21 December 2011

Yes, it's the season ...

... for illnesses. I've been sick twice in the past two weeks, first with a sore throat and now with a swollen/drippy nose and headache. Because of that, no workouts since my last attempt at my own personal Pistol Hill ride.

I do have some big plans though. I believe that I should be able to feel well enough Friday to do a couple of repeats of Escalante, though three or four would be better. I am working the front half-shift on Christmas, so I would like to also do a ride sometime Saturday, and I should be able to do Pistol Hill on Monday, then get in another short ride Tuesday morning before doing the back half-shift Tuesday. Wednesday I'm going to take a rest day, maybe do some recovery zone spinning on the trainer inside, but then on my birthday Thursday I'm going to rock Pistol Hill again. This time going all the way to the southern intersection with Camino Loma Alta (which means I'll be doing the Cat 4 climb on Pistol Hill twice; once westbound and again eastbound). I'm sure it's going to be a butt-kicker but I'm determined to do the "full" ride. Thirty miles. Seeing that at least a couple of the races I plan to do next year are more than twice that distance, I probably should get cracking eh?

17 December 2011

Review: Bellwether Axiom bike shorts

Today's review is of the bike shorts I've been using for a while now, the Bellwether Men's Axiom Short

First, I will start by saying that I now own two pairs of these shorts; since I bought the original pair in July 2010 I have lost a decent amount of weight and some thickness, in my legs and backside among other places, and so the XLs that I bought then don't quite fit right anymore. They still work, and are still serviceable, but I needed to get another pair anyway so I just pulled the trigger and got another pair of these, just in LG instead of XL.

So, the first piece of information about these shorts is that not only did I like them, I bought a second pair. And I will buy a third pair when I can afford another one.

Any pair of bike shorts with a built-in chamois will work to some more or less degree. I have an older pair of Pearl Izumi shorts with a basic synthetic chamois, and they work okay. But the Bellwether Axioms have a couple somethings extra: first, the chamois is anatomically padded with a stiff material, and has a breathable front panel designed to keep particularly sensitive parts cooler than otherwise would be true. The fit on the shorts is amazing, and I'm really impressed with the chamois.

Unfortunately, the way the chamois works means that the shorts cannot be tumbled dry, and must line dry. This might be true of any synthetic chamois (I always line dry the PI shorts but just as a preference and habit, not anything I've read that says it's required), but because of the padding of this particular chamois, it takes a while longer than my other shorts. Not that this is a HUGE con, just something to keep in mind.

The legs have a silicone gripper panel, which is not uncommon; what it has that seems to be uncommon is two thin grippers rather than one thick one, which means it hugs less tightly but still stays put. It feels better than the PI shorts. The outer material is a dimpled construction, which seems to work quite well, and the seams are all totally unnoticeable while wearing and riding. No chafing, no bunching in the chamois, and no ride up on the legs == winner.

The shorts are running about $75, and are not the top end of the Bellwether line (that would be the Chronos shorts, at around $115/pair), but are in my experience way better than the normal low-end shorts, shorts that a person just starting to cycle (for weight loss or aerobic fitness or whatever) would otherwise buy.

My recommendation: buy as many pairs of these as you can afford (within reason; if you're only going to cycle two days a week then two is probably your best bet!). They are excellent.

12 December 2011

Tentative 2012 racing schedule

Yes, I know I owe you some reviews, and they are coming. First, I wanted to announce the tentative 2012 road racing schedule for Quixotic Raindrop Cycling (which is just me ... for now!).

Please note that some of these dates are estimated and based on last year's dates (in most cases they appear to be based less on specific dates, and more on which weekend). Also, these are primarily events in or around Tucson. There will be more added as the season progresses and as USA Cycling updates their calendars.

23 January: Avondale Criterium; Avondale, AZ
25 February: Tucson Criterium Series (#1); Tucson, AZ
2-4 March: Tucson Bicycle Classic; Tucson, AZ
7 April: El Tour de Mesa; Phoenix, AZ*
21 April: Old Pueblo Grand Prix; Tucson, AZ
28 April: Tour of the Tucson Mountains; Tucson, AZ*
3 June: Thunder Road Time Trial; Sahaurita, AZ
8 July: 3 Bears Time Trial Series (#3); Red Rock, AZ
21 October: Sonoita-Patagoina Time Trial; Sonoita and Patagoina, AZ
17 November: El Tour de Tucson; Tucson, AZ*

*: Not "races" per se; these events are rides and benefit various charities.

In order to upgrade my USA Cycling racing license for 2013 I'll need to start in 10 mass-start races, and I only have seven scheduled so far, so there will be some additions. I was looking at possibly the Colossal Cave Stage Race, which is a three-stage race just like the Tucson Bicycle Classic (a Time Trial, a Road Race, and a Criterium), and there are a few other time trial and crit races around the state that are possible.

04 December 2011


As of 0540 on 04 December 2011, 225.8 pounds. That's up 2.0 pounds since the previous recorded weigh-in on 18 November. Which overall isn't as bad as it could have been, but still moved in the wrong direction.

03 December 2011

Recent activity

Of late, I've been backing off just a touch, trying to lower my training score a little bit week to week in an effort to "true the blade" so to speak. My rides on the river path have been at a lower HR range, while I've been cutting back on the road rides off Old Spanish Trail and points nearby.

The most curious thing happened as a result of that. When I went off to my river park ride last week, my HR (and HR Zone) were in good averages while my speed was improved (just a little ... I mean, from 11.8 mph to 12.3, but 0.5 mph improvement with a concomitant reduction in HR to output that velocity is pretty much the point of training, right?). Ever since then, I've been able to average 12+ mph on rides that used to be in the 11 or less range, and have been able to push 13+ on some rides. I think I might be getting the hang of this cycling thing.

In addition I've been able to upgrade some of my non-bike gear (selling back old cell phones can be a nice way to do that!), including a second pair of the Bellwether Axiom shorts, which I will review later in the week. I also have been experimenting with various drink mixes for both during-activity hydration/electrolyte and calorie intake as well as post-workout recovery, including a new jug of Cytomax sports drink mix that I will review next week as well (a preview: I got the 4.5 pound jug of Pomegranate Berry ... and it is DELICIOUS). Also new: a doo-rag (the Halo Protex bandana), a pair of cold-weather tights (which haven't arrived yet; when they do, I'll review them), and also some stuff that's not really new but that I need to talk with you about: the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence sensor, and the Respiro Sport Men's Saddle.

Here's a list of recent workouts, including a link to view them and time/distance (reverse chrono order):

03 December 2011 1 hour 32 minutes, 18.73 miles
28 November 2011 48 minutes, 9.37 miles
26 November 2011 1 hour 23 minutes, 18.52 miles
22 November 2011 1 hour 20 minutes, 16.79 miles
17 November 2011 1 hour 49 minutes, 23.49 miles
15 November 2011 2 hours 6 minutes, 25.28 miles

Tomorrow's a shift day, so there will be no workout but I will do a weigh-in first thing in the morning, and I have a 33 mile ride (probably take a hair under 3 hours) planned on Monday. I'll let you know how that goes.

Oh ! I almost forgot, I am officially a USA Cycling Category 5 road racer, as of today, and that license carries through all of 2012. I have been scheduling next year's training periods, and my races, in Training Peaks, and when I get confirmation of the dates for my chosen races I'll be sure to post them here.

18 November 2011

Donovan's Trek

Trek 3500 (2012 model year), of course.

Having been waiting for many years to finally plunk down a large amount of money and buy a decent quality bike, and having gone back and forth about which model to get, what kind (road vs. mtb), and etc., I finally decided to go ahead and drop the hammer on a mountain bike. Specifically, this one:

Ain't she a beaut?

First, the pros: This is a real bike. It's got reasonable components for the price. It has good wheels, tires, and tubes. The bike is Aluminium, rather than steel, which is important to me since I weigh a lot more than necessary, and it's good that my bike does not. It was quite inexpensive for what I got. It's a hardtail, not a rigid frame, which I really wanted.

Next, the cons: it's not much of a mountain bike, it's really more of a light-duty trail and urban area ride. The front fork only has 63mm of travel, which would get eaten alive on many mountain trails. This one is the cantilever-pull brakes model, not the model with the disc brakes.

On my Scale of Awesome*, this bike gets an Awesome. It's a HUGE improvement over the Wal-Mart specials that I've been riding, and even if it's not much of a mountain bike for most trails it's PERFECT for what I wanted: a starter bike to introduce myself to MTB, a good light-duty trail machine, something that I can take on the sometimes crappy roads and urban bike/multi-use trails to lose weight and gain cardiovascular fitness. For me it was particularly important to get a bike that wasn't fragile and high-maintenance, a bike that will take my heavy body and not really care much. Once I'm down under 200 pounds and have had some time to get better at the general act of cycling then it will be time to consider a Real(tm) Road Bike. Something like a Trek 2.3 Apex or the Cervélo R3 or something like that. 

I made one significant change to the stock bike as sold, which was to add a Respiro saddle. That I will review separately; for now, it's a saddle designed to help relieve perinial nerve/artery pressure as well as keep the perinial area cool(ish) during long saddle times. I added a bottle cage (duh), bought a front and rear light for low-light riding, and I picked up a few other essentials as well. The base bike was about $350.

Yeah, you read that right. If you have a decent helmet already, and don't care to get the Respiro saddle, you can get a brand-new Aluminium Trek 3500 MTB for less than $400.00. If you get the disc brake model then you can expect to add about another $50 or so, which is still a SCREAMING deal.

If I had this decision to make over again, I would probably still pull the trigger on this bike, though I might consider getting the disc brakes instead. The next step up in this category (the 3700 Disc) adds a 100mm travel front fork, which is a nice addition. The next step up in bike quality is to the 4300 Disc, which really is a mountain bike, but is near double the price of this bike.

So far, I've ridden 249 miles on this bike, most of it on multi-use rec trails in town on my Diabolical Plan To Rule The Cycling World By Losing A Bunch Of Weight. The shifting is pretty good, though I've noticed a hitch going into and out of 4th gear both up and down (it takes a while to catch). On the Scale of Things that Suck†, it's Okay and Fine. Mildly irritating but nothing more than that. It's the lowish-end of the Shimano MTB shifters but still beats the Stuffing out of the shifters I've been using on the $80 Wal-Mart Total Suckage bikes. The crankset is a 42/34/24 with a 14-34 7-speed cassette, and works very well. I'm still learning to keep track of where I am in the gears and chainrings without looking at the shifters though, sometimes resulting in my dropping into a gear that is really not appropriate for the conditions. Such is learning!

So. Final Verdict: Inexpensive starter MTB-style bike good for initial purchase of a high-quality bike. It's not going to tear up your normal MTB trails, but it will work for bunny trails and is excellent for the urban jungle.


*: the Scale of Awesome is a five-point range from: Horrible, Bad, Merely Adequate, Awesome, or Super-Awesome.

†: the Scale of Things that Suck is a five-point range: Total Suckage, Sucks, Okay and Fine, Better than Expected, and Frakking Amazing.

17 November 2011

Back in ... red and black!

It's been so long, I'm glad to be back.

Yes, I've been gone a while, and yes it's been eventful and there have been things I probably ought to have been blogging about but just couldn't sit down and get done! So let me catch you up a little bit.

First, as mentioned, I went and bought a decent bike. It's a Trek, Mountain Bike, model 3500, and I really like it. I will post a separate review of the bike shortly but I've put more than 100 miles on it so far and it's really been a huge boost to my biking and weightloss efforts.

Second, I've been biking. Quite a lot, actually. I knew I would once I had a decent machine to work with, and it's been really a lot of fun. There are several rides I'd like to do, and some that I've been doing a lot, so that's been fun.

Third, I've been losing more weight. Yes, that probably should be obvious: multiple thousand-Calorie exercises done in a single week + same Calorie intake as before should = weight loss. And, it did. Down to 221 pounds now, and in the morning I'm going to hop the scale to see where I'm at at the end of this week. I believe it will be below 220, but probably not by much.

Previously, I'd been posting reviews of every single workout, which I don't believe I'm going to continue doing. What I'll do instead is get Training Peaks to post blog entries automatically since I do a brief review each time I put a workout up on TP, and have that be the individual post. That means the posts on this blog will start to be more specific to equipment, nutrition, and book reviews, as well as overall progress toward my ultimate goal of getting to a good racing weight (somewhere between 145-165 pounds, I believe). That should make it more interesting to read.

10 October 2011

Yeah, yeah ... I know, darn it

It's been a while, I know. And it's kind of ironic that I haven't been posting, because I've actually been working out more often, more productively, and with more focus than I have in a decade. It's even more ironic that I am posting today, after I've been sick for a week with a cold and couldn't workout at all.

My friend and I joined the nearest LA Fitness as members (which basically just means we can use any LA Fitness in America, except certain higher-level clubs here and there), and with the exception of this week have been going three days a week to do strength and cardio. Started on 13 August, and since then I've made tremendous progress in my strength. The cardio has been relatively minimal, mostly just enough to get a lung-burn in weekly. I've been focusing on improving my leg strength, specifically to make the cycling pedal stroke more efficient and make the hill climbing not quite as much of a challenge to the cardio workout.

Speaking of cycling ... I bought a new bike too ! I will give a better review of it a little later in the week, after my third good long ride on it, but I will give you a hint: it's an awesome value and a really good starter bike.

So later this week, I will post a full on review of my new bike, and a post detailing the improvements from the gym workouts.

Here's the first pic of the new bike:

19 August 2011

Quick weigh-in results

Current weight: 226.2 (+2.5#)

17 July 2011

Weekly weigh-in

Well, it was supposed to be Friday, but ... um, I forgot. So I did it today instead. Next week I'll make sure it's done on-time.

Today: 224.7 pounds (-4.9 pounds).

12 July 2011

Weekly weigh-in

Today's weigh-in: 229.3 pounds (-1.7 from last Tuesday).

With the new change in my work schedule, weigh-ins will be on Friday mornings, starting this Friday.

09 July 2011

Yesterday's weight workout

Was on a 24 hour shift yesterday, and unable to blog but I was able to get over to the fire station and get in a weight workout with a short zone 2 spin after. Legs felt pretty rubbery after, which I expected. They're still a little shredded, but should be recovered fully in time for tomorrow morning's long Tour de France trainer effort.

06 July 2011

Resistance workout

Brief, single set resistance workout from the Friel book for Base 1. Not having done any strength training in a few weeks, I chose to limit the reps, weight, and sets for now. Feel pretty good after though ! Rest day tomorrow, short Zone 2 spin Friday morning, and more weights on Sunday.

05 July 2011

Sprint practice and weigh-in

Today's trainer workout was inspired by part of a workout that Chris Charmichael posted for Stage 3 of the Tour yesterday. His version is preceded by a 1 hour 30 minute Zone 2 ride, but I did it as a separate workout today. In short, the workout proper is an interval workout (after a fasion), with a 10-15 second maximum effort, couldn't-go-any-harder-if-you-were-at-gunpoint out-of-the-saddle sprint, followed by a 5- to 8-minute recovery. Beginners, he recommends, should do six of these intervals; intermediate riders ten, and experienced riders fifteen. The basic theory behind it is to drain the muscles of their ATP, then allow your body to fully replenish those stores with a recovery period, then drain them again. The muscles are being trained to superadapt by developing a higher density of mitochondria and glycogen stores, increasing the muscle's responsiveness to stimulus from the somatic nervous system, and improving the speed of the transmission along those nerves.

Anyway ... given that, I did a beginner-level Sprint workout (Coach C. calls them FlatSprints, IIRC) this morning while watching Stage 4 of the Tour. All told, I did forty minutes (including a few seconds' time before sprints to shift gears appropriately and then jam) plus the warmup, stretch, additional warmup, and warmdown. It was a pretty good workout, but I think the next time I do it I can move up to the intermediate level because I still had a LOT left in the tank after. Or, perhaps, Coach C. knows what he's doing more than I do, and I need to add that workout to the end of an Endurance Miles workout just like he said LOL.

Weigh-in this morning: 231.0 pounds (+2.9). I am sure that it's because I hadn't gotten on the trainer hardly at all the previous two weeks. That won't be a problem this week :D

04 July 2011

Riding (okay, spinning) the Tour de France

Stage 3 of the 2011 Tour de France. Live on Versus starting at 05:00 local time here. Naturally, I have to get up and watch it.

But, I also want to get in a spin workout. What to do ... what to d.... HEY! I just had a GREAT idea! I'll spin, and WATCH at the same time!!

In fact, what I did today was to get up a little early, fuel, hydrate, change, and warmed up while watching the pre-race stuff, then when they went to the live action I was ready and in the saddle. Did a zone 2 (mostly with a few minutes of 3) spin ... originally, I was aiming to be in the saddle and spinning the whole time they were racing, but wasn't quite ready for that much spinning. Did make 2 hours and 26 minutes though, plus warm up, stretching, and warmdown, and frankly it was a great spin. Thinking back on it, I think I could have done the last forty-five minutes or so if I'd been a little more judicious with fueling during, but can't be sure until I have more data.

Tomorrow: sprint practice (on the trainer. During the tour).

21 June 2011


I almost forgot. Last week's Tuesday morning weigh-in was 230.8 pounds, and today's morning weigh-in was 229.1 (-1.7 pounds).

Zone 2 spin from today

Today's workout was a Zone 2 spin. As I noted in an earlier blog I planned the spin to be 90 minutes, with the intent of making it a full two hours to make up for the missing 25 minutes from Sunday's spin, and I did indeed make up that difference, and then a little bit more. Total workout was 2:05:00, not including an eight minute warm up, stretches, and a five minute warm down. This time, I was able to track my heart rate in real-time, and I'll tell you how.

First, remember that I have a Wii, and then I should tell you that I have the EA Sports Active 2 game for the Wii, including all the accoutrement that go with it. I had been looking at a way to use the game for the HRM, but hadn't really seen any easy way to do it; so I ... "hacked" it. Sort of kind of.

What I did was I created a custom workout of 38 consecutive sessions of "Mountain Bike" from the "Activities" selection, which is the maximum allowed (not sure if it's a time or a number limit, but I think it's a time limitation). Total, that amounts to about 59 minutes of workout time, give or take how long it actually takes to complete each "activity." I then did my warm up, stretches, put on the arm band (which is also the HRM) and the leg band, and started the workout. With this system, I was able to do about an hour and fifteen in actual time (I didn't stop pedaling just because the "activity" was finished and was loading the next), then when it finished I did a quick create on a new workout of 19 of the same activities (about 29 minutes of listed time), and finished off the workout (took about 45 minutes of actual time to do). I was able to keep pedaling in Zone 2 at the end of the workout when it shows the summary, and then did my warm down and finished.

All told, I was able to keep my HR in Zone 2 for about 2 hours and 3 minutes, with about 2 minutes spent in Zone 3. I never let it drop for more than a few seconds into Zone 1, and spent most of the time in the middle of Zone 2 (for me, Zone 2 is 130-143 BPM, and my average for this workout was 136). Felt good at the end, a little tired but not too bad. I was able to fuel with a couple of gels partway through and a bottle of HammerHEED, so I never bonked nor got hungry. Good times.

Brief notes on this past week's workouts

Realized that I hadn't blogged the last couple of spin workouts, and I'm trying to do better! The short of it is that I sat down on the 17th and 19th of June, settled in to watch the Tour de Suisse, and did a spin while it was on. For the 17th, I whipped up a 40 minute Tempo (Zone 3) spin, with a warm up, stretch, and warm down thrown in, and realized that it's just a ton of fun to watch professional road racers crank in these events. It's quite inspiring to see that with hard work and dedication (including getting on the trainer when it's 110° F out) that goals can be achieved. Me, there's almost no chance that I'd ever get to race in the Tour de Suisse, let alone win a stage (and forget the Tour de France), but it's fun to think about while spinning ... otherwise, spins get BO-RING. Real quick.
I kept up a nice high cadence with high gearing, and since I don't have a heart rate monitor at the moment had to rely on perceived exertion. I didn't feel any burning sensation in my legs so I'm pretty sure I wasn't at my Lactate Threshold (LT; some people use Upper Training Threshold or UTT), I didn't feel like talking though I could probably have said two or three words if needed, and it felt like something that I could hold through the entire 40 minutes but not a whole lot longer. That's pretty much the Zone 3 criteria, so I kept things there, though I did drift a little up and down when I got excited about what was happening in the Tour, or was paying less attention like during commercials. Overall it went very well.
On Sunday, I again tuned the Tour for the final stage (an Individual Time Trial) and settled in for a Zone 2 spin with a warm up, spin, and warm down, originally planned for 1 hour 30 minutes. I had to cut it short, because I had some personal obligations to attend to, but did get in a 1 hour 5 minute spin. My exertion level there was quite easy to maintain, Zone 2 with a very short period in Zone 1 at the beginning. It was tremendous fun to watch the time trial, trying to keep a good cadence on the spinner on low gearing while not getting too excited about what was going on, something made worse when one of my favorite racers, Levi Leipheimer, rode a beauty of a Time Trial to win the Tour de Suisse overall on the final day. I did succeed, however, and it was a very good day!
As for the physical discomfort ... mostly, it's the feet. I hope someone reading this has some insights and possible solutions, but if it continues I may have to seek a physician's opinion because I'm really kind of annoyed with it. Anyway, what happens is I am fine on the saddle for the first ten to fifteen minutes or so. After that amount of time, often I start to get a numbness or tingling in my toes that gets annoying enough that I have to stand out of the saddle for a few seconds, and then it occurs over and over again througought the rest of the ride, no matter how long.
Now, as a paramedic, I know the symptoms point to a perfusion problem, and not a neurological one (if it were nerve-related, it would probably happen immediately when I either pinched/sat on/otherwise confined the nerve, and not slowly appear over time). The real question is going to be which vessels? And why? If it's a tamponade of the femoral arteries, that's a more significant problem than the tingling of the toes; that would pose a serious perfusion threat to the quads, calves, hamstrings, etc. and would make cycling a much more difficult activity. I suppose it's possible that it's a consequence of a too-high saddle (or, alternately, too low) with the popliteal artery being involved. In any event, if anyone has any ideas please feel free to pass them along.
Later today I will be doing a Zone 2 spin; I plan for it to be 1 hour 30 minutes, and I also am intending to make up the 25 minutes I had to cut out of the previous Zone 2 spin, and if I'm going to do a 1 hour 55 minute spin I might as well do two hours! I will be back in a few hours to report on that.

14 June 2011

Workout, and a plea

Did a nice, Zone 2 (with a little bit of 3 mostly by accident!) spin workout on the trainer this morning.

The workout itself was quite nice. I tossed my iPod on my arm, set it onto my workout mix, and put the Race Day DVD on the TV to have something to watch. Watched the whole DVD, from warmups through race route walkthrough and the race proper to the warmdown and post-race interviews. The DVD is pretty cool, to be honest, and I would love to find more like it; I would (as I suspect many people would) pay good money for a live, in-race DVD (or, more likely, a set of DVDs) from an entire Tour de France, or even something smaller like the Amgen Tour of California, the Paris-Nice, or the Tour Down Under.

So anyway, I did a warmup, stretch, and a few more minutes of additional warmup, then cranked into a zone 2 (by RPE ... my HRM is out of commission, which is detailed in my plea below) spin. At a couple of points in the DVD I noticed my effort and RPE to be rising (because I was getting into the race portion!), and did a quick manual pulse check: too high! Slow back, get things back to zone 2 range, and chill out. All told, I was in Zone 4 for just a few seconds, Zone 3 for a few minutes, and all told was in Zone 2+ for 1:30:00. Did a warm-down, stretch, and then refueled with breakfast.

I've noticed a few things that are uncomfortable while spinning ... or sitting in the saddle too long, even. First, after a while my toes start to tingle and go a little numb. I've ruled out the shoes (I have tried several different shoes, tying them differently, and even once did a spin with sandals on, and it's not the shoes), and I've tested my IT band flexibility, and it seems reasonable for my fat body (in fact, my overall flexibility is quite good for a racing age of 42 and being obese). So, I think I've narrowed it down to two probable culprits: lower back nerve impingement (probably at the spinal ganglion level, likely caused by excessive pressure exerted by the fatty and muscle tissue in the retroperitoneal space, or possibly at the disk level), or sciatic nerve impingement in the gluteal area. In addition, there are other occasional numbness issues, not related to the feet but to more sensitive areas (something which is not uncommon to cyclists); this I believe is also related to the existence of both subcutaneous and visceral fatty tissue impinging on nerves and blood vessels in the gluteal/perineal region. Seems to me, at first glance, that the simplest solution for now is to continue rising out of the saddle occasionally, work hard to get my weight and body fat percentage down to reasonable levels, and see if that helps. I have also thought about my saddle; when I originally bought my older bike in like 1999, I bought a saddle with gel sit bone areas and a perineal groove; with the extra padding I have, I think this may be too much "soft" ... meaning that if the saddle (or my butt) were harder, the existing padding would be enough to relieve pressure but with the two sets of soft (my backside, and the gel saddle), they're actually creating pressure that wouldn't otherwise exist. So, the next saddle I get will be a much harder racing-type saddle, and I will also see if that helps.

Now for the plea ... my HRM has died. If anyone knows someone who has one they no longer use, particularly if it is an ANT+ compatible HRM (Garmin, Adidas, others make them), shoot me a line. I really need to pick one up ASAP.

15 May 2011

Saguaro East from the Cactus Forest Loop Road

Today's hike was through a new (to me) part of the Saguaro National Park East. Earlier hikes, of course, had started at the Douglas Spring Trailhead, off of Speedway BLVD near Tanque Verde Ranch. There is another trailhead into the Park on Broadway BLVD, not too far east of the intersection with Freeman RD, and of course there is the main entrance to the park off of Old Spanish Trail RD just north of Escalante RD. This main entrance has the visitor center, support buildings, and the main ranger station at the entrance to Cactus Forest Loop RD. This is a paved road, about 2.5 miles long, which loops around a portion of the southern part of the park. In addition to several trailheads along the road, the road itself is a multi-use paved trail through the park, essentially. Bikes, cars, hikers, runners, whatever, they all use the road.

For today, I elected to park at the visitor's center and hike along the road to the Mica View picnic area, then head north along Mica View Trail to the Broadway trailhead, loop south along Cactus Loop Trail (North), and hook back up to Cactus Forest Loop Road for the hike back to the visitor's center.

First, allow me to say that if I do hike down off this road again, I'm driving to the trailhead rather than hiking along the pavement. My knees and feet are terribly unimpressed with my decision-making today. Second, on the whole the area is fairly flat, although the road has a couple of pretty good hills they were pretty easy to traverse.

Third, and most importantly to me, the area is, on the whole, fairly flat. I know I said that already, but I repeat it because I don't think I like that kind of hiking. It seemed to me that these were not hiking trails per se, but rather lazily meandering trails. So much so that I was able to maintain a near 3 mph pace for the 8 miles I hiked today, and that's just basically flat-road walking. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just prefer my hikes to have some variety :D

The trails that I saw offered intimate contact with the desert flora, a distinct advantage to this network of trails. Yes, the trails are wide, easy to follow, and generally flat and boring (to me), they are basically a way to immerse yourself in the Sonoran desert and its denizens. There are no real views to speak of; I didn't come across any places that offered a good perspective on the Tucson basin or the immense expanse of land that our metro area covers, but what it lacks in the kind of views I prefer it makes up in the ability to, if one should so chose, curl up in the desert and hide ones self (not literally, of course. Don't leave the trails!). Almost like throwing a blanket of the environment over yourself and snuggling up.

Now, that's fine and dandy for lazy meanderings (yes, I said it again), but when I go to hike, I kind of want to HIKE. I want to strap on the boots, grab the hiking pole and go chew up some hills! And some valleys! And, at about the halfway point, I want to be up high enough that when I stop to breathe (and eat my snacks) I can see the curvature of the Earth. Maybe that's overstating it ... I do like to be able to stop during my hike, and stare off in wild amazement at the sheer size of my planet. Which makes me feel like my problems, my life, my everyday struggles in my version of reality are really quite manageable when you take the bigger view.

So, although I enjoyed my hike today, I will definitely enjoy my hike Tuesday morning even more for the experience, as I go back and trek down Douglas Spring Trail again. Maybe this time I'll try to get all the way to the campground, just to see where it is.

25 April 2011

Oh heck yes

Good workout today.

Got to Clements at about 6:50, got right into the basketball court, and did an hour of warmup, stretching, shooting drills, Miken drills, free throws, and then ran the two-on-one and three-on-two break. It was a good long session! Went into the weight room, did upper body (7:55 to 8:25), and then finished with thirty minutes of intervals on the elliptical, and a cool down.

Basketball: 5-minute warm-up; stretch hams, quads, glutes; Miken drills; jump shot drills; free throw drills; run the two-on-one break; run the three-on-two break; three-point drills; finish with free-throw drills.


  • Chest Press: 70# x 12, 80# x 12, 80# x 10
  • Lateral Row: 80# x 12, 80# x 12, 80# x 12
  • Preacher curls: 60# x 12, 60# x 11
  • Tricep pulldowns: 60# x 12, 60# x11
  • Shoulder shrugs: 60# x 12, 60# x 12
  • Military press: 60# x 12, 60# x 11
Elliptical: 30 minutes of variable resistance and incline, with intervals of 0:30 90% efforts interspersed with 1:30 @ 30% effort. Cool-down.

All in all a really good workout.

24 April 2011

Brief note

Today's workout was from the Wii EA Sports Active 2, and it was quite awesome. I had the game create a workout for me, did a half-hour of it, and it was nice and tough without being impossible. Very impressed.

Also, I did one yesterday on shift (GASP! HORROR! SHOCK! You mean you were 1) at a station where workout equipment exists, and 2) had more than SIXTY SECONDS to be in quarters? Yes. That's what I mean). I was at one of the new Green Valley Fire stations, and we were in quarters for a good solid sixty minutes. Of that, I was either on the treadmill, lifting wights, or on the nordic track/elliptical machine for forty-five or so. It was quite refreshing. Between the two days I've burned probably 650–750 additional calories, did probably three, three and a half miles of running, and got a full upper-body weight workout finished. I am quite impressed with myself.

I'm trying to figure out how to get EA Sports Active's website to let me link my workouts to either Facebook or my blog, without success. If anyone knows anything about this, please drop me a line.

19 April 2011

Reposted from The Fat Cyclist

Saw this article on The Fat Cyclist's blog today, it's an article about a man who lost more than 350 pounds by cycling.




It's been a long time since you and I talked. Too long.

Recently, I had a friend turn me on to hiking, and have been doing a fair amount of that while trying to rediscover my workout mojo. I added some walk/jog workouts occasionally, and then added a couple of body weight workouts.

Now I think I've got a pretty good handle on how this can work. Nearby, there is a regional center from City of Tucson Parks and Rec, the William Clements Recreation Center. They have a large, full-sized (plus) swimming pool, a modest but complete weight room, cardio equipment, indoor walking/jogging track, and a full-sized indoor basketball court. The fees are CRAZY reasonable ($2 on a daily basis, $51 for a quarterly pass, and $195 for an annual pass). The gym was not crowded but there were a few people there (I was there @ about 0700).

As part of their package, you have to take a short course to certify that you can use the weight room equipment (it's basically a familiarization course, not really a "certification" per se, but you get the drift). So I took the course from a lovely and knowledgeable young lady, got certified, and hit the basketball court. Forty-five minutes later, I hit the weights, and then finished with a twenty minute power cardio on the elliptical machine. Did a five-minute cool down, and then headed out.

First impressions: I can totally see myself coming down here three or four days a week when time permits, but at a bare minimum I can do two days on my off days. There are quite a lot of choices, too, so the boredom factor should be minimized.

Today's workout

Basketball: 5-minute warmup, 40 minutes of running drills, shooting drills, dribbling drills, and specific activity practice (running the two-man break, rebounds, curl-and-shoot). RPE: 8/10
Weights (all upper body):

  • Chest Press: 50# x 12, 50# x 8
  • Low lateral row: 50# x 12, 70# x 12, 85# x 8
  • Preacher Curls: 45# x 8, 45# x 6
  • Tricep extensions: 40# x 12, 40# x 12
  • Shrugs: 60# x 12, 60# x 12
  • Military Press: 55# x 12, 55# x 12
Elliptical: 20 minutes of intervals (90/10 for 30 sec/1:30), 5 minute cooldown. RPE: 6/10

All told, 60 minutes of cardio and about 35 total in the weights plus warmup/cooldown. Not a bad day's work.

Estimated Calorie Expenditure: Just on the two cardio activities, about 950.