A text from my friend BM last night was right on the money:  Draw a line in the sand.  Poor eating habits have been a trend the last few weeks and some progress has been lost.  I’ve put back on between 4-5 lbs from my best levels; I’ve certainly lost fitness on the bike with not riding and with eating crap; I can feel the loss of some muscular strength when in the gym; and the most dangerous aspect, because hardest to overcome, is the mental.  It’s easy to get depressed and disappointed and feel defeated when in a slide, even a mini-slide.

What’s needed is to draw the line in the sand.  The past is the past; it can’t be changed and there’s really no value in regretting any of it.  Learn from it, determine what you want, and move on.  That’s what I am doing.

I drew my line in the sand yesterday.  I’m moving forward.

Fitness-wise, I would separate my adult life (since starting to lose weight about 4 years ago) into three eras:

  • The era from 284 pounds, where I started, to 209 pounds, which was my initial goal.
  • The era where I FINALLY broke through the 209-pound plateau where I’d stayed for a number of months, and continued rapid progress to the next goal of 184. This era contained both progress and regression, and ended yesterday.
  • The next era, starting with my line in the sand.  From this point I intend to lose ballpark 20 pounds – maybe a bit more, a bit less – achieve a much better physique and better overall health – and improve my cardio to levels I’ve not yet reached.

Specifically cycling-wise, I would separate my adult life into four eras:

  • The era from starting to ride – where even 3-5 miles was a decent accomplishment and I VERY rarely rode more than 10 miles – and ending with the accomplishment of my first major cycling goal, the 2-day Prairie Spirit Trail “tour” to Iola and back.
  • The era starting with that ride and ending with my first successful RUSA ride in May of this year.
  • The (short) era starting with that ride, including several more rando rides (and a spectacular meltdown of burnout from the bike), including my first RAGBRAI; and ending yesterday.
  • The next era, starting with my line in the sand.  From this point I intend to go on to accomplish much in the world of randonneuring as well as various other non-rando cycling goals.

Yesterday was my line in the sand.

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My approach, codified

August 26, 2013

On the short mile home from the gym this morning, I was mulling over my rambling post from yesterday.  I was spurred to codify my current approach into a few short, easily actionable bullet points.  Here goes:

1. KEEP IT FUN.  Losing focus on this principle makes all that follow feel like a chore and a job, and sooner or later results will lag.

2. EXTEND YOUR ABILITY.  This is essential for growth in an exercise sense.  Don’t stay bench pressing the same weight; don’t stay at the same bike mileage; don’t stay at the same speed; don’t settle for the same level of fatigue at the same point in long rides.  Extend your abilities by gradually pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

3. DON’T LET YOUR REACH FAR SURPASS YOUR GRASP.  Extending ability is necessary; extending yourself too far too often leads to frustration, self-defeatism, and lagging results.  Keep your expectations reasonable; push yourself a little bit on a consistent basis; but don’t push yourself TOO far.

4. EAT HEALTHY.  The time-tested method to extend your ability is a combination of diet & exercise.  Push yourself a little bit during the exercise portion; and also, eat as healthy / clean as possible as often as possible to keep your body running as efficiently as it can and give yourself the best chance to improve.  Splurge on desserts only infrequently, in small portions, and as rewards.  A week or two of particularly good results in the gym, or with eating, or on the bike calls for a small reward, so allow it, then get back to work.

5. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF, BUT EXPECT IMPROVEMENT OVER TIME.  Not every day is an A+ day.  Not every gym day is wonderful, not every bike ride can you ride as far as you’d like as fast as you’d like.  Not every day dawns and sets with ideal eating habits.  Don’t beat yourself up for being human / less than perfect; but, and this is critical, expect improvement over time.  If you’re currently happy riding X miles before getting tired or before being “done”, then great.  You’re there.  If you’re happy at this weight, then you’re there. But if those things AREN’T true, then you aren’t done and you should expect of yourself to see improvement over time.

6. SET ATTAINABLE GOALS, FIGHT LIKE HELL TO REACH THEM.  The efficacy of goal-setting and periodic review against those goals is proven out time & again.  Set attainable goals in various aspects of fitness, fight like hell to reach them, and periodically see how you’re doing against those goals.

This is all really the wisdom of the ages, just distilled here into language that resonates with me and is infused with the lessons of my successes and my failures.  If this kind of approach is held to on a consistent basis, failure is impossible.

So obviously I’ve not posted very frequently lately.  Simply put I believe I encountered some hybrid of bike burnout mixed with a sort of wall / plateau in my fitness level.  I’ve encountered the latter a few times in my 4+ year journey, so I can be patient with myself in working through that; however, I hadn’t really encountered the former yet.

Is this the end of bicycling for me?  I pondered this question more than once over the past few weeks.  The knee-jerk reaction is to say “no, don’t consider it”.  But knee jerk reactions, while often surprisingly “deep rooted”, can also at times lead you astray.  So I’ve had to actually face consciously what I didn’t really want to:  have my interests shifted such that riding the bike won’t be in the picture frame of my future life.  After giving it a fair amount of thought recently, I think the answer is NO. There’s still a lot I want to accomplish in terms of goals (some of it rando related, some not) and there’s also still plenty of enjoyment to be gotten from it.

A ride this morning with a neighbor who has also started riding recently provided the confirmation I need.  Funny how events transpire to get you where you need to go.  I tend to keep to myself and not interact much with my neighbors; so imagine my surprise when a couple weeks ago my next door neighbor mentioned that he’d seen me riding my bike around town and struck up a conversation.  He enjoys riding the local trails (Prairie Spirit, FHNT) and asked if I’d be interested to join him sometime.  Sure, I said.

Yesterday he told me he was planning a ~21-mile round trip this morning on the FHNT, and would I like to join.  I fought through my recent malaise around riding and agreed.  It was with a lot of hesitation that I got up this morning and got ready.  I knew this ride was going to tell me a lot.   Would I view it as a “chore” (the bike part of it – not the conversation & company) or would it remind me of the best parts that I like about cycling in the first place?

Happily, it did the latter.  The conversation & company were certainly good; and, the “bike part” of it was wonderful.  It was great to be on a bike again and just enjoying myself.  No particular speed needed, no particular destination (we had a route in mind though), etc.  I didn’t once feel “tired” or “bored” or “ready to be done with this ride” as I sometimes have lately.  This feeling I refer to is different from the one cyclists commonly get at the end of a long ride:  “Let’s be done with this already”.  That’s normal and virtually everyone has that. In contrast, recently I’ve felt almost a dread about getting on the bike and just felt like I was going to do a “job”.  Classic burnout symptoms.  But I didn’t feel like this on this ride.

After arriving back in town and with him splitting off for home, I gave some serious thought to tacking on another X miles with one of my local routes.  Maybe north to the “LeLoup Loop”.  Maybe south to Princeton on 59 Highway and back.  Maybe the “Tour de Penland” on Old 50 Highway to JB Highway. Maybe the PS Trail.  However, I made a studied choice to end the ride there, and now I am really glad I did. I did so not because I wasn’t physically ready to add that extra mileage or because I “dreaded” it as I have recently; but because I remember the feeling from early in my bike riding days of “leave ’em wanting more”, the old entertainers’ advice.  That is, at the end of a bike ride I like feeling like I COULD go on, WANT to go on…but that there’s tomorrow and let’s tackle it then.  That’s the kind of feeling that drives a person back to an activity.  Lately I’ve been feeling quite “full”; “sated” from bike rides.  The opposite of wanting more.

In this analysis the skeptic might see a glimmer of cause for concern.  That is, when I do ramp back up again, won’t I just feel “full” again and therefore be back here again?  A valid concern, I tell my worrying self; but I feel pretty strongly that part of the reason for the “full” feeling is fitness related.  That is, I’ve been on several rides lately that pushed the edge of my physical ability at the time. That physical ability was largely betrayed or handicapped – handcuffed – by poor eating habits, my old demon. Put another way, when I am eating really well and clean and staying active, I don’t really feel this “ok, this is plenty enough” feeling at the end of a ride, because I still feel like I can go on.  So, that’s the feeling that must be pursued.  And that is accomplished through a combination of riding, continuing to push your skills and your ability, and – critical element – keeping the faith with eating and giving yourself every  opportunity to truly enjoy each ride instead of feeling like you’re battling something.

This post has rambled on long enough, but I trust the highlights are clear to others and to myself.  I’m excited to realize that I don’t feel I am yet “done” with the bike.  There’s still goals I want to reach and there’s still fun to be had.  It’s important to keep both in focus, and the best means to do that is to continue improving my overall fitness through exercise and eating.  That’s really what it comes down to.

On a recent ride with a buddy on a fairly hilly course, he remarked that he was “being lazy” by not gearing down into the hills and instead just muscling up them.  A brief exchange followed in which I differed with him: since staying in a higher gear and standing to climb is harder than gearing down – MY normal MO – you’re actually being the opposite of lazy, I told him.

I instinctually, and without intention, look for “patterns” or “trends” that can be woven together for blog writeups, and I divined a parallel between this moment in this ride and my RUSA ride earlier this morning.  I again rode the Wander to Welda 100-km (62 mile) RUSA route, and in so doing ticked off the fourth month in my pursuit of RUSA’s P-12 award.

The parallel, then:  anyone who has read these pages knows that I’m always doing battle against one or more factors on my longer (say, 50+ mile plus) rides.  If it’s not hydration, it’s fueling.  If it’s not fueling, it’s something else.  However, magically “simple” (a VERY relative phrase) are the rides where all the elements come together for me – through focus and never accident.  I like to, what I refer to as, “slam dunk” a longer ride.  What this refers to is that no 60+ mile bike ride is easy (for me, anyway), but if I pay attention to ALL the fundamentals – proper hydration, sufficient fueling, breathing, building in downtime at rests, stretching properly, bike at least reasonably well maintained, etc – I naturally enough give myself the best chance to make things as “easy” as possible.

The reference to making it tough, then:  Focusing on all these things, for me anyway, is not easy.  One has to be vigilant.  Reading the online blogs of various rando’s, and talking in person with a few of them now, I KNOW it’s not only me – it’s a common “cry of the rando”, to quote kG.  It’s not every ride that you get it perfect, even with practice. One’s humanity and fallibility shows up all often on long bicycle excursions.  Riding long distances (whether that be, for you, 30 miles, 60 miles, 120 miles, or 300 miles) is not simply about sitting on the saddle and riding.  It’s about putting as much of the elements of a successful ride in your favor as possible.  The “tough” part, then, comes in two forms – mental, and physiological.  Mental because it’s difficult to consistently keep all the plates in the air; physiological because – possibly surprising to those who don’t ride as much – after a while it’s just not pleasant to keep reaching for your water bottle, drinking, replacing it.  Keep reaching for food in-ride, chewing it down and swallowing it.  As the miles pile up, all of this stuff becomes less palatable.  Proper breathing, proper pacing, stretching on-bike and at breaks – all of this becomes MORE important, not less, as the ride progresses and yet becomes tougher to do.  Therefore, consistent with the “nothing is easy” mantra of my former manager BL, you can choose to either “make things tough by making things easy”, i.e. lose sight of some elements, which is easier in the short stretches, but in the long run will lead to a tougher ride; or you can make things tough in order to make things easy – keep consistently doing the right things pre-ride and in-ride (and post-ride) in order to make things go as smoothly as possible.

Today’s ride for me was a case of the latter, minus one important ingredient:  I should have brought a banana to eat over a few break stops, as has become my habit on RUSA rides.  I was missing it, not horribly but missing it, later in the ride as my muscles were registering complaints.  A good potassium injection is a magical elixir for a good long bike ride.  I won’t make this oversight again.

No particularly long writeup today, as I’ve done this route now four times in a row and covered most of the terrain-related notes fairly well.  Instead, unusually for me, I grabbed a few pictures which will form a visual log of the journey.

The start time was 6 AM, at the Short Stop gas station about a mile from home.  Rising at 4:15 with the alarm, I had my normal breakfast and veggie drink, packed up my belt bag, did a little final bike cleanup and chain cleaning/reoiling, hit the shower and was out the door.  Buying a bag of Chex mix at the gas station, I saved the receipt and got the card signed (same dude who’s been there the last 3 times, and who wished me a good ride again) at 6 AM and was off.

It’s staying darker later in the morning, of course, so I had the lighting system on for the first few miles.  I also donned a couple new purchases for me – a reflective yellow cycling vest, and reflective yellow ankle bands.  These are actually required of randonneurs to wear if riding pre-sunrise or post-sunset; but it’s just prudent to use them anyway and they’ve become part of my normal bike riding wardrobe now.

Once again I found every single spiderweb along the course, and they were many.  I passed a few turtles on the trail, a few rabbits and a squirrel, although no deer today.  I made good and steady time to Richmond, taking my first break here.  Avoiding the “time warp” that hit me at this trailhead last time, I made quick work through the rest, rinsing off the road grime and spiderwebs, rejiggering water and fuel, and pushing on.  For the first time on this route, I did NOT stop in Garnett, instead feeling good and pressing on to Welda.  I reached the info control at Welda at 8:42 AM, which was a mere 4 minutes slower than my best arrival time thus far (the July 6 ride with Ron A).  At Welda I added a new wrinkle to my rando habits:  after taking care of the info control aspect of the card, rejiggering water and fuel, etc, I set an alarm on my phone for about 7 minutes hence, and laid down with my legs up on a bench to relax.  Setting the alarm keeps you from lounging around longer than you really want to, while at the same time providing the freedom to just allow yourself to relax and get ready for the next stretch.

Back on the road again, I now had a slight tailwind (cross tailwind, from the SE) with me for the return. The stretch back to Garnett was fairly easy, and this time I did take a short stop in Garnett.  Enough to hit up the restroom, water & fuel stuff, and get moving again.  Roughly 24ish miles remaining, and at this point I started counting them down.  I once again stopped in Richmond, where I again, after taking care of all necessary stuff, laid down, setting the alarm for about 9 minutes away.  This was a wonderful break and recharged me for the remainder.  While the final 15 miles were not easy (a 62+ mile ride is still hard work for me), the confidence I’ve developed from past rando rides and, certainly, RAGBRAI, empowered me to just keep enduring, and keep doing the right things – eating, drinking, breathing correctly, watching pacing. Make it tough in order to make it easy.

Passed by the Princeton trailhead without stopping; the remainder was largely downhill both literally and figuratively, and I’d dropped into “let’s just get this thing finished” mode.  The final 8 miles to Ottawa weren’t overly taxing, and once again I rejoiced in finally getting off the gravel part of the trail for the 1 paved mile in town; and then in getting off the trail entirely and seeing the control just ahead.

Locking up the bike and grabbing control card, I went in, grabbed my customary reward / recovery drink of chocolate milk, paid & got the receipt and card signed.  This turned out to be my fastest overall finish time of my thus-far four Wander to Welda rides, albeit by only about 5 minutes.  Threw the chocolate milk in the belt bag, rode over to Subway, got an Italian BMT on Italian herb & cheese bread (my new favorite Subway menu item, this thing is gooood), sat and savored the rewards of another successful RUSA ride even as I began my post-ride recovery.

Four months into the P-12 award streak, and 8 to go.  I’m guessing September and October will be not overly difficult from a weather perspective; probably even November; then, I’m sure I will have some fun times keeping the streak going in December, January and February.  Something to look forward to!

Below, some pictures from today’s ride.

20130811_RUSAP4_001Above: Storm Paris at the starting control, circa 6 AM.

20130811_RUSAP4_002Above:  The aforementioned reflective ankle bands.  Getting my rando style on!

20130811_RUSAP4_003Above: One tree that had fallen across the trail.  This one was passable to the side…

20130811_RUSAP4_004Above: A contented and optimistic looking rider 🙂

20130811_RUSAP4_005Above: ….but THIS one completely covered the trail like a fence.  I had no saw or ax, and it was too heavy to move, so I passed through by climbing through that large gap with the bike and continued on.

20130811_RUSAP4_006Above:  The newborn day.

20130811_RUSAP4_007Above:  A nice vista to the trail’s east a little north of Richmond.

20130811_RUSAP4_00820130811_RUSAP4_009Above:  At my favorite trailhead, Richmond trailhead.  Break #1.  Storm Paris behind me ready to resume.  Feeling good!

20130811_RUSAP4_010Above: The iconic Beachner Grain depot trailside as you enter Richmond.

20130811_RUSAP4_011Above: The lovely stretch of the trail just north of Garnett, entering town. The trail is wide open here with no tree lining for a while, maybe a mile or so. Garnett Lake and park to the east.

20130811_RUSAP4_012Above:  Garnett trailhead.

20130811_RUSAP4_013Above:  Victorious pose or crazed baboon?  Neither, just an overhead shot in the Garnett trailhead restroom on the return trip from Welda.  Feeling goofy and giddy 🙂

20130811_RUSAP4_014Above:  From one of the couple of bridges you cross heading into Garnett (or in this case, out of Garnett, as this was on the return).

20130811_RUSAP4_01520130811_RUSAP4_016Above:  Storm Paris on the bridge, ready to knock out the remaining ~20 miles!

20130811_RUSAP4_017Above:  The reward / recovery drink.  Chocolate milk and Subway sandwich, baby!!

20130811_RUSAP4_018Above:  The before and after.  ~63 miles, 5 hours, 2400+ calories burned, 1 chocolate milk, 4 months into P-12 streak 🙂

Time to be a grownup

August 11, 2013

Self-effacing public accountability time here.

Maintaining this blog fulfills several different purposes:  as a personal journal for me to record highlights & thoughts to reflect back upon later; as a means to update friends and family with what’s going on with me cycling-wise and fitness-wise; as a means to seek out and find others of like mind (and, still pleasantly surprising to me, to bring inspiration to folks earlier on their personal journey than I am); and finally, to provide some public accountability.

My 12-month streak of losing weight every consecutive month came to an end in August.  After 12 months of weighing in lower on the first of the month than I had the prior month, I was a few pounds up in August.  SOME of this was, I’m sure, attributable to adding a little muscle during the tough (for me) week that was RAGBRAI.  But that certainly wasn’t the entire picture.

My eating during the month of August was among the poorest in recent memory.  I, like many obese and formerly obese folks, have a tendency / weakness to become a stress eater; and while I live a pretty simple, and fortunate, life, I have in fact been experiencing a fair amount of stress lately and it expressed itself in my diet.  My old nemesis of Dairy Queen, aka The Throne of Satan, welcomed me into its leathery winged arms waaay more in August than I’d have preferred.

Time to become a grownup, I recently mused to myself.  I have some very ambitious cycling related goals over the next two years, and achieving them will require being diligent, focused, disciplined and consistent.  I can’t allow my diet and exercise plan to wane for stretches as long / as frequently as they have recently.

It won’t be easy for me.  Anyone reading this blog who has struggled mightily with weight knows that, as I’ve stated previously in these pages, you are ALWAYS “recovering” from it; you are never “recovered”.  It’s a battle you must wage – and win – day in, week out, month in, year out.  The lies you tell yourself – or that the specific foods that particularly tempt you tell you and make you believe – are incongruous with achieving this dedication, and at an absolute MINIMUM make it harder on yourself to achieve what you set out to.

This last is the main point, for me.  I’ve been in many stretches of “three steps forward, two back” (or sometimes four back) since I began losing weight. Always in these times, I assure friends and family that there’s no doubt in my mind I WILL “get there” (while “there” is often hard to define, which will present its own challenges in due time) but that the question is simply one of just how hard I’ll make it on myself before I do so.  Lately I’ve been making it mighty hard, after a very successful run.  Again, time to become a grownup, put away foolish habits, and get back on course.  I’ve successfully done so over the last few days, and by the grace of God will continue to do so.  Again – high expectations that I have of myself fitnesswise, and it’ll take hard work.

 

So, one week removed from the coolness that was my very first RAGBRAI, I’ve finally sat down to do the writeup.

It was an epic event for me, and much could be said, but I’ll try to keep it SOMEWHAT brief.

First, it was in fact my first RAGBRAI.  My buddy Linda B and I went together, with her husband Tim driving us to the start in Council Bluffs and also picking us up at the end in Fort Madison.

Participating in this event with Linda was a cool sort of “full circle” kind of thing, as it was from Linda that I first heard of RAGBRAI in the first place.  In late 2011, still quite a bit heavier than I am now and in less good of shape, I emailed several friends and coworkers with my New Year’s Eve resolution for 2012:  complete a two-day “tour” of the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail (which I did in May 2012) and then later in the year, ride the full 240-mile Katy Trail (which I did in October 2012).  To this email, the always-supportive Linda replied to the effect that she knew I’d be able to accomplish both goals and that in no time I’d be riding in RAGBRAI.  Not knowing what the hell RAGBRAI was when I got that email, I Googled it and concluded that yes, this was something I wanted to do! 🙂

THE BACK STORY

Fast forward roughly 9-10 months, to late-ish 2012. This is when Linda told me she was definitely doing RAGBRAI in 2013.  I made the commitment then to also do it.  It was a big undertaking to commit to – somewhere between 400 and 500 miles (ended up being 407 when the route was announced) in 7 days, which would be by FAR the furthest I’d ridden in 7 days – keep in mind that at that point, there had been only a few full MONTHS in which I’d exceeded 410 miles.  But, I was certainly excited to work up to and ultimately ride in RAGBRAI.

January 26, 2013 was the date of the big announcement party, a VERY eagerly-awaited annual event among those considering or committed to riding.  The reaction was mixed when the route was revealed: at “only” 406 miles, this year’s was the second-shortest RAGBRAI ever, and the 15th flattest; the Register (the owner/host of RAGBRAI) officially ranked this year’s ride as the 7th-easiest overall of the 41 years in the history of the event.  Lots of hardcore riders and/or those who took the opportunity to advertise their prowess expressed disappointment in the “ease” of this route.  For myself, I was quite content that my first-ever year of the event was, relatively speaking, an easier one; I knew that the mileage and the hills would be tough enough on me as it was.

Fairly early, Linda and I decided to go with Pork Belly Ventures (hereafter, PBV) for a charter.  Not everyone who rides in RAGBRAI goes with a charter, although a large number do.  Exact services / benefits vary from charter to charter, but in general these include hauling of your bags; a dedicated section of the campground each night; some number of provided meals; possibly shower accommodations; route and/or mechanical support, etc.  PBV is broadly considered the best RAGBRAI charter; now writing with the benefit of hindsight I have to agree that they were excellent.  I’m going with them next year for certain.  Much more about PBV later.

THE WAITING / THE PREP

Following that route announcement, the next – and really last – major date in the timeline was May 1st. That’s when the Register officially notified those who’d applied, whether they were chosen in the lottery or not.  It’s largely a formality, as virtually everyone who applies gets in, but you don’t know for certain till then.  I was happy and relieved to have gotten the confirmation then, and I registered with PBV.  Now all that was left was waiting for July.

There still was a little more prep to do prior to the event, besides bike-related prep i.e. getting training miles into your legs, training with hills, wind or whatever you needed to do.  Specifically, you needed to buy (if you didn’t own one already) a tent, get a couple large duffel bags to haul all your stuff, and plan what all you were going to bring & ensure it can be packed and hauled within the 2 bags PBV allows.  Being the world-class procrastinator that I am, I put off much of this until the last moment, and I want to publicly thank Linda B for being so helpful and supportive of me in my semi-panicked final few days before the event, in helping get me organized & prepared.

For those interested in a future RAGBRAI, sample suggested pack lists can easily enough be found; for me personally, here’s what I brought:

Duffel 1 contained my tent and related stuff; plus a tub of Hammer Perpetuem, which I used on the ride.  So under “tent and related stuff” was my tent; the poles and stakes for it; the tarp for underneath the tent; and two blankets.  One blanket would be used on the tent floor, and I’d be sleeping on that; the other would be used as a blanket.  My “pillow” each night would be the second duffel.

Duffel 2  contained all my clothes for the week plus a hard plastic Sterilite tub in which I hauled virtually everything else.  Clotheswise, I brought 4 pairs of cycling shorts, something like 9-10 pairs of socks, 5 shirts to be worn on ride days plus another couple for evenings in camp; a few pairs of boxers for evenings in camp and nights in tent; and a couple shirts for nights in the tent.  In the Sterilite tub I fit a surprisingly large amount of stuff, which I became better at organizing as the ride week progressed: a battery-operated “O2 Cool” fan for use in the tent; a lock for the PBV charging station (about which, more later); some toiletries such as toothbrush/toothpaste, mouthwash, baby wipes; iPod & headphones; some zip ties, some ziploc bags & black garbage bags for random assorted uses; a couple of snacks; chain degreaser and lube; and printouts of each of the 7 daily routes and overnight towns; plus a large amount of Gu gel.  I overdid it with both Gu gel and Perpetuem; I brought along a LOT more than I needed to use, and will scale back next year.

Obviously I brought also my bike, bike lock (rarely used this week), and normal “bike stuff” – water bottles, shades, helmet, underseat bag, and my “belt bag” that I’ve been wearing (see this writeup).

One preparatory note that PBV wanted its folks to be aware of was the need to make your bags stand out.  They host something like 1,000 folks (!) on RAGBRAI week, and in each overnight town, they unload your bags and set them out for you to find and schlep over to set up your tent.  Many of these bags look similar, creating the need to separate yours in some way.  Some folks chose garish strings, or spray paint; for myself, I tied small lengths of yellow/white polka-dot ribbon all over both of my bags – all handles, all straps, etc.  This did in fact make them pretty easy to spot in camp.

With all this stuff test-packed prior to leaving; with the tent waterproofed and knowing how to set it up and take it back down; with all necessary documentation and stuff printed out and ready to bring, it was time for the big day to arrive – the drive to Iowa to check in and get ready to ride.

To be continued…

My daily green drink

August 3, 2013

Randomly, I thought I’d share my “recipe” and a picture of my daily green drink.  I’ve made reference on these pages to a green drink that I blend up and have each morning; this is it.

I’m decidedly not a fan of eating fruits or veggies; in fact I never do. But at least these days – a fairly recent development within only the past year or so – I CAN blend mine up and drink them.

I have a small “pulse” blender that’s well suited – works great, super easy to clean, super easy to operate.  I throw into there:

  • A few ounces of low sodium V-8 as part of the liquid “base” (later I add water)
  • A few ice chips for temperature
  • A couple of “chunks” of frozen chopped spinach
  • Two quarters of an orange, peeled
  • Half a banana, cut into slices
  • Between 4 and 7 stalks of asparagus, cut into quarters
  • A pack of stevia for a bit of sweet
  • A teaspoonful of a “healthy powder” blend that I make; this blend is itself a mixture of 4 ingredients:

I throw all of this into the blender, which then looks like the mouth-watering image below:

green_drink
I add a little bit of tap water to fill out the volume, blend till it’s fairly liquefied, pour into a cup/glass and drink. Depending upon the exact concentration of ingredients, the color ranges from a sort of light brown (rarely) to a shade of green ranging from light, almost minty green, to dark rich green.

EXCELLENT taste (the sweetness of the orange and stevia is predominant) and really healthy. Packed with good stuff.  Fantastic way to start the day!  Sometimes on weight-lifting mornings, I’ll drink half of this prior to lifting and then the other half after.

With July in the books, I have another new personal best for monthly mileage at 722 miles. This is how much my online ride-tracking software shows; I have a niggling feeling that there were some rides/miles that weren’t tracked or weren’t fully tracked but my “punishment” for not really remembering them is being stuck with the official number.

Still, I’m content with it. My goal to get in at least 620 miles per month through October is still well intact; and July was about 11% higher than my previous monthly best of 650 miles.

Obviously I benefitted from RAGBRAI in July; but those miles definitely weren’t “free” – I had to work hard to earn them 🙂 With no such singular monster event in August, I’ll need to ride consistently and long in order to continue hitting mileage I’m happy with.