Reaching and Maintaining That Riding Weight

Guest poster Don Blount is back, with an item on getting back to his best weight — and staying there.

BlountOnBikingFor some, it may not be their thing to weigh, measure or tally just about everything they eat and drink.

But it works for me.

This system has helped me lose weight and keep it off for nearly two years.

And this philosophy has become more than a “diet” or “eating plan,” it has become part of my lifestyle. It works with my personality.

I watch what I eat, schedule my exercise and as a result I am able to maintain the weight that I want.

This was my Thursday dinner: chicken, green beans and red potatoes

This was my Thursday dinner: chicken, green beans and red potatoes

I have written previously about my weight loss, counting calories, etc.

I learned that for me to maintain a good cycling weight and a better weight overall than the 196 pounds I carried a few years ago that I need accountability.

It is not enough for me to go: “Oh, I will eat smaller portions and exercise more.” I need something to tell me what a portion size is and how much exercise I have done.

On most days for lunch I will take a salad. This has chicken, carrots and cheese in addition to lettuce and a balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil dressing.

On most days for lunch I will take a salad. This has chicken, carrots and cheese in addition to lettuce and a balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil dressing.

I learned that I cannot maintain a proper weight solely through diet or solely through exercise; that I need a combination of the two.

I learned that it is difficult for me to eat solely 1,750 calories a day I find that a normal day’s intake for me is about 2,600 calories. A normal day of movement for me – exercise, walking and the like – burns about 900 calories, which reduces my net calorie intake to that 1,750 range. And it also means the proper combination of protein, fat, carbs, etc. but that’s a topic for another post.

After the work is done, I have my day's meals prepared: lunch, dinner and snacks.

After the work is done, I have my day’s meals prepared: lunch, dinner and snacks.

Going into hip replacement surgery I knew that the level and intensity of my exercise would be greatly restricted, by my standards I basically sat for five weeks, and I expected to gain at least a few pounds. And have gained about five pounds.

Still, I am not sweating that weight gain, at least not yet, as I become more active I expect to get back to my normal riding weight.

 

The Long Road Back

The great concert pianist, Ignace Paderewski, is quoted as saying: “When I miss a day of practice, I know it. When I miss two days, my teacher knows it. When I miss five days, the audience knows it.”

As you know, I’ve missed the equivalent of a month on the bike, with just a few days sprinkled in there where I actually got a chance to ride. And boy, do I know it.

Our friend, Don Blount, has just told us about the rehabilitation regimen he’s putting himself through to return to biking from surgery. Don is a focused, goal-driven kind of guy. I take more of a recreational approach to my biking. I want to have a good day on the bike, maybe cover a decent amount of ground, and feel like I’ve accomplished something when it’s over.

It didn’t feel that way Saturday.

My own fault, really. We’ve had a good amount of rain here this spring — for Central Texas, that is — and my yard has exploded in green. The growing grass, combined with the live oaks that have shed last year’s leaves over the last few weeks, have left me a mess to take care of. I spent much of Saturday morning shoveling leaves into bags (that’s right — there were so many in such big piles, I didn’t have to do a lot of raking), trimming overgrown ground cover around trees, and cutting the grass in the front yard for the first time this year. By the time I was done, I was bushed.

But it was a beautiful, 90-degree (32C) day, and there was no way I was going to pass up riding under these conditions.

I picked a favorite route, one that would take me through my neighborhood and out to Austin’s Veloway. If I did two laps of the Veloway after the trip to get there, I’d have about 18 miles.

But halfway around my first lap of the Veloway, I knew I had had it. I completed the lap and headed home. Fifteen miles, and I was so tired that I flopped on the bed in my bike clothes, immediately fell asleep, and didn’t wake up for three hours.

Okay, it was the yard work and the 90-degree temps that did me in. Sunday would be better, because I was going out first thing in the morning.

I met my riding buddy Maggie, and we agreed to take a new trail (new to us) that would get us up a hill to a busy road. She had been on the trail once, and was unsure about the exact route, but she led the way without a hitch. The trail was rough in spots, but a good one. We circled around to a paved hill near my house, and she suggested working our way over to another trail that would take us back down the hill.

Maggie grabs a drink before we head down the rocky trail.

Maggie grabs a drink before we head down the rocky trail. (Click to enlarge.)

This is a rough trail. I glanced off a rock, and my foot flew off the pedal. It was all I could do to keep the bike under control as it picked up speed down a rocky cut. I didn’t want to brake too much, because if I hit a rock at slow speed, it could mean an endo.

We got down it okay, but the skies decided to open up then, accompanied by bolts of lightning. We headed over to my house before the worst of it hit.

My wife was happy to see Maggie, because they had a lot of catching up to do. After a half hour or so, the weather had cleared, and she headed home. I showered, then sat down at the computer to do some work.

It was getting up that got me. The hilly trails rendered the backs of my thighs really sore. I could walk it off all right, but for the rest of the day, whenever I stood up, I had to wait for the soreness to pass.

Maggie told me she had had hip problems at the same time I was off the bike, so we’re both embarking on comebacks of our own. I hope it won’t be a long one — there’s a lot of riding to be made up. But I’m out of practice, and I know it.

 

 

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab — I Said Yes, Yes, Yes!

Guest poster Don Blount sets an example for us all by the way he’s coming back from hip replacement surgery.

BlountOnBiking
April 20 marked 39 days since I underwent surgery to replace my left hip.

Since then my focus has been on recovery, rehab and rest.

This is my second hip replacement; my right hip was replaced with an artificial joint in 2004. But this time around a less-invasive surgery has enabled me to recover more quickly.

I checked into the hospital at 12:30 p.m. March 12, underwent surgery later that day, and was on my way home by 2:30 p.m. March 13, a stay of 26 hours.

Because I was fit, my surgeon’s directions was to monitor any swelling I had in my leg. A physical therapist instructed me to not overdo it.

I was on a bike trainer by Sunday. I was not pedaling fast, hard or with any resistance but I was pedaling.

Trainer_Rehab

I spent my days doing rehab exercises and reading while elevating and icing my leg. I read nine books in 30 days and watched live at least part of every game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

My rehab includes:

  • Bike. First on the trainer and now on the road.

Bike_Selfie copy

  • Pool. I have a series of exercises to do in the pool to strengthen my hip and legs. This workout takes about 50 minutes.
  • Gym. Leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses, calf raises, resistance bands, treadmill and elliptical trainer. This workout takes about 90 minutes. Here’s a look.
  • Exercises for core, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes and stretches for quadriceps. Click here to view workout video:

I am still working on walking without a limp and building my stamina. I find that rest includes a lot of naps after rehab work.

Without question, cycling has helped me through this process. Physically, I am in better shape and that has its obvious benefits. But mentally having ridden hills, centuries and double centuries helped me too. As I have told others, recovering from hip replacement surgery is nothing compared to going up a long difficult climb.

Overall, I am pleased with my progress. I returned to work on April 15 and although I am doing well, I do not receive full clearance until June 12, which is three months after surgery. Hmm, that would put the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century just under four months away….

The Unprepared Cyclist

What a day! Sunny, a nice breeze, and 84 degrees (29C). There was nothing to keep me off my bike, even at the expense of foregoing yard work, and putting off a chore I promised to do for my wife.

I wasn’t going to go too long — maybe 20-23 miles — something that would keep me out about an hour and half. I could tell I haven’t been riding as much as I should, but over the years, I’ve built a good base, so getting back into a rhythm wasn’t difficult.

A fellow from my cycling club caught up to me and passed me like I was standing still. But then I caught a group of unfamiliar riders, and went by them. I felt strong pushing up some small hills, and had fun reaching 35 mph going down a sweeping bend on an empty road in a new housing development.

About 13 miles in though, something wasn’t right. I had just gone through a 90-degree turn on a busy road, and was heading up another small hill, but my rear wheel felt unstable. Uh-oh — a flat!

I wasn’t comfortable changing it in the shoulder of a 65 mph highway, so I walked the bike about a quarter mile to a pulloff, and set about changing the tube. It turned out that the smallest possible shard of glass had punctured the tire and the tube. I picked it out of the tire, checked for any other debris inside the tread, yanked out the punctured tube, and got out a new one.

Some time ago, I stopped bringing my small pump on rides, deciding to stick with CO2 cartridges. I had some recently-purchased cartridges in my seat bag, but when I went to attach the inflator chuck to one, I made an unwelcome discovery. The cartridge was one of those unthreaded ones. I needed the threaded kind.

So there I was, at the side of the road, the bike upside down with the chain hanging forlornly, and doing the only thing I could think to do: Call my wife.

She was there in less than 10 minutes, and we headed home. I inflated the tube in a matter of minutes and got the tire back on the bike, but by then, it was too late. My cycling window for the day had closed.

I’ll be stopping by the bike store for a few new, threaded cartridges. And I think I’ll start carrying the mini-pump again. Sometimes, it’s not a bad thing to be a belt and suspenders kind of guy.

And you wonder why I still call this blog Bike Noob.

You — Yeah, You! — Can Get Paid To Ride Your Bike

They say that if you can do what you love while making a living at it, you’ve got the best of all possible worlds. Guest poster Jeff Hemmel might have stumbled onto that situation — he thinks.

HemmelsRide2I am so pro. If, that is, your definition of professional cyclist is someone who’s getting paid to ride his bike. Just this morning alone I made an easy $3. By month’s end I should have about $40 in the bank.

And if you use Strava, now you can be paid, too. The details were in an email that crossed my desk last week. Competitive Cyclist (www.competitivecyclist.com), which is part of the better-known backcountry.com, is paying Strava users $1 an hour, up to $40 a month, just to ride their bikes. The money gets put in your Competitive Cyclist account, where you can then spend it on whatever gear or equipment you want. Your money expires at the end of the next month, meaning if you ride a decent amount you can have about $80 to spend every two months.

I thought there had to be a catch, but there’s really not. You have to set up an account on Competitive Cyclist or Backcountry, and then link that account to your Strava account. There really wasn’t much to the whole process. Your credits then show up automatically. I went out for my first ride, came home and updated Strava and, boom, next thing I knew money was waiting for me. Sure, Competitive Cyclist is getting some basic info about you. Apparently they also hope that users will review products, and they can eventually increase the validity of their reviews by showing how much the writer rides.

Think $40 isn’t that much to spend on cycling gear? Think about what you routinely buy. I go through Clif Shot Bloks pretty regularly, and love Skratch Labs drink mix, but both aren’t cheap. They’re cheap enough, however, that my newfound credits will pay for a month’s supply. Bankroll two months at the $40 max each month and you’re $80 into that new pair of bib shorts, jersey, or pedals.

I know, I know — it’s good to support your local bike shop. And I do, believe me, and still will. There’s just too many parts and services that I want to go to a local shop for, and this $40/month won’t change that. But I don’t know of many people who couldn’t use some more money to spend on those endless necessities, or long-lusted-after piece of new gear. And if every hour I ride my bike banks me $1, I can certainly find a good use for it.

A Feeling Like No Other

It’s been a long and frustrating hiatus from biking. My bronchitis just wouldn’t go away. The fact that I approached like a typical guy didn’t help any — a typical guy would do nothing but take some throat lozenges and hope for the best. That’s what I did. And although my wife was after me to see the doctor, the Mayo Clinic’s website says you don’t need to see a doc until you’ve had the bronchitis for three weeks. If it hasn’t cleared itself up by then, maybe an intervention is called for.

I took solace in the fact that I coughed a little less each day. Aside from the coughing, I felt normal. But the lack of cycling exercise contributed to an overall sluggish feeling that I couldn’t wait to shed. Finally, I could do it.

Friday dawned with heavy local rain. I figured my plans for a ride later that afternoon would have to be put on hold yet again. I gave a presentation at the university on our new system for creating online classes, then kept an appointment with a new faculty member whom I met through a mutual friend. By the time we took our leave of each other, the rain had long since stopped, and things were almost dried out already.

At home, I walked around outside a bit, and noted with satisfaction that the sun was breaking through the remaining cloud cover, and starting to warm things up. It took just a few minutes to change into my biking clothes, pump up the tires, and venture onto the neighborhood streets.

For my first ride back after a four-week layoff, I decided to head over to the Veloway and do a few laps. The road to the Veloway, which also leads to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, was solidly lined with cars for its entire length — about a half mile — on both sides. It’s spring, and this year, Texas is having the finest explosion of wildflowers I’ve seen since arriving here 15 years ago.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush set off a MAMIL along a back stretch of the Veloway.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush set off a MAMIL along a back stretch of the Veloway.

I did three laps around the Veloway, then headed home. Modest mileage — 15.2 miles — for a ride of almost exactly one hour. I rode steadily, only pushing it in a few spots, and not for very long there, so my Strava feed showed no trophies for any of my segments — as if I cared. The layoff hasn’t adversely affected my riding. That is, I never felt as though I was working hard. Well, I was pretty huffed by the time I got to the top of the HEB hill less than a mile from home. But I can be pretty huffed on that thing even when I’m in condition. That pesky little four-tenths of a mile, gentle but steady climb does test the rider.

So what? I’m back. It was great to be in the saddle again, great to be out on the familiar roads. Riding a bike is a feeling like no other, and I’ve missed it.

Looks like we’ll have rain for the rest of weekend. I might miss it some more.

Breathing In, Breathing Out

After battling bronchitis for three weeks, a tentative ride on the bike was very welcome. I didn’t go very far or very long — I just wanted to see if I was ready to come back. I think I am.

This picture is six years old, but I still look like this when I ride, with my mouth open.

This picture is six years old, but I still look like this when I ride, with my mouth open.

It didn’t take long into my ride before I became aware of something I don’t think about during my “normal” rides: breathing. My lungs have been so congested these past few weeks that I haven’t been able to take in a deep breath without bursting into a coughing fit. But this time, I could.

My throat was still a bit raw, however, so I started experimenting with my breathing technique. Normally, I breathe through my mouth, both inhaling and exhaling. But the air passing down my throat this time stung its sensitive lining, so I breathed through my nose. I can’t take in as much air that way, and going up even easy hills forced me to revert to my mouth breathing.

Then, I thought maybe I could breath in through my nose and exhale through my mouth. That seemed to work pretty well, until I realized that it was so unnatural to me, I had to concentrate on nearly every breath.

So, as I make my comeback to biking, what’s your take on breathing? Is there a right way for cyclists to do it? Or should I just baby my throat a bit until I can breathe in and out of my mouth as usual?

Does how you breathe matter?