Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

Training for STP 2016

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

20160306_143137-1I’m thinking of changing my name to Duncan, because my exercise habits and weight have been all yo-yo the last few years. I was having a really good go of crossfit, but random aggravations of my back over the years have prevented me doing it consistently. I’d lost 20 pounds crossfitting a few years ago, then gained 10 pounds back in 2014 after injury. I participated in a weight loss competition at work in early 2015; losing most of those 10 pounds by April. At the time I was still going to crossfit, but doing a specialty program to protect my back and build endurance for my first 5k. I ran that in April 2015, a week after reinjuring my back again, and thought I’d found something to do while rehabing. I did another 5k two months later, but stopped running when I realized the shock wasn’t allowing my back to heal effectively. I spent the fall trying to get into swimming, but I stopped that because I couldn’t get over being the youngest person by ~30 years. I stopped exercising while doing 3-4 months of intense PT and gained those 10+ pounds back this winter. I’ve definitely been losing muscle all the while, so I’m sure it’s more than those 10 pounds in fat making my clothes uncomfortably tight. That was a ton of information – still with me?

My back is a lot better lately (not perfect by any means), so I’m getting back on the horse by training for the STP in four months. STP stands for “Seattle to Portland,” and is a ~200 mile ride… you guessed it… from Seattle to Portland. It’s a very popular ride in an area where there are a lot of rides and I’ve wanted to do it since learning about it a few years ago. A friend of mine, who rides like it’s his job, did it a few years ago and wasn’t crazy about it. I think partly because he decided to do it in one day 1.5 weeks before the event, but also because it’s really damn far. I know someone else, similarly trained as me, who did it for the first time last year and will be doing it again. Weighing those items, I’m choosing to believe it’ll suck and I’ll be glad I did it. I have a habit of signing up for things that force me to motivate; this is one of those times. The good news is I’ve already proven this works when I did 50 miles nearly three years ago. The bad news is I think that’s the last time I was on my bike.

It’s still the rainy season in Seattle – how you gonna train? Technology! My momma got me a brandy new smart trainer for my birthday, which is a cool piece of kit that attaches to your bike and controls the resistance to simulate elevation. Pair that with a training/simulation program like Zwift and you’ve got the closest thing you’re going to come to riding outside on a budget. I really, really do want to go back to crossfit at some point this year, but I’m going to use this over the next few months to turn the weight tides in my favor. I can toughen up my coccyx, get used to clipping in again, and do it at any time schedule permits. It’s gonna be a hectic summer, so I like having access to exercise in my basement. Only 130 days to train!

Pro tip: You can, in fact, fall over while clipped into a trainer.

Tour de Whatcom

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Yesterday, I completed the 50 mile version of the Tour de Whatcom. The ride itself was a bit less than that, especially since we kinda went the wrong way towards the end of the course, but I did a few laps around the parking lot to make sure I went over the 50 mile mark. Yeah, I’m like that. It’s the farthest I’ve ever gone on a bike; having done 45 miles once in high school.

I have to admit that it wasn’t as miserable as I was expecting, even with twice as much elevation gain as promised. My 40 mile training ride last week was a lot worse, but I think that’s because I really pushed myself last week and made a point to pace myself yesterday (to the point of talking to myself out loud). I was really hoping to get in under the three hour mark, although I’d rather finish slow than not be able to finish.

My Life List goal is to bike 100 miles in a day. Melissa talked me out of signing up for the 105 mile version of this ride, which was probably a good idea given how little I’ve ridden recently. I only did four training rides for this event, ranging from 25 to 40 miles, so I feel like I could do 105 with no major problems given a solid level of training. If nothing else, I could stand more saddle time to avoid the swelling… which is a new experience for me. >_< Maybe I’ll do the 105 next year.

As for the ride, I had a really good time. I would have liked to do it with someone I know, but a ride that size means you’re never really alone. I didn’t form any lifelong friendships, however I did chat with a handful of people here and there. Most of my time was spent contemplating life, enjoying the spectacular views and coaching myself through the 16.8k pedal revolutions is took to complete the ride. It was my first proper open road ride and I liked it SO much more than the urban and suburban stuff I’ve historically done. There’s something freeing about cruising down a country road at 20 mph in a line of bikes. I can see how cycling clubs build friendships.

Did I mention I raised $1,150 for the American Cancer Society too?  Yeehaw! A sincere thank you to everyone who contributed.

A gigantic thank you to Melissa for supporting me before, during and after the ride. We made a weekend of it by booking a plush room with a view. As you may have guessed, a review is pending. I think we’re going to get her a proper bike and do some riding together.

What’s next? I’m back to CrossFit after six weeks of training and rehabbing my back. That and three months of strict Paleo. Eek!

 

The winning bib number

The winning bib number

Large back, tiny bib

Large back, tiny bib

Showing off my money calf at the start

Showing off my money calf at the start

First rest stop

First rest stop

The biggest climb, right after the first rest stop

The biggest climb, right after the first rest stop

Back squatting my Trek at the halfway mark - NO SMILING!

Back squatting my Trek at the halfway mark – NO SMILING!

High school cheerleaders to congratulate me!

High school cheerleaders to congratulate me!

Victorious!

VICTORIOUS!

I told you I won

I told you I won

Random Acts of Kindness

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Last week, I finally got back on my bicycle and started riding again. It was the first time in months and the first time I planned to do more than 12 miles since right after I bought it. I’d been meaning to check out a few things at my local Spokes Etc and since I always do better when I have an actual target, figured I could ride there and back one evening after work. I loaded up on the various things I thought I needed and set off on my way. Unfortunately, I was far more ill-prepared than I realized.

About three miles into my ride, upon realizing things didn’t feel right, I looked down to find my rear tire was flat. I pulled off onto the side of the road, hopped off the bike and took a minute to gather my thoughts. I hadn’t had a flat since running over glass at the age of 10 (and it hadn’t occurred to me they were something that actually happened) so I had no spares to address the issue. With Melissa in class, I was left with three less-than-favorable choices. I could walk the three miles home, walk the four miles to the bike shop or stick my thumb out in hopes someone would give me a lift. Without even really thinking about it, I set off walking in the direction of the bike shop.

Just two minutes into my walk, a random man in an SUV pulled up next to me and asked if I needed a ride somewhere. After an enthusiastic “Yes!” on my part, I was loading my bike into the back of his vehicle. As we sat in traffic, I took the opportunity to thank him and explain I had zero expectations of someone stopping… let alone doing so voluntarily. His response was one that took me by surprise and is the true catalyst of this post.

“I’ve been trying to get up the courage to hit the (W&OD) Trial for awhile. I saw you pass me farther back and when you did, I thought ‘now here’s a guy who’s getting out there and trying it.’ If he’s doing it, I can too. When I saw you walking your bike, I figured something was wrong so I decided to stop.”

So, as a middle-aged, slightly overweight guy who didn’t quite have the motivation to get over the hump, he saw me as inspiration. That, in part, fueled him to stop and help at time when I thought no one would be bothered to do so. I was convinced he was making a selfless sacrifice to help a stranger, not realizing I’d already unknowingly helped him. He wanted to reinforce my healthy behavior and even if it didn’t directly motivate him, perhaps someone else would do the same when he finally got out there.

The profundity of it is just how oblivious I was to my impact on others around me. I tend to think I’m fairly unremarkable and unnoticed in public situations, but this experience has proven that very untrue. Consider this in your day to day life. Even when you think no one is paying attention and you’re only doing something for yourself, you may in fact be helping others. Positive thinking and healthy behavior are contagious and if nothing else, use that as continued motivation to help yourself.