Sunday, May 22

This morning’s ride: 1:44:42 Distance: 27.44 miles

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I’ve been on my bike. Well, actually, it hasn’t. I’ve done a couple of short trips, but nothing of substance. The weather has not been agreeable to riding here in the past week–especially in the early morning hours.

I haven’t been shirking, though. I have been spending a lot of time at the Y. Spin classes seem to have a bad reputation as a rather sissy way to work out. I can tell you that this is not the case. They’re freakin’ hard. At least, they are at the Y. Well, the 5:30 am ones are hard, at least. As well as the 9:15 am Sunday class. In addition, I’m going on my lunch hour 3-4 times a week with Dave. This past week I’ve been spending some time working on my upstroke. Rather than pushing down on the pedals, I’ve been pulling up on the cages. I’ve gotten so I can go 15 solid minutes at the same pace and resistance as my downstrokes. The difference, of course, is that on the downstroke, I can continue that pace for a couple hours. On the upstroke, I can’t go much more than 15 minutes. Otherwise my hamstrings will curl back up on themselves, and no one wants that to happen. Well, at least I don’t.

May 22. Less than three months to go. I’m a little bit freaked by that, to tell you the truth. Although I’m in better shape than I have been in my adult life–hell, my entire life–right now, I’m not certain I’m in good enough shape, or that I’ll be in good enough shape when the time comes. Right now, I’m hovering at around 194, which is the least I’ve weighed since probably 10th grade. I still have 14 pounds to lose. And a lot more stamina to gain.

Actually, today’s ride showed me how much I’ve gained in that department. I did the ‘Three Parks’ ride I tried the last time I got on the bike. I started by taking a couple of trips up and down Cobb’s Hill–which has lost a lot of height, apparently, in the past couple of years. At least, that’s the way it feels to me. Then I went down to Ellison Park, where I rode up a rather long incline to get to the southern entrance. It was one of those gradients that was too long to get up out of the saddle to climb, so it was just a long hard sitting slog to the top, followed by a nail-biting ride down a pothole-filled road with a blind curve into a steep river basin, and then straight up out of that basin on the north side. I managed to take that hill at a very respectable pace, out of the saddle most of the way. It’s my goal to make it up standing up before the month’s out.

From there, it was a slightly hilly ride down to the canal, where I did a 10-mile sprint that took me through Genesee Valley Park, and up the river to downtown. For most of this part I was going 20 mph. That’s a serious bit of cranking, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could keep it up.

I got a bit of a late start this morning. I left about 20 minutes later than I had hoped I would. I wanted to make the spin class–the one where the instructor gave me the look. Remember? That was almost exactly three months ago. If I rode home to change out of my riding stuff into a more conservative t-shirt and sweats, I wouldn’t be able to make it to that class on time. So, I rode straight there instead, and took the class in my riding gear. Then I rode home. The time and distance include the ride home, but not the hour spent in spin class.

This is interesting. The class that kicked my ass three months ago, I take almost as an afterthought, after a pretty difficult ride, and I’m scared I’m not making progress.

My friend Mike tells me I have a tendency to make molehills out of mountains, but only after I climb the mountain. Maybe that’s the case here. I hope so…


Wednesday, April 27

This morning’s ride: 37:26 Distance: 10.26 miles

I’m a ditherer. I dither like a mother.

When I went to bed last night I told myself that if it was raining, I’d go to the spin class at the Y, and if it wasn’t, I’d ride. This morning, I dithered. It was cold and wet, a little foggy, and I didn’t know which I should do. So I dithered. I futzed. I puttered, until it was too late to go to the Y, and I rode.  This is why I rode such a short ride.

Well, one reason, anyway. Another reason is because I don’t have a good tail light on my bike anymore. Or again, depending on how you look at it. I lost my replacement over the weekend. I have a rather weak little clip-on number, but I don’t really like having just that light as my only tail light. But that’s what I did. And to make sure it was noticeable, I clipped it onto the collar of my jersey, even though I felt it made me look like a dork.*

I am really feeling the energy from this new food plan. I cruised this morning. I posted my second-fastest time on this route today, and it wasn’t a good morning for riding.** On mornings like this one, I’m not certain about what to wear.–how many layers of clothing, which gloves, should I wear the shoe covers, the helmet cover, et c.

Turns out I slightly underdressed for the ride. The moist, cool air cut right through me as I rode. I had to stop about a mile into the ride to take off my fingerless gloves and tug on my Zoidberg gloves instead. I’ve found that if I keep my hands warm enough, I don’t mind the cold on the rest of my body.

That one small adjustment was enough. I finished the ride in comfort. Except for one small thing. I swallowed another freaking bug. It’s not fair, having it be this cold and still having to worry about the freaking flying insects. Maybe I should start including insects in my food plan.

"Hooray! Hooray for Zoidbug!"


*If you’re thinking “You’re dressed in skintight shiny black tights, and a lemon-yellow jersey. That light is not what’s making you look like a dork” then we’re thinking the same thing.

**Hence, the dithering.

Monday, April 20

This morning’s ride: 1:23:05 Distance: 20.57 miles

I got up at 5 this morning to do a spin class. That felt good. Want to know what felt better? Going back to bed afterward. That felt awesome. It’s something I’ve wanted to do just about every morning that I’ve gotten up this early. And today was the day I got to do it.

I slept for three hours. Not sure if that constitutes a long nap or a short sleep. Don’t care. I loved it. I even had a good dream. It was a bicycle dream: I was at the base of Mt. Washington, getting ready for the ride. I took my Surly off the back of my car, which raised lots of eyebrows.  Surly’s are not lightweight bikes. Mine weighs about 26 lb, stripped. That’s probably a third again as much weight as the average bike, and probably twice the weight as some of the pro’s bikes.

So, in my dream, I was feeling somewhat inadequate about this. Suddenly, a friend was there in my dream, telling me that it was OK–that I would have no problems with the bike, the ride, or anything else. Usually, when someone expresses faith in my abilities, I get nervous because I think I’m going to let them down, but I didn’t get that way in this dream. It felt comforting and right that someone was confident in me.

I know a guy who’s studied dreams. He tells me that everyone in my dreams is me, Which makes sense, since it all occurs in my head. So, the doubts are mine. But then again, so is the confidence. I don’t care if that’s true or not. I’ll take all the faith in myself I can get, from any source–inside my head or out.

So that was where my mind was when I took off for my ride this morning. And even though it was late morning, the day was cold and blustery, with a few snowflakes making an appearance. Luckily, the wind wasn’t as bad as yesterday.

Unluckily, there was construction on the road. It was in a residential area filled with meandering lanes and cul-de-sacs that I didn’t know very well, and it was reduced to a one-way route, and it was going the wrong way. I briefly considered ignoring the signs and riding against traffic, but the two large construction vehicles coming my way sorta talked me out of it. I chose the sidewalk instead.

The sidewalk was uneven and bumpy and filled with joggers. I had to slow down for them because it was too narrow to pass safely. and besides, I dropped my light. Well, I didn’t drop it as much as it fell off on its own.

You may recall that a week or so ago I hit a pothole so hard it broke my tail light. I bought a replacement, and when I tried to install it, it became readily apparent that it was only going to really fit if I installed it upside down. I th0ught it would hold. I thought wrong. I heard it clatter to the pavement, so I uttered an oath,* climbed off the bike and reattached the light to its mount. I didn’t go 30 feet further when it fell off again. So I repeated the process, uttering a slightly stronger invective,* and picked it up again, this time clipping it to the top case on the back of my bike, where it sagged and essentially did little but warn the ground directly below my rear tire.

When I went to remount, I had somehow gotten the cuff of my tights caught up in the pedal of my bike, and it took me an awkward minute to extricate myself from that predicament. All of this was happening under the amused watch of the road construction crew, and I was surprised to discover I didn’t give a damn. The only thing that bothered me was that I wasn’t riding.

This is a big thing for me. Cycling clothes are designed to protect the rider. This makes them tight (to avoid chafing, getting caught in gears, and for wind resistance) and bright (because a big part of protecting the rider is making us visible to drivers), and with my helmet on (which in this case was sporting a neon yellow wind and rain cover) I looked very much like a giant fluorescent banana.

Fear of ridicule has always been a big thing for me. It’s what’s kept me from doing many things in my life. I’ve come to see how limiting this can be, and how liberating it is to ignore it, and instead embrace those quiet voices of support that are also there–inside my head, and out.

The giant fluorescent banana shall ride again!


*I believe I said “Fiddlesticks!”

*”Rat farts!” This is a completely acceptable utterance because I heard a guy who played a priest say it in the movie Caddyshack.

Saturday, March 12

Five months, 8 days til I ask myself “what the hell was I thinking?

I’m still here. Sorry about the lack of posting. Been busy.

I worked out on Thursday (I noticed I wrote the wrong day but right date on the previous posting) with Dave. We worked chest and abdomen. It’s good to work out the other parts of my body. That way, I get a nice, even body ache, rather than a specific thigh-and-hamstring pain.

This food plan is working. I am feeling lighter. Unfortunately it’s mostly in my wallet. In addition to buying a lot of meat and vegetables, I also purchased a portable dishwasher today. I need it. There’s just too much to do with this plan to not have a dishwasher. I spend almost as much time washing as I do preparing. It’s full-sized, which is good. I did a full load today and still had some stuff left over to have washed tomorrow. Boy, I like not having to wash. Plus, it’s got a nice big square of space on top that’s just perfect for more work space. I purchased it used, which was good, but there’s a bit of a problem with where it connects to the faucet. It doesn’t seal properly. Hopefully, require little more than a few small parts to fix this issue.

Tomorrow is spin class. Tonight I set my clocks ahead. Great. Just what I need: one less hour of sleep.

Thursday, March 9

Five months, 11 days until the big climb.

I’ve been up since 5. I made the spinning class. I worked all day, then spent too much time in the kitchen. This food thing is killing me. Not the food itself–just the preparation and cleanup. Tons and tons of time.

Remember that list of food I wrote about on Sunday? It wasn’t enough. Not nearly. Okay–there was too much of some things. Well, one thing: onion. But I ran into serious deficits in the meat department. Also carrots. My kids love carrots. And then all the washing. Sheesh. No wonder I’m tired.

I know that a routine will eventually develop, and it won’t seem as difficult. But we’re still not at that point.


Tuesday, March 8

Five months and 12 days til I go upditty-up-up.

I just got a little scared there, thinking about it. What if I don’t make it up? Well, then I don’t make it, and at least I tried, and I got myself in the best shape of my life to do it.

Things could be worse.

Hit the gym again today with Dave. This time we really did do a light cardio workout. I did 10 minutes on a bike–I put the resistance up until it was difficult to maintain a pace of 90 RPM, and then kept it there. Sort of like an extended sprint. Then we worked shoulders, back, biceps and triceps. I had been under the impression that I wouldn’t have to work those muscles much because all the work would be done by my legs. Spinning class has taught me otherwise.

Speaking of spinning class–that’s in 6 hours, so I need to get to bed. Yesterday I woke up 20 minutes late. Today I woke up 40 minutes late. I can’t do that tomorrow.

Saturday and Sunday, March 5 & 6

Five months and two weeks (I think–still not sure) til the rubber hits the extremely-sloped road.

I didn’t work out yesterday. I did get my bike back, though. I had dreams of actually getting on the road this week. Then I woke up Sunday to 2″ of snow on the ground and more in the sky coming down, and I figure I’ll probably have to wait a while longer.

The rest of Saturday was filled. I went to a meeting in the morning, then spent most of the early afternoon shopping. We got new shoes for my daughter, a second digital scale (to help weigh the food), and then we bought food.

Here’s what we bought:

9 heads of green leaf lettuce

6 12 oz bags of spinach

6 10 oz bags of baby carrots

1.5 lb of green peppers

.5 lb of assorted hot peppers

2 lb of sweet onions

6 oz of scallions

4.5 lb of black beans

5 lb of steak

3 lb of chicken

3 lb of pork loin

2 lb of ground beef

2 lb of ground turkey

2.5 lb of oat bran

1.5 dozen eggs

5 lb of frozen blueberries

3 lb of frozen blackberries

3 lb of frozen raspberries

1 qt of balsamic vinegar

2 lb of packaged string cheese

1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese

That’s for one week. And it’s probably not enough. For instance: we’re already out of pork loin and peppers. We do love our grilled peppers.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in food prep. cleaning and chopping, bagging and storing. The refrigerator was so full you could barely see the light. Then we grilled the pork loin, set up the steak and chicken in marinades (balsamic vinegar, garlic, dried onion flakes, crushed black pepper, sage, and bay leaves for the steak, low-sodium soy sauce, garlic and ginger for the chicken), ate dinner, then went to a movie. We smuggled in water and sugar-free gum for snacks. Movies are much cheaper (and faster to get to your seats) when you don’t stop at the concession stand.

Sunday started out with spinning at the Y. That’s not true. Sunday started out with breakfast, then shoveling, then spinning at the Y. I pushed myself harder this time than at any previous class. I’ve gotten used to the idea that I’m not going to collapse, exhausted, before class is over, so I’m more comfortable pushing myself.

Two things bothered me today: when I started, my right hamstring was a little twingy. I didn’t hurt enough to make me consider stoping, but it was noticeable. The second problem happened about 45 minutes into class–my calf started to cramp. It’s the same single strand deep inside the muscle that’s been bothering me for the last couple of years. I knew from experience that if I used my calf muscle at all, it would cramp painfully, so I spent the last 15 minutes pedaling while consciously relaxing my calf–no simple feat. I managed to gut it out. By the end, I was swearing and cajoling my calf. I was loud enough that Dave, who was riding next to me, thought I was talking to him. But I finished the ride, and then spent a few glorious minutes stretching that muscle out.

Usually I try to do some sort of ending–either snarky, pithy, or poignant, but I don’t have it in me tonight.

Wednesday, March 2

Five months and 18 days til this bear goes over the mountain.

This morning’s spin class was the first since I started the new food plan. No flour no sugar no caffeine no alcohol.

No stamina.

At least, not right now. Hey, it’s only been four days–I know that. Eventually I’ll have a lot more energy, but right now, I’m eating in a way that will cause my body to start consuming the fat it’s stored. This is going to cause me to shed weight.  But it’s also a rather ‘dirty’ fuel, and so it doesn’t really give me all the energy I need. Especially if I’m working out like I did this morning.

I threw myself off the bike this morning, by the way.  Gary the instructor has this thing about sitting. He apparently doesn’t like to do it. At least, not on a bike. He wants us to get out of the saddle. But not for long. And not always in the same position. Leaning over the handlebars, straight up, sliding back towards the saddle..all of those things are things he likes to do. And they are good for working various parts of the body.

Including some parts I ain’t got no more.

So, when getting in and out and up and down on the saddle while riding, there are places where having a right calf and an ankle that flexes would come in real handy. I have to redistribute that muscle work to my thighs and my arms, as well as make sure I don’t get myself in a position where my immobile ankle gets underneath me, and leverages my left foot out of the stirrup and launches me off the bike.

I failed to do that this morning. I didn’t really leave the bike, just suddenly pushed myself up over the handlebars and back down again. I got right back into it in a moment, but it was a bit frightening. If I had done that riding my bike, it would have been quite dangerous.

Speaking of my bike–it’s ready. My guys have done its annual tune-up and it’s good to go. I was going to get it last Saturday, but it was snowing so much that the owner called me up and told me he decided to not open. The weather’s bad enough that I wouldn’t be out riding much anyhow right now. But hopefully, starting next week I’ll get back to it!

I’ll still be going to the Wednesday spin class though. I’m not through with that bastard Gary yet…

Sunday, February 27

Five months, 24 days or so til I ride up Mount Washington.

First day on the food plan was good. There’s going to be a learning curve to getting the food prepared. I spent a large part of today prepping food. And I’m surprised at how much is gone from the food I purchased on Saturday. I’m going to have to make another run to the grocery store on Tuesday or Wednesday.

After breakfast I went to the YMCA with Dave, and we did the spinning class again. This time I was much more successful at it.

Man, am I tired. Going to go to bed now. I expect to have more energy tomorrow.


Saturday, February 26

Five months and 25-ish days ’til my legs turn to Jell-O on the side of a mountain.

I got an email today from one of the organizers of the ride, telling me that registration was open for a training ride up Mount Washington in July. Yeah. Like I’m gonna ride my bike up that thing twice. Then I got another email from  her stating there was a problem with the site and someone was working on it. She then thanked me for my patients.

Oh, doctor.

She may be able to ride circles around me,* but at least I can still be a word snob.

No exercise today. I’ve been on the go with commitments for 17 straight hours. What little time I had to work out I used to prepare myself for my upcoming food regimen. Which starts tomorrow.

Here’s my food:

Breakfast: I cup oat bran, cooked. 4 oz frozen blueberries. 1 hard-boiled egg.

Lunch: 4 oz chicken. 6 oz grilled scallions, peppers, and spinach. 8 oz salad (mixture of iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, carrots, scallions, and cucumbers), with 1 tbsp. blue-cheese dressing.

Dinner: 4 oz grilled hamburger, 6 oz mixture of steamed broccoli and asparagus, 8 oz salad (mixture of iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, carrots, scallions, and cucumbers), with 1 tbsp. blue-cheese dressing.

This is an approximation of the food plan from the program I’m going to be using, but I have yet to be able to get to one of the meetings, and I won’t be able to get to one tomorrow. In fact, the earliest I see myself getting to the meeting would be Tuesday evening, and I don’t want to wait that long to start changing the way I eat. I’m fairly certain that there will be changes to that plan once I get into the meetings and get a sponsor–a person who’s already successful in the program, who will tell me how to structure my food going forward. But what I’m eating tomorrow will be close. It will certainly be closer than what I’ve been eating lately.

After breakfast tomorrow, I’ll be going back to spin class with my friend Dave, which is good. Then after that, I’ll be going to a meeting, and that meeting will be filled with sugary, floury foods, and caffeine-laden drinks. Which will be less good. We’ll see how well I can handle it. I’ll just have to remind myself that it’s not my food.

Somebody might be getting a phone call. You know who you are.


*I lie. There’s no ‘may be’ about it.