomorrow I have an appointment with my audiologist (I have hearing aids) after work, Tuesday is my work late day plus I have to vote for the school budget after work, Wed. I go away for a work related seminar and won't be back until late, Thurs. is another seminar that will run late.

So, unless I ride very early in the morning, before work (horrors!) ...

Actually, when I first thought about the subject for this post, I was going to complain more. That was before I took my ride today.

After church, I wanted more than anything to take a nap. But I knew better than that. Charles went for a ride before church with 2 other guys but I couldn't go because it was my week for chair duty (Charles has another week). Our church is a multi-use facility, basically a gym, and the chairs have to be setup and taken down before and after every Sunday service.

So I missed that group ride but I knew i needed to take a ride rather than a nap since: 1. I might not be able to ride most of next week as I stated above and 2. I would feel much better about everything if I took the ride and 3. I would feel terrible both physically and emotionally if I just took the nap because I would never get the endorphin thing going and I would feel guilty about not having done the right thing.

I took the ride!

Wow, it was a great ride, too! Of course the weather was perfect. Just the right temperature, partly sunny with low humidity and low to no wind. mmm-mmm-MMM! And I was feeling good. Probably tuned right up after riding every day faithfully all week. After warming up, I was able to hit it hard again and again and feel great doing it. I could have ridden 2 or more hours easily but I promised Mrs. MTBMan1 that I would be back in an hour and a half and I didn't want her to worry and I didn't want to call because I was afraid the call might interrupt the GPS on the Blackberry.

But that's OK. I was satisfied. Better to quit wanting more than wanting to quit with more to go. At least in this case.

As far as the encroaching jungle goes, at least these are not ongoing commitments. That's what really gets you. This week is a special case so I guess I can tolerate it. It's not going to be like this all the time. I just hate to lose that sense of well-being I get from riding/working out every day.

On a related note, MapMyRide.com is doing the 2010 Le Tour Challenge again this year. This was really fantastic last year. Long story, short (you can read the details on the site), it got me to ride every day that the Tour de France rides over the course of the event. 21 days! That was where I really got a good taste of this "ride every day" feeling. You really should check it out. The incentive is that they do random drawings every day and give away really cool prizes including some high end bikes! Do it!

As for today's awesome ride, you can check out my stats here on sweat365.com.

And here's the map from EveryTrail.com. I call this ride "random" until I can think of a better name because I didn't plan where I was going, I just "winged it"!:
random at EveryTrail

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Oh yeah, after the ride I took that nap! ;-)

In Quest of Pain, the saga continues

Friday I was not sore so I took a moderate ride. This is the type of ride you're NOT supposed to take if you want to gain maximum benefit from your training.
When I say moderate what I mean is, I just did what I felt like without regard for any training considerations. I did it for fun, pure and simple.
What you're supposed to do is hit it really hard, as hard as you can bear and then for a day or 2 (or a week!) recover with easy rides or cross-training until the soreness goes away. Then hit it hard again.
Now, there is some benefit to the moderate ride that I'm talking about. Certainly you're burning calories and/or fat and you're keeping things limbered up.
I find it really hard to do the easy rides, as I've intimated before, because I'm used to enjoying a certain minimum speed and I like to stand out of the saddle and pedal to give my seat a break (and I don't mean the bicycle seat).
So I rode for an hour after work. This ride I dubbed "Bullock n Back" but now as I write this, I realized it's misnamed. I'm going to call it "Orchard n Back" because while I intended to ride straight out to Bullock Road for a half hour and back because I only had an hour to ride, I only got to the top of Orchard Hill in 1/2 hour. As I get faster, and when I have more time, I will make it to Bullock Road, so, on second thought, I'll keep the name. It's goal oriented! ;-)
I'm thinking out loud aren't I?

And today I'm sore! Hooray! Today's workout? I mowed the lawn for 1/2 hour. I wore my heart rate monitor. Average HR: 109, Max HR:118, calories 226.

Here is "Bullock n Back" as mapped by my wonderful new free GPS app for the blackberry "Every Trail" which I love because it works!:

bullock n back at EveryTrail

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Halleluiah, I am sore!

Halleluiah, I am sore
Halleluiah, sore again
Halleluiah, give us a day off (recovery ride)
To revive us once again!

Wow, I'm really sore today! My quads even! Must be the accumulation of several days of riding. Yesterday's workout on the stationary bike in the gym was supposed to be a recovery ride but it was really harder than I should have done. But, as I said last time, I'm a systems guy. Got to follow the program, and workout #6 "Rock Bottom" from the Edwards and Reed book, The Heart Rate Monitor Workbook for Indoor Cyclists, was next in line so I had to do it!

Frankly, I enjoyed it. It was a good workout. This was the most complex sequence to date and required a lot of attention. This is the kind of workout that would be impractical and dangerous out on the road; too much watching of the chronometer and heart rate monitor. In fact, it's too complex for me to try to explain it so I'll just show it to you.

Today I took a real recovery ride (well almost). It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I thought I'd grab it when I could. In fact, it was starting to look threatening when I started out. But it was still dry and the temp wasn't too bad, probably 50s or thereabouts. Well I did take it pretty easy but it's actually harder sometimes to take it really easy as in controlling your heart rate down to a certain level than it is to ride moderately hard. You tend to want to go at least a certain minimum speed and also I like to get out of the saddle and give my seat a break. Which requires standing and pedaling and that tends to bring the old heart rate up.

Anyhow, it was enjoyable. If I'm still sore tomorrow and it's raining, I'll give my legs the day off and do some long overdue upper body weight training at the dread gym. I'm actually looking forward to it!

Gasping for breath ... and glad of it!

On Monday it was windy so I decided to ride "Dunkin' Donut" in the reverse direction from usual because the prevailing winds on the long stretch of Meads Lane would then be a tail wind rather than head.

The thing is, when I start out in the usual direction on the loop, east, it's mostly flat riding until about the last third where I start running into the rollers. So I'm pretty warmed up by the time I hit them after about 40 minutes of riding.

Going west, as I did Monday, I do get about a 10 minute warm-up but then get all the rollers and hills first.

So on the first climb of the ride I found it unusual to be particularly short of breath and gasping for air more than I'm used to even on really big hills. In retrospect, I think it might be because I wasn't that warmed up. Even when I do Orchard Hill which is a real hill and not just a roller, I've had at least another 10 minutes of warming up before hitting it.

Anyhow, everything turned out fine and it was a good ride. What really surprised me was my maximum heart rate. My new heart monitor records maximum HR which my old one didn't. It's a feature I particularly wanted because it's not convenient to be continually looking at your wrist when climbing a tough hill. The max for this ride was 172 and my estimated maximum HR is 173! The highest HR I've seen previous to this has been 171 and that was the first time I did Orchard Hill. I didn't pace myself properly and started it too aggressively.

Of course it could be a glitch but I'd like to think I got it that high. The unusually difficult breathing would tend to support that too.

Someday I'd like to confirm by actual experience what my Max Hr is rather than from a formula. They say that's the only way to know for sure. But they also say you won't be able to do it on your own, you'll need somebody whipping you on, it's too painful. I think it's in one of the Edwards and Reed heart rate monitor books where they have you climb a steep section of hill 3 times at maximum effort to really get a good estimate of your MHR. The old formula, 220 minus your age is a complete joke. If that were true my maximum heart rate would be 158 and I exceed that all the time.

My HRM calculates my MHR at 173bpm. I don't know what formula they use but it takes my weight into account. I think they might be using the formula that Edwards and Reed use that was developed by Dan Heil, Ph.D.: 210 minus half your age in years minus 5% of your weight in pounds add 4 for men only. That comes out to 173 for me. That seems about right since the highest numbers I have seen so far are 171 and 172 and I think I could push it even a little more.

Anyhow I'm glad to be seeing these numbers confirmed even if I am gasping for breath!

Motivation to Lose Weight!

There are lots of reasons to lose weight. And lots of things that motivate me to lose weight. A new one just occurred to me today. Well, it's not like I hadn't thought about it before but it hit me more powerfully today thanks to my friend Jim Grant who is a member of Sweat365 as am I.

As I observed the statistics from Jim's rides, I was impressed to see his speed and high cadence along with low heart rate numbers. What's impressive is that Jim is 67 years old, 5 years older than me! After awhile I found out that Jim weighs 120lbs. I weigh 200. I know that a few pounds can make a big difference in climbing ability. That's why bike racers spend hundreds of dollars on high-tech components that shave ounces and grams off their machines. I suppose it can make a difference in how fast you go as well.

I have a retro bike. It's a Raleigh Olympian circa 1982-84. Weighs about 26lbs. Now I could spend a couple thousand dollars on a snazzy new, light weight aluminum, carbon fiber or titanium bike and lose 10 or more lbs that way but I thought I'd get more bang for the buck by losing 20 or 30 pounds off myself! Not to mention the health benefits. Not to mention I'd actually SAVE money eating less food rather than spend more money on a bike.

Now I'm not going to attempt to get down to 120 lbs. I'm 6' tall. That would be unhealthy for me. But 180 wouldn't be too bad. And maybe even 170. I'm dreaming of how easy these hills around here would be. You're supposed to try to spin a faster cadence when climbing hills. It's supposed to make it easier. Hey, I'm just happy to make it up at all, forget about cadence! I'm in the forties on Orchard Hill. On harder, longer hills I'm too winded to even glance down at the computer to see what my RPMs are!

I'm in my 10th day of logging my eating. Tomorrow I send the logs to another friend of mine who is going to review them. It helps to pay attention to what you're eating. It's too easy to throw down a bite of this and a handful of that and think you're hardly eating anything all day. But if you log it, it can be a revelation. And sometimes I'll think "I'm not going to eat that, I'll have to log it!" Seeing it in print somehow makes it seem worse.

Someone once said "Discipline is remembering what you want" or something to that effect. In other words, do I want to eat that cheeseburger or do I want ride fast like my buddy Jim? It's my choice but I can't have both.

Sore at last!

Well, a little bit anyway. I'm definitely feeling Friday's ride enough to technically say, yes, I am sore. But not very.

It was raining pretty hard Saturday morning so about 11 o'clock I decided to go to the gym for a "recovery" workout on the stationary bike and start some upper body strength training.

The gym was relatively empty and all the stat bikes were free. Great.

For my recovery "ride" I chose Workout #5, "Recovery Intervals" from the book "The Heart Rate Monitor Workbook for Indoor Cyclists" by Edwards and Reed.

Here is the workout plan:

This was probably a little more of a workout than I should have done after a hard workout but hey, I'm a systems guy and this was the next workout in line from the book so I was compelled to do it! It was pretty good. I worked up a bit of a sweat. One nice thing about working out on the stationary bike is that you can pay better attention to the details of the workout plan and not have to worry about running off the road! I was also able to record my recovery time after each interval per the instructions. That was pretty cool.

After the bike, I did some upper body stuff on the machines. I'm starting out (again) carefully because of my recent shoulder problems. More or less just going through the motions rather than lifting any real "weight". Felt good to get back into that. I'm also inspired to do some weight work by Logan Franklin who has the senior-exercise-central.com website and publishes the "Gray Iron Fitness" newsletter. Lots of good information and encouragement there.

If you think I'm crazy about wanting to be sore, check out Dr. Gabe Mirkin on it here.

More "what makes me happy"

Another installment in the shallow, materialistic and sometimes pitiful recounting of the little 'things' that make me happy.

As most of us do who blog about the health and fitness arena, we try to tie whatever we write about back to the topics of health and fitness. Of course, our lives are about much more than just health and fitness but we try to adhere to the primary subject matter for the sake of our loyal readers who return or subscribe for just that reason.

For example, to paraphrase the penultimate country and western theme: "My wife left me, I lost my job, the bank repossessed my truck, and my dog died. So to drown my sorrows I walked down to the gym to work it out and they had canceled my membership for non-payment. So I didn't work out today."

However, I may not be able to link what I'm about to share with health and fitness for the first time in my blog life, so if that turns out to be the case, I ask your indulgence and forgiveness.

In the past I have listed things that make me happy and those things are usually related to health and fitness; bikes, bike clothing, other sports equipment, getting a deal on equipment or clothing, etc. Most recently, it was "the thought of going skiing" that made me happy. Pitiful.

Today's entry requires a little setup. I have this very special car. It is a '95 Geo Prism but it is unlike any other Geo Prism on the road. It has special "customizations". The first is this driver's side door handle treatment.

It provides an extra easy grip for opening the door except that you have to open the passenger door first to unlatch the driver's side door. As an additional security bonus, you can leave the door unlocked and it still cannot be opened without unlocking the passenger door.

The next "feature" that I would like to point out is the rocker panel. The metal has been strategically removed to reduce weight and provide enhanced cooling to the underside of the vehicle. This is duplicated on the other side of the car as well.

Moving on to the passenger side, the rear view mirror has been removed to reduce wind resistance

and the rear panel has been "re-contoured" as a spoiler to improve side-to-side stability and handling.

You can see this is a very special car! So what makes me happy?
I have one little problem. One of the spark plug wires keeps coming undone. They go through the valve cover and I suppose the material of the wire has become soft and weak and the compression keeps working it loose and pushing it out of the valve cover effectively leaving me with 3 cylinders to run the engine with. Rough! The remedy is simple, just pop the hood and push the wire back on. The problem is that the hood has been increasingly difficult to "pop". I think there is a spring that pushes the hood open when you pull the release lever and that spring is either broken or weak and it takes a lot of fiddling and retries to get the hood open. Finally, it just wouldn't open at all. So I had a flash of insight! If I could wedge something between the hood and the body that applies some pressure, then when I pull the release lever, it would spring. It turns out my ice scraper works perfectly for this purpose.

Now I don't have to get the hood release OR the spark plug wire fixed. So that's what makes me happy!

Pretty sad, no?

On another note, I DID drive "special car" to the gym today for a great workout after smugly popping the hood and securing said spark plug wire. Ha! There's your health and fitness angle!

I can't get sore!

All right, 2 days now and I'm not sore from what I thought was a hard ride. Not "all out" but hard enough. So I hit it again today. Not quite as hard from the heart rate perspective, I averaged 135 today and 2 days ago it was 142, but my average speed was better, 15 mph as opposed to 14. Maybe my legs are in better condition than my cardiovascular system. Either way something's got to improve.

It was slightly warmer today and I rode at my usual time right after work rather than later after supper. I froze yesterday. Today I wore long sleeves and it was just about right. My bare legs don't get cold.

I did the usual loop "Dunkin' Donut", about 14 miles and change. It wasn't windy. I did drop my chain once and had to wait a bit at one busy intersection. That probably brought my averages down. My electronics keep counting the time.

What got me excited today was I found out about this GPS app for the blackberry, "EveryTrail", and it worked really well. It didn't crash on me like the MapMyRide app did nor did the GPS stop as it does with GPSED. And it uploaded to the web very easily and gives me a nice map and elevation and all that. Lots of numbers! :-) If you ride, run or hike and have a GPS enabled device you should give it a try. Best of all it's free! I didn't see anywhere where they tried to get you to buy anything. Check out my route here:

Dunkin\' Donut

Map your trip with EveryTrail

It's 'sposed to rain tomorrow AM but clear up in the afternoon. I'll check with Charles to see if he can ride 'cause the Mrs. and I are going to visit Mom in NH on Sunday. Otherwise I hope to get something in if only another hour. Got to mow the lawn too! :-(

p.s. I'm feeling much better today, no sinus drainage like I'd been having the last week and a half or so.

Still not sore!

Well it's just the day after a hard ride and I AM "feeling" it but definitely not sore. Maybe tomorrow, if not, I'll hit it hard again! I'll try even harder. When I rode yesterday I thought I hit it pretty hard. At least it was as hard as I wanted to do it. They say if you really want to go all out as in trying to confirm your maximum heart rate, you need somebody whipping you on because you won't work hard enough on your own. It's not that you can't it's just that it hurts so bad!

Nevertheless, I attempted a recovery ride today after work and after my last physical therapy visit (I hope). The goal was to keep my heart rate and effort as low as possible while trying to keep my cadence up. I wanted to get my average RPMs up to 80 or above but it turned out to be 76. I guess while I do want to increase my cadence, the priority right now on recovery rides is just to keep turning the pedals while keeping my effort as low as possible.

The temperature today was actually a bit chilly. I think if I had just covered my arms I would have been ok. It was windy and the sound of the wind in the trees was kind of threatening. But it was dry. I don't usually ride in the evening. It felt kind of melancholy. The sun going down, wind in the trees, cool temp.

I also find the recovery rides hard because I don't get out of my seat as much. If I do, and keep pedaling, my heart rate goes up too much and my cadence goes down. So sometimes I just have to get my butt off the saddle and not pedal just to give it a break.

I wore my heart rate monitor on my wrist today and it gave me no problems. I guess it's just too lonely on the handelbars.

This has really been a wonderful week weatherwise; clear, dry and cool but not cold. Soon it will be hot and humid, but for now, it doesn't get much better that this around these parts.

Not sore, crap electronics and crappy throat!

I thought I rode pretty hard for 2 hours on Sunday but you know what? I waited one day, two days, now today Wednesday, I'm still not sore. Not one bit!

So ... guess what? Today is a hard day. After work it was beautiful out. Sunny, little or no wind, cool. In spite of various small physical problems I decided to hit it hard.

After a 10 minute warm up I started hammering. The route I took, which I call "Dunkin' Donut", is a 14 mile loop with an out and back spur on it. The first section is suburban so there are stop signs and intersections which actually make some good boundaries between which to sprint and recover. So after the warmup I put the hammer down until the first stop sign, ride easy until I recover a bit, then hit it hard at the next continuous stretch and so on. My heart rate is going up into the 86% to 95% MHR range during the sprints depending on the length of the segment then I let it cool down around 75% before going at it again. By the second hard interval I was starting to feel something in the legs!

Had some problem with the new HRM from Sigma. It comes with handlebar mount which is a nice feature that I hadn't expected but it tends to stick at one heart rate number and not change. I moved it to my wrist and had no problems after that. A bit of a disappointment but as I said, I didn't buy it expecting that feature.

The computer which I've had for a long time has been acting up this season too. It always had the problem that after I was done riding, it would keep counting up riding time. That would wreak havoc with not only my total ride time but my average speed and cadence too. So if I didn't write it down immediately, the numbers would be useless. Now it's got much worse in that it keeps counting all the time even when I'm stopped or the computer is completely off the bike. So if I take a break of any length, the numbers are fouled up too. Ah, the modern life!

It was a great ride and I hope I get some benefit out of it. The only other worry I have besides the electronics is this low level illness or malaise or whatever you want to call it that I've had for a couple of weeks now. It's just some congestion in the upper chest and throat such that I'm constantly clearing my throat and having some drainage, I guess from the sinuses down into the throat. I'm sick of resting. I hope my hard exertions don't exacerbate the problem. On the other hand, if I'm going to get sick, let's get it on and be done with it!

No workout today plus pain event

No bike ride or gym for today. Tuesday is a get home late from work day and then I have a meeting after supper. Plus today after work I stopped off at Auto Zone to get a jumper battery to jump start daughter's car which has been sitting with a dead battery for awhile. No time!

I am dealing with a shoulder pain "event" today. I think it happened yesterday when I was trying to open our old and recalcitrant sash style windows. It's on the top part of the right shoulder as before but this time more toward the front. It's a sharp pain and I can't identify any particular movement or position that causes it nor is it predictable. I've been on guard for it all day. It has ameliorated somewhat as the day has progressed.

I've REALLY got to build up those muscles. I can't go the rest of my life "favoring" that arm and shoulder. It's only going to get worse. Even if I can't get to the gym I've got plenty of stretches and exercises that I can do right here at home.

So, instead of writing more I'm going to do them right now before bed.


So Many Thoughts ...

So many thoughts during the day ... now ... phhhhttt! gone!

Let's see, I did get a ride in this afternoon. Oh yeah. What a perfect day it turned out. The humidity is gone and it was about 70 degrees. It was very windy. I had a terrific head wind on Meads Lane, a relatively straight road, wide open on the west all the way out to the Helderberg escarpment so when it's windy, it's really windy.

Now I remember. I was going to title this entry "Frustrated". It was a frustrating day (I let it get to me). I work in technology and while I love a challenge and learning new things, I hate stupid, unnecessary stuff. Like buggy software that has problems that come and go.

I had planned on going to the gym after work because it had been raining and there was heat, humidity and thunderstorms predicted. But by quitting time, it had dried out and cooled down nicely so a real bike ride was just the ticket to relieve some stress and forget about the day behind.

I did my usual 1 hour loop which I call "Dunkin' Donut" because it is a loop with a little spur on it where I go out to the railroad tracks and back. Here it is:
I turn around at the railroad tracks so I won't get stuck on the other side coming back if a train comes. It's almost 14 miles.

I did a moderate ride rather than a recovery because I was not sore at all from the ride yesterday with Charles. I'm surprised at that. Maybe tomorrow. :-)

So usually that head wind would have annoyed me, I generally don't like windy rides, but it was so nice otherwise I didn't mind. I just treated it like one long hill.

Have a little problem with the top of my right shoulder again today. I was planning on canceling my last physical therapy appointment because I was doing so well. Maybe I'll keep it. I'm going to press them about what I can do about this and/or what's the prognosis for it. They're just having me do the neck traction and some exercises while I'm there and haven't said anything about what I can do after the course of treatment is over. I suspect it's just keep doing the exercises and stretches. I also have the Rick Olderman book to work through.

Life is just full of stuff, isn't it?

I finally got a good Sunday morning ride in with Charles. We did 27 miles in a little over 2 hours riding time with 2 good hills thrown in, not including the continuous assortment of rollers that are the norm for this area.

I was having a problem with my lower back but I knew from experience that a good bike ride would probably fix it. It did. My chiropractor said that the x-rays showed some degeneration whatever that means. No specifics. But my theory is that if it's compressed discs then the riding position probably stretches the spine out and gives the pinched nerves some relief, no?

No problems with the shoulders either. I managed to avoid doing any pulling with the top part of my shoulders but instead, on the climbs and when standing out of the saddle, pulled from the triceps and core muscles.

We did a couple of good hills, Orchard and Biers Rd. I hit my max heart rate for the ride on Orchard, 163bpm, that's 93% of my maximum predicted heart rate.

It felt really good to get out again like that. Sunday morning is great because it's so quiet. Traffic is light. The sky was ominously threatening rain or a t-storm but as we rode it cleared up more and more. And it was perfectly still. No wind.

I'm hoping this will be the start of me getting back on track. Last year I had already put in 683 miles by this date. So far I only have 223 miles in this year. I have always felt my best when I rode every day. Last year, MapMyRide had a virtual event where you tried to ride every day that the Tour de France rode and they somehow ranked you against the real riders, I don't know exactly how they calculated it. They had a prize drawing every day and it really motivated me to get some kind of ride in. I felt great. I hope they do something like this again this year.

Here are the stats for todays ride:
distance: 27.53 mi
total riding time:2:11:44
av heart rate:135
max heart rate:163
total calories burned:1609
av cadence: 66rpm

Here's the route we took for any locals that are interested. (it's not a loop. we ended at an auto repair shop where Charles picked up his car and we drove home)

garage sale day

Today was the big garage sale. Charles called me in the AM to see if I was game for a bike ride but I was committed. Maybe tomorrow AM before church.
It was hot, 86 degrees. I did get some exercise doing the garage sale, carrying things up and down the stairs and out to the curb at the end. My body is sure feeling it although it wasn't what you'd call a "workout", I suppose.
I started my 10 day food log today and I think I tracked things pretty well considering the non-typical day and the fact that we got Indian take-out for dinner.
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny in the morning but then possible violent thunderstorms in the afternoon. I believe it, considering the unseasonable heat and humidity. When it breaks, I would expect it to be violent.
Anyway, it looks hopeful for a 1-1/2 - 2 hour ride tomorrow morning.
Oops, that means I'd better pull the old Raleigh out of the cellar before it gets dark.
Catch you later!