Super-Secret Ninja Endurance Training Techniques

05.22.2005 | 2:24 pm

Sorry, no humiliating photo of me for this weekend; I had to get out the door pretty early in the morning yesterday (Saturday) in order to start the trip to Florida. I’ll post a photo on Tuesday, when I get back. That should be especially humiliating, since I’ll be taking that after having eaten excessive amounts of fatty, salty food and not having worked out for several days.

So, now I’m in Florida. Strangely — to me, anyway — I’ll see almost exactly nothing of Florida while I’m here. I went straight from the airport to the hotel, will stay at the hotel for two days of meetings, then will head back to the airport. As far as I’m concerned, Fort Lauderdale, Florida is nothing but a Mariott.

On the plane, I was considering: what will I be thinking about three months from now? Ie, three months from now my ninth Leadville 100 will be 1 week in the past. It’d be nice, on that day, if I were no longer the fat cyclist — or if I were at least the less-fat cyclist. "The Chubby Cyclist," perhaps? It’d be even nicer if I got a reasonable time at this race.

So, I guess I’m going to have to start training.

Training Invisibly
Here’s the thing, though: I do not currently have time for training. I  just don’t. Last year (I still need to give a synopsis of that crazy year; I’ll get to that later) swapped around some priorities for me. I’ve got to make sure I’m at home at the right times to help my boys with their homework, read to my girls, and keep my wife sane.

But I still want to train. So here’s my plan:

  • Ride 40 miles per day, 5 days / wk. And do it without impacting my family. I’ll do this by getting up early (6:00am) and riding 30 miles in the morning, winding up at work. Sort of a secret-bonus extended dance remix of my commute. Then, after work, I’ll get home with a 10-mile ride. Every other Saturday, I’ll do a 50-mile ride at 6:00am, getting me home  in time to spend the whole day with the family. This kind of consistent riding wouldn’t be right for someone who’s really hoping to shine in their races: you’ve got to be able to do intervals, hard days, easy days, etc. But I don’t want to shine. I just don’t want to suck.
  • Lose the weight, but don’t be a pain in the butt about it. Right now my wife doesn’t need me to demand fish for dinner every night. The fact that she manages to make dinner each night while taking care of 4 kids — two of which are 3-yr-olds — is a minor miracle in itself. The key to my weight loss will be in eating reasonable amounts, and then not grazing late at night.

Oh, it’s so easy to make resolutions like this when you’re nowhere near your bike.

Next up: Long-promised recap of my crazy year

Today’s weight: I dunno, but would guess I’m up by at least a pound, what with all the healthy eating options at airports across the country.


Bike Commuting: Not for the Weak-Spirited

05.20.2005 | 5:26 pm

All across the world, millions are celebrating Bike-to-Work day. OK, I have no idea whether that’s really true. First, I don’t know if it’s Bike-to-Work day anywhere besides here in WA. Next, I don’t know how many people are celebrating it.

I do know, though, that I saw a bunch of people riding their bikes to work today, and that makes me glad. Though, to be honest, I have my doubts about whether at least a couple of these people will think it was worth the effort. Why?

  • I saw one guy patching himself up after a fall. I quickly administered a tourniquet to his injured leg and amputated it just below the knee, then injected 2oz of pure adrenaline directly into his heart. I have lingering doubts as to whether I could have done more to save him, and also wonder whether his scraped knee would have healed on its own.
  • I saw another guy pushing his bike up a hill, with his left crank in his hand. I could see he was discouraged, and thought I would cheer him up with some situational humor: "That’s not the way you ride a bike, stupid!" I yelled, and then sprinted by. I’m confident he felt better.

Even people who made the commute without trouble may have noticed that getting to work on a bike takes a little more thought than getting to work in a car. To assist those who are less obsessive/compulsive about this kind of thing than I, I am pleased to present:

The Fat Cyclist’s Tips for Bike Commuting

  • Prepare early: Get everything you will need to bike to work packed and ready to go the night before
  • Ritual is your friend: Get a system in place, and then stick to it. That way you are less likely to have to go on a last-minute hunt for anything in the morning.
  • Use a checklist: Avoid the discomfort of spending a day without socks and/or underwear by making a checklist you keep by where you pack your stuff. Or maybe by revealing that I do this, I have revealed exactly the extent to which my memory is failing me.
  • Leave shoes at work: If you leave a pair of shoes or two either in your locker (if your workplace has them) or under your desk, you don’t have to pack shoes with you to work and back every day.
  • Keep a rain jacket at work: At least here in the NW, any day can wind up being a rain day. I keep a lightweight rain jacket in my office.
  • Be smug and annoying about your superiority: As a bike commuter, you accrue the following benefits:
  • You accomplish your workout and commute at the same time
  • You do not contribute to traffic congestion
  • You do not pollute the air
  • You do not waste gasoline
  • You save money by not wasting gasoline (I save about $25/wk)
  • You very likely get to work nearly as quickly as those who drive.

What’s great is that people who don’t bike commute love to hear bike commuters talk about how great it is to bike commute and why it’s so beneficial, and why anyone who does not bike commute is a Bad Person. People never get tired of hearing this. Talk about it often and effusively. Wave your arms in the air and bug your eyes out to get your point across. Foam at the mouth, if at all possible.

Next up: The Fat Cyclist Goes to Ft. Lauderdale and Stays in a Hotel/Convention Center for 48 Straight Hours. Yaaaaaayyyy. Place Your Bets as to How Much Weight I Will Gain.

Today’s Weight: 180.4. I am so close to dropping into the 170s, but I’m sure the biz trip will put the kibosh on that. Pffff.


How to Diet, Yet Remain Fat

05.18.2005 | 6:15 pm

Note from the Fat Cyclist: I had every intention of being wacky when I started today’s entry, but wound up being both serious and self-indulgent. Sorry. As compensation for this unseemly display, allow me to present my favorite photo of me ever. I call it "1/4 second Til Impact."

I’ve tried a bunch of diets. Whether it’s because of bad eating habits or genetics, my weight drifts toward around 180 (or more, if I start being a complete idiot about food, as in the past year or so). Here’s my critique of them:

Jenny Craig

Probably my first foray into dieting was well before I started biking: it was about 5 years into my marriage. Both my wife and I wanted to lose weight. My wife’s mom had had success with Jenny Craig, so we both signed up. Within a few months, I had dropped from 180 to 145 — the lightest I had been since high school. The thing with Jenny Craig is, it only works as long as you are eating their food, which cost around $80/wk, if I remember right. As soon as I stopped paying for their food, I started gaining, and didn’t take that long to get back to my old weight. Jenny Craig will get the pounds off you, but you don’t learn how to keep them off at all.

Cabbage Soup

I can’t believe I did this, and yet I did. Basically, eat all the cabbage soup you want, but nothing else. You lose about 10 pounds in a week doing this, after which you have a gag reflex at the very thought of cabbage soup. And then you go on a revenge binge that puts about 15 pounds on you over the next month.

Slim Fast

Same deal as Cabbage Soup. Except I don’t gag at the thought of Slim Fast. In fact, I still use it — as a source of quick calories on endurance rides.

Ephedrine/Caffeine/Aspirin Stack

OK, here’s the thing. An ephedine / caffeine / aspirin stack has worked better for me than just about anything. Using it, I went from 180 to 150 and stayed in that neighborhood for about three years. And it didn’t just help me lose weight, either — it made me ride faster. The ephedra/caffeine stack has a curious effect: it gives you willpower. Ie, I still felt as hungry as ever, but was able to deal with it. Similarly, going up a long, hard hill on my bike, my legs hurt as much as ever, but I was better able to ignore the pain.

There are a couple of problems with that, though: for the three years I was on "the stack," I slept poorly. And, eventually, I was no longer able to ignore the likelihood that I was probably setting myself up for long term consequences. High blood pressure runs in the family, y’know?

Worst of all, though, I knew that what I was doing was essentially doping.

I quit the stack about the same time we moved out to Washington. I actually expected to have withdrawal symptoms, but didn’t. Maybe that’s because there was plenty of other stuff going on in my life to occupy my mind (I’ll get to that another time).

Not coincidentally, I’m sure, it’s during the year and change since then that I’ve become The Fat Cyclist.

I’ve decided, though, that I’d rather be the Fat Cyclist than be the fast doper cyclist. I’m hoping, though, that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Dieting Now

I’ve got a friend, Matt Chester (I do his website; he’s got a very interesting blog of his own), who is a total raw vegan. I admire that kind of willpower and commitment, and wish I had that myself.

But I don’t.

What I’m trying to do, instead, is make at least the bulk of my food raw fruits and vegetables. In my case, that equates to lots and lots of apples (favorite fruit) and carrots (favorite vegetable). And, above all, I am trying very hard not to go on grazing binges late at night. And I do seem to be losing weight doing this.

Just in case, though, I’ve still got three bottles of Ephedrine in an undisclosed, secure location.

Next up: How to entertain yourself while on an endurance ride/race

Today’s weight: 182.6

Cyclist Etiquette Made Snarky

05.17.2005 | 6:56 pm

Before I start jabbering on about my how I think cyclists should behave whilst on their cycles, I have a question. If anyone at all has an answer to this, please tell me:

What, apart from cooked yams, smells like cooked yams?

No, this is not a riddle. It’s an honest I-don’t-know-the-answer question. And the reason I ask is: Every day, as I ride my bike to work (Microsoft Redmond campus, in case you don’t know), I turn off East Lake Sammamish Parkway toward Marymoor Park, riding through a small warehouse-style business district. Part way through — every single day — I am hit by the strong smell of cooking yams. Is it really possible that there is a yam-cooking factory in one of these warehouses? Or does the smell come from something completely non-yam-related, that only happens to smell like yams? For example, is it possible that in one of these warehouse-ish buildings they’re making chemical weapons or shoe soles, and a certain stage in the manufacture of said weapons/shoe soles gives off a pleasant cooked yam smell?

Or is it possible that two separate companies, making their two separate products, give off two separate smells, the confluence of which is the cooked yam smell I experience?

I am flummoxed.

Also, I find myself giggling every time I type "cooked yams." There I go again.

Please allow me to demonstrate my ability to prattle on about nothing at all

Interesting non-fat/non-cyclist-related tidbit. Somehow, yesterday, my brain got the definition of "fungibles" screwed up. I was treating it as if "fungible" was a term food scientists used to measure a food’s mouth-feel. E.g., Burger King’s french fries score higher on the fungible index than McDonald’s, due to the way they’re double-fried and injected with lard.

Turns out, though, "fungible" is a word for an object that can be used like money — to barter with for example. E.g., chickens used to be fungible.

So, as I wrap up this little anecdote — which is turning out to be considerably longer than I originally anticipated — I have some questions and an observation:

  • "Fungible" is fun to say (even more fun than "cooked yams"). Really, it’s a shame it has such an obscure use. If the definition of fungible were "an object crucial to enabling or enhancing the fun quotient of a specified activity," I think you’d be hearing "fungible" in everyday conversation. E.g., "Don’t forget to bring Doritos and a frisbee to the picnic, Joe. But leave your banjo at home. It’s not fungible."
  • How did I manage to get "fungible" to mean "qualitative measure of mouth-feel in food research" in my brain? I’m not just going senile, I’m going nuts.
  • Is there a word for "qualitative measure of mouth-feel" that’s used in food research? I’d like to know. Also, how can I get started in the field of food research? I’d like to bring the "cake shake" (see previous post) to market.

OK, now on to the cycling etiquette bit.

Whether you’re on a bike for a quick ride or for 100 miles, you’re eventually bound to pass — or be passed by — another cyclist. I, of course, am the right person to give advice on how to handle those encounters.

  • If you pass an unaware cyclist: When passing another cyclist, there’s a good chance she does not know you are behind her. If you say "Hi" as you go by, you may startle her, prompting her to fall off her bike (I have in fact actually caused a bike accident this way). If you ring your bell, you may startle her similarly. If you ride by without saying anything, you will be thought of as inexplicably rude. What should you do? Yell "TRACK!" and blow by as impressively as possible.
  • If you encounter a cyclist coming from the opposite direction: Cyclists are required by law to aknowledge one another, primarily to express solidarity and a shared love of the sport. You don’t have long, but try to convey, with a simple gesture, "Hey, we’re both on bikes and are therefore morally superior to the people currently in cars." But you’ve got to be casual about it. If you are riding in an upright position (mountain bike, cruiser), it’s fine to lift your hand and wave. If you are on a road bike and have your hands on the hoods, lift the fingers of your left hand, without removing the hand from the hoods. If you are in the drops, a simple bob of the head will suffice.
  • If you encounter a cyclist on a recumbent bicycle, in either direction: Spurn him. Do not aknowledge, and do not return aknowledgment if offered. Recumbent cycles are nothing more than a desperate plea for attention, and by aknowledging him, you become an enabler. Above all, do not express appreciation/admiration/interest in the recumbent cycle.
  • If you pass someone during a race: Do not say, "How’s it going?" because the honest answer the person you’re passing would have to give is, "Not as well as I previously thought." Instead, say, "Looking strong, dude," because it makes you sound generous, while at the same time implying that if your vanquished foe is looking strong, you are looking even stronger. It’s all about psychology.
  • If you are passed during a race: Don’t give an excuse belittling your opponent’s accomplishment (e.g., "My spleen hurts."). Instead, say, "Rock on, dude." It makes you sound like a good sport, not to mention a hep cat.

This, of course, only covers how to handle other cyclists. I will cover how to handle pedestrians and motor vehicles another time. Maybe.

Next up: The history of the fat cyclist’s dieting techniques

Today’s weight: 183.4

Why I am Fat

05.16.2005 | 6:03 pm

I’m fat because of weekends.

I have a serious "grazing" instinct — if I’m in the house, I often find myself near the fridge or pantry without ever conciously intending to go there. I’ll fix myself a snack, even though I’m not hungry. And if there’s nothing I want to eat immediately obvious, I treat it as a Grazer’s Challenge. This has resulted, in recent memory, in the following:

  • Peanut butter and mozzerrella cheeze on a tortilla, heated in microwave for 25 seconds. Actually, very tasty.
  • Cool whip and chocolate milk mix (powdered), blended together and used as a dip with graham crackers. Again, very tasty.
  • Saltine crackers with Chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce (my new favorite hot sauce, by the way). Once again, very tasty, but probably would have been better if I had mixed the Tabasco with sour cream.
  • A milkshake created using vanilla ice cream, milk, a handful of M&Ms, and a large piece of chocolate cake. This was possibly the best thing I have ever tasted, and could be the basis of a successful milkshake chain: "Cake Shakes!"

This ability to always find something to eat — and then eat it, natch — is pretty easy to suppress for short periods of time — a couple of hours, for instance. When I’m at home for 60 hours at a stretch, though, eventually my willpower breaks down.

Which explains why my weight has gone from 181.4 on Sunday to 184.4 today. Around 7PM last night, I just started eating, and eating, and eating. Handfuls of Cap’n Crunch, improvisational burritos (everything’s better with a tortilla around it), a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats (I could happily eat nothing but cold cereal and Mexican food for the rest of my days), and part of an ice cream cone one of my twins didn’t finish.

I was, in short, a train wreck.

Originally, I intended to spend some time today detailing the weirdness I’ve been through in the past year, and try to link it to my current weight problem. I think this is the more honest answer, though: I’m fat because I run out of willpower before I run out of weekend.

Mark my words, you’ll see a variation of that on a fridge magnet someday.

« Previous Page« Previous Entries     Next Entries »Next Page »