So, my struggles with weight are only too-well-documented in the archives of this blog.

So too, though, are my successes. Longer-time readers will know that I successfully lost exactly 100 pounds from my heaviest (from 284 down to 184), but then lost the thread among a strange sort of alienation/meltdown from the bike and things which got me to that point. During that period I put back on, at the WORST point, fully 27 or 28 pounds (!). So about 211-212ish was the worst that I reached.

I then tried in fits and starts to get back to “the good times”, but not really with much duration. I’d lose a few lbs, gain a few, lose a few.

Now, I’m happy to report that I’m back into good habits and doing great. Feeling out of this world. For a little over 2 weeks now (yes, not a long stretch at all but relative to any period in the last 9ish months, this is very promising), I’ve been eating & drinking healthy, riding the bike quite a fair amount, hitting up gym 3 days per week.

I’m seeing the results in all kinds of ways. The scale tells some of the story although certainly not the full story. But, the scale is one of the easiest objective methods to measure progress, so – I’m happy to report that in 2 weeks I am down 4.3 pounds. I am back down to 202 and crumbs.

I’m planning to weigh in probably every 2 or so weeks, on Wednesdays (just like the old days, heh). By the time of the next measurement, then, I anticipate being – FINALLY – back in Onederland, i.e. under 200 pounds. This’ll be the first time for me in that range in quite some time.   Months.

My long-term weight goal remains 169. At that weight, especially as both variables in the power-to-weight ratio keep improving thanks largely to gym, I will be in quite good shape and content. I expect that with healthy and active living, I’ll actually go below 169 – but, 169 is The Goal.

Again, I’m seeing the effects in all kinds of other ways too. It feels terrific, and as I told a friend the other day, it blows me completely away how great I feel, how strong and so forth, just after 2 weeks of living very healthily. I cannot wait to see what this is like 6 weeks from now, 3 months from now, 6 months from now.  All those goals I have – some longer-held, some only recently-added (and a couple of which are too huge to have even aired on this blog yet!) – take on a new sheen of accessibility.

Till next time…see you out on the road…

BikeMSKansasCityRideWith my strange malaise from all things bike in the final few months of last year, I am not sure I even MENTIONED this on the blog; but, I rode last year in the KC BikeMS ride in mid-September.   It was my first time doing this ride that I’d read about since I became interested in cycling.  I had a really great time, and raised over $400 in sponsored dollars for this great cause.

This year I am returning to do the ride again.  It occurs over the weekend of September 13-14, and once again (as last year) starts at the Garmin HQ here in Olathe, with the overnight location in Lawrence.

Couple things will be different for me from last year:

Unlike last year, I’ll have a buddy along.  My friend & cycling buddy, the irrepressible Mr. V, will be riding this year in his first-ever MS ride.

Also unlike last year, I am likely to camp in the overnight at Lawrence, as a large # of the riders do.  Last year, since I live only several miles from Lawrence, I had friends Mr. and Mrs. O drive out, pick me up after Saturday’s ride, then drop me back off Sunday morning.  Instead, this year, I am likely to camp, wake up on Sunday morning and get going!

Looking forward to this year’s ride.  This is an event I’m going to hope to do annually for some time to come.  Great cause, great fun ride, fun event, win-win all around.

I’m not making this blog entry to attempt to recruit more donations; BUT, if anyone reading feels like sponsoring me for a few clams, I’d be very appreciative!  Below is the link to do so…

London Calling

August 10, 2014

…So, I will just resume posting to this blog as though I hadn’t been AWOL from it for four months :)

Super quick updates:

  • The most awkward/uncomfortable one first. I STILL continued to struggle with my eating and fitness the past few months, and I’ve put on about 8 pounds versus where I was in the most recent (April 1) post. So I am about 23 pounds over my best weight (reached this time last year) However, as I’ve said several times to friends & family, and reassuringly to myself, the best & most important thing is that in the long term, I don’t give up. I am taking up the fight again, and in the end, I will win this fight.
  • I have ridden the bike a lot more over the past 4 months than I had in the previous 4-6 months. Still not as much as I would like, but I am getting back there again. I’ve had to make peace with several aspects of my fitness, the hardest of which is, I simply cannot do (right now) on a bike what I could do 8, 9 months ago. I’ve come to accept that, and in a strange way embrace it, as I am looking forward to an “improvement curve” from here forward.
  • I have resumed going to the gym regularly. I owe my good friend Mr. V a debt of gratitude on this point, as without his help & support I probably wouldn’t have. I have experienced my best overall fitness and weight-loss results in the past during stretches of regularly attending gym, and it will once again be key for me now. I lift weights M-W-F mornings, and have been doing so for a couple months now. I am starting to very noticeably see & feel results. Once my body weight (read: fat loss) truly comes into its own, my efforts will become gradually more visible, as an overall body transformation is occurring.
  • I’m going to turn again to running, although, as before, it will never be something I pursue as fondly (or enjoy nearly as much!) as cycling. I have intentions to run-walk perhaps 2-3 5k’s before the end of this running season. I haven’t yet began running training; intention is to lose weight & improve fitness for another few weeks and then start running training. My friend Mrs. K, with whom I completed my first (and thus far only) ever run-walk 5k (post here), has committed to doing one 5k with me over the next few months.
  • I’ve still not yet returned to consistent randoing. I DID get in one, single, rando ride since the last update – I rode the Old KC Road 100-km (62 mile) route in mid-May, finishing it with (for me) a pretty solid time of 5:40. As I noted in the April 1 post, though, I am deliberately not going to return to rando until I feel confident that I am ready to treat it with the seriousness and respect that it deserves. I’ve stayed in contact with my friend, Ron A, whom I view as my rando mentor, and have assured him I won’t return till I am ready to return. No more treating rando like a casual weekend ride, in which you can go however far you want, skip a ride if you want, etc. Once you commit to a ride, you finish the ride. And that’s where I will be again, in time. My current thinking is to resume (minimally at first, and with increasing intensity) RUSA riding either sometime this month (August) or next, September. I won’t (initially, at least) go nuts and want to do 400+ km per month (which I was aiming for pre my “alienation” from riding), but rather, I will content myself at least initially with a single 100-km ride per month, building toward a P-12 (again).

Which brings me to the next point. Yes, I realize that given my current situation, this goal seems almost laughable, but I am going to give everything I have to achieve it. I am going to ride the 2017 occurrence of London-Edinburgh-London.

For my non-cycling friends: London-Edinburgh-London (LEL) is one of the two biggest rando events in the world. It takes place in late July every 4 years, and is a 1400-km (~870 miles) bike ride from London, England, to Edinburgh, and back.

Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) is the “other” huge rando event (it’s quite a bit more well known, and has a bigger attendance), and is 1200 km (~745 miles). PBP also happens every 4 years.

However, with the next PBP being NEXT YEAR (i.e. one year off), and the next LEL being 3 years away, any wild dreams of my riding in PBP are completely unthinkable. Even LEL would be an incredible accomplishment for me, and it’s a full 3 years of work away.

With that bombshell of a goal announcement, I’m back to blogging, and will carry on as though the past year of backward progress had not even occurred.

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” – Erma Bombeck

Been a LONG time since I posted on the blog.  No real excuses or apologies, they’re superfluous.

A kind of inertia has set in, wherein I think “well, I haven’t posted in so long, so it doesn’t really hurt to let another day go by without posting anything.”  This is counterproductive, though, so the only way to escape it is, well, to just escape it.  So, here I am.

In a really quick bullet-point fashion nutshell:

  • My streak of consecutive riding days ended.  It was an ambitious idea but I must be true to myself.  My plan is to ride as often, as much, as far as I possibly can this spring, summer, fall (see below), but every day is asking a lot.
  • I AM still enthusiastic about cycling – in fact, more so now than any time in I’d guess 6 months.  I’ve experienced the complete, unalloyed, 100% return to my old passion & enthusiasm for it.  Difficult to fully capture in words, but basically I just look at it differently now as opposed to the “drudgery” / “obligation” that I was feeling about getting on the bike starting around late September and extending, REALLY, until quite recently.
  • I have many, many updates on various topics that I’m going to make to the blog.  Again I keep this blog for a few different reasons, and all of those reasons “support” or “imply” a need to keep it updated.  So, I’ll resume with a flurry of activity on the blog over the next week or two, and then will do my best to keep it current and keep updates coming.
  • Weight & fitness.  Ah, weight & fitness.  Ok Bill P, bullet-point fashion.  Basically, I regained some 25 lbs from my overall 100-lb weight loss.  But, as with before (the tag line of my blog) “my bicycle saved my life”.  Suddenly remembering, as though I’d literally forgotten for months, that the bike is excellent exercise, a great fat burner, and just all around great fun, I returned to the joy that I once had in riding often, and accordingly I’ve now lost back around maybe 13-15 of that gained 25 lbs.  So I’m currently about 13, 14 lbs above my best weight.  I’ll be there by early May :)  And I’ll go well beyond.  The long term goal is still 168 pounds, and anything after that is pure gravy.
  • Randonneuring.  I still do want to return to randonneuring; however, I find myself being curiously casual about when it occurs.  I’m in a really good “place” right now mentally with regard to the bike and to fitness.  I think that part of my “estrangement” from the bike was this maniacal fixation on randoing to the exclusion of ALL other bike-related pursuits/interests, and this came back to bite me hard.  My friend & rando mentor Ron A saw this coming and tried to warn me, but I thought I knew better.  Like Obi-Wan, I was wrong.  So, all of this to say that I still hold randoing in very high esteem, I still LOVE to hear the accomplishments of Ron A and to speak to my friend, “Red Leader”, about his rando adventures, and to read his blog; and I DO have interest to return, but I’m mellowly accepting of the possibility that I may be ready for that in 2 weeks or it may be 2 months.  When it happens it’ll happen, and I will enjoy it then; but for now, I’m in a great place, and that’s the entire point.
  • Unfinished posts.  I STILL have yet to post my pictures/videos from my October 2013 Katy Trail ride with my friend Mr. V; ditto RAGBRAI 2013 – some 8 months ago!!  Even though it’ll be super belated, I intend to complete both of these and share them.  Again, the blog is here for multiple reasons, and completing/sharing this material, even so long after the fact, is in keeping with basically all of those.

As mentioned above, I have several *specific* cycling-related plans for this year, and next; but, as a generalization, the plan is to ride the bike as often, as much, as far as I can this spring, summer and fall; again, in keeping within the overall goal of just enjoying it.  Allowing it to become a mandated thing is the surest way to kill passion.  If on a given day I want to ride only 2 miles, I should ride 2 miles.  If I want to ride 9 miles a day for 8 days in a row, that’s what I’ll do.   But in general, the plan is to ride as much as I can.

And I’m thrilled to have finally rediscovered the same level of joy – maybe higher, now that it’s tempered with some character (a-la the movie The Hustler) and some disappointment – that I experienced with the bicycle in 2013.

4.7 miles today in pre-dawn, sub-freezing temps, wrapped around a trip to the gym to lift weights.  Roughly half a mile to the gym; lifted; then rode around for a short bit.  Rode back south, to 15th st/Marshall, up/down the couple of rollers to the graveyard, then back home.   Frosty cold ride, but felt great.

Timing was prudent.  The nasty weather “they” were forecasting has arrived, and how.  Freezing drizzle, sleet, etc – roads are very slick and icy right now.  Driving is dangerous; several accidents on the interstate.  Riding a bike would be pure suicide.

I HOPE to be able to ride outside tomorrow, but if the ice doesn’t allow it I won’t risk it; I give myself flexibility to do my three miles indoors on a stationary if absolutely necessary, and if I have to do so tomorrow, that’s what I’ll do.   We’ll see how the day will unfold.

Happiness is…

January 30, 2014

Coming home to find a new issue of Bicycling magazine in your mailbox when you weren’t expecting the next issue for some time.  Small pleasures.  Weekend reading material :)

Twofer post today as I didn’t log yesterday’s ride yet.

On Wednesday I got in an 18+ mile ride on the trails near my office.  We’re fortunate in Overland Park, KS to have a nice system of paved bike trails, on which I’ve ridden many times in the past with my sometime riding partner Mr. V.  This evening (a fairly nice day with a departure temp of maybe 40ish degrees) I got in an 18 mile loop – more or less – on the eastern portion of this system.  It was a fairly windy day, with a tailwind for much of the ride out & a headwind for much of the return (the trail snakes around and back on itself a couple times, which is usually a blessing from a wind perspective, as you’re never relentlessly riding into the wind for a LONG way). A brief loss of my bearings on the trail led to my abandoning it in an area I knew to be close to familiar office complexes; I navigated a combination of roads & sidewalks back.  I capped the ride with a quick stop at the Subway across from the office parking garage where my car awaited; returning, I threw the bike back on the rack and had a very contented drive home.

Two quick notes on this ride: one, definitely getting MUCH more comfortable with the new pedals/shoes.  I had to clip & unclip several times on this ride and work in & out of traffic; I navigated it without issue and really without too much nervousness.  Second note, on the return trip, in a last-second blur of exuberance I blasted up a short but quite steep little hill that juts off the trail and up to an apartment complex perched above.  One of my remaining uncertainties with these pedals is the tackling of very short, steep climbs, because in the past I’ve had to bail out and walk part of the way up these if I run out of gas, and being not the most coordinated person ever to sit on a bike, I’m apprehensive about how this will play out while clipped in.  But I boldly attacked this little hill, and even though, halfway up and with momentum dropping I was thinking “man, this is really a stupid idea”, regardless I kept the legs turning over in a low gear and blasted to the top without major issue.  A real confidence booster.

Today – Thursday, day 10 – I got in two different, short rides.  I brought the bike to work (on the rack on the car) in order to ride over to Chipotle for lunch and back (VERY windy day – 25ish mph), and that’s what I did, ending this 3.4 mile round trip with a little counterclockwise ride around the office circle.  This is the same route that had me huffing and puffing about a week before, and although I still am not flying around it, it’s already simpler now.  My last-year’s form on the bike is returning rapidly.

Second ride today took place after I got home.  Dark had already fallen, but it was still relatively nice out, a few degrees above freezing, and with only a 10ish mph wind. I got in 8.6 miles here in Ottawa, just riding south on 59 highway for a few miles and then turning back.  The tailwind, while not really strong, nevertheless combined with my rapidly-strengthening legs to really push me along on the first half, hitting 20 mph (which is fast for me) at some points; and yet, the return into the wind really wasn’t GREATLY hampered.  My recent habits of good clean eating/drinking, an increasingly greens-based diet, plenty of rest, smart supplementation, and exercise is really improving my fitness at a good pace.  I am quite content.  I have, as they say, planned the work; now all I need to do is work the plan!

Next couple days they’re calling for 1-4 inches of snow, with some mix of rain and freezing drizzle.  It’ll be a challenge to the “By Threes” streak; but I’ve allowed myself the flexibility to ride indoors if it is NECESSARY.  I’ll try to ride outdoors if at all possible :)

Another cold one. I got in 7.5 miles this evening, in well-below-freezing weather once again. I texted my dad last night that of the 8 days in my current streak, it’s no exaggeration to say that 4 of them are among the probably 15 coldest days I’ve EVER ridden the bike. It’s been crazy.

I basically just hopped onto Eisenhower road in Ottawa and took that south to the hill – one of the most respectable hills (one of the FEW hills) we have in Ottawa – and into the parking lot at its peak, turned around, and returned home. This hill has never been particularly easy for me to climb, and this wasn’t an exception, although I was pleasantly surprised how well I could handle it given my weight (I weighed in this morning and have put on 13.5 lbs from my lightest), fitness, and lack of bike miles the past few months. Bodes well.

Another good thing is that, as alluded to in a previous post, my former “alienation” from the bike is basically 100% gone now. I truly look forward to riding now, which, I am sad to have to say, was really not the case almost EVER for a period of months. From roughly late-Augustish or Septemberish on, through the past few days, I rode only occasionally, and I can honestly say that, save for the week I visited my folks and rode with my dad every day (I enjoyed that very much), I only looked FORWARD to riding just a tiny handful of times. It was an odd sort of burnout/meltdown I had from cycling, but I am very relieved that it now appears over or at least on its way out. I enjoy riding again, I remember all the old joys I experienced, and I look very forward to returning to randonneuring.

LOGOProof10So, the RAGBRAI 2014 route is revealed. And, while I’ll confess to being initially disappointed with the shortness of the ride, I’ve found myself quickly getting over it and getting enthusiastic about the event :)

Top-level stats: The 2013 route was the 2nd-shortest route in history and with 17410 feet of climb, the 15th flattest, for overall the 7th easiest in the 41 year history of the event. I thought for certain, therefore, that this year’s had to be tougher; but instead, at 418 miles and 11316 feet of climb, this year’s is the 3rd-shortest and 2nd-flattest ever, for overall the 2nd easiest route. TRUE, it is about a dozen miles longer, actually, than last year, but it has roughly 1/3 less climbing.

Here’s the daily mileage and overnight towns:
Day 1: 69 miles, starting in Rock Valley. Overnight in Okoboji.
Day 2: 41 miles. Overnight in Emmetsburg.
Day 3: 73 miles (plus optional Karras Loop). Overnight in Forest City.
Day 4: 36 miles. Overnight in Mason City.
Day 5: 63 miles. Overnight in Waverly.
Day 6: 68 miles. Overnight in Independence.
Day 7: 68 miles. Arrive Guttenberg to end ride.

All in all, those daily distances are pretty darn respectable – other than the short 41-mile day two and VERY short 36-mile day four. However, it’s forgivable as they are sandwiched around the longest day – 73 miles on day three, which also features the optional Karras Loop century ride, so a potentially 100 miler on day 3.

The hardest day seems unanimous – day 7. 68 miles but 3073 feet of climb, which is well more than any other day on the ride and is a full 1/4 of all the climbing on the event. Even so, though, at about 45 feet/mile climb, it’s only slightly more than the average of the 2013 event.

A couple of cool things on this year’s ride:

  • The night one is in Okoboji. Being not an Iowan myself, this meant nothing to me, but the online reaction, as well as that of friends of mine who grew up there, are very enthusiastic – seems like a very cool area to check out.
  • Lots of nice small towns this year. In 2013, four of the eight overnight towns had populations greater than 10k (including of course the giant Des Moines); this year, only ONE (Mason City) does, and four of the eight have populations of less than 5000. The final town, Guttenberg, is tiny at ~1900.
  • Two of the 8 towns have never been overnight stops on RAGBRAI. Starting town Rock Valley has never been an overnight RAGBRAI town; it was a pass-through town once, in 1985 – 29 years ago. Okoboji has never been an overnight town. Additionally, Mason City was an overnight town once, in 1985.

In some ways, this year’s route is SLIGHTLY more “evenly distributed” in mileage than last year; leaving aside the two small days which bookend the longest (and optional century) day, all other days, including the final three, are ~68ish miles.

As with last year, I’m looking forward to learning more about the overnights and of course, once they are announced, the passthrough towns. For now, while I was initially disappointed in the shortness of the route (I wanted a 500-mile scorcher), this still sounds like a very fun time, and I’m getting quite excited already, 6 months out.

Two pairs of socks, check. Leggings, check. Long sleeved shirt, check. Balaclava, check. Yes, I’m well bundled up for a short 3-mile ride; but considering it’s less than 10 degrees outside with windchill (and colder if you are riding a bike INTO it), it is prudent.

Nothing overly exciting to report today. Did my standard 3+ mile dash to the park and back, then to Subway to pick up dinner. I propelled myself eagerly forwarded in surges, spurred by images of “Cav” – Mark Cavendish, the fastest sprinter on earth – captured in some unreal footage from the sprint finish at race’s end.

In the biting air, eyes started tearing up almost instantly and stayed that way for several seconds, but quickly enough cleared. Once the body woke up a bit, I was feeling good. I now regret cutting it short at ONLY 3 miles – a really good sign. My strange “alienation” from the bike that I suffered for so many months is almost entirely gone now.

The thought of one day riding a full 62- or 124-mile rando ride in conditions like this astounds me. Others do it – and they are only human – so, I can too. For now, I’m grateful that I can start & end the ride on my terms; and I know that there is much wisdom about cold-weather endurance riding that I can absorb from those whom I view as mentors – Ron A, kG, his crew when I eventually am able to ride with them. For now, I am where I am.


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