Friday, November 23, 2007

Day 295: Didn't Happen

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 208.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to under 200 goal.

No pictures. No real time to post, but for those who are interested. Didn't happen. Same weight as two weeks ago. Too much going on. No real time to workout as much as I'd like. Not even a ton of motivation to post on a regular basis. Hopefully like gets back to normal before long.

Happy Day After Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day 279: New Goal - Under 200 By Thanksgiving

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 208.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to under 200 goal.

No, I'm not on a blogging strike with the rest of the writing world. Life has just been crazy.

I'm on a new mission. Good news - I've continued to maintain the 50 lbs I've lost for over 150 days. Bad news - I haven't been working very hard at getting down any further, and I still have some work to do, so I'm setting a new goal. By Thanksgiving this year, I want to get that scale to show me a number under 200. So basically, I've got two weeks to lose 8+ lbs.

I realize this is an ambitious goal. In the past 4 months I haven't been able to do it...I'm not sure what makes me think I can do it in the next two weeks, but if you don't have a goal, you won't hit it. I actually think I have the tools to be able to do this, and here's are a few reasons why I believe I just might be able to pull it off.

#1 - I haven't been drinking water like I should.
I kind of knew this might happen - as the fall comes around, and colder days arrive, I tend to gravitate towards coffee more and more, and leave the water behind. Heck, it's possible, I've got a few pounds of pure water weight alone to get rid of, so I'm gonna try to hit the water again.

#2 - I'm not counting calories as strictly as I was before
One of the benefits of going through the process that I did with tracking every single calorie until I hit my goal is that I have a pretty good grasp of how many calories are in most things I'm eating. One of the downfalls though is that it's too easy to generalize, and give myself a little wiggle room. While I haven't had a hard time wiggling into my clothes or anything, I know that part of the reason I'm just maintaining and not losing, is that I'm taking in more calories than I was during my poundage dropping days. Getting back to cutting those down again will help.

#3 - I'm getting out on the bike a decent amount
After an initial scary experience on the rollers (see previous post) where I rode for 5 minutes without letting go of the wall next to me, I've actually made decent use of the rollers for exercise. Although it's still pretty tricky to even find 45 minutes to get out and ride, last week I was able to find 4 of 7 days where I could get out and ride in the garage, and on Saturday I even took advantage of the weather and got a 15 mile *real* ride in.

The rollers aren't exactly like real riding - no wind in the hair, no change of scenery, not the same kind of road friction - but they've been a decent way to get the heartbeat up, and do it on the bike I'm used to riding. It's definitely as close to real riding as I'm gonna get until we get back to the biking season again. Instead of the great outdoors, I'm now watching all kinds of streaming online tv episodes on an old laptop, and still getting used to being strapped on to a bike on 3 little spinning wheels. Two times now, I've just about gone down - not while riding, but when I forget to reach out for the chair to my left when stopping, and then have to desperately find the fridge behind me on the other side in time to stop from hitting the floor. I'm still an idiot on them.

Anyway, I think if I start putting down the water again, and watch the calories, along side of keeping up the exercise, I just might be able to get to under 200 lbs by Thanksgiving this year.

So once again, let the battle cry sound.....Release the Pounds!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day 257: Rain and Rollers

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

"When the rain comes...they run and hide their heads...." Anyone?

Well, the forecast for the next week or longer is rain. Big surprise, it's October in Oregon...what else should I expect? And even though I have some great experience cranking out the miles in the rain, I'm going to limit the amount of time I allow crazy weather drivers to target me out on the open roads.

In addition to the weather, I'm finding that with school in session, business and church commitments, and the family schedule, that the only shot I have at riding these days is Saturday mornings, and frankly, that's not gonna keep the poundage off this fall. I need to be doing more. I've considered the whole Club option, but frankly, I've never liked that place, I'm not really a Club kind of guy...there's no real draw for me, and again, it's more an issue of time than weather, so finding time to pack up my gear and head to the club is going to be as tough as finding time to get geared up and go riding. What I really need to is be able to ride, indoors, after hours somewhere, on my bike, but such a place doesns't exist.

For folks that want to ride indoors, at home, during the off season or after hours, there are a few options, which I'll go through here today.

Stationary Bike
Yeah, I could go old school like this and pick up a $15 stationary bike, but frankly....ugh.

Bike Trainer
Another option is to buy a trainer, a device that basically you either hook your rear wheel to, or use as a friction device against your rear tire, and ride in place. Check out how much fun this looks like:

So, the next option is to get rollers. Basically, these are treadmills for bikes, and just like treadmills, have the same type of pitfalls. It takes some serious effort to get up on them, and stay on them. If you 'youtube' bike rollers, you'll see all kinds of people who are videoing themselves trying to get up on rollers...and many times not succeeding.(Like the dude below) When people do get up on them, they really can't stand up on the bike, or do any real kind of riding...just to dangerous...and consequently...boring. Most people have a love/hate relationship with rollers...more on the hate side.

Fluid Motion Rollers
So this company called InsideRide took the rollers another step further and put them inside a floating cage, with rollers up on the side as well. Because of the added movement of the entire machine, and the added protection of the rollers on the side, you can actually stand up and step it up a bit on the bike. Still gonna be boring as all get-out compared to actually riding on the roads, BUT I can get out for an hour after dark without risking my life against trucks and cars that may not see me.

Every review I've read about them has given them 5 stars, and they seem to be the best indoor option for keeping the wheels rollin'. Another cool bonus is that they are made in Oregon, right over in North Plains....not too far from Maggie's Buns. Now I'll just need to pick up some copies of shows I've never watched, like The Office or 30 Rock, to fill my time while I'm rollin' away!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Day 253: Photo Op

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Work with me baby, work with me!

Ok, I almost hesitate to post these, because some are not the most flattering, and well frankly, I feel like I've about talked my Challenge to death, but since these just came in from the official photog, here are the Kreutz Photography shots from Livestrong.

Here we are before the ride, thinking everything was just gonna be peachy. It was rainy and cold, but I was hopeful that it might just clear up and that at least part of the day might be dry. Of course, that didn't come to pass, but such is life, and it makes for great stories.

Funny thing is, I searched out some specific sunglasses that I'd read about - interchangeable lenses and all for different kinds of conditions - you can see them there in my gloved hands....turns out I never wore them. Lots of folks like them on the bike forums, so I got some Tifosi glasses. The lenses I have in them now really give everything a nice warm glow, even on cloudy days. I've only been out once since the ride, but used them that day and they were great!

Also that morning, we got the 'team' together and did a big group shot with everyone we could find in the rainy mess. I don't know the final count of the people that decided to show up and brave the weather, but we did have one of the largest teams riding that day. Here's a shot with the portion of the team I was in. You can find me, I look like I'm all cheeks and goatee on my face.

Next is the line up of riders in before the race. I think that's Lance and his buddies in the very small group at the bottom. The original 100 milers are on the left, and the 70 milers are on the right...and of due to the weather, we all did the 70 miles together. I'm about 1/3 of the way down on the right, up against the inside curb, but I don't think I could point myself out.

Then a close up of me leaving. I hate this shot because it looks like I'm all gut, but most of that is the jacket pulling away. I *am* still kind of all gut, but not quite that bad. Still hopeful here that the rain will let up.

Next, a shot where I'm giving one photog the pump fist pose I stole from Keijiro's ride last year. Definitely tears in my eyes at this point from finishing the ride.

Lastly, the final turn into the courtyard, and a little thumbs up to say 'hey, I'm still alive!' Totally worn out, wet and cold and ready to go find my family!

You can view all of the shots from our ride, and/or all the shots that I was in at: - click on Livestrong Challenge Portland, then on Livestrong Ride and Run, and then my bib number is 937 if you want to see those. Gotta get on that next 20 lbs so I'm not making excuses for my gut next year!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Day 250 - Starbucks: The Thorn in My Fleshy Side

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

The wetter and colder weather is quickly moving in, and we are officially entering my favorite time of the year, from now through Christmas.

One of the things I love the most about this time of year is enjoying the foods and drinks of the season. One cool and cold mornings and evenings, I love me some coffee, and in the past this time of year starts the official Treat Season as well. Fall Festival candy and cupcakes, pumpkin patch donuts and ciders, Thanksgiving banquets, every kind of pie imaginable, and then into Christmas candies and cookies and of course, more meals. When it's cold outside, the warm glow of a comfy fire, or even just the warm glow of a oven knocking out some sugar cookies has always made me happy. This year, it just makes me nervous.

I have already begun to think about how I can try to limit the damage of the impending holiday season, and one way I've already determined is to cut down the amount of time I spend at the Starbucks counter. Don't get me wrong, I'll still swing by for some drive-through coffee, or conduct my meetings at my favorite office away from the office, but I've got to avoid that glass case with all kinds of temping sorts and sundries. If you haven't been to a Starbucks during this time of year, then you may not know of what I speak, but there was one item in particular that just did me in last year, and I need to avoid making eye contact with it this year if at all possible.

I'm speaking about the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin. This little baby, with it's pumpkiny goodness, sweet cream cheese swirled through it all, and one little walnut atop the whole thing weighs in at 500 calories, and goes down like just a few M&Ms before I even know it. I think last year I easily consumed.....well, I'm not going to even guess how many I ate, because it's probably just embarassing. I ate them with abandon. Suffice to say that you could probably just paste a couple boxes of those babies around my waste and know why I had the 50+ pounds to lose that I did.

And if the Muffin wasn't bad enough, I was also tempted by every kind of holiday drink I could imagine there. White Chocolate Peppermint Mochas, Peppermint Lattes, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Eggnog Lattes, Raspberry Mochas, Paddingtons Humdinger Lattes....ok, well that one doesn't really exist, but if it did, I'd be in trouble. Toss in any of these drinks, in any of the medium to larger sizes, and add another 300-500 calories without thinking. 1000 calories to be had between a muffin and a drink, without even trying!

I'm feeling strong about this one. I've seen the Muffins the last few times I've been in and a happy to report that I've resisted so far. Doesn't mean I won't have one at all this year, but the longer I can hold out, the better chance I have of being labled the Muffin Man when I start packing it back on. If you see me making a mad dash for the counter, knock me down before I get'll be doing me a favor.

Beware the Starbucks glass case, it is not your friend!


Monday, October 1, 2007

Day 242: Livestrong Challenge - The Day After

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

This will easily be my longest post, so I'll try to get all the vitals out of the way early in case you want to bail before the novella begins.

I'm sitting in my jammies, sipping hot coffee, waiting to take the kids to school and it's kind of hard to imagine that yesterday actually happened at all...well, right up until I move my legs and then my knees remind me that it was in fact a reality. Today is the day after the Portland Livestrong Challenge for 2007, and this year I can say that I not only participated, but also rode the longest official route available...more on that later. For those who want the down and dirty specs, (Motionbased Info - click here) here they are:

Total time on route: 5:07 hrs
Total moving/riding time: 4:30 hrs
Total distance: 69.5 miles
Avg speed: 15.4 mph
Max speed: 30.3 mph
Elevation gain: 1000-2000 feet (still sorting out GPS discrepancy)
Avg Heart Rate: 148 bpm (zone 4)
Avg Temperature: 49 degrees (max 50)
Avg Wind Speed: 10 mph, max 14
Calories Burned: 5100 (yeah, baby!)

Before The Ride
I woke up at 4:30 yesterday, got dressed, did a final check of the gear, had some oatmeal, loaded up and was out the door by 5:30 to head towards the Nike World Headquarters, where we would begin our ride. It was raining from the moment I woke up until the moment I put my bike in the truck after the ride. All the way up I kept thinking 'why am I doing this again?' - but knew it was not only for a great cause, but also an amazing personal goal I really wanted to reach.

After being redirected with everyone else to a parking lot on the backside of the campus, I unloaded my bike, grabbed my stuff and started heading down towards the starting lanes. I dropped off my bike in Lane 3, the lane for 70 milers, and went to find our 'team' for a group photo. While there I met a couple of nice guys - one who was a triathalon guy who had tons of great rainy day group ride advice, and another who decided to ride when someone asked him for a donation. I don't know that I saw those guys again after we took off, but I enjoyed chatting with them. After our team photo, we all went to our lanes to get ready to ride. There were 4 lanes total, one for each of the 10, 40, 70, and 100 mile options. Due to weather, the 100 mile ride was cancelled, and they would be joining us on the 70 mile ride.

The 70 mile ride was not scheduled to start until 7:40, a full hour after I unloaded my bike at Nike. So even before riding, we spent a good hour, just soaking up the rain. I was in shorts, jersey, undershirt, arm and leg warmers, full fingered gloves, and a light water resistant (ha!) jacket. I flipped back and forth between a heavier rain jacket, and something lighter. The two schools of thought are if you stay super dry, you're probably going to soak yourself with sweat anyway, vs just keeping the cooler air off of you and getting a little wet from the rain. I don't think it really mattered yesterday either way.

Gettin' to The Ride
So after sitting out in the rain, we were officially about to begin and they brought out a couple of important people including the president of the LAF and Lance himself, who pointed out that it takes a certain level of committment to come out to a long ride in the weather we had. It was great to get the encouragement, but at that point I was honestly thinking 'lets get moving, I'm freezing out here!'

After Lance and a special group of friends took off, they let the original 100 milers go, and we were to follow 5 minutes later. 10-15 minutes later, we finally were able to take off. I saw Kiejiro, and gave him a hollar and a wish for a good ride as he headed out with the Lane 4 group. I was nervous as we started pedaling. Nervous that I'd stay warm enough. Nervous that I'd keep my bike up on wet, slick pavement. Nervous that I'd have enough stamina to make it all the way. Nervous that I wouldn't bonk out because I hadn't properly hydrated. Nervous I'd look like an idiot compared to the more experienced riders...and a bunch of other stuff. Because of the rain, and the fact that we were like a trail of ants all bunch together for a few miles, I took off slow and easy, staying in the 12-13 mile speed for longer than I normally do. I got stuck on the inside lane behind a recumbant bike and wondered if I'd be there until nightfall, and the two of us would be bringing up the rear!

At mile 8, we had our first support stop. I had neaded to 'ease myself' since we were sitting in line waiting to go, so I was most looking forward to the outhouses, and based on the lines, so was everyone else. I grabbed a half a PB&J and an orange slice, and got back on the road. Before I knew it, I was getting up to the speeds of my normal rides, and feeling comfortable enough to pass people and stay in whatever groove I needed to be in. One gal asked how far we had ridden and I looked down and was surprised to see we had crossed 16 miles already. I also saw a dad and son, who couldn't have been more than 8 or 10 somewhere about this point. As we climbed a short hill, the dad started cranking away, put one arm out and helped push his son as he was a an amazing site, and I couldn't believe they braved the weather to take on the ride.

We had one more stop at mile 20 before heading up to Hagg Lake. Another rest room stop, a quick sip of Powerade and I was ready to head out again. We started picking up some stronger winds, and the road got bumpy at the same time. I had 10 miles to go until we hit Hagg, and another 5 before we got to the first cheering station, but the thought that my family would be waiting there to cheer me on gave me a boost of motivation. I had heard and read about cheering stations in previous Livestrong challenges - lots of balloons, people cheering, music pumping, and looked forward to seeing my favorite faces in the crowd of others as I hit the halfway point. I called from the Hagg 'power stop' location to make sure they had made it, and told them I'd be up around the corner in just a few minutes.

As I climbed the hill towards the official Cheering Stop, I did indeed see my favorite faces waiting for me, wedged in right between the other two vehicles that were there. Ha! Apparently the weather drove away the music, balloons and massive crowds, but it didn't matter, I only cared about seeing my family. I pulled over and got a chance to get hugs and kisses from everyone, and give a quick run down of how it was going. I also showed the kids a neat trick - when I made a fist and squeezed, I could get about 3/4 of a cup of water out of each glove! We took a few pictures, I ate half a powerbar, and hit the road again - spirits lifted and motivated for the second half of Hagg Lake, and the remainder of the ride.

Along the next few hills I made a point of thinking about all our friends and family who had fought, or were fighting cancer in their lives. Even though it was cold and wet, and I was miserable, I knew it was barely a blip on the radar compared to everything they had endured, and I thought about them and prayed for them as I rode along.

Heading out of Hagg Lake, I rode by one of my favorite spots, the lumber mill, which has smelled so great both times I've ridden up there. It's amazing how the little things can be invigorating. I also lost a bottle of Propel along that stretch when a gust of wind blew at me while I was taking a drink - literally blew it loose from my hand, where it hit the ground, and flew right off the road, through a guardrail, and down the hillside. I'm sorry Oregon, I polluted your grand beauty, but I stopped and didn't see a way to get to it, so I kept going.

The Second Half of the Ride
At mile 45, I hit another rest room stop and was feeling a little hungry, so I grabbed a cup of tomato soup, which turned out to be burnt...ugh. I had that craptacular taste in my mouth for a good 5-10 miles. I refilled my one remaining water bottle, ate another half a PB&J to try to get the burnt tomato taste out, cleaned out mud from my cleats and got back on the road. I overheard a lady on her cell phone telling someone 'honestly, this is the most demoralizing experience of my life.' And I laughed outloud...and rung more water out of my gloves.

50 miles in I realized that everything from that point in was more than I'd ever done before. I've only ridden 50 miles once, so each mile was indeed a new milestone for me. With this knowledge in mind, and a flat stretch ahead, I was feeling fairly strong. A little voice inside my head said 'keep it easy, don't go nutso, you've still got 20 miles to go.' But another voice was saying 'Dude, you've only got 20 miles to do this all the time, lets drop the hammer a bit!' - And of course, I listened to the second voice. I kicked it up to a pace between 18-23 mph and started passing some people, even overtaking some people on the hills and was feeling great...I could see the end in site. Then a couple things happened.

About 12 miles out, the wind kicked up. About 10 miles out, the rain kicked up. And at about 10 miles in, someone decided that the route back home would be more fun if we threw in a few more hills right at the end. These three things combined made the last 10 miles the hardest for me, and all of sudden I thought back to that moment I decided to push harder and realized I may not have made the smartest decision.

At the top of one hill about 10 miles in I wasn't feeling great. I had pushed hard up the hill and was feeling a little lightheaded, and I couldn't get my legs to push very hard. I think I was doing about 8 mph on the flat spot at the top of the hill, and that was the most I could do. I was worried that I might be about to 'bonk' (fatigue, hitting the wall) and didn't want to crash out somewhere, so I pulled over. I slammed a quick powergel (not as bad as I'd been expecting) drank a few gulps of water, took a deep breath and got back in the saddle. Although I felt a little lightheaded a few more times, I never really got dizzy, and was able to get back up to cruising speed for the rest of the ride in.

The Homestretch.
Somewhere in the last 6 miles or so, I ended up in a pack of riders that I stuck with until the finish line. At one point I said to the guy next to me 'this better be the last hill because I really don't have anything else left to give.' And he said 'man, I think it is.' Well, I think he had taken classes in How To Encourage the Chubby Rider Next To You Who Looks Like He's Not Going To Make It because we had at least 5 more hills in the last 5 miles. Granted, they weren't huge hills, but in the condition I was in, every hill was a huge effort. Soaked to the bone, cold, tired, miserable...every stroke was really an effort. I kept turning my thoughts back to people I knew who had fought the fight, or were doing battle with cancer right now and would make myself realize this was only a momentary struggle - nothing compared to their experiences, and that I needed to keep at it.

A road support member stopped us at a light and made a joke about 'smelling the beer from here,' which made me think we were within a mile or so, but the next gal up the road said 'only three more miles!' (BTW, the support team was awesome...everywhere we needed them, and encouraging everytime we rode by.) I pushed on, and within a few moments we were pulling into the backside of the Nike campus again. I got stopped at one last light before pulling into the drive where I could see the yellow balloons (finally!), the course photographer, a bell ringer, and then the courtyard which would be our final stopping place. I actually could feel myself welling up a bit as I came around the corner and saw the finish line. A lady handed me an energy drink, a guy handed me a couple of dry towels, and I couldn't believe it was over.

The official route was 69.5 miles according to my GPS, but I easily rode another 3/4 mile around the campus trying to find our parking lot from the morning when everything was dark. Aside from a free mini latte at the Starbucks booth, I decided to skip the festivities at the campus afterwards. I was soaked, and all I wanted to do was get into dry clothes and out of the rain. I also knew that my family was still over in the Hagg Lake area, stopping in at some shops, and waiting to hear if I wanted to have a late lunch with I got over to Gaston as quick as I could for a burger at a little hole in the wall with them.

I realized I hadn't pulled the camera out once during the was just too wet. So I only have a post ride-pic here. I was tired on the drive home. My hands finally returned to normal from their previous raisin state, and my knees were aching (they still are today...probably from the 'hammer' section.) After a hot bath, I laid in bed, caught part of the Hereo's premiere and then crashed for a while. The ride was easily the hardest physical challenge I'd ever endured, and like some have said, I *am* proud to have accomplished the goal. I woke up this morning to achy knees, a TP'd yard (actually was TP'd when I left yesterday, but I didn't see it) and the realization that I totally forgot about both my fantasy football leagues in the preparation for my ride.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU once again to everyone who contributed, prayed for me, and encouraged me along the way. I really means a lot to me...I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I'm kind of glad it's raining...I think I'm gonna give the bike a rest for a couple days.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Day 240: 1 Day Left - The Night Before

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

...and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Just heard that the news is predicting record-breaking rainfall for tomorrow.

Well, here we are, the night before the race. I won't update the blog until probably the day after the ride, unless I'm feeling particularly motivated tomorrow evening. I think I'm good to go with all the stuff I need, at least as well as I can best guess. I'm still going through everything to make sure I've got just enough stuff to get through the day, while still being able to fit it all into my Bushwacker pack.

Today we ran up to the Tiger Woods Center at the Nike World Headquarters to get my pre-race packet. As you can see above, I'm #937 - no real significance there, but if it wasn't getting close to the pre-ride bed time, I'd figure out some math equation to make it somehow mean something...just not tonight. When we got to Nikeland, one of the first things we saw was everything being set up, and covered in plastic. Once inside the TW building, we immediately saw a sign that said the 100 mile ride had been cancelled due to the dangerous winds that would be up on the Bald Peak segment of the ride. I am now officially slotted to ride the longest ride you can do in the Portland Livestrong Challenge for about that? And since I've just heard 'record breaking rainfall,' perhaps we'll all just end up taking laps around the parking lot for the entire day!

To be honest, I'm pretty nervous about the ride now. Wet roads make me nervous, but roads that are just hard to see because the monsoon season snuck up on us seem especially dangerous. Where I was previously excited to celebrate all the hard work I've done up to this point with a glorious early fall ride, I am now wondering if I'm just going to have to cruise along at a snail's pace so I don't put my bike down on every turn. I still think I'll be able to get through the whole thing, I'm just not sure how long its going to take, and/or how crazy it's going to be in the getting there. Pray for safety...I'd like to get to come home to my warm, cozy house tomorrow. When you think of me, I'll probably look like this guy:

I'll be sure to post again, but I want to say THANK YOU again to everyone who was so generous in giving to the cause. Today we were counting all the people we know who've been touched by cancer in the past few years, and I'm amazed at how everyone nowadays it seems can say the same thing. Our friends and family will be on my mind tomorrow as we ride. I'll post a recap when (if) I get back!


Friday, September 28, 2007

Day 239: 2 Days Left & The Jersey

Update: 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. Current weight - 206.6 lbs - 8.6 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Still trying to reach my fundraising goal, so next paragraph is cut from yesterdays post:

I'm getting closer to my goal for the Livestrong Challenge. I've sent out some follow-up support letters, but if you would like to help contribute to the LAF, and help me reach my goal of $2500 for this event, you can click here, or click on the logo to the right. It is for a great organization doing a lot of wonderful work in the area of cancer research and advocacy. Also a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who've been so generous so far..I really appreciate it!

We got our team jerseys on Saturday, so I thought I'd post some pics. This is my first real bike jersey, as the current one I use is really a tennis jersey because it was $12 at the Adidas outlet. The only thing that my fake jesery is missing is the stowaway pocket in the back that real ones have. Most bike jerseys run from $60 to $90 in bike shops and I just can't seem to bring myself to forking that over for them. These team jerseys were discounted for us and *only* cost $40, so I figured it was a decent time to step up and buy one.

I've been eating less the past few days and it's helping a little in the gutteral department, as I was worried about the jersey huggin' the gut a little too much. However, as it turns out, the current forecast is for 100% chance of rain, and winds at 18mph....good gosh oh golly. Guess I don't have to worry about the jersey gut huggin' too much since it's going to be burried underneath a rain coat for the whole day.

5+ hours, on a bike, in the rain and wind. This has got to be some kind of joke...right?


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 238: 3 Days Left!

Update: 207.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 9 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Looks like there's no turning back now...a few notes heading into the last days.

I'm getting closer to my goal for the Livestrong Challenge. I've sent out some follow-up support letters, but if you would like to help contribute to the LAF, and help me reach my goal of $2500 for this event, you can click here, or click on the logo to the right. It is for a great organization doing a lot of wonderful work in the area of cancer research and advocacy. Also a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who've been so generous so far..I really appreciate it!

Next, it's looking more and more like it's going to rain on the day of the ride. I've done 50 miles, and I've done 1300 ft of elevation in 15 miles now, but never both of them together, and never either of them in the rain. I'm not looking forward to that. If you could send up some prayers that the majority of the rain hit AFTER our ride, I would appreciate it. I'm sure God has it all planned out perfectly, I'd just like his perfect plan to be for later in the afternoon. I need to go add a lightweight, waterproof jacket to my gear for the day, but at least I should be ready for riding in the damp Oregon fall.

Lastly, if anyone knows of any quick, gut-reducing actions I can take, I'd appreciate it. Our jerseys came in, which I think look great (I'll post a photo later on) but even though I got an XXL size (dang Euro-cut size) it's still kind of hugging my gut like a baby panda hangin' on to it's momma for dear life. Ok, it's not that bad, but I am keeping the food intake down just a bit in an effort to free up a little space.

That's it for now, I'm sure I'll put something else up before the ride, and of course after DownpourFest '07.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 234: Back To The Hagg!

Update: 207.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 9 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Less than a week now until my preparations underway for the big day!

On Saturday I drove back up to Hagg Lake in order to give it a pre-Livestrong Challenge test ride. I was nervous to see what would happen. On one hand, if I got into it and hated it, or couldn't finish, then it would make this whole next week stink, knowing what would be waiting for me 25 miles into my 70 mile ride. However, if on the other hand I could get around the lake without too much trouble, then I could feel like I was ready for the challenge at hand. So without going on and on, the good news is...I think I'm ready!

The day was beautiful despite forecasts calling for showers in the morning. The air up around Hagg is brisk, and I was thankful for arm and knee warmers (see image below) that kept me from freezing on my ride. I've been enjoying the sun, but know that colder mornings are coming, so I'm slowly starting to gear up for riding in Oregon fall days.

On my bike I have three gear rings up front, and spend most of my time in the middle ring. If I get up over 20 mph, then I'll shift up into the outside ring, but that doesn't happen all that often. Only once or twice before have I shifted into the smallest ring for climbing, but I figured I may need to use it at Hagg, which is either uphill or downhill the whole time without any real flat spots. As it turns out, I only dropped down to it for one longer hill, and pretty much stayed in my saddle in the middle ring on the other hills, aside from standing up for one shorter steeper segment. Below is the arial satelite view from my GPS export of the ride. You can get my Motion Based animated version of the route by clicking here.

I also passed a couple on one hill (they *were* on mountain bikes) and left another guy in the dust who was following me up the first hill. All in all I felt pretty strong, and finished the 15 mile ride with an average speed of 15.3 mph, which combines the slow climbs uphill and the fast coasts down the other sides.

On another note, I made a pitstop back at Maggies Buns after my ride and picked up some rolls for the fam. Let me just say, they are ginormous. See the picture above...I put an oreo sized cookie on top of one the rolls so you can see just how big they are. And that's a big old trough of icing for them too. Definitely worth the stop!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 231: I Don't Know My Own Strength

Update: 207.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 9 lbs to 60 lb goal.

I know I've been losing fat and gaining some muscle mass, but I guess I didn't realize just how much.

Pictured below are my clubs. A few TaylorMade woods, three different wedges - a sand wedge from my old Tommy Armour 845s, a new Titleist gap wedge, and my trusty old rusty Cobra Phil Rodgers 60 degree that I've had since I was 12 years old. Until this summer, I've played that Cobra and my same Ping Anser putter...that's 26 years for those who are counting. I recently retired the Ping and have moved on to a Titleist putter, but the Cobra will never leave my bag. Anyway, you also see a set of TaylorMade R7 (draw bias) irons that I started playing about 2 months ago. So far, so good, I've been dialing them in and have been having some decent rounds with them. I really like the set up of my bag right now.

Now, pictured below is what happened out on hole 5 at Creekside on an approach shot to a cozy little green. Apparently I must have some pent up anger or frustration or something because as I came down on that ball with my 9 iron, something felt funky after impact, and then something felt really funky on the back of my head. I pulled my club back around to see this:

Yep, that's right, snapped it near the top of the shaft on impact - two month old clubs. The funky feeling I felt on my head was the club not stopping on the follow through and wacking me in the back of the head, leaving me with a headache for a few holes. After looking at my club for a few moments in amazement, I figured I'd better check out the damage from a wayward shot with a broken club, but to my bewilderment, I was about 10 feet from the cup, on the green. Two putts in, and a par. Crazy.

Now I've got to go replace my 9 iron.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Day 230: Maggie's Buns

Update: 207.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 9 lbs to 60 lb goal.

I've hesitated posting this blog for the obvious jokes that can come from I'll be careful in my word choices.

This past weekend was supposed to be our annual business partner golf trip, but for a couple of reasons, it didn't happen last minute. Since I had already requested a Sunday away from iglesia, I figured it would be a great time to take my favorite group of Lopi away for a much needed quick vacation. So we loaded up the truck and headed to Forest Grove.

Yeah, "Forest Grove?", you might ask - but there's a good reason...Maggie's Buns. In my preparation for the Hagg Lake section of the ride, I searched out other people online who've ridden that segment to get their experiences. More than once this funky little restaurant showed up as a place that cyclists had stopped at for a refueling snack, or full blown meal. Since I was hoping to get up to Hagg to do a quick pre-ride around the lake, I figured we might try to get to MB for a meal knowing that everyone in our house would love a quaint, funky new place to eat.

As it turns out, they were only open until the afternoon hours on Saturday so after I rode 50 miles that morning, we had to break land-speed records to get there before they locked the door. We were literally the last people they served before locking up, and all through our meal people kept coming to the door. We decided to sit outside, so we even had to knock on the door ourselves a couple times to ask for condiments, napkins, or a to-go box at the end, but I will say that it was worth getting over there.

Our meal consisted of Walnut Crusted Chicken with Asian Noodle Salad, Prime Rib with Coos Coos, three various sandwiches with fresh homemade bread and giant cookies, poppyseed cake, and some toffee cookie thing for dessert. We had plenty to eat, and even though we ate dinner before 4 pm were full enough that we didn't have another meal that night. In fact, we took the desserts with us and ate them in our hotel later that night with some coffee we picked up at Peets after the girls hit Anthropologie in downtown Portland.

And you don't have to believe me, you can read the reviews for Maggie's Buns online - which if nothing else are good for a giggle if you personally know a Maggie yourself. I've intentionally tried to live above the obvious lines here, but the reviews definitely show how people truly love Maggie's Buns....the restaurant.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Day 228: Yet Again, More Life Lessons From the Road

Update: 207.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 9 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Sometimes my cycling thoughts are plain silly, and others are more introspective. Today's post is a combo of the two of them....

With just two weeks left until my 70 mile Livestrong Challenge ride in Portland, I figured it was time to work just a little harder at training for the big day. I had a week of not feeling great, and having zero motivation to do much of anything, so coming off of that and making my biggest effort to date was a great challenge in itself, but one I'm glad to have taken on. As a nice little benefit to riding 50 miles on Saturday were some more life lessons from the road. In no particular order:

Who Knew It Was Pepperoni Season?
Seriously, somewhere between Keizer and St. Paul, someone is harvesting Pepperoni sticks. I didn't actually get to see any of my people harvesting the amazing food itself, but I could sure SMELL the pepperoni in mid-harvest. Did the Oberto's move into town?...Oh Boy! And if so, I wonder when Beef Jerkey season is...and if they'll be having a crop of Lizard Bacon to boot?

It's Good To Have Mini-Goals Along the Path To The Big Goal.
My "big goal" was to ride 50 miles on Saturday, but the first mini-goal for the day was just to get to The Banker's Cup in St. Paul and have a nice little espresso break.

Last week, I rode out and had part of a latte, but this week I was determined to get something without the milk, so I just ordered 3 shots of espresso with a splash of sugar free vanilla syrup for a little kick. Forget Red Bull, this is really nature's little energy drink. I also decided to do a little refueling and had a small raspberry scone to go with my party in a cup. After riding 25 miles, it's amazing what a 10 minute break can do in helping to make it to the big goal.

If You Think A Ghost Rider is Following You, He Probably Is.
I check over my shoulder every so often, but sometimes I can ride 5-10 miles without really looking back. At about mile 20, I happened to slide out to a weigh station just to coast for a few moments, stand up out of the saddle, and stretch a second. While I was coasting I looked over my shoulder and all of a sudden a fully kitted cyclist was about 100 yds back of me. Being caught off guard a bit, I got back in my seat, kicked it back up to my cruising speed, and kept after it. Another mile later, I looked over my shoulder, and the guy was pretty much drafting me, so I figured it'd be good exercise to pull someone else for a while. Finally, about 4 miles later, I was pulling into St. Paul and turned around to say something like 'sorry if I slowed you down there,' but Ghost Rider was nowhere to be found. He either decided to take his roadie off-road for the day, found some sideroad I blew by, or teleported to another dimension.

You Can Always Go Back Home Again.
One thing I've come to realize and appreciate is the fact that I LOVE my home. It's my favorite place to be, especially as we get to this time of the year. I love the months from September to December, and I enjoy them most when our family is cozied up inside our little home in K-town. On days when something at work sucks, or something in life in general sucks, I relish in the thought that soon enough that moment will pass and I'll be headed up River Road towards the warm glow of our kitchen window and the comfort of my favorite place, with my favorite people in the world. And on days when I'm cranking away on my bike, wondering why in the heck I decided to commit myself to pedaling away for more than 3 hours to travel a great distance on two skinny wheels, I know that that pain/agony will also pass, and before I know it, I'll be back home, around my beautiful wife and precious kids. A triple shot espresso at one end of the ride is a great motivator to get halfway there, but getting back to my home and family are an even greater kick in the butt to make it to the big goal...every time!

That's it for me. With less than two weeks left, I'm going to cut back to just 12-25 mile rides until the big day, with maybe one last shot at getting up to Hagg Lake before then, but in any case, we're in the final countdown now!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day 222: Headwind / Tailwind

Update: 208.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 10 lbs to 60 lb goal.

I just realized that in 2 days I'll have maintained my 50 lb loss for 100 days. That's not too shabby. Course, its also time to hit that last 20 lbs.

I started feeling not-so-hot on Thursday and had zero motivation for getting out and riding over the weekend, but the Livestrong ride date is starting glow on the calendar now. 19 days until I put my butt on that skinny little seat and pedal for 70 miles. Realizing that I need every bit of training I can get, I forced myself to get out and put a couple rides in, logging more miles towards the effort.

On Saturday I set out to ride to St. Paul and back, home of the famous St. Paul Rodeo, and also home to a little espresso shop called the Bankers Cup, which is literally in an old bank...vault and all. A round trip of 40 miles, this would be my longest training ride so far, with a few 30 milers being my longest before. I figured I'd ride out, grab a cup of coffee at the 20 mile break, and then head back in.

Since my motivation was low, I knew I'd have to just keep pedalling and fight the urge to turn back. To make matters worse, I hit a headwind within the first few miles and it didn't give up the whole way. I normally cruise around the 15-16 mph speed for my routes, but I was maxing out at 11-12 mph for most of the ride. At about the 16 mile point, after taking on the oncoming traffic to pass a slow moving combine, I pulled over and considered whether or not I wanted to push on...I really hate a headwind. After a few sips of water, and an inspiring Marvin Gaye's Mercy Me coming across the shuffle, I decided I'd forge ahead. The last few miles into St. Paul weren't that bad after the tiny break, and I was really glad that I didn't give in to my giving up.

I had a quick small espresso and then started back to Keizer. I had hoped and prayed that God wouldn't change the direction of that wind and that I might get a little help on the way back, and sure enough it held for most of my ride home. I have three gear rings up front and normally hang on the middle ring, peeking at about 17-18 miles mph when I really am moving along. However, for a good chunk of the ride home I actually had to step up to my third ring as I was cruising anywhere from 20-23 mph for good chunks at a time, and probably not dropping below 19 mph until I was fairly close to Keizer. The wind was really pushing me, and I didn't even feel like I was working. I started thinking that I could maybe handle headwinds a little better in the future if I knew that the tailwind would be that great on the way back.

I also put a quick 12 mile loop in yesterday, but the mid-day 95 degree heat on top of still not feeling 100% really zapped me, but I know every mile is a good one right now. And somewhere in the past couple weeks I've crossed the 1000 mile mark this year for road biking. That's counting the almost-200 I put on Nicks bike on loan, as well as the miles on my road bike. I probably also have another couple hunny on my comfort bike, but I haven't added those into these numbers. My permanent bike computer somehow got reset, so I've had to piece together the data from bike logs, and GPS information. I'd love to hit 2000 miles before the end of the year, but that will all depend on the weather, which I hear will be an Indian Summer, but colder and wetter winter....well, according to the almanac anyway.

So that's it. Still needing to find motivation to get out somewhere, but with 19 days left, I'm feeling the heat catching up to me.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Day 216: And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Update: 208.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 10 lbs to 60 lb goal.

Well, actually a word TO my sponsors, and not for this site, but for my upcoming ride....much love, and many thanks.

I haven't made a huge campaign to get sponsors for my upcoming Livestrong Challenge ride, aside from an initial blog post, a few direct emails to some friends, and the link off to the right. But with about 25 days left, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who have offered to make a contribution. I'm not a full time Armstrong Foundation worker, nor do I do fundraising for organizations outside of the Middle School group at our church very often, so I hate asking for dough. Again, thanks to everyone who has chipped in and will chip IS for a great cause.

Yesterday I started actually having some second thoughts about the ride. For lots of different reasons I've not had as many training days as I'd like. By now I was hoping to have some 50 mile rides under my belt, but that hasn't happened. I was also hoping to be riding at least every other day, but that hasn't been possible either, and I didn't get a chance to take advantage of the holiday weekend to log some big miles. But as the day was ending I received a notice that one contributer made a four figure donation to the cause in my name, and I realized I couldn't really NOT do it at this point.

I set a goal of $2500 in fundraising for the LAF, with a minimum of $250 needed to be able to ride. I didn't really think I'd hit the $2500 mark, but now I'm over halfway there, and think I just might have a shot. The team I'm a part of historically has one of the largest fundraising efforts for the Portland ride, and I'm happy to be helping the cause. I won't mention the name of the person, but if you hop over to my page (since it IS a public page) you can figure it out. A very generous gesture from some really good friends of ours.....who would have thought all those years ago when I was a punk high school student....well, I won't go on and on.

Anyway, I'm going to keep trying to squeeze in rides where I can, and get as prepped as I can. I may have to find a garage sale and get one of those old lady beige colored Sears indoor bike machines so I can ride after everyone's gone to sleep, but one way or another I'm going to ride those 70 miles at the end of the month!

Again, BIG THANK YOU to all the sponsors! I appreciate it!


Monday, September 3, 2007

Day 214: What a Hagg!

Update: 208.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 10 lbs to 60 lb goal.

I'm posting a night blog, which I never do. Tomorrow (today for some of you) is the first day of school for our oldest -- first full year of high school for us.

Last week we drove up to Henry Hagg Lake, the place of the most elevation gain in our 70 mile Livestrong Challenge ride. I'd been nervous because I'd been getting mixed information depending on where I turned to find out what exactly we were in for. Some reports said 3000 feet of elevation gain in about a 20 mile span, and others were between 1000-2000. Turns out that the 100 mile route has all the elevation gain, with the hardest part being the Bald Peak climb, which is in fact supposed to be one of the toughest climbs in Oregon. Fortunately for us, the 70 mile route skips all the Bald Peak fun.

Anyway, I still wanted to see for myself what we would be in for, so we hopped in the gas guzzling SUV and made a day of it. Along the way we stopped in Newberg for some breakfast, and to my surprise there are not really any quaint little cafe's in the Foxy City, aside from a couple of coffee shops. We were hoping for some great dive diners, or some little country good eats kind of place, but sadly we ate at Shari' yeah, nothing really to speak of there. After breakfast we hit one of the local feed stores to find some boots for the Missus, but they didn't have anything that struck her fancy, so we got back on the highway and headed off to Hagg.

Hagg Lake is apparently a man-made lake, officially in Forest Grove, and you need a day pass if you're going to stop. They didn't charge us to just drive around, so I was thankful for that. Total distance around the lake is about 13.5 miles, and according to The Edge, there's just under 1000 feet of climbing. Now, the crazy thing is, you have to take off from one place, and come back to that place again, as it is indeed a loop around the lake, really felt like all I was doing was going up, up, and more up. I told myself that I must be letting my imagination run away, and that 1000 feet in 13 miles wouldn't be a breeze, but would totally be doable.

On the way back home we stopped in Gaston -- not to be confused with Gaston of Beauty and The Beast fame, of course. There was some sort of City Wide BBQ Fest going on, and we pulled over to get some drinks and snacks. Right on the main street were a gaggle of sweet older ladies pimping their baked goods, so we bought a plate of cookies from them to eat on the drive home. While the rest of the fam was in buying their snackins, I chatted it up with three cyclists who pulled in after us. I asked if they had just ridden down from the lake, and they said no, but in fact had been riding over Bald Peak...go figure. But one of them had ridden Hagg Lake in last years Livestrong and he said 'oh man, that's a pretty tough ride.' When I asked him why he said that, especially since it was less of a climb than the BP trip they had just done he said it basically feels like you're going uphill all the way around the lake! That's what I thought!

I'm still fairly confident I'll be able to make it, it just may be uncomfortable along the way. As of now I've still only done 30 miles at a time for my longest rides, and have been pulling 25 miles as my go to ride the past couple weeks. With just 27 days till the ride, I'm not sure if I'll have any days to do a real ride...maybe one weekend, but we'll see how it goes. Until then I think the max I may get is 25 miles at a shot, but at least I won't have to tackle 3000 miles of elevation come September 30!

Ok, that's it for's after midnight now and we gotta get up before 6 for school...yeehaw!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 210: Shout Out To The LBS

Update: 208.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 10 lbs to 60 lb goal.

It's funny how the internet can connect people. My self proclaimed 'biggest fan,' on my less-oft travelled music site is from Hong Kong, or Korea, or somewhere I've never been to out in the big, big, world. Makes me laugh...I get an email about once a year from him...or her, I can't tell by the name.

Anyway, I'm out at the LBS (local bike shop) yesterday, having my derailer (or derailleur, for Le' Mick) looked at because it's been slipping gears a little, and they're the folks who can make it go away. (And they did, got it up on the rack, turned some magic knobs, and got me back on my way.) Before I even get in the door the owner says "Hey, you can't be blogging about how your gears are slipping on a bike you bought from me!" Ha! Wow, I had no idea he was one of the 4 people who has been reading this here blog -- and actually turns out he wasn't. Another customer, who has been kind enough to become a reader here mentioned that he read it on my blog, and that's how he knew before I got there. Here I was thinking I might actually hit double digits in readership before end of the year.

So in my little effort to throw some blog-loving back to the LBS, (lest you think I was complaining about mine) here's a little plug post for South Salem Cycle Works and local bike shops in general. As Nick once texted me, 'support your local bike shop.' You won't get the most screaming deals on bikes or equipment - they are definitely not a Walmart or Target in terms of how much product they can move. But you should be able to find an LBS where you connect with the staff that work there. When you do, you should find a place where they take the time to help you understand your needs, and then help you purchase the right product to fill those needs. Once you make a purchase they should also support the products they sell and continue to provide service to you, the customer, long after you've laid down the cash.

I can say that I've purchased bikes at WalMart, and they are what they are. I've also purchased bikes at other shops here in town and they were most interested in getting my $$$ and then moving on to the next guy behind me. Mike at South Salem Cycle Works has been a good guy to deal with. He walked me through the bike options that might work and helped me select the one that made the most sense, and has been helpful with each newbie question I've had since then. Almost 5 months and almost 1000 miles later, I'm still making the 40 minute round trip drive out south to take my bike business there. As a local business owner myself, I can appreciate supporting those that make their living here in our town, as long as they can provide the service needed.

As David Wilcox once sang "go to East Asheville Hardware before you go to Lowes....before it disappears." I doubt Mike's bike shop is going anywhere soon, but if you need some cycling assistance head on down there...and tell them Paul sent you.

Hasta, Miguel!

ps - for those of you that are a little more ecologically-minded, they also recycle everything and haven't had dumpster service in a million years. Apparently, eveything they can't recycle, they just eat.... :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Day 208: Stone Cold at Stone Creek

Update: 208.2 lbs, 50 lb Goal Reached Day 124. 10 lbs to 60 lb goal.

No, this isn't a post about me going hogwild at an expensive ice cream shop in the great outdoors. It's the sad tale of a beautiful golf course that got the better of me.

Stone Creek Golf Course is a crazy pretty course somewheres out in the vicinity of Oregon City, and was a course I hadn't even heard of before last week. Not sure when I'll be going back to play again after the showing I had today, but they had a great deal for 18 holes - $29 before 7 am, with a cart, for 18 holes. A 6:25 tee time means getting up at 4 to grab a shower, grab stuff for the day and heading out by 5 to avoid a rushed start. Yeah, I know...that's a little ridiculous, I won't argue that.

The course is easily the most picturesque course I've played all year long. It's also the most make-me-play-like-a-little-girl-esque course I've played as well. From the sand on the first hole that I bladed out of, and across the green, (the first of 6 sand holes) to the bad putting on the rock hard greens, I logged an adjusted 98. I should also mention that I took a BIP out there (Ball In Pocket) on one hole after hitting out of the sand, across the green on a par three, into the crap. Found the ball, but there was a foursome waiting to tee behind us, so I pocketed it while the others putted out, and carded a 7 - the maximum the club allows me to score on a hole right now.

Here's a shot of one of the par three hole greens, looking back to the three tee box areas. You shoot across a gully/canyon/raveen to a narrow green, which is heavily shadowed. Missed the birdie putt, but was really ok with getting a par after so much ugliness on one day of golf. I won't go on and on about the round as most of you are probably not too interested, but I wanted to put up a couple pictures because it is pretty enough that even most non-golfers can appreciate the beauty!


ps - Rarely do I Allow myself to get Yanked into chain-blog surveys, polls or Tag You're It Middle Name Games.