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.

 

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….

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.

Year in Review — Looking Back, Looking Ahead (Guest Post)

Our friend Don Blount is reflecting on a banner cycling year.

BlountOnBiking2014 was a big cycling year for me.

Here are my totals: 6,512.46 miles (10,481 kilometers), 191,828 feet (58,469 meters) of climbing, 401 hours, 51 minutes of riding time.

That was 1,045 mi (1,682.8 km) and 80,000 ft (24,384 m) and 70 hrs of riding time more than in 2013. I completed one organized century, and five centuries in training; three double metric centuries, including the Tour of the California Alps Death Ride, and a double century.

Yet when I was asked my most memorable ride of the year, I struggle to answer as I had a number of memorable rides

Here is the list:

  • January: Climbed Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County, Calif for the first time. This ride was 49.44 mi. (79.6 km) with 5,853 ft (1,784 m) of climbing in 3 hrs 57 mins.
At the top of Mt. Diablo.

At the top of Mt. Diablo.

  • February: Pedaling Paths to Independence metric century in Linden, Calif. 64.43 miles (103.7 km), 1,115 ft (340 m), 3 hrs, 30 mins. I received my handmade, custom steel Tallerico bike a few days before this ride and this was my first significant ride on it.
  • April: Tierra Bella double metric century in Gilroy, Calif. 127 mi. (204 km), 8,632 ft. (2,631 m), 8 hrs 54 mins. This was the first time I traveled with my bike to do an organized ride. This double metric would also be my biggest ride to date and I did it on the 10-year anniversary of having my right hip replaced.
At Tierra Bella.

At Tierra Bella.

  • May: Lodi Sunrise Century, Lodi, Calif. 101 miles (1652.54 km), 2,391 ft (893 m), 7 hrs, 43 mins. My sister-in-law, Gina, came to California from her home in Columbus, Ohio to celebrate her birthday and ride her first century. I rode with her and it was fun to help someone achieve that goal. It was only in the previous October that I had completed my first.
  • May: Sierra Century double metric century, Plymouth, Calif. 122 mi (196 km), 10,965 ft (3,342 m), 8 hrs, 41 mins. I had not ridden this course but I was feeling poorly going up a difficult climb called Slug Gulch. Once I finished that climb, another rider and I raced to get to the lunch stop before the cut off. One rest stop worker told me that I had arrived too late and could not continue. And then a friend also worked at the rest stop intervened, telling that worker that he was wrong and that I had arrived well within the cutoff. I set off, recovered and finished the double metric.
  • June: Canyon Classic, Patterson, Calif. 93.34 mi. (150 km), 7,756 ft (2,364 m), 6 hrs, 50 mins. This was my first time riding to the top of Mt. Hamilton. At the lunch stop at Lick Observatory I remembered talking to this guy who was basically telling me that I could not do a double century. I remember thinking, “I will show you….”
  • June: Four-pass training ride with my crazy doctor, Bear Valley, Calif. 83.04 mi. (133.64 km), 11,033 ft (3,363 m), 8 hrs, 10 mins. This would be my first time riding in the Sierras. We started in Hermit Valley, rode Ebbetts Pass, both sides of Monitor Pass then to Markleville, the other side of Ebbetts and back to Hermit Valley.
Monitor Pass.

Monitor Pass.

  • July: Death Ride Tour of the California Alps Markleeville, Calif.124.21 mi (200 km), 15,030 ft (4,581 m), 11 hrs, 19 mins This was the hardest ride of the year. I knew I could do at least four passes but I wanted to do all five. And I did.
The Death Ride.

The Death Ride.

  • October: Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century Clovis, Calif. 201.4 mi. (324 km), 11,503 ft (3,506 m), 14 hrs 30 mins. My first double century.

Clearly, I entered a whole new world of riding in 2014.

In 2015, I am registered again for the Death Ride but I am also training for my first California Triple Crown, three double centuries within the calendar year. I was on track to do them.

But you might have heard the old proverb: Man makes plans, and God laughs.

Road-Tested, Inexpensive Holiday Gift Ideas For Cyclists

Unlike the tongue-in-cheek Christmas gift ideas I posted a couple of weeks ago, our guest poster Jeff Hemmel has some ideas that might actually merit a spot under the tree.

HemmelsRide2Recently I was asked to write a Holiday Gift Guide for one of the publications I write for in the real world. The task got me once again thinking of all the great things I’ve assembled over the last year for my bike. Looking back, my favorites aren’t pricey, high-end items. Instead they’re simple, smaller products that just make day-to-day riding a little bit easier.

Need something to get the cycling enthusiast on your shopping list…or more likely, a few hints to drop for a stocking stuffer? Here are a few of my road-tested suggestions, all available for under $30.

Fix-It Sticks ($29.99)

I like to keep a small multi-tool in my saddle bag, but my former tool had a few limitations. The most obvious was that its jackknife-style tool design didn’t allow me to generate a lot of torque when trying to loosen or tighten a bolt. I also didn’t like the way it rubbed up against things — like spare tubes — in my compact saddle bag.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.15.28 PMFix It Sticks are a pretty cool alternative. Rather than the typical “jackknife-style” multi-purpose tool, Fix It Sticks are literally two separate aluminum “sticks” that fit together (each stick has a hexagonal hole in the middle to accommodate the other) to form a T-handle wrench. When not in use, they sit side-by-side in a cool, slim case made from recycled tubes. When it’s time to go to work, just fit them together so that one stick forms the handle and the other the working end. The setup generates far more torque than possible with a mini tool, yet takes up less space.

You can get Fix It Sticks in a variety of combinations, depending on what you need most for your bike. I like the simplicity of the original version, with its fixed bits. A replaceable bit version is also available. http://www.fixitsticks.com

aLOKSAK ($8.39/3-pack)

I throw my phone, license, credit card, and a $10 bill in my jersey when I ride. To keep them together and sweat free, I’ve long opted for a bag like the Jersey Bin. It protects the items within, allows me to use the touchscreen of my iPhone through the bag, doesn’t cost much, and is a lot more durable than a Ziploc sandwich bag.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.17.56 PMBut while I still like the Jersey Bin, this year I was given a thinner, more flexible bag from LOKSAK. Made from a polyethylene blended film and guaranteed to be 100% water and air tight, the aLOKSAK pouch offers all the advantages of the Jersey Bin, but has so far been able to resist the cracking that could plague the latter product with frequent use. aLOKSAKs are favorites of divers, as they’re certified to a depth of 200’. I just know they’ve kept my phone safe — and usable — for about the last 10 months with no problems.

aLOKSAKS are available in a wide range of sizes in three packs starting at $8.39. http://www.loksak.com

Bar Fly 2.0 ($24.99)

Like a lot of riders I use a Garmin Edge bike computer, but I don’t like the stock rubber O-ring attachment setup. It just seems a little flimsy, plus I like the idea of getting the computer out ahead of my handlebars where it’s easier to see. There are a number of products on the market that solve the problem, but my favorite happens to be one of the cheapest — Tate Labs’ Bar Fly.

For starters, it’s simple. Just loosen the plastic clamp and slip it over your handlebars, then tighten at your preferred angle with a 3mm Allen key. Once in place, just attach your Garmin with the familiar 1/4-turn mounting system used by the stock attachment. The BarFly 2.0 offers two attachment points, stacked one atop the other, to handle a wide variety of Garmins, including the 200, 510, 800, 810, Edge Touring and Edge Touring Plus. As the mount is Delrin plastic, it won’t dig in or damage the tabs on your Garmin through repeated attachment and removal. The Delrin construction also means you don’t have to worry about over tightening and damaging carbon handlebars.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.19.42 PMBarFlys come in a variety of cool colors, have a lifetime warranty and a “buy one and you’re done” crash guarantee. If you’re lucky enough to run Shimano or Campagnolo electronic shifting, you can also mount the shifting module on the underside. www.barflybike.com

Cutaway Neck Gaiter ($18.00)

Hardcore riders don’t stop when the weather gets cold, but that doesn’t mean it’s always fun…or comfortable. Last year I added a Cutaway Neck Gaiter to my wardrobe, and it’s really made a difference on those really cold rides.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 3.23.13 PMOne of the best things about a neck gaiter is its versatility. Sure you can use it just to protect your neck, but gaiters can also quickly turn into headbands, or open-top beanies to cover your ears. I like to pull mine up to over the lower half of my face balaclava-style and fend off the wind chill. The lightweight microfiber is comfortable and breathable. It’s also moisture-wicking, meaning your hot breath won’t end up making it all damp and nasty.

Cutaway’s Gaiters come in a variety of cool prints, including one dedicated to popular Cannondale/Garmin rider Ted King. www.cutaway.us

MY First Double Century (Guest Post)

Our guest poster Don Blount has checked off another item on his bucket list: a double century. Here’s his account of riding 200 miles in one day.

BlountOnBikingA year to the day after completing my first century ride, I set out on my first double century.
A lot had happened during the past 18 months that resulted in me being a stronger rider.  Still, I never ever thought I would be riding a double century. Yet here I was riding the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century in Clovis, Calif. 
This double is actually like three different rides. It begins with a fairly flat 73-miles and ends with 27 miles of mostly downhill with a few rollers. Thrown in the middle is a century with 10,000 feet of climbing.
Simple enough.
As a first time double century rider it was important for me to remember that this was a ride and not a race. Riding too hard, too early could lead to trouble later. I just wanted to finish in about 15 hours of riding time.
Here are the four rules I had for riding this double:
1)    Ride safe
2)    Eat enough
3)    Drink enough
4)    Pace myself
I had a good week leading up to the ride. A few easy rides, more water and carbs to store up for later and I was well rested.
I got to Clovis about 7 p.m. Friday and picked up my registration packet. My motel was only a mile from the ride start and I was able to get to bed about 10 p.m.
I awoke at 2:25 a.m. to eat breakfast as I wanted something in my system and give it time to digest before riding. I was back in bed by 2:55 a.m. and slept until getting up for good at 3:45 a.m.
I rode the mile from my motel to the ride start, checked in and was on the course by 4:35 a.m.
I started fine, riding only at about 15.5 miles per hour to the first rest stop at about the 35-mile mark.
It was while stopped there that I encountered my first problem. There were no Hammer products at the rest stop. The ride director assured me by email weeks previously and in person the night before that there would be bars, gels and other supplements at the rest stops.
I have problems eating enough food on long rides and use Sustained Energy to supplement my on-bike nutrition. I had already gone through the only bottle I had with me. The only bars at the rest stop were Nature Valley granola bars along with the usual fare of muffins, pretzels, potato chips, nuts, oranges and other sweet stuff that does not sit well on my stomach.
What I would learn well after the ride was that a volunteer had mistakenly taken the Hammer nutrition products to another rest stop and by the time the mistake was discovered that it was too late to take any to the first (and second) rest stop.
 
I had a few items with me, a Clif Bar, some Shot Bloks, but not nearly enough to comfortably make it to the lunch stop.
I was screwed. 
I choked down a peanut butter sandwich, some potato chips and fruit and went on. The course looped back to this rest stop, so I would be back in about 38 miles.
At about mile 68 I encountered my only mechanical of the day, a flat rear tire. I pulled four goatheads out of the tire, hoping that four holes in one tire would mean that I would not get one hole in four separate tires. Don’t laugh, a friend doing the ride had three flats on the day.
I changed the tire and moved on, came across my friend Joni at the second rest stop and we headed out together.
I had ridden with Joni a bit earlier in the ride but it was good to see her again. She is a member of the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame and has completed more than 60 doubles. She helped me with my preparation and we had ridden together before so riding with her helped me feel more comfortable. I would see her off and on throughout the day.
One of the more difficult things for me at this type of ride is the time spent alone. Sometimes chatting with someone just helps, the same as it does on a club ride.
I started the day in arm warmers and a vest but it was getting warm quickly. And I was feeling it. I came upon a water stop and gladly refilled my bottles. But by mile 100 I was becoming a bit wobbly in my mind. Not addled, mind you but feeling physically weak.
I was not in very good shape when I reached the lunch stop at mile 107.
I turned my phone on for the first time that day and had a message from a friend who was checking on my progress. I texted my wife and him that I was not feeling well and honestly did not know if I could continue.
It was similar to what I had experienced at the Death Ride.
I needed to get some calories in my system quickly.
Lunch was a chicken burrito, pickle, fig newtons, potato chips, two cokes and whatever else I could tolerate. I drink very little soda but on longer rides I find the caffeine and sugar helpful.
And lo and behold, there were Hammer nutrition products. I asked for Sustained Energy, got plenty of ice.
I downed as many calories as I could without bloating myself. And then I waited. I do not know for how long but eventually I felt well enough to continue.
The roughest climb of the day was ahead. The pitches were steep and it was hot. It was like climbing out of an oven.
Volunteers at a water stop somewhere on the climb told us it was not much farther to go and then at some point to remember to make a left at the totem pole. Yes, a totem pole. (Click to enlarge.)
 
Totem_Pole2
 
And there it was signaling the beginning of an 8.6-mile climb. But the climbing was gradual and led to the fourth rest stop at mile 132. There was only one difficult climb left.
Powerhouse grade was actually not as bad as I had anticipated. It was dark again by the time I reached it, so I could not see the grades, but I could feel them. It went on for a good seven miles, so all I did was sit and pedal. 
Eventually, I was over the top and at the next-to-last rest stop. I had not completed that century in the middle of the ride but I was close and there were no real climbs left.
I was told the last rest stop, no. 6, would be the most fun. It was only 14 miles from the finish. By this time anyone there, barring a catastrophe, would finish. Music was playing, people although tired were happy and the volunteers were jovial.
My Garmin died on the last descent of the day and I did the only unsafe thing I had all day. I took my phone out of my jersey pocket and turned it on so I could calculate my total time.
I arrived at the finish, with Joni again, at 10:25 p.m.
I had completed my first double century in 14.5 hours of riding time and a little less than 18 hours total time for the day.

But Sometimes, You Can Handle it Yourself

Huh? The headline refers to a post earlier this week, when I gave up on a repair and decided to take my bike to our club mechanic. Sure enough, he did the repair in his driveway in about five minutes. Total cost: $5 for his labor, $3 for a new brake cable. A bargain, I thought.

But guest poster Don Blount is more adventurous than I. He chimes in with his own view on doing your own work.

BlountOnBikingThe latest Bikenoob post got my attention. I changed the shifters and brakes on my bike a few weeks weeks ago. I had Shimano 105 shifters that earlier this summer a mechanic had pointed out were in need of replacement. This was not an imminent need but something that could wait until winter. And then I came across a sale at Probikekit, the Internet retailer, for Shimano 105 shifters with internal cable routing.The cost was about $160, or about 55 percent off regular price. I consulted with a bike mechanic who confirmed it was a good deal and urged me to buy them.

And I did. I also bought some bar tape.

Well, I had the shifters for about a week. The mechanic said to bring the parts and the bike by his shop and he could install. The only problem was his shop was closed on Sunday and Monday and I literally had no time to get my bike there during the week.

So I decided to take the job on myself.

I measured where the old shifters rested on the handlebars and removed one.

I started the install of its replacement and hit the same roadblock as you on how to remove one of the existing cables. I could not find this step anywhere in the instructions. So I scoured the Internet. It took me a bit but I eventually found instructions on how to remove that blasted cable — a small screw removes a panel and then after that panel is removed the old cable comes out and the new cable can be routed in.

Of course that would not be the only roadblock I encountered.

I discovered the front brake was moving oddly. It was loose. That more than likely explained a grabbing action and squealing I was getting from it. The decision to replace it was easy as it broke in my hand as I removed a fastener. Fortunately, I had an old brake set on hand and used one of those until I could get a replacement.

I have had this new set up of shifters and brakes for a few weeks now. They work fine, although when I get a chance I would like to take it to a bike shop to have my work checked.

A moral to this story would be to review the directions beforehand, decide if you can actually do the job. In my case, I had removed shifters and installed brakes. But I had never changed cables.

Also, take your time as you work and keep in mind that the Internet can be a font of information full of videos and instructions on a number of jobs.

And keep a good bike mechanic on speed dial in case you get in over your head and need a professional to finish the job.