Riding the 11 (or is that 11,000?) Hills of Kirkland

05.31.2005 | 6:08 pm

Yesterday, Nick and I rode the 11 Hills of Kirkland, an event to benefit the homeless. The idea of it is to go on a nice 75 mile ride, which takes you over 11 different hills.

My problem was, I didn’t know what to count as a hill.

At the beginning of the day, anytime we went up a pitch that lasted more than a minute, Nick and I counted it as a hill. Before we had been on the bike for 1.5 hours, I figured we had ridden our 11 hills, and the rest would be flat. Turns out that was wrong — they saved all the really hard hills for the second half of the ride. Or is it possible that the hills were hard because I was tired? No, that’s not possible. Put that thought out of your mind.

The thing is, long road rides generally don’t make great epic ride stories. People don’t (usually) crash, when you bonk you just ride slow, and bears rarely attack. So I’ll briefly recap the highlights:

  • The predominant form of roadkill was frogs — each looking as if it had been about the size of my fist before being flattened.
  • I was super-geeked out, instrument-wise. Ie, I carried my cool new Suunto N6HR, so I could monitor my heartrate for the day (see chart), had my Garmin GPS to tell us how far we had gone and our current altitude, and my regular bike computer. And I had my mobile phone. All that was missing was my propellerized beanie cap. (Did my heartrate really spike to 212?)
  • The weather was perfect: overcast and cool, but only needed arm warmers for the first hour.
  • Nick is a great guy to ride with. We match speed well, and he’s good at chatting — which helps keep your mind off the pain.
  • I felt better on the hills than I expected to. The fact that I am currently a Fat Cyclist doesn’t negate the fact that I have spent most of my cycling lifetime trying to be a good climber. I suffer well, and know where my threshold for needing to back off really is — and it’s far north of where most people think theirs’ is. Ie, hurting does not necessarily mean it’s time to slow down. In fact, my experience tells me that I can ride acceptably well for up to 3 minutes after tunnel vision has set in. Once the tunnel starts to close, then it’s time to back off. FWIW, I never even got a little bit of tunnel vision on yesterday’s ride.
  • The ride was beautiful — a great tour of rural King County.
  • Getting a dish of strawberry shortcake at the finish line was a stroke of genius. Yum.

Weight Frustration

After the ride, I pigged out, bringing my weight to 181.4 for this morning. I’m so sick of hovering at 180. This week, I’m going to get down to 178, and I’m not going to let my binge instincts get the better of me over the weekend. I’ve got to get down to 170 by the end of June, and then down to 160 by the end of July, or I’m looking at another pathetic year at Leadville (not to mention the RAMROD, [Ride Around Mount Ranier in One Day], which is a pretty tough ride, by all accounts).

Next up: I’m no longer doing "next up." I’m finding more often than not that I want to write about something different than what I committed to the previous day.

Today’s Weight: 181.4


Q & A With the Fat Cyclist

05.27.2005 | 8:15 pm

Based on the huge volume of email, the vast number of searches that point to my blog, and the overwhelming number of people who stop me on the street, I can tell it’s time for me to answer some questions the Fat Cyclist frequently gets.

Q. So, did that "Biggest Loser" Ryan Benson guy really ride the White Rim with you? And how come you mentioned him in the beginning and middle parts of the story, but not in the end? Didn’t he finish?

A. I get more hits in this blog from people doing google searches on "Ryan Benson Biggest Loser" than for anything else, so I’m ashamed that I didn’t follow through and at least mention how Ryan finished the ride:

  • Ryan did, in fact, finish the RAWROD ‘05. Furthermore, he finished it with style, a smile on his face and without any particular drama — as if going from 300+ pounds to being able to do a 100-mile mountain bike ride in under a year is no big deal. Major props to him for that.
  • I sat across from Ryan at dinner the evening after we finished this big ol’ ride, and I can promise you he ate a lot more than a leafy green salad. After a ride like that, you get a "pass" on your diet for the rest of the day.

Q. What other ways are people winding up at your blog?

A. There are two Google searches that people are frequently finding my blog with:

  1. "fat cyclist:" To my surprise, this blog is the first site if you do a google search on this term. Five or six people are finding my blog this way each day. I wonder what they hope to find.
  2. "aspirin stack" (and "ephedrine stack"): My admission that I have monkeyed around with ephedrine / caffeine / aspirin stacks to lose weight has brought several readers to this site. My guess is that most of them are looking for info on what the right proportions are for an ephedrine stack. Well, folks, I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve put that behind me. Besides, you can easily find the information elsewhere.

Q. When you’re trying to ride fast — especially up a difficult hill — do you ever pretend you’re a professional cyclist? And if so, which one?

A. Yes I do. Anyone who rides a road bike who says he isn’t fantasizing about being a particular pro cyclist at least some of the time is lying. And I, like most in the US, am pretending to be Lance Armstrong. Except when I’m pretending to be Tyler Hamilton (like after I’ve wrecked and am convincing myself to get back on the bike).

Q. So who do you think Lance Armstrong is pretending to be when he’s riding?

A. Eddy Mercx.

Q. Why do you sometimes refer to yourself in the third person?

A. The Fat Cyclist refers to himself in the third person because many great personalities have done so. He started this as a lark, but finds it addictive. He can no longer stop himself. Also, the Fat Cyclist wishes to disassociate himself from the fact that he is the actually a Fat Cyclist, and the embarassing things he writes are always about himself.

Q. Why is your weight up today?

A. Events conspired against me. My family had a very busy evening last night, so that by the time we finally got around to dinner, the following two things were true:

  1. I was very hungry.
  2. I wanted to eat now.

So we pulled a Papa Murphys Garlic and Chicken pizza out of the freezer and popped it in the oven. 15 minutes later, I had my favorite kind of pizza staring me in the face. Guess how much restraint I showed. I’ll give you a hint: I once again proved the well-known fact that the Fat Cyclist can easily dispatch 1/2 a large pizza.

So there went my "Hooray, I’m out of the 180s" bit. The weekend’s here now; let’s see if I can avoid a major trainwreck, willpower-wise.

Q. So when can I expect your next Q & A?

A. Next time I have nothing else to say.

Up Next: Photo showing my progress, or lack thereof.

Today’s weight: 181.0.

It knows the time…and my heart rate…and the news…and…

05.26.2005 | 6:29 pm

Father’s Day came a little early for me this year: I just got a Suunto N6HR. It’s an enormous watch — using the Microsoft SmartWatch OS, natch — that does a truly ridiculous number of things. Here’s what I’ve got it doing so far:

  • Telling the time — the cool thing is, it uses an FM receiver to download the current local time, so I never have to set the time, even when I travel.
  • Telling my heart rate: It’s got a heart rate monitor strap that goes around my chest.
  • Logging my workouts: It plugs into a USB cable (which is also how it recharges), where heartrate info can be tracked, looged, plotted, and otherwise fussed over. Check out the HRM readout from my commute this morning.
  • Telling me my appointments: My Outlook calendar now has a plugin so that whenever I get a new appointment added to my calendar, it gets sent over FM to my watch. I automatically get reminders for all my meetings (and I have a lot of meetings), as well as what they’re about, who scheduled them, and where they’re located. This is probably the coolest feature of the watch. Really useful, totally effortless.
  • Telling me stocks, news, weather: Again, several times per day, over FM, stocks I pick, news headlines, and local weather forecasts are sent to my watch.
  • Receiving IM messages. If you’ve got me on MSN Messenger (I’m eldennelson@hotmail.com), you can send an IM message to me on my watch. Right click on my icon, choose Send Other from the menu that appears, and then choose Send Message to an MSN Direct Watch. Type your message to me — keep it short — and click Send. Messages usually take about 10 minutes to get to me. Downside: I can’t reply (receive-only device).

This thing is waaaaay overfunctioning, and I luuuvvvv it.

Next up: You know, I have no idea what I’ll write about tomorrow. Something less nerdy than this, I’ll wager.

Today’s weight: 179.8

Renegade Geese from Hell!

05.25.2005 | 8:45 am

A Note from Fatty: This post, originally published May 25, 2005, is part of my “Rescue Fatty’s Old Stuff from His MSN Spaces Archive” project — back from before I had my own domain. Weekend by weekend, little by little, I’ll eventually get it all moved over.

I really like the bike route I have to work. The good people of Redmond and Sammamish have done an excellent job of making bike-friendly roads, not to mention some great bike paths.

Each morning as I bike down E. Lake Sammamish Blvd, I’ve got beautiful houses and trees on my right, and a gorgeous lake on my left. Not to mention a 6-ft-wide road shoulder (in good condition, even!) to keep me from being squeezed by traffic.

Then, as I cut across Marymoor park, I’ve got the road to myself for a few minutes as I look at all the cool facilities this park has — a public velodrome, a climbing wall, an off-leash dog park, a model airplane flying park, and a huge number of fields for baseball, soccer, etc. Nice.

But then, as I turn onto the bike path paralleling W. Lake Sammamish Blvd, I get to the one part of the ride I truly fear: The geese.

I don’t know why, but the geese — dozens of them — all want to sit on the bike path. And they have claimed it as their own. They poop all over the path (goose poop is about the same size as cat poop: not trivial). And they do not rush to get out of the way, slowly ambling as I whoop and holler to clear a path.

And this time of year, it’s worse. Much, much worse. For the geese now have goslings to protect. Where the adult geese are normally just apathetically belligerent, now they are protective and easily angered. They do not move off the path until all their kids are off the path, which can take a good, long time. And if you get too close, they’ll hiss in a surprisingly terrifying manner. If you ignore that, they spread their wings and — I assume — attack, pecking out your eyes with their razor-sharp bills. (I’m talking hypothetically in this last instance, because I’ve always chickened out and backed down once they get to the open-wing stage.)

Someday, these geese will get their comeuppance. I will be brave and ride a straight line down the center of the path. I will not brake. I will not coast.

Then they’ll probably gang up and kill me. And I will be in the paper with the tragic headline:

Local Fat Cyclist Dies in Goose Attack

I can think of more embarrassing ways to go. But not many.

And You May Ask Yourself: “Well, How Did I Get Here?”

05.24.2005 | 7:37 pm

(For those of you who don’t get the reference in today’s entry, it’s a line from a song popular back in the early 80’s, back when I was current with music.)

I mentioned in an earlier posting that it’s high time I don’t blame what’s going on around me for my Fat Cyclist-ness. I’m fat because I lack willpower and eat salty fatty foods. So I’m now going to contradict myself and say that at least part of the reason I’m fat is because I didn’t do any training last year. And since I’ve alluded to this past year so many times, I figure it’s time I give a quick overview of what’s been going on.

We used to live in Utah. I worked as the editor-in-chief of a programmers’ magazine, which had fallen on tough times. By the time I took my third paycut, we were no longer making ends meet. It was time to look around.

I looked in UT, but simply couldn’t find anything. Lots of people were looking for work in UT back then. So I started calling friends at Microsoft, and before long had a couple of very interesting job prospects.

In December ‘03, the night before I travelled to WA for a day of interviews, my wife got the news that she had breast cancer.

In early January ‘04, my wife had a mastectomy. The day before she did, I got a job offer at Microsoft. I remember going out to the hotel parking lot while my wife was getting an operation, calling MS, and accepting the job, going back in to the hospital and seeing if she was awake yet (she wasn’t), going back out to the parking lot to call my employer and give notice, checking again to see if she was awake (nope), calling a real estate agent to put the house up for sale, and then going and telling my wife what I had done while she was "napping." A very productive morning, all told.

We moved out to WA in February ‘04 — my family, our four kids (including twin 2-yr-old girls), and started house hunting. My wife started chemo three weeks after we arrived, and was going through chemo the entire time we were doing our house hunting, house buying, and moving-in. All while I was, of course, trying to get the hang of a new kind of job at an incredibly intense, competitive company.

I was kind of busy. Not much time for training.

And now? We like where we live, my wife has her hair back and has great prospects for the cancer never coming back, I like my job, I’m starting to ride again, and things are — in general — good.

The year has changed my priorities. I don’t think I’ll ever train as hard as I did before, because I’m a little more focused on my family than I used to be. Which is a good thing.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be fat.

Next up: Renegade Geese from Hell

Today’s weight: 182.8. That’s about 2.4lbs gain during my biz trip, or a pound per day. I really hoped I would do better than that, but was foiled by two things:

  • Free Haagen-Dasz: During the afternoon parts of the conference, the hotel wheeled in a fridge full of ice cream bars. I resisted. I was strong. For a while.
  • Fajita Buffet: Lunch on the second day was fajitas, against which I am powerless. And there was a big bowl of good guacamole sitting there, against which I am less than powerless.

By the end of this week, I will be in the 170s. I swear it. And then, by the end of June, I will be in the 160s. And by Leadville, I will be at or slightly below 160. It can be done.

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