Thursday, July 21, 2011

After an eight month hiatus...

First and foremost I want to thank my girlfriend Missy for supporting me with all my hobbies and dealing with all the gear I leave scattered around my man-cave.  The biggest help of all is the highly nutritious home-cooked meals I have waiting for me when I arrive home from a workout.  Thanks babe, I can only be this strong when you're with me.  Another big help was last years birthday gift.

With this bad boy I'm able to track myself on a better level whenever I ride, or my HR when I'm getting mad while playing video games.... lol 
Yes, I know. I'm way overdue for an update.  Most people think I've probably gained all my weight back, and am still at a desk letting my body become stale under florescent lights.  It's exactly the opposite.  I didn't gain any winter weight, and I maintained some level of fitness, but this is due to me going back to my older career roots.  What can I say?  I needed something more challenging, a little less routine, and more hands on to do during the day.  Now I'm back being a full-time automotive technician for a luxury Japanese manufacturer.  I've always loved turning a wrench and the only thing that kept me back before was bad management.  But hindsight is always 20/20.  The only regret I have is not finding the right auto group beforehand.  Lets get back to the item at hand.  Fitness

The last week and a half I've been putting my body though some tests.  Since I'm on my feet 8-12 hours a day I didn't know how my legs would hold up to the stress.  There were so many fears to overcome that it was overwhelming my ability to find motivation to cycle again.  Most of my workouts for the past eight months consisted of heavy lifting and diagnosing and fixing customer vehicles at work with some sporadic gym visits thrown in.  Here are my cycling workouts with quick recaps.  Nothing epic yet.  Just straight burning through calories.

7/21/11 - 100 Degrees outside, states Severe heat index.  "Outdoor exposure should be limited."

How to Stay Sustained Throughout a Workout (my personal guide):

Hydrate at least twenty minutes before a workout.  It takes your body some time to absorb the fluid throughout your body.  Give yourself time.  Do not over-hydrate or you'll have an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach.  A great indicator is when you urinate the color is slightly yellowish; a dark tea like hue means your dehydrated, and a clear color means your over-hydrated.

Drink several ounces in intervals -  It's hard to keep track of exactly how many ounces consumed during a ride and how much you sweat, everyone is different.  This is something developed by feel.  A great tip is to just sip from the bottle every couple of minutes, five or ten.  This prevents you from developing discomfort while you are working out.  My personal method is a sip every five minutes.
I personally use a mixture of scoop Hammer Nutrition HEED, a tablespoon of Hammer Nutrition Gel mixed in a twenty-four ounce bottle.  The bottle is filled with half Gatorade and the other half water.  You can refer to my earlier post on the products used.

Sustenance - Every forty-five minutes on a ride I consume one Tri-Berry Gu Energy gel.  It's a great calorie provider for energy and it has other ingredients that help your body.

But you can't go more than two hours without a solid food in your stomach.  I went an extended ride with just Gu and it didn't conclude well to say the least.  You won't know what works for you until you try.

I've used Clifbar for the past year and it doesn't upset my stomach or leave me feeling full or sluggish.

Here's a Calendar for easy tracking of rides.  In case you are curious.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Out of sight...

... but still on my mind.

 Fall is usually my most favorite season.  Cool temps and beautiful scenery keep me happy during the days.  But the fact that the sun sets around 4-5pm is a real downer.  Looks like the weekends are the best time to ride.

I found a decent loop to complete with a buddy just this past Sunday.  I haven't been on the bike in two weeks and it was my normal 30 mile training ride seen here, I was able to complete this 50 mile loop comfortably, with a decent pace even on the climbs.  I guess my body hasn't lost all it's endurance, just some of it's power.  Even as I write this I don't feel the effects that a ride that long should have on my legs.  That means I was holding back.  Which is a healthy thing to do so you don't injure your legs.

Reflecting on what I've accomplished physically in the last 4 months is a direct result of just straight saddle time.  I started off this year with 8 miles on a mountain bike.  That alone left me sore and then I started reading about centuries and thought they were completely out of reach. I achieved that goal only 3 months in.  I've been riding for a short period of time and I remember my milestones.  8, 12, 20, 28, 30, 62, 70, 100, 105.  I'm at the point where I'm able to complete 100 miles with almost 10,000ft of climbing comfortably.  Staying in the saddle 2-3 times a week was key.  With that one training ride mixed in with interval training and hill repeats either seated or out of the saddle.

Lately I've been lax due to time constraints and there isn't a day where I want to go out for a long ride pushing myself to my limits physically and mentally, but we have to make ends meet so we can continue our great hobby.  Attending the gym 2-3 times a week helps expend some energy so I don't go berserk in the office or at home.  I even once accidentally joined a spin class after a back workout and used it as a cool down for the day.  I don't look like a cyclist as far as my frame goes, but the instructor was completely surprised when I was taking everything she gave like my legs were powered by nuclear reactors.

Here's my beautiful fall ride through the northern Jersey area.  I did this at a slow pace to break in my body for the week, just enjoying the day. 

... on my Journey to Fitness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's been a while....

... since my last post.

A lot has been accomplished in the last two months.

1. Vacation in Colorado, Denver/Boulder area

2. Quarter-century birthday

3. First century. .  A very flat ride with beautiful views of central Jersey.
My data.

4. Second century. This was a very murderous century for me.  The climbing was intimidating but the cold 22-24mph headwind during the climbs and descents really affected the numbers.
My less impressive numbers, but very happy I completed it.

I know I should have posted entries right after each but a mix between laziness, training, and increased workload hindered my attempts to be creative.

I live in a tough climate.  We get all four seasons in the extremes and dressing for the rides can become a science.  As a first timer in the cold weather I was told trial and error are basically what correctly informs you what to wear during a ride.

In the summer it was simple; moisture wicking jersey, sunglasses, shorts, road shoes, and some sunblock.  Done. Go out and ride, have fun, keep hydrated because you have all day.  It slowly turned into; get home early, the sun is my warmth, deal with the wind chill.  Now this last week it's been even too cold for that after work because the sun is down when I'm at the quarter point in my training ride, time for a gear change.

I will state right now that I do not regret any of my purchases because I used every single one of them on my most recent century.  It was forty-degrees with a twenty-two to twenty-four mile per hour headwind with a wind-chill in the thirties.  All my purchases were on in the morning and stayed on throughout the whole ride.

Some pictures I took throughout the ride.
The group I rode with to the top of High Point State Park

Amazing view from the top of High Point State Park

My bike resting

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feeling good...

Thursday August 26th, 2010

First complete loop in a while. My legs weren't too stale, but there were some obstacles.

Making great time, only 15 minutes in and I'm already at the edge of Clifton and Montclair.  Something's bothering me, why is my stem a little off center.  It's affecting my handling a little, but that's more than enough for me to spend 20 minutes trying to figure out if I should stop and fix it.  I'm at grove street at a light, fine i'll just go ahead and straighten in, 2 minutes later and it's good.  Not so bad, why did I think about it so much?

Red light 200 feet from last stop.  Standard practice, downshift and unclip my shoe, it's my right foot's turn to take ground.  I like to switch which leg I rest on at every stop.  Right foot keeps turning, why is it not unclipping?  Wait I heard a story about this once... a friend's cleat lost a bolt and he tore his foot out of the shoe in time, but wait he was moving I'm standing still.  Wait no I'm not I'm leaning over onto the right, ***T it's too late to shift weight to my left, BAM.  I hope no one saw... oh wait I'm at a stop light with at least 16 cars watching my eyes go wide while I slowly tilt towards the ground... fail... lol.

Body check.  My right arm absorbed the shock perfectly and the fact there was a raised sidewalk to my right helped out.. Pull off my right shoe, twist it ~4 times for it to unclip.  Just as I thought on the way down, one bolt was gone, it must've happened within 200 ft of my stem adjustment.  I take off the affected cleat, and backtrack to see if I can find it, no luck.

I spin as fast as one clipped in foot will let me, which was normal avg speed of 20mph.  Doing drills on each leg has really helped with pedaling technique and I only suffered from the occasional slight fore/aft slip off the right pedal.  2 miles later I'm at Montclair Bikery, tell the guys my dilemma, we all had a good laugh from my reenactment and they hook me up with two cleat bolts, one for the shoe, and one for the road.

I push towards Overmount Ave as fast as my legs would let me.  I actually scale that climb faster than I've done before, average speed of 8mph.  At a max grade of 13% thats a new personal best!  Of course at the top I felt like my heart was coming out of my chest and my HR peaked at 181, still lower than my Ramapo Rally max HR of 189.  Got home with confidence.  I purchased some more gear to help make my rides even safer with night coming sooner.  I love both of them. 
Very bright rear light with built in clip to attach to saddle bag, or two different sized mounts for seat post mounting.  3 light modes of solid, blinking, and left to right progressive.
I was going to purchase a bigger more expensive LED light but since I don't plan to do heavy night riding I went with this fifteen-dollar easily mounted (o-Ring) light.  Two modes, solid and blinking.
Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I ride getting some riding done on Monday, but Mother Nature forced me to cut the ride short with dwindling sunlight and the change from a drizzle to a steady downpour.  I was going to tough it out but when my handlebar started tilting down more due to my inability to tighten it correctly, I took it as a sign to head home and not chance the elements.  I just don't trust NJ drivers in the rain also.  On the way home I paced a bus from one end of Clifton all the way to Garfield.  The big boy protected me from people trying to overtake me like the world was ending, and the occasional "it's a yellow light so lets drift my car through the intersection to make it" driver.  

The rain really ruined my week and messed my schedule up.  Now I'm prepared for the rain, no more excuses.
Sunday, August 15h, 2010

View this ride:

Ramapo Rally 2010.  My first charity event.  Amazing experience, well marked routes, great cue sheets, well stocked rest stops, and very good volunteers.
Late, gotta hurry up... make sure wheel is secure. Check.
Ok inventory check. Gels, cellphone, ID.  Check!

Group ride left 8:15, I was late, caught up to them after 10 miles.... painfully slow pace, so I just did my own pace.  Completed 65 miles in 4 hrs and 5 minutes. Just I was leaving the group I started with was just coming in. I was 1 hour and 15 minutes faster... average speed on flats 19-21mph, top speed 43mph, total avg speed 15mph, great success!!

The week before I was fighting some pain in my right knee, after some reading and a fit I figured out my seat was too low and I was pushing too hard a gear.  Now with this computer I make sure I'm constantly spinning 90-105, my performance and speed has increased and more importantly no more knee injury.

Came with HR monitor, Wireless Cadence and Speed Sensor too!  No zip-tie mounts (O-Ring) for clean/easy install.
The computer was key.  I kept cadence at 90-100 and really pushed it today at that distance, but paid for it.  I fought calf cramps for the last 4 miles and I was basically pedaling uphill with one leg lol so i can "kick" the lactic acid out. I'm very happy with what my training has yielded.

Free Camelbak Bottle, I veer into the oncoming lane to throw it into the car in my loving girlfriends... head.. sorry hun!  I'm all the way on the right.
... two slow weeks passed, but I'm still on my journey...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#bikeschool Pedal Fast to slow life down

NJ view from GWB
Growing up in the NYC Metropolitan area, you get used to a certain lifestyle.  This area is focused on living a high paced, keep working till you drop type lifestyle and just enjoy the money.  Which is fine for most people, hell I've been doing it for a while now.  Living life as an automotive technician caused me to adopt this way of thinking/working/living in order to optimize my income.  I was once told that I'm always rushing and always want to get things done quick and as efficiently as possible.  Frankly, I really don't care about that anymore.  Of course we all need money to survive and to do the most basic things, especially in this area.  But as opposed to going out on the weekends drinking/eating my money away or sitting at a desk at home after sitting at a desk at work; I found something more rewarding physically and spiritually, and I STILL have to work for it.
NYC view from GWB

I've always been a junkie for speed and precision handling.  Most of it was only attainable via a turbocharged motor and beefed up suspension components.  But now I could satisfy that need on two wheels barely an inch in diameter.  In addition, I get to see places and sites I always pass by but never stopped to look or appreciate it.  For example, traveling over the George Washington Bridge via vehicle has always been a hassle for me, the need to pay the E-Z Pass bill, sitting in 45 minutes of traffic just to travel 200 ft to the toll, and my carbon footprint/gas usage idling throughout that whole wait time.  These are things you have to pay attention to when "time is money."  But when I was cycling over it actually got to enjoy the wind in my face, the view of the NJ side and NYC side from the bridge.  You would never think that between the two most densely populated areas you would feel so free and so small.  I was even wowed by the simple sight of the small frames of some jet-skiers going up the Hudson several hundred feet below.

Basically, life has been good since I picked up this new hobby.  When I need to drive somewhere and there is something worth looking at I now take a mental note to try and ride to that point to experience it in a different way, to enjoy what the world has to offer.  My life out of work is less stressful, if I can't get something done in the time-frame I was targeting, oh well let me continue it later.  I am huge video game buff and while I still appreciate it as a form of art I lessened the time I spend in front of the screen either to train, or to complete my chores (yes hun).  Of course life is always throwing it's curve-balls but instead of unhealthily stressing out about it I include it while meditating on a ride.  Honestly, problems don't really seem like problems but reveal themselves to be extremely small obstacles in life.

I'll just keep pedaling... on my way to fitness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The weekend before the event.

Sunday August 8th, 2010

-View this route:

View from Fort Lee Historic Park
Living Adventure in New Jersey Group ride from Fort Lee - Central Park, via the George Washington Bridge and Greenway.  This was a nice C ride through the city into Central park.  The ride over the GWB and down the Greenway was probably one of the most exhilarating routes I've taken because of the views.  Once we got to the park we had a quick lunch and the leader of the group and I did two laps around the very crowded Central Park.  There were runners, hipsters, really tall kids on really small bikes swerving in and out not maintaining any lines.  We were still able to keep an average pace of 15+mph throughout even though overall our average moving speed was 10mph for the 33 mile round-trip.  That knee pain is attacking again, I raise my seat about 5mm to hope that it goes away.  The pain subsides for a while and only comes back when I pedal a weird angle.  I guess it was my seat height.  I'll ice this right away when I get home.
Balancing camera

This ride was a a nice change of pace for me.  I usually like exploring by myself but having people with me on this one changed the dynamic compared to my usual rides.

Even after, I rode up 9W for several minutes to see how all the people from the city connect to the GWB.  I was able to maintain 15+ mph for 12 miles until my legs started to get racked by cramps, damn I didn't drink enough or eat enough on the way back.  Even though I had refilled with my reserves I was just too lazy to fight through them and continue.  Time to head home and take care of my dog.
-View this route:

Saturday August 7th, 2010

Helped a friend,, with a photoshoot in High Point State Park in Sussex, NJ.  This is the most NW I've ever driven in NJ.  The landscape totally changes from a suburban area into farmland.  It was an awesome 1 hour ride to the park with views of cows and llamas and fruit/vegetable stands.  I learned that there is a lot in NJ, you just have to look for it.

This whole day was spent basically driving.  I filled the tank up in the morning and it basically ran out the end of the day.  I also had to drive to Central Jersey to drop off the girlfriend so she can help with a baby shower while I would ride around NYC.  The total weekend we clocked 300+ miles on the Subaru.  Somehow the car gods make me balance out all my bicycle miles with the car!

Friday August 6th, 2010

-View this route:

30 Mile Training Ride - Gone Bad. 1 mile into the trip some (enter expletive here) forced me to the side of the road and a rear flat tire resulted from that.  Spent the next 10 minutes O.C.D checking the tire for any foreign material so when the tube is inflated I'm not stuck with another flat.  Rode to the LBS in Clifton to get the tube checked out.  The owner Arty found the hole and I spent another 10 minutes patching it just in case.  I actually run into Frank that I met on one of my previous rides and he wishes me well!  It's so cool to know other people.  I notice my knee is feeling weird and I'm trying to figure out why.  Sharp pains just attack my right knee and it's annoying.  I stop for another 5 minutes in Montclair to adjust my cleat, maybe it's too far back.  I   complete a basic route without the loops and it came out to 22miles right when the sun set.  The knee still has that pain after 20 miles, very worrisome.

I've also invested in some supplements to help facilitate the longer rides.  I picked out the stuff that, from research, doesn't spoil while on a ride.  Mixed with Gatorade and water the Hammer Nutrition products taste amazing.  I really am happy with the purchase.
Thanks for stopping by... on my Journey to Fitness.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

First long distance ride...

... was finally completed! 62 Miles!

I decided going up to Nyack, NY would be sufficient enough to break in my body.  One more of these and I'll attempt to complete my first century.

7AM:  Riding to and from 9W was probably the hardest part of the trip.  Apparently Garfield NJ is in the lowest part of NJ, going everywhere else is uphill! The first uphill going through all of Englewood is from -112ft to 462ft.  I was a little frustrated but I was wasting so much energy climbing JUST to get to the main route.  But all that effort wasn't for naught...

7:45AM:  Once I arrived at 9W around , there were a lot of cyclists already on the route.  It was a very smooth ride but like I said earlier it was chilly and there was a headwind that really added to the resistance.  After passing the CNBC building I realized I was one of the few that were riding solo.  Everyone else was apart of a group taking turns in the headwind to help conserve energy.  A couple riding buddies would've been helpful!

9:30AM:  I actually head onto the 9W/84 thruway Juction and get nervous because I feared I got lost.  I see a fellow rider with a Cervelo tri bike and ask if I had passed the Tappan Zee Bridge.  He only speaks Spanish!  So I asked in Spanish and he still didn't know... I decided to go with my gut and follow 9W farther north and I finally hit Main St. Nyack and recognize the area.

I reached my girlfriend's hairdresser's salon, a tri-athelete, she wasn't there yet.  Damn I really wanted to drop by and say hi.  Oh well, I head one block over to the marina to eat some solid food so I don't have another stomach ache like my first 30 mile ride.

Took this pic while chowing down on a trail mix bar.

I want a boat now...

I know this part of the leg.  I realized my mistake, I was supposed to make a right turn onto Piermont Ave.

I remember that I'm running low on fluids and I needed to fill myself up a little more.  I say hello to the fellow riders and take a 10 minute break still walking and stretching so my legs don't get cold.
Coming here again.  They carry all energy drinks/bars!
10AM:  Start heading back to Jersey, on the map you see that I'm not on 9W south.  I actually tried to find another route that didn't put me on the 9W narrow climb.  It was flat ride for several miles.  But I pay the piper again trying to get back onto 9W.  It was the same length climb as I first started.  I was really feeling it now, thank God there was two riders who reminded me of the Schleck brothers to draft from during the climb.

12PM:  I'm finally home!  I still have energy left, which is a very very good thing!  Next ride will be a 65-75 miler and then finally a century!

Thanks for listening.... on my way to fitness.

Thursday July 29th, 2010

Gym session:  Chest, Shoulders (mixed in for fun), Biceps, Abs

Wednesday July 28th, 2010

Jogged 4 miles on Garrett Mountain.  Feels good to run.  Totally different type of exertion.

Monday July 26th, 2010

Got off work early to train for Saturday.  I attacked Overmount Avenue with no stops!  I was more conscious of my energy management and was able to complete a whole 30 miles without any issues.  Unfortunately my cellphone had the issue of losing signal at Garrett Mt. therefore it didn't log the last 7 miles going home... fail.  Overall I was very happy with my performance, I'll do those 60 miles with more confidence now. 

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