Posted by: fizzhogg | April 23, 2014

I’m still here (sort of)

Hi. Remember me?

It’s not that I haven’t been trying.

I’ve been in Cycling Mecca for two months now. I’ve tried posting all sorts of blog entries. One about my century ride along the ocean, two about some massive climbs, one about a club ride, one about the coyotes I encountered in Griffith Park. One about all the Hollywood landmarks I ride around. And I even had a didactic post about How to Descend if you’re a newbie or rec rider.

But I’ve been having major issues with WordPress. Specifically, whenever I try to add “Media” as they call it – photos – or links, the post implodes. Badly.

I’ve contacted WordPress 3 times and their customer service is… well, I think “nonexistent” is the nicest thing I can say.

WordPress simply believes I’m a monkey and sends me form replies, and assumes I’ve never used their site or a computer. Ever. They claim user error.

I had a very skilled IT person go into my WordPress account and hunt around, and their diagnosis was, “Something’s wrong with your WordPress account.”

But not according to WordPress.

So, that’s why there’s been so much radio silence on this blog.

I’m not sure what to do. I could move this thing to another host site, I guess, but who doesn’t hate moving? And I’d really hate to risk losing everything that’s here.

If any of you have suggestions as to what I can or should do, I’d love to hear them.

 

Thanks for your support.

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 10, 2014

I’m Back, Back in The LA Groove

Greetings from Cycling Mecca.

There are many things I could write about here…

The despair of having BOTH tubes blow before your ride;  the joy of being back on the bike;  the pleasure of riding without eighteen layers of warmth;  the fun of being back with the best cycling club in all of America;  the thrill of group riding (car back!);  the pain of not having climbing legs in Cycling Mecca;  the triumphant feeling when you hit the summit after a sufferfest;

But instead, I’ll just leave you with some images.

tubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prep

 

fences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The calm before the climb

 

drophill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting dropped at the start

 

photo444

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way up

 

summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

The summit

 

ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other side of the mountain

 

bikeocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good day for me and The Goat

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Glory through suffering.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 27, 2014

MacArthur and me…

I shall return.

 

Cycling Mecca.

 

T Minus 7 days…

 

And counting.

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 13, 2014

Yeah, I’m still here…

Happy new year. Unless you’re Chinese, then I’ll get to you next month.

So, 2013…

It was my 4th year as a cyclist, and what started as one of my best, most dominate, most pleasurable, most intense, most fun years, turned out to be one of my worst. Certainly from a mileage standpoint as you can see from the right.

At the risk of boring you all, let me do a shorthand recap 2013, what I am dubbing The Year of Living Dangerously.

January 2013 — I start out on a ride one morning feeling strong and fast… until my back decided to stab me with one of Geoffrey Zakarian’s knives. Cut to:  4 bulging discs in my back, and dangerously close to herniating.

Thus began 8-10 weeks of rehab where I was not allowed on the bike. My physical therapist was amazing. Mike Gorman of StL Physical Therapy is not only a great doctor, but a cyclist, and understands the body and its injuries connected to that sport. Mike pointed out that one of the major reasons my back went south was my lack of core strength and my excess weight.

He tells me that he can rehab me all I want, but I will not heal properly unless I drop the weight. At the time of the injury I weighed 213.5 pounds.

I guess it was the thought of actually never being able to ride again that scared me straight with my ongoing (and well documented) battle with the whispering Jabberwock called FAT. Or maybe it was the fear of back surgery if I didn’t get stronger (i.e. thinner). Or maybe it was a newfound inspiration I’d found… a reason to care more about myself.

I think it was the combo platter. Whatever it was, I dropped 10 pounds in the first 30 days of NOT riding. Read that sentence again.

If you eat right/better, you can lose weight without exercising.

Then, when spring arrived and my rehab was done, I got back on the bike and — as you can read in my posts from last March, April, May, etc — I got fast.

Well, fast for me. Holy granny gear, does losing weight make you faster on the bike.

At one point in 2013, I was down to 178 pounds. That’s right. In July I weighed 178. That is 35.5 pounds lighter than when I hurt my back in mid-January.

That’s as much as I lost ALL of 2010, when I first began this odyssey.

But now we get to the “Dangerously” part of the year…

I don’t like to get too personal here for various reasons, but I feel like in order to be truly honest about my journey I need to share.

I got divorced in 2013. It was a longtime coming, and is definitely for the best, but it still sucks. Especially with kids. It is awful and horrible and the worst thing ever. But sometimes bad things need to happen in order for good things to come.

So, despite my newfound health and weight-loss and speed on the bike, I was battling severe depression and we all know what that leads to… if you don’t drink or do drugs, then you eat.

I ate.

Add to that not riding due to extreme weather and other personal issues, and…

At the end of 2013 I was back up to 190 pounds. Yes, it’s still over 23 pounds total loss for the year, but it’s 12 pounds MORE than I weighed in July. It’s what I’m hovering at as I type this.

What’s funny is — less than a year ago I was dancing in the streets at being 190. Now, it feels fat. I feel more fat now than I did at 213.5.

Because I have been to the promised land. I have experienced what sub-180 life feels like.

I want it back.

So, once again, for the FIFTH year in a row, I am setting a goal to lose weight. This year, I only want to drop 12 pounds. I want to be 178 again. I loved 178. We got along so well. Had so much fun together. I want 178 in my life again.

Looking at things half-full, this is the fewest number of pounds I’ve wanted/needed to lose at the start of a year. But I cannot wait until that one January day where I can sit here and type to you all that my goals for the year do not involve weight-loss of any kind. That the goals are all cycling related.

Speaking of which, since I was off the bike so  much in 2013, I have set my sights on a major mileage goal for 2014…

4000 miles.

Yes, I said it. Nearly 1500 more than I’ve ever ridden in a year. 4000 miles is the goal.
And if I ride 3,999 the year will be a fail.

12 pounds.

4000 miles.

Welcome to 2014 — The Year of The Comet.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | November 2, 2013

Cats & Dogs Living Together

Recently I attended a community event in my neighborhood about some proposed bike lanes and a discussion of motorists vs. cyclists.

There were about 50 people in attendance. The saddest part was there were about a dozen or so cyclists and the rest were motorists determined to keep those pesky bike lanes away from their asphalt wonderlands.

When more than one motorist spoke up about us crazy, dangerous bikers (sic) riding in the streets instead of the sidewalks where we belong – a very patient sheriff’s deputy explained how bicycles are “vehicles” and it is actually illegal for us to ride on the sidewalk. We are required by law to obey the same laws that motorists do.

This provided an Aha! moment for some of the motorists in attendance, which was great to see, but it definitely went in one ear and out the tuckus of a few others, who I could tell, were still planning on counting coup with every cyclist they encountered.

But here’s the interesting part of the evening and what led to this post… at one point in the evening, an older woman raised her hand and said that what she hates is how nervous and panicky she gets when she passes a biker (sic) because “you never know if they’re going to wobble into your lane of traffic.” That’s a direct quote.

At least six or seven other motorists all agreed.

As most of the cyclists rolled their eyes and snickered, I started thinking about this. It occurred to me that most motorists with no knowledge of cycling have a fixed idea of a bike rider in their head — the one from their own experience. Everyone has ridden a bike. Usually in childhood. And most were cruising around on some sort of fixed gear contraption at 8 or 10mph max. What is certainly not in the movie theater of their mind is a rider on a carbon fiber rocket, cranking a big gear at 20-25mph.

Then I did the math. If one is riding at 10-15mph, the passing motorist will be in the “panic zone” (I’m having that trademarked) longer than if one is riding at 20-25mph. Obviously, the terrain we’re riding on dictates to a large extent our speed, but this gave me an idea…

Today I went out to a busy section of road — little less than a mile, slightly undulating, a couple of sweeping curves — that is four lanes with a 35mph speed limit.

I rode the section at 12-14mph and had two horns honk at me, and nearly every driver make that ridiculous over-correction where they move an entire Hummer width away from me (see my open letter).

Then I went back to the same section and rode it at about 85-90% of full effort. I managed just over 23mph and a weird thing happened. No one honked. And only one of the at least two dozens cars that passed me did the stupid over-correction.

Most all of them either drove right by me without so much as a thought, or else just moved slightly to the left. I was amazed.

Now… this is obviously a very unscientific test, with numerous uncontrolled variables. But I think there might be something to this.

Ride harder and faster, and not only will you improve your cycling ability and your fitness, but you might save your own life!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

See Rule No. 5

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | October 29, 2013

Fall

As great as a bright spring morning ride can be, as awesome as a cool summer ride can be, and invigorating as a brisk winter ride can be, I do not think there is any better time to ride than on a beautiful fall day.

fallred

fall5

fallmore

fall2

Posted by: fizzhogg | October 14, 2013

Tomorrow Never Comes

Hi. Remember me? Yeah, I know. Me, too.

Before today, the last time I was on my bike was September 29th… over two weeks ago.

Sure, there had been some mechanical issues, and some work/travel stuff that kept me off The Goat, but during this time there were definitely four or five days that I absolutely could have ridden, but talked myself out it.

See if this sounds familiar to any of you…

You tell yourself it’s been too many days since you’ve ridden, and you’re feeling fat and gross and know you need to ride. So you decide you will ride tomorrow. You’ll wake up, and regardless of the weather, you’re gonna ride! Then you wake up the next morning, check the weather and see it’s 40some degrees. And windy. You tell yourself that you’ll wait until it gets warmer – later in the day – and then ride. But later comes, and you’ve gotten so busy with your day that you resolve to ride first thing tomorrow!

Only here’s the thing… tomorrow never comes.

Ever notice that? You go to bed saying you’ll ride tomorrow, but when you wake up it’s not tomorrow – it’s today and tomorrow is the next day, and so you tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow… but tomorrow never comes.

This is what happened to me the last two weeks. After a year of riding in mostly fabulous weather, things have gotten cold here in Arch City. At least in the a.m. Cold being relative, of course… read on.

With so many miles this year in great weather, I sort of forgot what cold really is. I would wake up with every intention to ride, check the weather and see it was in the 40′s. Even 48 or 49 counts as the 40′s. And instead of simply dressing properly (as I’ve written about on this very blog) I would listen to the voice… the whispering Jabberwock.

Yes, that same voice that whispers in your ear late at night saying it’s okay to eat that ice cream or fried chicken because “you’ll work it off tomorrow.” Only, the Jabberwock knows tomorrow never comes.

That same voice whispers in your morning ear, “You don’t want to put all that gear on, pump your tires, fill your bottles, pre-hydrate, and eat just so you can go out there and freeze to death in miserable conditions. No, what would be way more productive is to stay in bed, or curl up with a warm cup of coffee and even warmer television, and think about how much farther you’ll ride tomorrow.”

**see title of this post**

I have been listening to the Voice for two weeks. Forgetting that I have ridden many times in sub-40 degree weather.

I finally had enough last night. Instead of telling myself I would ride tomorrow, I simply decided that the schedule for Monday the 14th was to wake up and ride — before the second half of my day which is filled with meetings.

I woke up, checked the weather and saw 42 degrees. Holy polar ice caps, Batman.

But then I did something really smart… I ignored it. I got up and started drinking, started eating my Luna bar, and getting dressed. My Rapha merino wool base layer, my Twin Six Fat Cyclist L/S jersey, my Castelli neoprene gloves (amazing), Castelli insulated skull cap, and SockGuy wool socks (toasty).

The Jabberwock was whispering, but I was blocking him out. I just kept moving. Pump the tires, fill the bottles, do not stop moving. The Voice cannot get through to you if you don’t stop moving.

Then I went out and rode. And here’s the point of this post…

The first 1/2 mile was awful. I hated the weather, hated my bike, hated my gear, and hated myself.

The second 1/2 mile I hated the weather and hated myself.

By Mile 3, I was only hating myself.

By Mile 4, I was remembering that I LOVE CYCLING.

Regardless of the cold, the wind, the traffic, etc., I love being on the bike.

The whispering Jabberwock had convinced me I didn’t love cycling. But I do. And so do you.

If you are reading this blog, you love cycling (unless you’re David Montgomery). You may have forgotten it, you may be listening to the Voice, but trust me, if you’re taking the time to read blogs from other rec cyclists, you LOVE to ride.

So, I implore you — on those days when you hear the Voice telling you every reason not to ride, you must ignore it and go ride. And within the first few miles you will be so glad you did.

Be it riding in windless sunny 71 degrees, or sweltering 90 degrees with 90% humidity, or suffering in cold windy conditions, we love to ride.

So go ride the next chance you have. Not tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes. Just commit to riding the very next chance you have regardless of conditions or time constraints or anything else. Ride for 30 minutes, or an hour, or four hours. But ride. Because you will remember why you bookmarked cycling blogs.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Don’t wait for tomorrow.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | September 16, 2013

An Open Letter to Motorists

Dear motorists,

Hi. How are you? Hope all’s well.

Listen, I want to give you a little 411 about us cyclists. Now, I know our relationship runs from grudging respect to contentious to all out Jihad. But I feel like I have an idea for how to improve things.

When you pass us, and I’m talking only to those of you who try your best to be respectful, not those of you who pass already in white noise rage — honking, yelling, even throwing stuff our way — to those of you who move over for us… when you pass us, we absolutely appreciate your moving over to make sure in no uncertain terms that your vehicles in no way connect with our vehicles.

However, when you pass us… there is no need to move all the way over into the oncoming lane. We understand why you do, and we thank you, but really, there’s no need. See, when you move all the way into the oncoming lane, you are putting yourself and other possible motorists at risk.

More often than I care to think about, I see you move all the way over into the oncoming lane (thank you for your efforts), and then see you whip yourself back into our lane as another motorist appears headed your (our) way.

Not only does this endanger you, them, me, and everyone, but it causes something in negative our relationship… subconscious anger.

See, when you’re all the way over in the oncoming lane, and are forced to swerve back to avoid a life-threatening collision, this instills fear in you. And a sense of “Wow, I just nearly made the stupidest mistake of my life.” And this leads to the all-too-common human behavior of passing the buck. You don’t want to feel scared or stupid, so you immediately look for a place to put the blame… THAT CYCLIST!

“If that damn cyclist hadn’t been riding on the road that was built for us motorists, I would not have nearly orphaned my children and looked incredibly stupid in the process!” “Curse you, damn cyclist!”

We get it. But see, it was not our fault. It was yours. You were either being far too respectful of us, or else far too afraid of us, and moved far too far over — into the oncoming lane. There is no need.

When riding on a two-lane road without bike lanes, there is PLENTY of room for even the largest vehicle to pass us without incident simply by moving over 36 inches.

Yes, I said INCHES. If you are traveling in the center of the lane — which you should be all the time — only the widest vehicles are capable of actually making contact with us — if we are riding to the extreme right of the lane, which we should be doing all the time.

Therefore, even the widest vehicles with the widest side mirrors, need only move a maximum of three feet to keep both of us safe. That means maybe your left side tires cross the center line, but that’s it. Easy peasy, right?

Also… once you have passed us, there is no need to drive another 40 or 50 yards before moving back over into your proper space. Again, thank you for looking out for us, but again, this just increases the chances that you will encounter another motorist heading in the opposite direction, and therefore have to swerve back, and thus, take your fear and self-loathing out on us nasty cyclists who cause every motorist accident on the road!

A few car lengths (maybe 10-20 yards max) is sufficient before moving back over.

If you can work on these dimensions, I believe it will cause vast improvement in our relationship.

Thank you for your time,

That cyclist with the large tuckus

Posted by: fizzhogg | September 11, 2013

A Cautionary Tale

“Celebratory Eating”

So common, it has a name.

When those of us that struggle with our weight, do well for a while, drop some pounds, and then “celebrate” with a return to our old eating habits.

Do. Not. Go. There.

Resist the urge to celebrate losing 5, 10, even 25 pounds. Resist the whispering in your ear that says “You worked hard, you sacrificed, you deserve these onion rings and beer and fried chicken.”

2013

You all know of my dramatic loss this year. Starting out around 215 or so, I got all the way down to 178 pounds by June. Doing nothing more than EATING RIGHT, with some cycling thrown in.

I stopped ordering cheeseburgers and fries. I stopped eating late at night. Stopped devouring an entire bag of chips or carton of Ben & Jerry’s.

I ate better.

And the weight dropped off me like Mark Cavendish off a climb. Like hot fudge off a sundae. Like a cheerleader’s skirt on prom night. Like a.. you get the picture.

By the time I dropped below 180 — first time in 20 years — I was cycling regularly, felt amazing, was happy in my personal life, and figured I had finally beaten down the demons of fatness like Sagan beats Gilbert. Like Alex Guarnaschelli beats eggs. Like Facebook beat down Myspace. Like… you get the picture.

I thought I could eat whatever I wanted now because I had dropped the weight, was exercising more than ever, and “knew” how to handle it.

Within two months — 2 months filled with hundreds of miles of cycling — I had put on 12 pounds.

Yep. No joke.

Back to 190… in the blink of an eye.

The First Step is Admitting It

I am an addict. A food addict. Just like a junkie or alcoholic — who is only one blink away from pissing his/her sobriety down the drain. And no matter how many years an alcoholic is sober, or a junkie is clean… we always remain only one blink, one bad decision away from the darkness returning.

I am taking the positive Glass Half Full attitude that I have realized the problem (though about 5 pounds late) and am now focused on doing all I can to get back those 12 precious pounds.

Because if I don’t — then 190 will turn into 200 in another blink. And then 210.

So Easy

The solution is SO EASY… Don’t eat late; don’t eat garbage. I am starting over today. Part of me is scared because if you look back on this blog, you can see similar times when I’ve made this proclamation only to fail later. The dreaded yo-yo.

I am hoping the fact that I dropped 30 pounds in 4+ months without trying — just by acting and eating like a grownup — will help me this time. I have done it. Recently. I know how easy it is. One pound at a time. One meal out a time. One day at a time.

There is no finish line. 

There is only a better life.

– Here’s to all of us beating down our demons like… you get the picture.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Keep eating better.

 

Fair winds and following seas, WIlly

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 22, 2013

I Shall Return

If there’s anyone left who was reading this little project back in 2010, you might remember this:

2010 EL TOUR DE TUCSON

For those new around here, you can click that link and see parts 1 and 2 of my report on the very first century ride I ever did. It was horrible and brutal and I cried and I quit… but I did it. I finished. I rode 109 miles in something like 57 hours. Okay, maybe I was slightly faster than that.

I had been cycling a total of 10.5 months when I did El Tour. 109-mile timed race with something like four thousand feet of climbing and 4000 cyclists. To a newbie (and fat) cyclist, it was daunting. To anyone else, a challenge.

The single worst moment was when I was dropped by a little girl riding with sparkly fringe on her handlebars.

The more removed I was from that ride, the more I realized how I’d let myself down. I did NOT give my best effort. Yes, everyone was telling me how amazing I was for just finishing, and I guess I should take the win from that, and I do to a certain extent. But I also know now (after 3.5 years on the bike) that I could’ve done better. Should have done better.

This year I will do better.

I am returning to El Tour de Tucson.

On November 23rd, I will ride the (now) 110-mile course as fast and as hard as I can. My goal? To simply create as giant a gap between 2010′s finishing time and this year’s.

I weigh approximately 20 pounds less than I did that day in 2010… I have approximately 8000 more miles of experience than I did that day… I have a much better (faster) bike than I did that day… and most importantly, I have a much, much better attitude.

This year has been as life-changing for me as 2010. And so what better year to return to conquer El Tour?

I have lost more weight in the first 7 months of this year than I did in all of 2010 — and 2010 was my biggest weight-lost year… until 2013.

My life has changed in many more ways than just the weight. I changed my diet, my lifestyle, my outlook, my attitude, my surroundings, my relationships, my work-life, and all for the better.

I am going to ride El Tour de Tucson again. And this time, my ride report won’t be about surviving, but about conquering.

Training starts today.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Change your life.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 20, 2013

Why We Ride

But first… here’s a link to my Pedal The Cause donation page. Please donate. The charity is for pediatric cancer and 100% of ALL donations go straight to the source.

But wait, there’s MORE!

For every $10 you donate you get one chance in a drawing to WIN some amazing prizes!

Check it out and forward it to all your friends and family!

http://stlouis.pedalthecause.org/riders_profile.jsp?MemberID=12834

Okay, now onto the post…

Why we ride. Some ride for charity. Some for competition. Some for fitness. Some for pleasure. And some of us ride for a combo of those reasons.

I started riding for fitness, then rode for pleasure, then competition. I compete with myself mostly, via Strava, though I do love taking down little Joey Choo-Choo when I can.

Each day is different for me. There are certainly days when I ride strictly because I want to feel fit, or get fit, or want to counter-act some dandy eating I did the night before… or week before.

Then there are days when I ride for competition. To see how many Strava PR’s I can get, or KOM’s (I have but one), or little stupid trophies by my name, or the best — topping the time of someone I know.

I also tend to ride for maximum Max Speed on these days. And maximum average speed. And maximum cadence, etc., etc.

I ride now and then for charity. Like Pedal The Cause above. Or Tour de Cure, or Bike The Drive. Charity rides are awesome because there is always an inherent goodwill in the air. Humans out together doing something fun to help other humans.

Then there are my favorite riding days… the ones where I ride just for the pleasure of riding. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s being outdoors regardless of weather, maybe it’s seeing a new part of the world, maybe it’s riding with a friend or group of friends. Maybe it’s riding with a group of strangers. Or a combo of these.

I have referred to these rides on this blog as “Rapha Rides.” Those of you that have been around here a while know why. You newbies can look it up. Basically, it’s a ride in which you have no set destination nor mileage nor time when you start. You just know you’re going for a ride.

The ride may be hard or easy, long or short, hilly or flat. Who knows. It just all depends on the moment. Photos are usually involved.

While these are my favorite rides, I had noticed that they weren’t the majority of my rides. They were there every so often, but generally I had a route or distance or specific ride in mind when I clipped in and rolled away from the house.

That’s changed. I’ve had a myriad of changes in my life this year. Divorce, extreme weight loss, and a couple other things. One of the many things these changes have done for me is open my eyes to things I may have taken for granted. Things my grandmother used to try to teach me about, but I was too young (read dumb) to get it. She used to say:

“Somewhere there is someone praying for the very things we are taking for granted.”

Grandma knew what time it was.

I’ve been very blessed this year, some truly amazing gifts have come into my life, and I might just be happier than I’ve ever been as an adult. So why not ride like that? Thus, my last few rides (and the next few coming up) have all been “Rapha rides.”

Distances from 15 to 49 miles… elevation gains from less than 200 feet to over 3,000. Average speeds from 15.6 to 18.1. Just riding for the love of riding. Enjoying the outdoors, the physical exertion, the friends, and most of all — the bike.

I even Live Tweeted during my ride this morning… that was interesting. If you have Twitter, check it out. Kinda funny.

Today’s post is to encourage you to not just donate to help kids fighting cancer, but to remember why you love riding so much that you actually read blogs about other people’s rides!  Then go on a Rapha ride. Just ride to ride. Go hard as Hell, or slow as snails; go 5 miles or 150 miles. Climb every hill you can find or avoid every speed bump.

Just ride. And enjoy the ride. And be thankful you’re healthy enough to be able to ride.

The bottom of the post has some random photos from my recent Rapha rides… enjoy.

And drop a comment telling me what your favorite type of ride is and why.

 

Time Trial anyone?…

tt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son loves this self-portrait I snapped…

sufferfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zooom! My new Team Garmin helmet is Boss…

Garmin Sharp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elk Grove ain’t called Elk Grove for nothing…

elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have scientific proof now; white shoes is faster than black shoes (note the Lion of Flanders socks)…

shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One reason why I love (and hate) riding in MO: Rollers…

Rollers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is where I turned around…

deadend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Bikes Rule…

Why Bikes Rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Enjoy the ride.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | July 10, 2013

Bonkopotamus

There’s suffering and then there’s suffering… but before we get to the gory details, let’s get the pics out of the way…

I explored new territory yesterday and found some new things:

A lake… known as Lake St. Louis. Very nice roads around here, all with bike lanes.

lakeStL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s some history… didn’t know video stores existed anymore. Obviously, this isn’t quite the historical maker that our resident Graham Watson Steve  gives us, but it’s all I gots.

history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I crossed over this cool stretch of railroad.

RR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I got farther away from suburbia, I found a place where I would later wish I was fishing at instead of riding by.

river

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the river came the corn fields. Not the sunflowers of Le Tour, but still a nice ride (at this point).

children of

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the rollers of eastern Missouri. As much fun as these were on the “Out,” they would do me in on the “Back.”

rollers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonkopotamus

Sunday night I went to bed around 10:30pm with the plan to be up and out the door by 6:30am, going for a 45-50 mile ride. I say went to bed because I did. Sleep didn’t come until around 4am. Then I was up at 7:something and knew I wasn’t going riding.

But inspired (or fooled) by watching the Tour de France, I decided to ride. I packed 5 Gu’s, filled two water bottles with cold water (I was out of the amazing Skratch Labs), and rolled out around 10:30am.

I live in a new neighborhood these days and am still finding my riding areas. One of the best things about Strava is how you can click on other riders’s profiles and find all sorts of roads you never knew about. I had decided to try a new ride I’d found this very way.

It was a classic Out & Back. As I headed “out” I encountered a nasty headwind. Fizz’s Rules of Cycling #7 — if you have a headwind on the Out, it is inevitable you will have a headwind on the “back.”

But I pressed on, feeling very strong and riding well despite the extreme temps and humidity… when I started the ride it was 88 degrees with 94% humidity. By the end it was 97 degrees and 87% humidity.  <<Foreshadowing! 

As I left civilization and headed toward the corn fields and rural farmlands, I thought about topping off my water bottles…

I had no Skratch Labs magic mix today and knew it was hot, and I had (for some INSANE reason) chosen to wear my all black Rapha kit. But instead of stopping, instead of hurting my average speed (which at this point was nearly 18mph) I thought, “I’ve still got one full bottle and over half another, and according to my route map, I will be back here just about the time my water should be running out.”

I rode on. Seeing the sights of the pics above and thoroughly enjoying the empty roads of rollers — uuuppp and dooowwwnnn, uuuup and doowwwnnn…. the Goat and I were having a grand time.

At the point where I was to turn around and head back, I checked google maps on my iPhone and saw that if I went down this road here to my right, I could then make my Out & Back more of a loop — add another 6 or 8 miles to the ride and get back home in perfect time… see, I was to meet my kids at a specified time that day, and being a divorced dad nothing is more important than time with your kids.

So, I made the turn.

I rode along a very nice two-lane highway with a 2-foot wide bath lane, drinking and Gu’ing accordingly. About 8.2 miles later, I got to the road where I *thought* I would turn and thus begin my loop home…

The road wasn’t actually a road. Well, it was if you had a 4-wheel drive or possibly a mountain bike you didn’t give a crap about. I stopped and reevaluated. Checked my time – still okay; checked my water situation – just about out, hmm; checked my Gu – three left, good for about another 20some miles or 90 minutes of riding.

The only option was turning around and riding back where I came from. The 8.2 miles back to my original route. Off I went.

8.2 miles later, I noticed it was WAY hotter than it had been. My water was now gone, and I estimated that I was only about 6-8 miles from refreshing my water at a lone gas station I had seen earlier. No problem. Checked the clock again — so long as I kept a good pace, I should be able to get back to the gas station, rehydrate, Gu up, and then have the strength to cruise home in time to see the kids.

Mile 50

I could tell my pace was slowing. I could tell I was getting dehydrated. So I stopped again, checked my map, and saw that if I took this road here to my left I might be able to cut off a mile to the gas station. I knew the road was paved because I had seen it on my “Out” portion. So I made the turn.

What I hadn’t seen were the extreme rollers on this road.

About a mile and a half into this new direction – around mile 46 of the day’s ride – I started to not feel well. I could tell a bonk was coming on. If I didn’t get fueled soon, I was gonna bonk. I don’t like bonking. It’s happened twice in my cycling career and it SUCKS.

“I’ll just take it easy going up these rollers, then hit it hard going down – thus making up for the loss speed going up.”

Uh, huh.

Up and down, up and down… eventually, I got to the gas station. I refilled my empty bottles, and made yet another mistake… not drinking right there and then refilling again before I left. I just refilled and took off, worried about the time.

Before I even knew what was happening I was a few miles away from the gas station and had nearly finished all my new water. I could not quench my thirst. I had one Gu left and was saving it for the final 10 miles.

At mile 50, I downed my Gu and finished the last of my water. I cranked up the last serious roller of the day… and blew up. Cooked. Cracked. Baked.

I Bonked.

My legs lost all ability to generate any power whatsoever. I was forced to spin in my easiest gears. My average speed dropped to around 7mph. I was done.

And still had another 16 miles to go.

I got to another gas station about 4 miles later, stumbled in and filled my bottles. I drank. A lot. But again – I think my brain was just off – I rode off without doing a second refill. I was now terrified of making it back in time to see my kids. I knew I would have to average at least 14mph to get there in time.

I knew if I stopped to rest and re-energize, I would miss them. Well, perhaps I should have purchased some protein or sugar or something at the freaking gas station??? Umm, Fizz’s Rules of Cycling #15 – Never leave for a long ride without money on you… I had violated that rule on this day.

I pressed on.

And things went from bad to worse.

Again, my water was gone before I knew it, but I was passed the point of being able to rehydrate myself. The weather was scorching, my legs were cooked, and even 2% grades felt like 14% beasts.

The harder I tried the worse it got.

With each pedal stroke I felt like my lungs were going to explode. I felt like my legs were made of burlap bags filled with sand. I felt like my bike was a single speed 56/11. If I got to 10mph it was a victory. And I seemed to be hitting every pothole and bump in the road.

I will pause here to give a shout out to my tires – MAXXIS RE-FUSE – simply THE BEST tires made. 900 miles without a flat, and because my brain was in such a fog, I was riding over every piece of broken glass, hitting every rock, doing everything to try and puncture these things. But they rolled on.

Finally, 1.4 miles from my house, I knew the chase was over. I wasn’t going to make it. I pulled over and sat down. I called my ex-wife and told her what happened. I broke down. I cried. She was great. Told me it was okay and the kids would understand and I could see them later at their final swim meet of the season. Okay, good. Now, I just had to get home.

I got up, tried to remount the Goat, but could not. Apparently, I must’ve looked pretty silly (or sick) trying to do this because moments later, an unmarked police car rolled up and asked if I was okay.

“I am not.”

The officer put my bike in the back and I took the Ride Of Shame that last 1.4 mile… when I got inside I grabbed a bottle of Mexican Coke I had in the fridge for a special occasion, and took about five hours to open it. I drank some, removed my kit and laid down naked on the kitchen floor.

For about 10 minutes.

Eventually, I drank the Coke, drank two bottles of water, sat on the floor of my shower for 20 minutes, and began to feel better.

That night I had a great time with my kids at their swim meet, though they all remarked that daddy needed to wear more sunscreen — my face and legs were the color of a ripe tomato.

All in all, it was a 66-mile ride (sans that last 1.4 mile) with 3,300 feet of gain. And the single worst bonk of my life.

I vow to you all that I will never again leave for a ride without more Gu than I need, without money in my saddle bag, and that I will top off my bottles NO MATTER how full they are whenever I have the chance.

I have written here about glory through suffering. How we fall in love with the suffering. Well, there are two types of suffering on the bike.

There is the *Good* suffering — like I did on RockStore last week… where you are suffering simply because of your effort. Because you are giving it more than your all.

Then there is the *Bad* suffering… where you are suffering for no other reason than you screwed up. Too hot, too humid, improper dress, lack of hydration, lack of nutrition, blah, blah, blah. This type of suffering SUCKS. There is no glory in it.

There is only darkness and pain.

But I can’t wait to ride again.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Don’t bonk.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | July 2, 2013

So it is written so shall it be done

THE BATTLE PLAN

Dateline: Saturday, June 29th, 2013

As Little Joey Choo Choo and I rode out toward RockStore we had a friend with us. Kevin Jackson, the Little Giant. A Hollywood stuntman and cyclist, Kevin had no idea of the jihad lying ahead. He had no idea Little Joey Choo Choo and his BMC with electronic shifting was about to throw down with me and the Goat.

Kevin was just out for a good ride. But as we neared RockStore, I noticed that LJCC was cruising at a much lower speed than we normally ride over the roads of Mulholland.

He’s conserving everything, I said to myself. I smiled… he must be worried. So I formed my battle plan…

JENS. JENS. JENS.

I would Jens Voigt him. I would attack from the moment we hit the climb, build as big a lead as I could, and then try to hang on.

Not the smartest plan, I admit… but come on, it’s Jens!

We slowly pedaled our way toward RockStore… the tension was mounting in our 3-person peloton. Well, just with me and Joe, Kevin was having the time of his life.

THE ASCENT

We hit the base of the climb and I took off, finding a good rhythm and cadence right away. I could feel Joe and Kevin just sitting on my wheel, and within a 1/4 mile I was second-guessing the Jens of it all.

But I kept going, remembering Tim Krabbe’s terrific book The Rider — where he talks about climbing not being about strength or lung power or any of that… it is about finding that rhythm. Finding that cadence with which you simply lose yourself in the metronomic tap-tap-tap of the rhythm and you forget about the gradient and the pain and the suffering.

I found it.

I was locked in on my rhythm, my cadence. Tap, tap, tap… I never saw the amazing views around me. I never knew how far I’d gone or how far I had to go. I glanced back at one point and saw Kevin had fallen off, but LJCC was still on my wheel.

Ugh… this was going to be a disaster. He is waiting. Like one of those chumps who sits on Cancellara’s wheel in the last 5K of the Classics, refusing to work, only to blow by Spartacus in the end. Hmm… how did Spartacus counter that this spring?

He Jens’d their asses.

I raised my cadence. Raised my rhythm.

Joey began to fade.

THE FINAL PUSH

About 700 meters from the summit there is a guy who takes your photo when you come around the switchback. RockStore Photos.  Check them out.

As my photo was snapped, I looked back… no Joey Choo Choo.

But I knew his Colombian arse could be lurking right around that switchback… waiting for that last, horrendous bit of RockStore — the last couple of hundred yards where it crests to 10% and your legs burn and you want to die.

Tap. Tap. Tap. Never slow down. Never give up. I felt good.

And then I hit that last horrendous part.

And I got out of the saddle and absolutely killed myself. Never have I experienced so much suffering on the bike. Like someone had set a match to my legs. Like my lungs were under 1000 feet of water.

Tap…………………. Tap……………….. Tap……………

I crested RockStore and glanced back. No Joey Choo Choo.

I did it. I won. I had no idea what my time was, if I’d bested my previous best, but I knew I had given it my all, and had conquered the demon of Little Joey Choo Choo. And how badly had I beaten my foe?

According to Strava… by one minute and 21 seconds. And I had destroyed my previous best time.

RockStore in a word…

Destruction.

Destruction of my previous best. A full 2 minutes and 9 seconds better than the fastest time I’ve ever ascended it.

Destruction of Little Joey Choo Choo. If you listen closely, go ahead and put your ear near your computer… you can hear him weeping.

Destruction of my lungs… what Joey Choo Choo didn’t see – because he was SO FAR behind me – is that after the climb… I was dying. A horrible, ugly death. I had left everything on the climb. I gasped and gasped and tried to drink but my hand was shaking, but I kept looking back and only saw empty road… what a glorious feeling.

20:49 was my personal best for RockStore before Saturday. Now, my best is 18:40… I wanted sub-18, but I will take it. Mostly because Little Joey Choo Choo was left weeping on the mountain.

In the end LJCC was gracious and cool and more than happy for me. He said he did his best to hang on my wheel; said he watched his power numbers and surely thought I would blow up; he said all the cool things a good friend and cycling buddy should say.

He was so nice that he made beating him not quite as much fun as I’d hoped.

But I know one thing… we will ride RockStore again. And I know there is a nasty competitive fire inside that Colombian body. And I know he is going to try and kill me the next time.

I can’t wait.

Thanks to Joe Hortua – Little Joey Choo Choo – for being such a great sport, and better friend. Thanks to Kevin Jackson for having the best attitude of pretty much anyone on the planet. What a glorious day it was.

DAY TWO

How great a cycling buddy is LJCC? The next day we rode over 50 miles together, Joey taking me up “Mandeville” — a well known and really fun climb in the heart of Brentwood/Beverly Hills. Then we cruised out toward the Pacific, went up Topanga Canyon, down Topanga, then out PCH to Malibu where we had an excellent lunch which Joe paid for.

Then back home along the ocean. Some shots from our 87-mile weekend…

Trying to drop the Man

on my wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are hills to climb in Los Angeles!

city hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the climbers go the views

topanga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man, the myth, the legend

on my wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific on the way home

my california

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Leave it all on the mountain.

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 28, 2013

Quick Note

I have returned to Cycling Mecca. Just for a brief stint.

Just long enough to humiliate a fellow cyclist.

Just long enough to drop Little Joey Choo Choo on Rockstore.

We all remember Little Joey Choo Choo, right? From posts like this:

Choo Choo

Yes, well, I’m here this weekend to do one thing… drop Little Joey Choo Choo. He may have 1000 miles on me this year, he may be riding a fancy new Swiss machine with di2, he may have racing blood flowing through him, he may have a magical wampum around his neck, but I will drop him.

Drop him like a 2-foot putt.

Drop him like 3rd period French.

Drop him like Schleck’s chain in 2010.

Drop him like a cheerleader’s dress on prom night.

Drop him like Lance Armstrong and Paula Dean from their sponsors.

Or perhaps not.

Tune in late Sunday or early Monday, dear readers, to read the sordid tale of the weekend Little Joey Choo Choo’s cycling world came crashing down.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Drop your friends.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 15, 2013

Seuss, dances, hog crushing and upside down ponies

Greetings dear readers and riders,

47 miles today. In under three hours. Felt great. With the weather finally coming around, I am looking forward to my cycling future with great eagerness.

I am faster at 184lbs (yes, that’s what I’m at) than I was at 213.

Duh.

But what’s so beautiful about this hobby, this sport, this addiction is that the old adage is really true…

It never gets easier, you just go faster.

I chose an old route I hadn’t ridden in a long time. Around the lake, over the bridge, and an old friend – Hog Hollow.

Those of you who’ve been around here long enough know that in my little neck of the nape (StL), what counts as hills isn’t quite the same as Cycling Mecca. Out there you have your choice of anything from short stingers to climbs of 4, 7, even 14 miles. With gradient averages anywhere from 6% to 14%. Yes, average.

But here in the bullseye of the U.S. the longest climb I’ve found is under 4 miles. Most everything is short – under a mile – with some nasty pitches, but again, under a mile. These have been well documented on this project.

One favorite is Hog Hollow. Barely half a mile, with an average grade of 10%, pitching to 18+ at the end. The thing that makes it stand out (at least a bit) from the other stingers around here is that it has several turns and switchbacks in its short span.

I have conquered Hog Hollow several times. And by conquer, I mean made it to the top without dying. Every time I’ve ridden it, I have been completely cooked at the end of the half mile. A couple of times I’ve had to actually pull over for a moment. Yes, I said this climb was HALF a mile.

On Strava, my personal best effort was nestled in 176th place out of 183 riders. Not last, right?

Today I ascended Hog Hollow at my new 184 pounds and went it up a full 38 seconds faster than I ever have before. This Contadorian effort rocketed me up from 176th all the way too 153rd. Look out Mt Washington!

But here’s the thing about today’s effort. At the end I wasn’t cooked. Wasn’t out of breath. Didn’t have to pull over or dive for my water bottle. I was… fine.

I guess that means I could have pushed myself harder and maybe ended up in 150th place? But I was happy.

I rode it early in my day, and then spent the next 35 miles just riding. Enjoying being back on the bike. I saw things. Some old favorites. And some old favorites saw me. They were even so happy to see my new trim self they inverted themselves as I pedaled by.

pony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I saw new things… weird things.

I speak for the trees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I saw new old things… like back in time.

Fuel Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t ride tomorrow, but am hoping to get on a at-least-3-rides-a-week schedule minimum. Currently, I am 500 miles behind where I was at this time last year. But I’m stronger, I’m lighter, and I’m a winner.

Winner you asked? Isn’t that a little presumptuous, Mr. Thin Man?

Well, all I can say is… the very best part of this new life is the fact that it enabled me to help my 5th grade daughter win her school’s Father-Daughter Dance Contest!

boom boom pow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winning!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Then eat more better.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 25, 2013

From Amazing to Freaking Crazytown

There are no photos in this post. I apologize.

This is not a very long, nor very humorous post. I apologize.

It is now 36 days since that March 18th morning when I fell below 200lbs.

In those 36 days, I have ridden a total of seven times. For a combined 200 miles. Not bad, but not world beating.

And now we go from amazing to freaking Crazytown… in those same 36 days… I am down another…

13.5 pounds.

Yes. This morning I weighed 186lbs. I have not been this weight since the mid 90′s. Crazytown.

It is one pound off of the magical dream I had when I started riding — 185 pounds. That was my dream because, among other reasons, I thought it was almost completely unattainable. Now I am one pound away.

And 185 ain’t good enough. New plan (not goal, PLAN) — 170lbs.

Climbing weight.

Since this revelation in January, I am down a total of 26.5 pounds. In just over THREE MONTHS. With only 9 rides during that time. Freaking Crazytown.

Eating. It is all about eating. Notice I did not say NOT eating. I am eating, people. Trust me. I have found in my vast experience of yo-yo dieting, that not eating only makes you feel like crap, and greatly increases the odds of binging later.

I have been eating… differently. Than ever in my life. And after those shaky first few weeks… I LIKE IT.

I like eating healthy food. I don’t miss the garbage anymore. I did at first, for sure, but now the thought of mounds of fried food and greasy burgers and blah, blah, blah… sounds like a root canal.

That’s pretty much it from here. I hope to be riding more and more now that our weather has stabilized and my back has healed. I will try to take some pretty Steveian photos for you all.

Until then… this is the mayor of Crazytown reminding you that it IS possible, you CAN do it, it does NOT take someone special, and it IS worth it.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

But seriously, eat better.

 

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 18, 2013

Amazing

Cue up Kanye before viewing photo…

amazing

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 9, 2013

A Message From Off the Bike

Y’all better sit down for this one…

So, I’ve been nursing the bulged discs this year. Physical therapy and taking it easy — meaning, no riding. Or at least not much. At all. As of this writing – March 9th – I have ridden 52 miles this entire year. With no ride over 18 miles.

As you all know, I crapped out last year. Quick recap — in 2010 I started riding, started eating a little better, and dropped nearly 40 pounds. In 2011, I rode more, but ate more, and I gained some weight, lost some weight, and ended the year in pretty much the same place I started. In 2012, I rode more, ate a lot more and ended the year UP in weight.

I came into 2013 depressed. I could not control my eating, could not get on the bike enough… and just when I thought I had grabbed on to a good, positive mindset to attack the year, I blew my back out. The only thing worse than not riding is wanting to ride and not being able to — ask Aaron if you don’t believe me.

Now, here is where it starts to get weird…

So, this year began in a bad mental state. I knew from the experience of the 3 years of this project that despite my efforts, I could not eat better (as I preach) on a consistent basis. It seemed as though my exercise informed my eating. I only ate better when I was exercising regularly — getting those endorphins and whatnot, and all the positive energy that comes from exercising.

Obviously, I was dreading this whole back injury thing and the next several weeks… how bad would I fall? How fat would I get?

I know there are a lot of you reading this that don’t struggle with these issues. But I also know there’s some of you out there who are saying, “I know EXACTLY how you feel.” Well, for you folks, get ready for some good news.

With only a handful of short rides this year, and no other exercise whatsoever, this morning I weigh exactly ten pounds LESS than I did mid-January.

10 pounds.

I am three tiny pounds away from returning to that magic 200.

Here’s what happened…

I got inspired. I got motivated. Now, what exactly inspired me is too personal to share here. But just know that I was able to find something to motivate me enough to do the one thing I have never been able to do…

Stop eating.

Let me rephrase. Because not eating is as unhealthy as overeating. What I am talking about is — I stopped eating garbage. Fries and fried anything; chips and crisps; ice cream; pizza; double cheeseburgers… mmm, getting hungry? Yeah, I used to feel the same way. But around the first week in February, I had a personal epiphany and just quit cold turkey. When I went to restaurants where I’d normally order an app of fried delights, then consume a burger smothered in cheese or massive order of pasta, I ordered fish or a salad.

And it sucked. At first. But I got through it by taking a page from AA…

One Day At A Time.

Alcoholism is an addiction, like heroin or coke, or food. I am a food addict. I eat to self-medicate. I eat to comfort myself. I eat to hide.

But when I found my private inspiration, I just went one day at a time… ONE MEAL AT A TIME. I told myself, “Just get through this meal without eating crap, or eating too much.” And one meal led to two, then to three, and so on.

Now, I’m going to mention it again — this was not always easy. I had god days, and I had some really, really tough days. Especially late at night, in front of the TV, when my body was used to consuming a myriad of garbage. But I just kept repeating that mantra…

Just get through this one meal… through this one day. 

And after about ten days of this, it got SO MUCH easier. Because I was seeing immediate results. My clothes, my face in the mirror. Holy di2, Batman! I was losing weight OFF THE BIKE!

I searched out sushi and breakfast bars and salads and fruit. I forgot how awesome fruit is! See, once you stop eating garbage, you lose the taste for it rather quickly.

Yesterday, I was cleared to ride again. And I cannot wait to get back on The Goat and ride like I never have before. Because this time it is different.

Instead of using the bike to motivate my lifestyle, I changed my lifestyle to motivate my riding. I didn’t NEED the exercise of riding. What I NEEDED was to change my lifestyle. The way I lived off the bike. Because, even if we ride as much as Jens, it is still a tiny percentage of our daily lives.

So, to you fellow Hill Slugs, battling the whispering Jabberwock of delicious treats… You. Can. Win. It will not be easy. At all. But YOU CAN DO IT.

What you must do is find that epiphany. Find that lighthouse, that golden chalice, that beautiful woman or man waiting for you, that, that, whatever it is… you must find the motivation first. FInd SOMETHING that you can latch onto, that you can use as a carrot or goal or whatever, and then begin…

One meal at a time.

One day at a time.

It will suck at first. Your dark self will try to convince you that you’ve been great for three days, you can cheat just this one time… that one bite of pizza won’t be a big deal… it is a HUGE deal. Don’t do it.

Don’t set a time goal. Don’t say you will try for a week or a month. Just do it one meal at a time. One day at a time.

And it will work. And once your lifestyle changes, then your desire for riding or any exercising will increase exponentially. Right now, my mindset is — “If I’m losing like this without riding, what is going to happen when I start riding again?!?”

I can’t wait.

Remember folks…

You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.

One meal at a time

One day at a time

Ride your bike

Change your life

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 21, 2013

Discography

The good news…

I have NOT not been on the bike due to wimpiness regarding weather, time, etc. And I have NOT been eating my way through bags of chips (crisps). fried food, or any of my other demons.

The bad news…

The reason I have not been writing pithy posts and posting Steve-esque photos of all my January rides is because – for the first time in my 40+ years – I have injured my back.

According to the MRI, I have no less than four discs bulging in various stages of… bulgyness. Now, most dudes my age have a bulged disc or two, especially if you’re carrying too many pounds. But they are usually “minimal” bulge. Not the case here.

I won’t bore you all with the sordid tale of how/why except to say that both an experienced physical therapist AND two different doctors all agreed that — If I WEIGHED LESS and had better core strength this likely would not have happened.

My last ride was 10 days ago. I was setting a PR on TRFKATP when I felt a twinge in my left foot… then my left hip… then I stopped at an intersection, waited for it to clear and as I clipped in again and started to pedal, I was greeted with pain the likes I have only experienced once before in my life — when I broke my elbow.

The pain can only be described as “Someone taking a thermal lance and driving it into my butt, down my leg and through my foot, all while I chew razor blades as Phil Liggett pokes my face with an EPO needle.

It shot through me so fast and hard that I was forced to abandon the bike, call my wife and have her pick me up in the SHAME wagon.

I have started rehab and if things go well I can get back on the bike soon, albeit I have been told in no uncertain terms that I cannot attempt any massive climbs or go for any Strava segment KOM’s.

I need to ride on the hoods or tops, keeping my spine as straight as possible. But by this week’s end, I should be cleared to remount the Goat. (side note: I may make those first post-bulge rides in Cycling Mecca. Stay tuned)

Watching cycling’s return to television this week with the Tour Down Under should inspire me. Until then, it’s core strength exercise after core strength exercise and eating not just better, but LESS.

Every pound overweight I am is unnecessary pressure put on my poor spine.

I just thank God that nothing has herniated. The searing pain ride was my body’s version of RED ALERT! RED ALERT! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

Eat better

Ride your bike

Work your core

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 4, 2013

Of Baby Steps and Product Pimping

Welcome 2013!

My first ride in the new year was a staggering 5.2 miles. That’s not a typo. Five miles… and I loved it. And I froze my freaking face off.

But let’s start from the beginning.

I have lost battles with my weight on many occasions since the Unfat Project began. But this most recent one has resulted in a different reaction than previous battles. Before, I always snuck off to a corner, licked my wounds, and waited for some divine intervention to get me back on the bike — usually in the form of a group ride, or great race on tv, etc.

This time I feel different. When I was researching my year-end post and discovered the total amount of weight I had actually lost during these past two years, I was stunned. If I had gained back only twenty percent of all the weight I’ve dropped since January of 2010, I would be typing this right now at a svelte 175 pounds.

Holy Richard Simmons, Batman!

And that’s including a 20% failure option. So, to say I am motivated for this year is an understatement. Add to that, divine intervention arriving on Christmas Day in the form of this:

Skratch Labs

The official Skratch Labs cookbook. Wheee!

Filled with truly delicious (and fairly easy) recipes that are designed for the athlete, this book is awesome. Try the pork fried rice before you eat anything else!

Started by Allen Lim — a man who knows more about nutrition and how it relates to cycling and the body than probably any other human – Skratch Labs drink mix is the definitive alternative to everything else that contains bad sugars, colors, and anything else that keeps the mix from giving your body the very best.

Lim has worked with the biggest names in cycling and endurance sport. People pay him HUGE sums of money to advise their athletes, cook meals for them, and basically get their bodies to perform at the very highest level.

What’s great is that all this world-class knowledge works for us HillSlugs, too. If we can perform better on the bike (ride longer, train harder, etc) it results in faster weight loss, and simply just better fitness on all levels. I feel a definite difference (a positive one) when I have Skratch Labs in my bottles than when I have anything else. I perform better on the bike with Skratch labs, and thus ride harder and farther, and lose weight faster.

Anyway… the cookbook is awesome. And the information in the book a plus.

I have also drawn inspiration from some of you, specifically Steve — our defending Comment Champion. Reading about his frosty rides (and those of some others out there) caused me to think that weather is simply… weather. Black ice notwithstanding, so long as you dress appropriately, you can ride in pretty much any weather.

So I bought some Gore Bike thermal booties and insulated gloves, and my lovely wife gave me a Castelli Zoncolan jacket. Let me pause here to discuss this jacket.

warmth

Holy Himalayan Sherpa, Batman! 

This jacket is sick. Like, crazy sick warm. But it is not binding, nor heavy. It fits like a cycling jersey. It has 3 rear pockets, it wicks sweat, and did I mention it is WARM? It is. With a Rapha merino base layer under it, I rode today in sub-30 weather (with wind) and my body was completely warm and comfortable.

I wore it in Tucson the week after Christmas on a 28-mile ride in the 40′s, and had to remove it near the end of the ride because I was too warm.

So, with my new booties, gloves, my trusty Hincapie Arenberg bib tights, and my new Zoncolan, I set off this morning with the thermometer reading 24 degrees. I had never ridden in anything below 34 degrees.

It was awesome. Everything on my body was warm and comfy… except for my face.

My feet were good, my hands were good, my head was good, my body was good… even my face was okay as I rolled out of my neighborhood, down Chad, and headed for the levee trail. But then I stopped.

snowy

Holy Burl Ives, Batman! 

While the roads were clean and clear, my levee trail was snow covered. No problem, I thought, I will continue on, riding the lovely bike paths around here.

So I did. And it was awesome… until I turned into the headwind.

Now, I have dealt with some massive headwinds in my short riding career. I think 27mph is the record. So, a little 8-10mph headwind like today shouldn’t be a big deal… except it was less than 30 out.

When you turn into a headwind like this at this temperature, with nothing covering your face but skin… freezer burn comes on rather quickly.

I actually said “Holy crap!” out loud, and had to ride one-handed or no-handed, alternately covering my face with my gloves.

It was brutal. It was painful. I turned off as soon as I could and tried to continue the ride, all while avoiding going west. But that really doesn’t work, if you want to get back home.

Eventually, I had to pack it in after just five miles. My face was stinging. My eyes even hurt.

But there is nothing negative about my first ride of 2013. I realized that all I need now is a balaclava and I will be set. The rest of my body was toasty warm, and if I’d had something covering my face, I know I could’ve ridden for a couple hours, easy.

I am excited about 2013. I am excited about conquering the cold. I am excited about riding more and posting more. One of my goals for 2013 is to include more photos on this blog. I find myself enjoying the photos on other riders’ blogs and realized you all probably feel the same. So here’s to 2013!

thin ice

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Brave the cold.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 2, 2013

ROLLERS – A look back at 2012

Rollers. Not the ones we fall off of in our homes while watching Season 3 of THE WIRE. I mean the ones outside, out on the roads.

We all know them. Most of us hate them. Or love/hate. Those rides where you have all-too-long climbs followed immediately by all-too-short descents, and then up again… and down again… and up… and… you get the picture.

My 2012 was like 5 miles of rollers. Great, amazing highs, and tremendously low lows. But first, the stats…

This little aid station on the cyberspace century had 6,708 visits in 2012. From 78 countries. The U.S. was first, but the U.K. was a close second. The longest distance someone “traveled” was from New Guinea. Or New Zealand. I’m not sure which is farther away.

Steve led all commenters with 18, while Jeff Bike and Formerslug battled it out for 2nd. I can’t link to Jeff Bike’s blog because I don’t know where it is… so, Jeff, if you’re out there, drop your link in the comments! Thanks to these three and everyone else for taking time to drop a note during the year.

Steve also led in the top referring site — thanks, Steve!

The craziest search term entered that sent someone to this blog was some dude in Alabama who Googled “Giant snake eats person” and somehow ended up here. This led me to think… perhaps in 2013 I will add the occasional odd tag to one of my posts just to see what type of traffic it brings. Be sure and watch for that in the new year!

My post from March — It Never Gets Easier, You Just go Faster – was the most visited post of the year, getting 37 more hits than the next closest (from August) — Down Goes Frazier.

I met some new friends in 2012, including but not limited to — Sam Bangs — a young woman in the land of La who is working out some sh*# just like the rest of us. I love her honesty about her struggles, her humor and her dedication to overcome. Check her out.

I also discovered Aaron over at Steep Climbs. This guy is pure inspiration. Here is a cyclist who loves climbing as much as I do, but he’s actually good at it! His climbs are so epic they should include a Himalayan sherpa. Thanks, Aaron, for making me push myself a little more than I would have.

Now to the rollers. I had some great accomplishments in 2012, and some great failures. To recap…

I rode 2,642.9 miles in 2012. I was hoping for 4,000 early in the year, then dropped that goal to 3,000 over the summer, but an awful October and November did me in, and I barely rode more than I did in 2011.

I climbed 131,101 feet according to Hal 9000. It was a new record for me and I am happy and looking forward to shooting for 150,000 in 2013.

My best month of riding was May where I logged 406 miles. I did a pair of Century rides and four Metric Centuries during the year. I hope to double both those numbers in 2013. Speaking of which…

2013 will mark my triumphant return to the EL TOUR DE TUCSON. Those of you who’ve been around since the beginning will remember that this 109-mile ride each November was my 2010 goal and I achieved it, though my performance left much to be desired. Read about it HERE.

In 2013 I will return to that ride and plan on doing it in under seven and a half hours.

I lost a lot of weight in 2012, but unfortunately gained a large chunk of it back. On January 14th, 2012 I weighed 214.5. Up fifteen pounds from my El Tour weight of just two months prior. I told you all on the 14th that I was on a descent to 180 pounds.

I did not make it. I did not even come close. I had some great weeks throughout the year, but I always fell back into old and nasty habits and thus, on December 31st, 2012, I weighed in at 210.

Four and half pounds lost in one year. And in a year when I got all the way down to 200 at one point.

Pathetic.

I could list a myriad of reasons why I yo-yo’d all year, but it really comes down to this…

WHEN I RIDE I LOSE WEIGHT. WHEN I DON’T RIDE I GAIN WEIGHT.

‘Nuff said.

My 2013 goal is to RIDE. Every chance I get.

I began this cycling odyssey in January of 2010. Over the last two years I have lost over 80 pounds! But I have gained back nearly as much.

When I ride I lose weight. When I don’t ride I gain weight. 

2013. The Year of The Ride.

Thanks again to all of you for hanging around. You inspire me, you make me laugh, you keep me honest, and I feel connected to you all in some weird cyber way.

Here’s to all of us getting fit an STAYING fit in 2013… and beyond!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | December 2, 2012

The Rememberer

With the exception of a few rides with Bucky (all under 10 miles) this weekend was the first time since October 7th that I have been on a legit ride.

During my nearly month and a half off the bike, I managed to forget a lot of stuff.

I forgot that when you are not exercising, you need to be hyper – I mean HYPER – aware of what you eat, how much and when.

I forgot how to use Hal 9000.

I forgot that as long as you dress properly you can ride in the cold and feel okay.

I forgot how much I love to ride.

This weekend it warmed up at least enough that I could not use the weather as excuse. Or maybe I was just so disgusted with myself, I no longer wanted to hide. Also, there were no family or work issues that I could have twisted into an excuse not to ride.

So I rode. And I remembered. A lot more than I forgot.

I remembered how much better it is to see your surroundings from a bike saddle rather than from inside a car.

I remembered how smooth, reliable, and quiet Shimano components are.

I remembered what a rush it is to descend at over 40mph.

I remembered how great Gu and Skratch Labs products are. Even for Clydesdales like myself.

I remembered the awesome combo platter of pure agony suffering up a climb morphing into pure exhilaration when you crest the summit.

I remembered that no matter how much you are suffering, you will always recover.

I remembered how much better tailwinds are than headwinds.

I remembered how much I love to ride.

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Don’t not ride.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

 

 

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | October 30, 2012

22 Days in October

22 days.

That is how long I have been off the bike.

22 days.

I have done the math, and of those 22 days there were 15 days I was literally (due to work, weather, travel, family) unable to ride.

That leaves 7 days where I could have ridden. Maybe for only an hour or so, maybe even for only 20 minutes. But I COULD have ridden, and I did not. I had good excuses, but that’s all they were – excuses.

I started off the month on such a high – I rode the 80-mile Pedal The Cause in record time (for me), and with Indian Summer hitting St. Louis, I was eyeing a 400-mile October. Then a couple of days where I was planning on riding got messed up, then an unexpected work trip happened, then depression and frustration, and bang — 22 days off the bike.

As I write this it is 34 degrees out. Certainly not fun cycling weather, but I COULD ride… except that I am sitting here waiting for a plumber to arrive at our home. This is why you MUST ride when you have the chance. Because if you put it off thinking that you’ll ride later or tomorrow or the next day, something else always comes up.

I have a trainer in our basement. Here is how many times I have been on that trainer since returning from Cycling Mecca…

Zero.

It takes about a 40-second search on the Internet to find all the theories about how long it takes for something to become a “habit” for your body and mind. Mostly it averages out to about three weeks. 21 days.

It takes roughly (arguably) 21 days to form a habit — meaning, if you do something for 21 days straight it will become a habit and then you will no longer have to force yourself to do it. That happened to me with cycling. I did it often enough that my body and mind got used to it, expected it, WANTED it.

And I could literally feel that desire fading away in my physiological makeup over the past 22 days… after 4 or 5 days off the bike I was going crazy. I was like a heroin addict without his works. My body was begging for me to ride. Every day I would get up and my body was expecting to be on The Goat within an hour or so, and when that didn’t happen, my body didn’t know how to react.

My mind was in the same predicament. As each day went on, I found myself getting more frustrated with little things; my temper shortening; my creative juices jammed up. My body and mind were telling me what I needed… and I ignored them.

Around day 12 or 13 off the bike I hit depression. Major depression. I could almost bring myself to tears when thinking about riding. I would see a cyclist on the road and want to curl up like a baby and suck my thumb.

And then… about day 15 or 16… the habit I had worked so hard to create was gone. I woke up and my body had no thought of the bike. My mind was more interested in what soccer match was on TV rather than if I could venture outside and ride.

Instead of the energy I had at night – the energy that kept me alert and drinking tea instead of consuming chips – was gone. At night, I just wanted to sit and eat. I was a sloth.

And the very worst part is, I could have done something about it. My body and mind were certainly doing their best to give me Red Alert warning signs. But I ignored them. And paid the price.

You may recall a recent post where my weight – dropping under that magical 200 – had jumped back up a few pounds and I was upset. I decided to stop the weekly weigh-ins and do my own work. Manage my self, and weigh-in every few weeks for a more accurate accounting.

That didn’t go well.

As of this writing I am at 207.5 pounds. Once again, all the work of August and September out the window. The yo-yo effect in full glory.

22 days off the bike combined with eating well during maybe eight or ten of those days… leads to 207. Point 5.

I have realized that I am one of those really annoying people who can tell everyone else exactly how to lose weight and get fit, all the while not doing it for myself. Don’t you hate those people? I know I do.

22 days.

So what to do? What do we do when we have fallen off the proverbial wagon? When we have let ourselves down? When we have done the very thing we set out not to do? What do we do?

2 things.

1. We LEARN from it.

Take an honest, pragmatic look at where we went wrong. The key word there is HONEST. Break it down, figure it out point by self-loathing point, and then…

2. Start over.

Back to square one and the drawing board and all the other cliches. START OVER. One day at a time. One step at a time. One pedal stroke at a time. One bite at a time.

I started over last night. I downloaded the pithy MY FITNESS PAL app, and began to keep a calorie diary. It is by no means completely accurate but it makes you accountable if you’re being honest. You login your age, size, other logistics, and your weight-loss goal, and then the app “tells” you how many calories a day you should intake based on your activity level to lose that amount of weight. Again, none of it works unless you are HONEST.

This little app is in no way a savior of any kind. It is simply a device to help make me accountable and get me back on track in these days where winter is approaching faster than Thor Hushovd on a descent, and thus, my chances of 3 and 4 hour Rapha rides diminishing.

To recap… I suck. But I take full responsibility for it and will (once again) start over. I will do my best to push myself to ride even if only for 20 minutes; even if it’s incredibly uncomfortable and my toes freeze; even if it’s on the basement trainer. I must ride when I don’t want to ride. And I must eat like an athlete again. Not like a fan.

Eat like an athlete, not a fan. 

I should tattoo that on my forehead.

And I must start over. And the most important part of starting over is to let the past go. Yes, suckage ensued, but it’s over now. Forget it and start over. Day One. Baby Steps. All that.

I appreciate the few readers I have, and appreciate that you stop by here to help keep me focused and accountable. I appreciate my fellow bloggers out there, all battling your own demons, all fighting the good fight of a healthy life. We will prevail.

Eat like an athlete, not a fan.

Ride your bike. Even when it sucks to do so.

Never ever ever abandon the fight.

 

 

You’re very good, you are, you are 

Posted by: fizzhogg | October 9, 2012

2012 Pedal The Cause – ride report

First off, please go HERE and donate. It is an amazing cause, 100% of all donations stay right here, and the only thing worse than someone battling cancer is a child battling it.

It was pitch black and a balmy 32 degrees when I left my driveway heading for downtown St. Louis and the start of the 2012 Pedal The Cause ride. It had rained on and off all week, but the day promised sun if not warmth.

I listened to the soundtrack from ROAD TO ROUBAIX  on the way there, and it seemed to inspire me. The ride was to be almost 80 miles with 5600 feet of climbing, though the awful MapyMyRide site had the elevation gain listed as 2200. What a rude awakening awaited some riders.

This was to be my first big event ride since last November’s 2011 El Tour de Tucson with my son. By the way, if you missed that post, it’s worth taking time to read… my boy rocks.

I had ridden the 100 Miles of Nowhere this summer, done a flat century and even a couple of metric centuries by myself. But there is always something about a big event ride that gets my heart rate up.

Fizz Pimps Accessories 

At the start the temperature had climbed to a scorching 36 degrees. While I knew I could handle the distance, and half the route was on roads I am very familiar with, the cold was something I had little experience with. But thanks to my Hincapie Arenberg bib tights, Assos Body Insulator, SockGuy Wooligan socks, Castelli Estremo gloves, and my Pearl Izumi neoprene skullcap I figured I was ready.

What’s missing from the above list? Yes… shoe covers.  <<Foreshadowing

There were over 1,800 riders in this year’s Pedal The Cause, and more than five hundred of us were tackling the “Long Ride.” By sheer chance I was in about ninth position as we lined up at the start… I noticed that most of those around me were on bikes with European names, Zipp wheels, and had body shapes that resembled Jens Voigt. Mine resembles Philip Seymour Hoffman.

But I was sporting my brand new and super fast TEAM FATTY kit from Twin Six, so I knew I could hang with these speedsters.

There was a giant American flag hanging above the start/finish line and as a local voice sang the Star Spangled Banner, that thing that always happens to me at the start of big event rides happened…

I began to cry.

Okay, not actually cry. But yeah, pretty close. I have actually cried tears from my eyes only twice on the bike. The first time was when I saw my family with homemade signs cheering me on during my first ever big event ride back in 2010, and the second was during the disaster that was the 2010 El Tour de Tucson.

Since then I have not actually cried on the bike, but I have gotten misty eyes and a lump in my throat – and it’s always at the start of these events. I don’t know what the emotional trigger is for me, but as the National Anthem came to an end, and the announcer blew the horn and we all clipped in rolled away, I could feel it coming.

And it’s always around the same point – when I start to see all those volunteers and policemen out there, this morning standing in freezing temps just to help all of us on our ride. The eyes welled, the lump came, and I remember thinking, “Get ahold of yourself, Fizz, you’re not a rookie anymore.”

And so I did.

Despite the cold I was feeling good. I was being passed by some riders, but not nearly as many as I would have thought. The first five miles are straight out of downtown and mostly flat, and I was managing a 18-19mph average without much effort. It was cold, but not unbearable. I remember feeling like the only body part that really felt cold were my toes… but surely they would warm up as I pedaled.

The first rest stop – called “Refueling Stations” at Pedal The Cause – came around 7.5 miles in. I rolled by it, surprised to see so many riders there, especially since these were folks who had been riding so much faster than me. I cruised by, still feeling good. Then I began to hear a noise in my left ear.

For a moment I wondered if a bird had gotten stuck in my jersey. I glanced over my shoulder and saw it was not a bird. My bib number had come loose from the back of my jersey and was flapping up against the back of my shoulders.

Let me pause here to say… if any of you are planning any big event rides in the future, I highly recommend getting that spray adhesive stuff to glue your bib number to your jersey. It peels off after the ride, the goo washes off, and you never have to worry about safety pins tearing holes in your brand new Team Fatty kit so large that the bib number comes loose and flaps against you like some sick scene out of a Hitchcock film.

I rolled into the next refueling station (mile 13) and texted my wife to “bring safety pins” to the next station – mile 23 – where my family had planned to meet me. As I got my gloves back on after the texting I watched rider after rider roll by me. My competitiveness kicked in, and I had to force myself not to chase. I was in this for the long haul, not for time, but for completion.

The next several miles were over a series of rollers, and I found a group of five riders and we all hung together and took turns pulling each other.

I had estimated that if I kept a 14mph pace overall, I could finish this ride in six hours, maybe even a little less. It all depended on how much the climbs and cold would take out of me.

I had told my wife to be at the mile-23 stop by 8:30. That would be 90 minutes after the start, and I figured I could managed 16mph over that part of the course. I hit the stop and saw my fam at exactly 8:30. Everything was good, except for the fact that I could not feel my toes at all.

Ascension

I hugged my kids goodbye and headed off. We were now entering “my world” – the part of the ride that goes over the very roads I ride on every day. Those of you who have had the gift of doing an event ride on familiar roads can appreciate what a calming influence it can be. I felt good and rolled along trying to ignore my toes, or lack thereof.

The first big climb was Shepherd Road. It’s a Cat 4 on Strava — a 2.9 mile climb that hits 13% right out of the gate, then averages about 7-8% the rest of the way. I was in my spinningest gear when I hit the climb – my strategy being not to blow up early so I would have something left later when the grade isn’t so bad.

I was passed by seven riders in the first 100 yards (91 meters for you lads across the pond) of the climb. A man and woman in matching kits, two big, tall arrogant dudes (more on them later), and three women all sporting fancy team kits. But I just kept spinning my chunky bum up Shepherd.

After cresting the steepest part of the climb, something happened. My climbing camp with Hova from this spring kicked in — he had told me the single biggest mistake riders make when climbing is NOT shifting enough. They lock into a gear and go. Climbing is not about strength or stamina — it is all about rhythm and momentum. And the best way to keep momentum is to shift. A lot. I am sure Aaron can attest to this.

So I started shifting. Back and forth through the gears, keeping my momentum at its peak. And it worked.

I began catching and passing all those who had passed me. Before the climb’s end I had even caught a couple of people who had passed me before the climb. I crushed Shepherd Road.

There was only about 2 miles between the Shepherd climb and the next one – Babler. I stopped but at a refueling station to refill my bottles. As I stood there I watched all those riders I’d passed come back by. The two arrogant dudes rolled by and said – loud enough so we’d all hear – “That’s what happens when you go too hard too soon.”

Okay, these guys aren’t just arrogant. They’re douches.

Nothing is as inspiring as wanting to catch and drop two douches. I downed a Gu and mounted The Goat. “Let’s roll.”

Yes, I seriously said that. Out loud.

There is a half-mile long, 3% descent on the way to Babler State park. I hit 40mph on it and caught the douches about a hundreds before the entrance to the park. They were cranking big gears about 35mph when I blew by them in a full tuck. The entrance to Babler is a short 15% rise. I went back into my spin mode, knowing the dangers that lurked deep inside the park.

Near the top of the entrance road the two douches caught me and happily rolled by – both out of the saddle – and one said, “Nice tuck.” I ignored them and kept spinning.

The Tortoise and The Douchey Hares

My family was waiting inside Babler and I smiled and waved and stopped to hug, knowing Dos Douches were getting farther away. But worried I was not. I had seen them on Shepherd and knew what was coming.

There are a few climbs inside Babler. The second toughest is 1.3 miles averaging over 13% with two nasty pitches over 17%.  That’s the one we’d be doing.

To get there you must descend down into the woods – now you can’t (or at least I can’t) go all out on this descent because there are three blind turns and since cars exist in my world, I can never fully commit. But I still did pretty well. I hit 42mph and then began hallucinating.

I saw two great white sharks on the side of the road. Or at least two people in shark costumes. Not cheering, not ringing bells… just standing there… silently… in shark costumes… in a state park… at nine in the morning. If I hadn’t been on a douche hunt, I would have stopped for a photo op. It was surreal.

When I hit the climb I got the tiniest taste of the Tour de France. There was a guy dressed in a devil costume – with trident and all – yelling and running along side me. It was AWESOME! I don’t know who that dude was, but thank you devil dude!

I spun my way up the first 17% grade. I saw no other riders. Not the two douches, nobody. I kept spinning. I crested the first pitch and shifted. Then climbed and shifted and climbed and shifted.

As I made my way to the last part of the climb I saw a rider. Not one of the two douches, just a guy in a Pedal The Cause jersey, paper-boying his way up the last pitch.

I spun past him, crested the summit, slammed my Shimano Ultegra into the big ring and began to haul ass. I had forgotten about the cold, my toes, or my spiked heart rate – everything was all about the douche hunt.

I cranked and cranked and found them. Both sitting up, recovering from the climb. I got out of the saddle and dropped them like third period French.

I came back out to the front of the park and stopped to see my family. As hugs were given all around, here came the two douches again. I let them go. Hugs beat breakaways any day. But something really cool happened the rest of the ride…

I caught and dropped these two arrogant goofs all day long. I would catch them, drop them, then stop to see my family. They would ride by me. Then I would catch them and drop them again.

One of my favorite moments of the day was about 62 miles into the ride, I rolled up on them again. As I sat about ten yards behind them I witnessed them berate a poor guy on a hybrid for not moving over fast enough. I made sure to say good morning and talk with hybrid guy a bit before I continued after my quarry.

I came upon Douche #1 (who had berated hybrid guy), got right onto his back wheel – like inches from it – then as loud as I could I yelled, “On your left!” The guy nearly swerved off the road. As I passed Douche #2 I said, “Yeah, me again.”

The next time I saw them was when they crossed the Finish Line… about five minutes after I did.

I finished in barely over five hours and that includes all the hug stops. 78 miles, 5525 feet of gain. And my toes eventually warmed up.

I apologize for not having photos. My family took some and I will get them up here as soon as I can. But for now, know the 2012 Pedal The Cause was my single best performance in a big event ride to date.

I encourage all of you – no matter what fitness level you are at – to participate in charity events like this. Be it cycling, running, whatever, for cancer research or whatever, there is nothing like the feeling of being part of something with so many others, douches notwithstanding.

Go find a ride or a run or a walk and DO IT.

Lastly, thank you to all the volunteers and police officers who helped with Pedal The Cause, and to all those volunteers who help with rides all over the world. These rides are ONLY possible because of the amazing volunteers who do it for no money, no glory, nothing more than to give back. You are the true heroes of these rides.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Drop the douches.

 

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | September 19, 2012

The Punisher and the War Vet

I was in a rather negative place after my recent under-200/over-200 nightmare. I didn’t want to ride. I wanted to just sit and whine. And depression is always a great excuse to eat crap.

So, I used weather and “busy with family and work stuff” to not ride for a couple of days. And guess what? I missed it. I needed it. I wanted to get back on the bike. But what was interesting was – it wasn’t so much I wanted to get the new weight off… it was I simply I wanted to ride. To enjoy riding again.

I think I had gotten so consumed with numbers – Strava, weight, cadence, speed, blah, blah, blah, that riding had become more work than fun. I wanted it to be fun again.

Now let me pause here to say — I am in NO WAY saying we should not work hard. Especially us clydesdales who need to lose weight – we MUST work hard. But we must have the right attitude. And the right attitude is a positive attitude.

I knew I was going to punish myself on the bike for my weight gain – there must be consequences for our actions. But I also knew that before I did that, I wanted to find the joy in riding again. Remember those Rapha rides I’ve posted about? Where I just rode with no destination or distance in mind? I needed another one of those. So, after a couple of 30-mile jaunts with my boy, I set out yesterday on a Rapha ride.

And started riding directly into a headwind. A nasty headwind. I should have known when I saw these as I rolled out (by the way, this photo has some foreshadowing).

 

Checking WindAlert.com during the ride, I came to learn that I was riding in a headwind of 12-15mph. Nice touch there, Cycling Gods, for my “joy” ride. But I cranked on, eventually coming to the proverbial fork in the road, and I followed a prong I never had before.

I found new roads, new bike trails, and was really enjoying myself, really enjoying the bike again. At one point, I cruised by a sign for a small city park. The city I was in was St. Charles, Missouri.

Holy crap.

St, Charles is to cyclists what Germany was to Jews in the 40′s.

Okay, perhaps I overstated. Scratch that.

But the city of St. Charles hates cyclists. How much? Well, the good citizens there recently tried to pass legislation to make it ILLEGAL for cyclists to ride on any two-lane roads in the city. I’m not kidding. And it nearly passed, despite the fact it would be counter to existing state laws.

Local cyclists swap stories of cars running riders off the road, throwing objects at them, dumping liquids on them, even hitting them on purpose. You simply do not want to ride in St. Charles.

And there I was, happily pedaling along right smack in the middle of it. But guess what? Everything was cool. I was passed by cars and none honked or crowded me, no one threw crap at me, and no one ran me over. And the roads were beautiful. I saw new sights and new places, and then I happened along this most awesome sight:

Yes, that is a real Patton tank behind the real cannons and cannonballs. I had happened upon a small VFW with one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen. Those that know me from this project know how much respect and appreciation I have for our veterans, like Steve. Those of us living free on this planet can never repay nor properly thank all service men and women who have unselfishly risk (and given) their own lives in order for us to live the way we live.

The memorial’s plaque read:

IN MEMORY OF ALL AMERICAN VETERANS.  This memorial honors all American veterans who, although separated by generations, shared a common, undeniable goal — to valiantly protect our country’s freedom. 

The memories of these American veterans will continue to live on whenever and wherever democracy exists. 

The American veteran  – forever a symbol of heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom. 

 

To say I was moved is an understatement. But my emotions really got out of hand when I saw the gazebo part of the memorial.

This gazebo is named for Joseph “Doc” Keough. Who is Joe Keough, you ask? Joe Keough is one of the few American soldiers who not only STORMED THE BEACH at Normandy (and survived), but was also smack in the middle of the action at the Battle of the Bulge at Ardennes. After the war, he returned to St. Charles and lived there until his death at age 90.

 

That there, ladies and gentlemen, is a MAN. God bless Joe Keough and all like him.

I took photos, thought about what it takes to be a soldier, wiped my eyes, then remounted The Goat and continued my ride.

St. Charles was good to me. There were even cobbles!

 

As I made my way out of the city, I rolled up to a red light and was reminded never to take anything for granted — as a guy in a landscaping service truck rolled by me and yelled, “The streets are for cars, not bikes, a*#hole!”

Ah, St. Charles. Never change.

I ended up riding over 43 miles. And it was great. Headwinds and all.

THE PUNISHER

Today, I punished myself. For my weakness, for my laziness, for my apathy and arrogance. As I set out on my ride it was 48 degrees and the wind was blowing. But I knew I had to ride and ride hard. I thought about Joe Keough.

Joe would’ve slapped my face like Patton did that one dude, and said, “Get your tubby ass on that bike, soldier, and ride until you puke!”

I rode. And rode. I climbed. And climbed. I suffered. But I also made it FUN. I rode places I’ve never been and again – God, I love this part of cycling – saw things I would have normally never seen. Beautiful lakes, railroad tracks, golf courses, and found some cool new bike trails.

 

In the end, I rode almost 63 miles, climb over 4,000 feet, and suffered. To the point that my right leg cramped up a quarter mile from the end. I rode that last part pedaling with one leg.

And I loved every minute of it.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Have fun, but be Joe Keough strong.

 

 

God bless all veterans, past, present and future. Thank you. 

Posted by: fizzhogg | September 10, 2012

We interrupt this project for an important message

I suck.

As in suckage of the utmost suckiness.

That’s it.

I suck.

I finally break the 200lbs barrier only to piss it all away 2 weeks later.

Today’s weight: 202.5

Not 199.5. Not 200. Not even 201.

202.5

And there is no other reason than my sheer suckiness.

A little celebratory “I made it, I can relax now” attitude about eating, coupled with not being on the bike as much as I could have been resulted in a gain of over three pounds.

What a waste.

What suckage.

I am angry. I am embarrassed. I suck.

Tomorrow I will hand down my punishment in the form of a sufferfest ride the likes of which this project has never seen.

Until then…

Eat better. Christ in a catcher’s mitt, please EAT BETTER.

Ride your bike. Never put off any length of ride for any reason ever.

Don’t suck. Sucking sucks. 

 

PS – there’s still time to DONATE (despite my suckiness) to help kids with cancer and win cool prizes!

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 23, 2012

Spills, Thrills, Hills and Fundraising

Spills 

Greetings fellow blogarians.

An update on my crash injuries… thanks to Johnson & Johnson’s “Tough Pads” (EVERY cyclist should own multiple boxes of these magical squares of medical loveliness), the leg is healed but for some icky looking scabby residue. I’ve ridden over a hundred miles since the crash and no issues whatsoever.

The Goat seems to have benefitted from the fall as he has a renewed sense of Jensness*.

* = “Jensness” having the qualities of Jens Voigt; qualities including but not limited to: ferocity, tenacity, endless endurance, the desire and ability to inflict pain on fellow riders, going faster than you should go, going harder than you should go, telling your legs to shut up. 

The Goat now idles impatiently at stop lights, snarls at me during rest stops, and sits by the door at night waiting to pounce the second it’s open. All is good in Fizz’s cycling world.

Thrills

The weigh-in… so after tipping the scales at 200lbs, I was hesitant to weigh myself the following week. So I didn’t. What if I failed (again) to crack the 200 barrier? I figured I’d ride and ride for another two months and then weigh myself… after an hour in the sauna.

But I knew that would not be in the spirit of this project, or my 2012 being accountable commitment. So yesterday I stepped on the scale.

199.

I did it.

BELOW TWO HUNDRED! Hazzah!!! Blow your trumpets, ring your bells, open up your windows and scream to your neighbors “Fizz did it! He got mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore! He did it! He did it!”

Or maybe just crack a smile as you read this.

Hills

Seeing that 199 at my feet inspired an epic ride yesterday. I wanted to ride far and fast, and climb. And I did. 47 miles with an average speed of nearly 16mph, and an assault on Babler.

Those of you who’ve spent some time around here remember Babler – it’s a national park near me that has several miles of beautifully paved, barely trafficked roads… that are all either way up or way down. Nothing flat. And I mean up and down.

My fastest descent ever came at Babler when I hit over 54mph on one of its long 10-15% grade descents. And the climbs? Yikes.

The main climb inside Babler is about a mile and half and averages 13% with three pitches to 17%, including right at the start of the climb. It’s not long by any means, but it’s nasty.

I set a personal best on Babler. Also hit PB’s on three other segments of my ride. All in all, it was an Epic August ride.

Fundraising

Another reason I attacked Babler was because it is part of a 75-mile course I will be riding in October. As you know, I am a big supporter and fundraiser for Livestrong, and pretty much anything that hates cancer. This year I am riding PEDAL THE CAUSE – a local St. Louis ride that raises funds not only for the Siteman Cancer Center (one of the top in the country), but for St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Ward.

The best thing about Pedal The Cause is 100% of all funds raise go directly to Siteman and StLCH. 100%.

My 9-year-old son will be riding 50 miles of the ride with me, which is awesome. He lost both his grandparents to cancer in the past year and wants to do something special to honor them. 50 miles at age 9 is pretty freaking special.

If any of you feel the urge, we would love it if you would donate to our ride:

DONATE HERE

We truly appreciate any help you can give, and you could WIN some cool prizes, too!!! Checkout the link for more info.

And please feel free to forward our link on to any friends and family, post it on FB, Twitter, you name it. Thanks for the support!

199.

Feels good.

If you’re reading this and you’re 350lbs, work to hit 345. If you’re 250, work to hit 245. If you’re 160, work to hit 150.

I lack discipline and love to eat and be lazy. And I dropped these pounds without it adversely affecting my day-to-day enjoyment of life. And the reward of seeing those numbers on the scale is worth giving up a year’s worth of yummies. Not that I have, but you get the pic.

199.

I can’t type that enough. For the first time in… forever, I truly believe that my original “in a perfect world” goal of 185 is attainable and not just a pipe dream.

It’s all in the head, folks. Seriously. That’s probably why so many people always called me Fat Head… right?

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Dig deep.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 18, 2012

Down goes Frazier!

I felt it coming all day.

For some reason, on this particular ride, two images kept floating through my head…

NBC’s replays ad nauseam of Kristin Armstrong’s crash at the Exergy Tour TT in May. This was arguably the greatest female time trial rider on the planet and she crashed making a very simple maneuver she’s done ten thousand times.

The other image was Caleb Fairly’s crash during Stage 5 of the Tour oF Utah — when he was executing an absolutely average turn, with very little traffic, and he just face planted. The excuse was he lost his front wheel when he rolled over the paint – the painted traffic lines on the road. Yes, the old adage in cycling is “Stay off the paint!” — because it gets super slippery when wet, only there was no moisture anywhere on that day.

In both instances it was a seasoned pro making a maneuver they are capable of making with their eyes closed. And there was no rain, no wind, no chipseal, no opposing riders issues at all… and yet, both hit the pavement. Hard.

As I rolled out on Monday, I could still see remnants of wetness from the rains the night before. Maybe that’s what started my negative thoughts and images. Though, in all honesty, the roads were probably 90% dry.

I felt good. Felt strong. Everything was positive. Except… about every 15 minutes or so, the images of Armstrong’s or Fairly’s crashes would suddenly flash through my mind with a little crawl across the bottom that read something like:

They were seasoned professionals, and you’re just a tubby hill slug, there’s no way YOU can stay upright

And then it would be gone. But it got to me. It made me tentative. I descended slower than normal. I rolled through corners slower than normal. And what happens when you ride tight and fearful as opposed to relaxed and confident?

You crash.

Only I didn’t crash. I was 30 miles in, then 35, then 40, and though I kept feeling like I was going to go down, I didn’t. I rode and climbed and descended and spun and TT’d, and the whole time I never came close to crashing.

Then I crashed.

I was trying out a new route – somewhere I’d never ridden – and according to my Google maps recon the night before, I knew that I would have to ride on this one particular road I have avoided ever since I began this project back in 2010.

It is actually a great road for cycling – smooth pavement, twisty curves and a couple of nice rollers. The only thing is — it is a very narrow two-lane road with no bike lane at all. And it is a very heavily trafficked road. And heavy traffic + no bike lane = Fizz don’t ride.

But if I wanted to tackle this new route I knew I was going to have to ride on that road for a tiny bit — maybe a few hundred yards (meters for our lads across the pond). No problem.

So I hit that road and actually got lucky in that the majority of traffic was going the other way and I had very few cars to deal with on my side. I rode quickly, wanting to get to the right turn that was “Carriage Crossing Lane” which would take me back over some new roads and then drop me on TRFKATP.

100 yards went by.

Then 200 yards.

Then 500.

After about a thousand yards, I knew something was wrong. I must have missed it. But how?

I pulled The Goat off the road and onto a sidewalk and checked my iPhone map app. Yep… I missed it. But how? I zoomed in on my map and realized Carriage Crossing Lane actually does NOT connect to the road I was on. It’s a cul-de-sac that butts up against it. You have to get off the bike, hop a small fence and then ride.

How did I miss this the night before? Laziness, I guess.

So now I had to ride back up the other side of this road — the side where there were cars whizzing by every two or three seconds… with no bike lane, and several blind turns. With the Speed Limit being 40mph, the thought of me cranking hard just to sustain 20mph while a line of angry motorists lines up behind me was something I did not want to experience.

So what to do? I know! I will ride back on this nice little sidewalk right here. It’s early Monday morning, there is probably no foot traffic. And it will take me right back to Carriage Crossing Lane and I will be on my way.

So I began riding on the sidewalk. I had to duck every so often due to the overhanging trees, and did notice at one point that there was a bit more standing water on the sidewalk than out on the road where the sun had dried it all.

100 yards.

200.

500.

I noticed the sidewalk ahead was winding through beautifully landscaped bushes and trees, and I thought about how it was far too elegant to be maintained by the city — it must be by the Homeowners Association of this gorgeous neighborhood next to me.

Big beautiful homes, with glistening swimming pools, and golf course like backyards, and…

Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!

Now, just like Smokin’ Joe, I was back up immediately, doing that thing all men do – where, no matter how injured you may be – you are looking around, nodding, saying something like, “Yep, no worries, meant to do that.”

I looked back at the sidewalk and saw this:

I had ridden straight into mud. In a turn. And when you ride straight into mud on 1-inch tires, AND THEN try to turn…

You crash.

I crashed.

I hit the mud just as I was turning my bars into the turn that I felt was coming. I say felt because…

I was not looking where I was going. I was admiring the lovely homes on my left. I saw the mud about a nanosecond before impact with the concrete.

The Goat survived better than I did.

My shoulder looked similar.

Once I regained my faculties, I realized the cul-de-sac known as “Carriage Crossing Lane” was no more than about 40 yards from where I went down. So close.

I cleaned the mud from between my brake calipers and fork, then walked The Goat to the cul-de-sac, lifted it over the little 3-foot high fence, and continued on my ride… as blood ran down into my shoe.

It wasn’t Johnny Hoogerland type stuff, but as I pedaled passed a couple walking their dog, and saw their eyes bulge at my bloody leg, I thought, “That’s right. I’m a mother*#&@*%# cyclist, baby!”

It was about 7 or so miles to home, and I managed fine. Over the next few days the damage assessment came in:

One leg with severe road rash.

One shoulder with minor road rash and slight bruising.

One bruised tibia bone.

One bruised ankle bone.

The Goat was just muddy.

In the end, the crash images and all that negative thinking had nothing to do with my going down. It was me losing my concentration for just a few seconds. They call it “pilot error” in flying. In cycling it’s called “Being a doofus.”

Or is it dufus?

Here’s a couple of fairly interesting points… if any of you are even still reading this:

One of the absolute best things you can do for a post-crash leg injury is get back on the bike. If you have a bruised bone as I did, or severe road rash (as I do), getting back on and doing a light but high cadence spin for at least 45 minutes actually breaks up some sort of junk inside your injured leg and “cleanses it” so to speak. I’m too tired right now to look up the specifics, but take my word for it.

After three days of intense leg pain at times – to the point I had scheduled an appointment for an x-ray – going out and riding took away not only all the pain, but the swelling I had, too. Gotta love cycling.

The other thing is… my friend and writing/riding compadre – Little Joey Choo Choo – had been on me for a while to shave my legs. Like any “real” cyclist would do. But I have always refused for no other reason than I think those skinny, shaven, pro kit wearing, Cervelo riding serious cyclists would be the only folks who’d even notice if I shaved, and chances are they would laugh even harder at a big fat hill slug with shaved legs, than a just big fat hairy hill slug.

I let my ego get in the way — thinking that shaved legs were only for guys who race Cat 3 on weekends and weigh 160 pounds.

Nope. You shave your legs so when you do go down – AS WE ALL WILL – you heal up much quicker and cleaner.

Yes, my legs are now shaved. But you gotta wait for those pics. At least until after you’ve digested your meal.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Avoid the mud.

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 8, 2012

Of Hogs and Hollows, Bumps and Grinds

Home.

Does any word feel as good? While I miss, dearly miss, Cycling Mecca and its amazing climbs with their unsurpassed views, there is something about riding in your own ‘hood that feels… just good.

After a spin with my son and a ride where Hal 9000 wasn’t working properly, I finally set out for a full-on Rapha Ride to celebrate my return home.

I rode over familiar roads that felt like old friends. I discovered that the RFKATP has major construction on it and thus, I cannot ride its full 6 miles. Almost in the exact middle they are redoing the entire road and there is literally nowhere for a cyclist to go.

That really bummed me out because now that I have become a Strava member, I was really looking forward to challenging myself on its rollers. But there were many other old friends to get reacquainted with.

There was the TdC Hill, which I have now re-named “Ossenfort.” Makes sense, since that is the name of the actual road, and the TdC thing is sort of dated now (since that was from my first ever group ride back in 2010), and well, let’s be honest – Ossenfort is just a cool name for a climb.

Ossenfort… sounds like a Giro climb. Or a Bond villain. “Do you expect me to talk, Ossenfort?” “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”

And the climb is definitely a Bond villain. To remind dear readers – Ossenfort is a half-mile climb that averages about 11% with pitches to 18%. According to Strava, I am the 159th fastest out of the 205 Strava riders who’ve ascended Ossenfort.

“Do you expect me to suffer, Ossenfort?” “No, Mr. Fizz. I expect you to fail.”

But I digress.

So I went up Ossenfort, went up the Wild Horse Creek climb – a (Strava) Cat 4 climb of about a mile and a half, went up the Six Flags climb, and another short stinger of a climb called Orrville. The next day I tackled my old nemesis Hog Hollow. And while I went up it faster than I’ve ever ascended that stinging little sonofamother, I was still slogging up the thing, suffering, as if I was carrying an 25 pounds on my back… oh, that’s right. I am.

The climbing was a lot for my homeland (nearly 3000 feet), but nothing more than bumps compared to the Mulhollands, Piumas, and Stunts of Cycling Mecca. Bumps they may be, but I am still grinding up them, sweating and suffering, and loving every painful second.

Oh, did I mention weight earlier? Yes. That’s right, I owe you all a weigh-in.

200 pounds.

Yes. 200. I checked it twice. Not 199, not 201, 200 on the nose.

A combination of joy and frustration pedaled through me as I stood staring down at the numbers. Joy for having gotten to within a single pound of the lightest I’ve been since I began this project… and frustration for getting to within a pound of the lightest I’ve been since I began this project, but not cracking the 200 mark. Ah, what might have been.

But getting down to 200 is incredibly motivating. For those of you out there battling the same Whispering Jabberwock, here are a few things to remember:

1 – Everyone goes through their time on the edge – just ask Jules and Billy Hicks from ST. ELMO’S FIRE. Meaning… we all screw up and fall back and make mistakes – just check the archives of this blog to see that – so don’t let it throw you. Just start over again the next day and do better.

2 – No matter how incredible the bad food tastes in the moment, it NEVER compares to the incredible feeling of success and satisfaction when you deny yourself and see the pounds drop.

3 – No matter how much you’re hurting or struggling on the bike, you can always go a little longer. Endure a little more. Always.

4 – Never do it globally. Do it One Day At a Time. Not a cliche – it’s true. Fact. One day at a time. You will ride today. You will eat healthy today. You will not make any excuses today.  One day at a time.

And most importantly of all…

5 – You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can.

See you on the other side of 200.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never ever give up.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | July 18, 2012

The Long Good-Bye

So, once again it is time for me to bid farewell to Cycling Mecca and return home to the land of rolling hills, short climbs, terrarium-like humidity and TRFKATP.

I have not been around much since my 100 Miles of Nowhere report. I had to venture back to Portland for quite a while, and work has taken up most of the time I used to spend typing away on this little corner of cyberspace. So let’s recap…

I set a PR in May for most miles in a month at 406.

In July I spent most of my time in Portland, and my hours on set leave little time for cycling. Mostly, I sit and stare at these…

But you will notice that Leverage is Bicycle Friendly! So even if I’m sitting indoors not riding, I can imagine being outdoors and riding. However, mostly I just sit… occasionally we will decapitate a panda, but that’s only on special days.

But I did manage to get outside one day and ride. It was beautiful, and I started out over the water near downtown.

Then rode out to the Columbia River – about 25 miles from where I started.  The day was so clear you could see Mount Hood in the background – still snow-covered.

While in Portland, I made a point of eating really, really healthy. And guess what? I liked it. Instead of ordering burgers and fries from room service, I was going out (walking) and dining on fish and scallops and steak, asparagus, squash, and other assorted veggies that – if they are roasted or grilled or steamed – I truly enjoy.

Fat Guy tip #33 — anything can taste good with enough seasoning and/or proper cooking.

So, while I was not riding a lot, I knew I was keeping the weight off. And when I returned to Cycling Mecca I could not wait to ride. And what should pop up on my first day back in town? Harlene.

I wrote about Harlene a couple of posts back. She is a killer. In the best sense. She never met a distance too far or an elevation gain too high. She will ride forever. And then ride some more.

So on this weekend when our cycling club traditionally offers rides anywhere from 15 to 60 miles, Harlene decided it would be a good day to ride a century. Why not? Sun was out, but it wasn’t too hot, there was wind, but not too much. Let’s do 100!

So we did. Eleven of us total started out at 8am to ride an “out-and-back” route along the Pacific. We’d stop at 50 miles, eat, then ride back. And the best part for me – coming off of 2 weeks in PDX – was that there was not much climbing at all.

It would be a flat century. One short hill toward the 45-mile mark and that was it.

Here is our motley peloton at our first rest stop, about 25 miles in.

We rode along marinas and beaches, and the entire day was absolutely gorgeous.

We even rode along a Naval Air Base that had some interesting items out front.

I will leave it to Steve to tell us what we are looking at, but I think one might be an old F-4 Phantom and an F-14 Tomcat? Plus some missiles. I’d have taken better photos, but one thing you must know when you are riding with Harlene – you only stop at designated rest stops or maybe for someone’s mechanical issue. You never stop for such silliness as taking photos.

The day was great and after the ride I felt like I could do another 30 miles. That night, the legs squawked a little bit, but I was glad to have another century under my lycra for the year. I knew the next day would be y last chance to ride in Cycling Mecca this year, and I wanted to go out strong. So, despite doing 100 miles on Saturday, when Sunday morning came, I set out for Rock Store.

I could not leave Cycling Mecca without climbing one more time, and while I pondered going up Piuma, or Mulholland, or Stunt, or any of the other big climbs with amazing views at the top, I opted for Rock Store. It’s the Alpe d’Huez of Cycling Mecca – there are longer, tougher climbs, but none with the history and panache of Rock Store.

I hit Rock Store with all I had. And I crushed it. I joined Strava recently, and while it leaves a lot to be desired as far as software and accuracy, it’s a lot of fun from a social fitness standpoint. You can find me there be searching for Fizzhogg.

Anyway, Strava does this fun thing where you can measure you efforts against not just yourself, but others. I won’t go into it here, but do NOT trust the Strava accuracy when it comes to the KOMs and other such comparisons between riders. There are far too many instances of inaccuracy to make the competitions valid.

But for measuring oneself against oneself it is pretty cool. There are all these “segments” people have created – certain sections of rides – where you can see your time versus everyone else who has ridden that particular section or “segment.” But I like to use it to look at my previous times and see how/where I can improve.

I digress about Strava because I used it to measure myself going up Rock Store (and several other segments on my ride) and I hit PR’s (Personal Records) on nearly every part of the ride. I went up Rock Store faster than I ever have, and did it on my very last ride in Cycling Mecca. It was a perfect way to end my 2012 in California. Now, for the good news…

When we last stepped on the scale (May 19) we were at 206.

This morning we weighed in at — drum roll please — 202.

Down another four and dropping. I can see sub-200 in my headlights. I have headlights cuz I have man-boobs cuz I still need to drop 25 pounds. But I digress.

When you hear from me next, I will be back in the rolling hills of St. Louis and hopefully will have cracked the 200 pound barrier.

Until then…

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 15, 2012

100 Miles of Nowhere – Ride Report

Forgive me for the delayed posting here. Work has become… work. Back to Portland, back to CM, back to Portland, back to… you get the picture. Anyway, the 2012 100 MILES OF NOWHERE:

Ouch.

Prior to the weekend of this ride, I always felt like – I don’t mind century rides at all… never stopping to think that I’ve really only ever completed… one.

I guess for anyone reading this who was not around last year, it’s best you take a moment and read exactly what happened to me during the 2011 100 Miles Of Nowhere.

Read about the epic fail here.  Go ahead. We’ll all wait.

Dum dee dum dee dum…

Okay, finished? Got the picture? Not pretty on its own, and horrendously ugly with the whole Gordon Lightfoot thing.

So this year I decided to return to that same route in Agoura Hills and take my revenge. I knew where I’d made my mistakes, both in food/drink and music. This year I would fuel myself better and more regularly. I would not go “Contador” on the hill early, but rather “Schleck” it the entire way.

Contador = out of the saddle, dancing on the pedals.  Schleck = sitting and spinning.

And the music… no Gordon Lightfoot within a hundred kilometers of my iPod. (I use kilometers for our readers across the pond)

The night before, I created an entirely new playlist – 4 and a half hours of music, no Lightfoot, and lots of Rapha music.

I had Gu’s, I had energy bars, I had a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I had fruit, I had Gu Brew, and I had water. Where you ask did I have this plethora of cycling fuel?

I had something this year that I did not have last year… a SAG Wagon.

That’s right. Support and Gear. Mostly support. My trusty planet-destroying SUV would serve as the official 100MON SAG Wagon.

Last year I rolled right out of the place I was living and began riding the Loop. This year, I drove over to the Loop, parked the SAG Wagon and then began with a warm up. And for the first ten miles everything was working like a perfectly tuned Swiss watch. Or German rather. Say a Lange & Sohne Datagraph.

I warmed up for about six or seven miles around the neighborhood, spinning lightly with a little climbing. In the true spirit of the 100 Miles of Nowhere I found a tiny circle approximately 200 meters ’round, and rode around it again and again until I had done one mile. That was a lot of circles.

Then it was off to the Loop – site of last year’s epic fail.

Around and around I went, my music playing, my legs spinning up each climb and cruising down each descent. Then, on one of my loops I noticed some large trucks rumbling up the street. Another loop around and suddenly I was dodging all sorts of debris and trucks and humans in orange vests.

They had decided to trim trees on this very street on this very Saturday morning. They set up a detour that was no big deal for cars, but really took the teeth out of the climbing part of my Loop. Crap. How can I do my MacArthuresque return if I can’t ride the same Loop?

Find another one.

And I did. From mile 18 to mile 22 I rode around a loop that did not have quite the same elevation gain, but would still be quite adequate for the 100MON. Why you ask, did I say only to mile-22?

Because at mile-22 my chain broke.

No, it didn’t drop. It broke. As in… in half.

I have a video of me walking back to the SAG Wagon, The Goat over my shoulder, whining about my broken chain. I won’t pain you with those sounds and images.

I drove about 30 minutes to All Pro Bikes - where I purchased The Goat, and saw the amazing Gina. Let me pause here to tell you about the amazing Gina…

Imagine one part Marisa Tomei, one part Rebecca Rusch, and one part the Angie Gennaro character from Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie/Gennaro novels, and you have the amazing Gina. Gina and the stellar folks at All Pro commented that they had never seen a chain break like this. Ever.

They promptly gave me a new chain, lubed and checked The Goat and I was ready to roll again for the price of $0.00.

I love the amazing Gina and All Pro Bikes.

But after the 30 minute drive-time, the 30 minutes at the shop, I knew that another 30 minute drive back to Agoura Hills was going to severely cut into my riding time. And I did not want to spend all day on this stupid 100MON <<foreshadowing!

I made an executive decision. I decided I would continue the 100MON in the truest spirit of the ride and just start riding right there in the parking lot of All Pro Bikes. So I did. Around and around the parking lot. Then around and around the neighborhood streets surrounding All Pro Bikes.

Around and around and…

Around.

I pulled up to the SAG Wagon at one point and checked the mileage. 42 miles down. I was feeling great. Like really great. I’m sure the hour rest during the broken chain mishap and the lack of any climbing over the last 20 miles helped. I knew this wasn’t right. I knew this wasn’t in the true spirit of the 100MON.

The 100MON is about suffering. We don’t ride in annoyingly tiny circles or climb unclimbable heights or put ourselves through day-long Sufferfests for fun. We do it to raise money and awareness of what true suffering really is. To try and help those with cancer.

I was not suffering enough.

So I went in search of hills. I found one just a few miles from All Pro Bikes. It was perfect – almost no traffic, and a nearly straight half-mile climb up, and half-mile descent down. Only about a 4-5% grade on the climb, but doing it over and over and over would eventually make it feel like Mount Washington. Right?

Wrong.

I rode this thing again and again from mile 40-something to mile 60-something, and I was still feeling great. Feeling no pain as they say. I started pushing it up the hill and down the other side. Faster. Faster. Eventually, I had completed 2/3 of the 100MON and felt like I’d been on a 40-mile ride. I was feeling too good. There was only thing to do.

I loaded up the SAG Wagon and headed for Rock Store.

Rock Store. Probably the most famous climb in all of Cycling Mecca. Two and half miles with an average grade of 7.3% with a few pitches to 10%. The fact that it doesn’t ever pitch up to 15% or 18% doesn’t mean it’s easier, it means that the average rarely dips below 7.3%.

My best time up Rock Store is about 21 minutes. And that was when I was in my very best riding shape. And that was without 2/3 of a 100MON tacked on the front of the ride.

I drove over to where my cycling club meets for our weekend rides. From there the ride to Rock Store arrives after about 12 or so miles of rollers. I SAG’d up, and started riding. Shadows were growing longer, and after cranking up and over the rollers, I was beginning to get that feeling of suffering I’d been wishing for.

Be careful what you wish for.

I hit Rock Store and started climbing. 75 miles into the 100MON. It hurt. I suffered. I remember thinking – during one particularly painful switchback – “Why the hell didn’t I just keep riding the little half-mile climb over by All Pro Bikes? Oh yeah, because I wasn’t suffering enough… oh, yeah, and I’m a complete idiot.”

Thank God for music. And – yes, I’m about to say it – thank God for George Michael.

There I said. And I ain’t taking it back.

Because let me drop some science on you, peeps. As bad as The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald is when you are suffering on a bike, and it is disastrously, colossally, magnificently bad — that is exactly how good George Michael’s FREEDOM is.

Yes. Freedom. Yes. The one with the video of Linda Evangelista and Christy T and Cindy and all the SuperModels (back when there still were SuperModels) singing the tune. This one:

Uh, huh. Try it. I’m serious. Put it on your playlist and go climb a mountain or ride at a 20+mph pace for a while and see what it does to your legs.

So, yeah, back to Rock Store. Pain. Suffering. Freedom.

Glory through suffering.

I made it up Rock Store. I was done, right? WooHoo!

I descended as fast as I could with my brain and body turning to mush – which was not fast at all. It was one of the scariest descents I’ve ever done because, quite frankly, I was in a complete FF.

Fatigue Fog.

I remember starting the descent – passing the dude on the side with the yellow Ducati – and then the next thing I remember is… being back at the SAG Wagon. I don’t even remember riding back over the rollers.

I ate an apple at the SAG Wagon and checked Hal 9000 again… 89 miles.

Crap.

Shut up, George.

11 miles to go. I was going to fail again.

The sun was setting on Cycling Mecca and on my 100MON. I was freezing now – yes, freezing in May. I thought, “Just get to 95 miles. Go farther than last year.”

I started riding. Turned right out of the parking lor, rode down a ways, turned right again, rode, turned right again, rode and turned right again. I was back where I started and…

I had gone exactly one mile.

Once around this place is one mile… all I need is to ride around it ten more times. I started pedaling.

I had removed the iPod after returning from Rock Store. I don’t know why. Like I said, these last miles were completed in a total fatigue fog.

I rode another lap. 9 miles to go… another 8. Then another… 7 miles to go. The sun nearly down now, and shivering on the bike.

I rode back to the SAG Wagon and grabbed my rain jacket. Not a cycling rain jacket, mind you, but an actual regular rain jacket. I didn’t care. I was freezing. I zipped up and started riding again.

Another lap. 6 miles to go. Then another. 5 miles. I had broken last year’s epic fail! That inspired me and I stood out of the saddle and cranked it. Another lap. Then another.

At 97 miles in I must have looked like an absolute crazy person. Riding as fast as I could, in a full rain jacket in 60 degree weather. And I think I was laughing.

The laughter of the criminally insane.

2 miles to go.

1.

One mile left to COMPLETE my first ever 100 Miles Of Nowhere.

I did it. Epic success. Okay, not epic, but take a look at this freaking elevation profile:

And here’s the proof:

Done.

Special thanks go out to the following:

the SAG Wagon – for life

The Noodleator (Janeen McCrae) – for true inspiration and reminding us all why we ride (and suffer)

Hova – not a better cycling coach on the planet (decent brother, too)

All Pro Bikes (and the amazing Gina) – without your wrenching magic I could not have finished

Fatty – for starting this diabolical ride

George Michael, David Fincher and everyone involved with the song and video for FREEDOM – without whom I’d still be out there riding

And lastly, thank you to all of you. Seriously. There was more than one time out there when I thought that if I quit, I was going to have to face all of you around here. So thank you for tuning in and spending time with me and my neurosis. I love you all. Except the one creepy guy in the back there.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 24, 2012

The Return to Hell

In approximately 58 hours…

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Absorb the punishment and get back up.

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

 

Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor — Alexis Carrel

Glory through suffering — Rapha

I am in love with the suffering – Fizzhogg

Dateline Cycling Mecca, nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twelve:

I rolled up to the start of our club’s weekly rides all happy and peppy and bursting with love (100 pts if you know that reference without Googling). I was prepared and planning on doing the Gold ride – about 36 miles, about 3000 ft of climbing. A nice, strong yet safe Saturday ride.

Then Harlene showed up.

Let me tell you about Harlene. Harlene is in her 60′s, rides a sinister black Franco, and climbs like a Himalayan sherpa. Meaning, she might not be the fastest up the hill, but she will climb anything and everything without stopping. Ever.

I love Harlene. She is fun and smart and always up for extra miles… or extra elevation gain.

Harlene convinces my happy and peppy self to ride the Orange ride with her. Telling me it’s not that much more than the Gold… “Something like 45 miles with about 4000 ft of climbing.”

“Uh…”

“It’ll be great,” Harlene says. “We’ll go at our own pace.” Then she goes and recruits four other unassuming Gold riders like myself to join her in this Sufferfest.

So off we go… little lambs to slaughter.

But after my fried chicken debacle, I wanted to suffer. I needed to suffer. I had been punishing myself for over a week by eating healthy, now it was time to punish myself on The Goat.

As we cruised along toward our destination – a nasty 6.4 mile climb (avg 7.2%) known as “Piuma” – Harlene reiterated how much fun it would be, how we’d go at our pace, and how it’s really not that bad.

Cut to:

The several rollers we had to navigate in order to get to Piuma, because Harlene “accidentally” led us down a wrong turn.

Uh, huh.

I checked Hal 9000 as we refilled our bottles at the base of the climb. We had already done almost 1600 ft of climbing. Just to get to the climb.

Then, one of the actual Orange riders mentions that we should take care to watch out for the false summit.

“Huh?”

Yes, after you’ve climbed and climbed and climbed, there’s a descent. About .4 of a mile. You’re way up high so you think you’re at the end of the climb.

But you’re not. Because after the descent, there’s a left turn and then another 1.7 miles to the actual summit. “And the last part is the steepest.”

Thank you, Orange person. Please go away from me now.

As much as I did not want to hear that, I was thankful he told us. Because there is little worse than thinking you’ve completed a climb, only to discover you have nearly two more miles of climbing.

We started the climb, and Harlene – true to her word as always – led her little lambs at the back of the Orange group. All of whom very quickly disappeared up the climb. Just us lambs now.

Baaahhaaahhhhaaahh.

I decided I would conserve as much energy as possible in the beginning so as to save it for that final ascent. I rode at the back of the lamb group for the first mile or so, and I must say, while I was not going fast, I was enjoying the climb. The more we climbed, the more I realized we were headed for the clouds.

That’s not fancy writer talk… I men we were riding literally toward a cloud which engulfed the summit of the climb. At one flat part about 2 miles in, I paused for a Steve moment:

That’s where we were heading.

On I pedaled.

Up, up, up. Suffer, suffer, suffer.

But I was feeling good. I had not pushed myself this hard in a while – not counting that idiotic day I blew up within 6 miles of my place.

And the views were spectacular. As we hit the point where the descent started, I managed one more “Steve” – of course, the real Steve would never get his finger stuck in the frame:

We were in the cloud now, and could look back down from whence we pedaled.

I did well on the descent, passing all the lambs, and gathering strength – mental and physical – for the assault on the final section.

As I climbed that last section, I watched Hal 9000′s report on my heart rate, and tried to stay at what I guessed was just below my redline.

The last 300 yards of the climb is only about a 3-4% grade and you can see everyone waiting at the summit. Seeing everyone waiting, seeing it grow closer, is nearly as inspiring as when people cheer for you along the road. I hammered it.

At the top I felt great. Great in that I challenged my lazy self, suffered, and came out alive.

I’d gone from lamb to sheep.

We descended the other side, and I was FLYING. I managed a glance down at Hal and saw I was over 38mph and gaining speed, leaning into and out of the corners like Sammy Sanchez. I was back, baby! I am a cycling beast! I could crush Little Joey Choo Choo!

I tapped the brakes just before another corner, let off, put my weight on the outside pedal, and leaned in at nearly 40mph… damn, I must have looked so cool.

That’s when a guy passed me so fast it was as if I was standing on the side of the road with a cowbell.

Oh, and he passed me with one hand.

How do I know he was riding with one hand? Because, as he zoomed through this corner, the hand that was not on his bars was outstretched, giving me a big thumbs up.

Like, “Good job, Fatso!”

And once again, the old Fizz is put in his proper cycling place.

In the end it was a 47-mile ride with 4400 feet of climbing. Not a bad day.

I suffered. I hurt. But it felt so good… that fried chicken from two weeks ago felt like it was months ago.

Sometimes you have to wreck yourself in order to check yourself.

And now the best for last… the weigh-in.

206.

That’s right, people. I’m on the descent again.

Thanks to Harlene for pushing me to push myself.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Climb to the clouds.

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 13, 2012

The Italian Job

The weigh-in…

208.

I cannot tell you how angry I am at myself for that debacle last week. I was losing a pound a week without riding and I gave it all away.

To punish myself and to get back on the descent, I am going to ride longer and harder this week than I have in months… and I am denying myself any crap food.

Because I suck.

Today I awoke very excited to ride. I’ve been watching the Giro d’Italia this week – a race I love as much as the Tour de France. The Giro is often more brutal than the “Tour” and the scenery is absolutely astounding.

Channeling Coppi, the Pirate, and Basso, I rode more than I have since early March. Tomorrow I plan the same. And I will ride during the week – even if it gets me fired.

Please don’t fire me.

My ride today was truly great. A nice combination of group riding and solo. I’ve typed much around here about how much I love my club, and love riding with a club.

I’ve also written about my Rapha rides, where being alone and discovering new worlds is heaven.

I had not ridden with CVC in a while and so this morning I had promised some very nice folks in the “Purple” group that I would ride with them, and catch up on everyone’s lives.

The Purple group is our club’s beginner level group. The rides are usually between 18 and 24 miles, at an easy pace, with much stopping to regroup. No one is dropped. It is a very cool thing my club does to introduce folks to the wonders of cycling.

I rode over to the starting point (about 8 miles from my place) and then proceeded to embark on my first Purple ride since January of 2010. It was great. Lots of chatting, lots of stopping, fixed someone’s flat, helped fix a dropped chain. All in all a great time.

At the end of the 21-mile ride, I decided to get some more miles in by myself. I took off with no destination in mind. I rode over some familiar roads that felt like old friends, and I find some new roads.

 

The shot above was taken on one of the new roads I discovered. A nice, long, slightly rolling route that traveled through areas like that, as well as horse farms where I saw two newborn colts. Why didn’t I stop and photograph them? Steve would be ashamed.

My new road took me into a little town center I had ridden by before, but never stopped at. Today I stopped. And found a Mini Cooper Club having their monthly gathering.

 

I spoke to one owner and asked if it was possible to fit a bike into the back of one of those. After all, they are pretty freaking cool, and get nine million miles to the gallon. He said he has a road bike that he hauls all over town.

“You just take both wheels off.”

Both? Eh, no thanks. I’m good with removing the front wheel to load a bike into a car, but both wheels? Too much hassle for this lazy Hill Slug.

I rode on.

Eventually, I ended up back home, just over 48 miles on Hal 9000, and just over 2200 feet of ascent.

Speaking of Hal 9000… he, uh, had a little issue on one of my rides last week.

According to Hal, about 36 miles into my ride, I suddenly made a hard right turn and rode straight into the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

It was my longest single ride to date:  2,387 miles according to Hal. But the best part was how fast I was riding.

My average speed was 857mph.

That was my average.

Now I did feel a tailwind, just before I hit the water, but I didn’t think it was quite that strong. Let’s see Mark Cavendish do that!

I submitted my Garmin info to the Guinness Book of World Records, but they returned my letter with a nice cease and desist order.

Tomorrow I think I will do another combo of group/solo riding. I rather enjoyed today.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Wear rain gear if you ride into an ocean.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 6, 2012

Inside The Mind of an Addict

Greetings, dear readers. I want to invite you to come inside my mind.

No, really, it’s okay, come on in. There’s plenty of empty space. Just me, some arcane sports trivia, most of the dialogue from the 1981 movie THIEF, a great chicken cacciatore recipe and… my addiction.

Addiction is a cunning, baffling opponent. Be it heroin, cocaine, booze, meth, nicotine, porn, or food. And while the reasons for addiction are varied – depression, self-esteem, abuse, self-medication, blah, blah, blah, once we’re all in the dark, we are all in the dark.

I am a food addict. Or rather, an eating addict. A recovering eating addict.

And like all recovering heroin or meth or nicotine addicts, regardless of how many days, weeks, months or years I’ve been clean, I am always only one bad decision away from falling back down the rabbit hole.

But lately I have been taking it to the Whispering Jabberwock known as addiction. I’ve been on this pound-a-week descent and doing it not by riding miles upon miles, but by controlling my addiction.

210… 209… 208… and then last week’s weight…

207.

207lbs. The lightest I’ve been all year.

Without any significant riding.

Not only am I not riding much at all, but it’s not like I’m eating healthy. Not like one of those people who eat incredibly healthy all the time, like Sam Bangs. Okay, no one eats as healthy as Sam. But you know what I mean.

All I’m doing is not eating at night, and focusing on portion control.

And I’m losing weight.

And this brings me to why I’ve invited you all inside my mind. Inside the mind of an addict.

See, the Whispering Jabberwock knows when I’m controlling my addiction. When I’m refusing to let it control me. And being a cunning, baffling opponent, the Whispering Jabberwock never gives up. Ever. And is always working, always plotting and planning.

One of its most successful ploys is the “celebration dip.” You’ve all been there – when you lose a bunch of weight or hit a certain goal and the Whispering Jabberwock convinces you to celebrate with just a little something – a beer or cake or pizza, etc. “It’ll be okay… after all, you just lost a bunch of weight. You’ve got room for this.”

And so you do, and he has you again.

But lately the Whispering Jabberwock has been failing. I’ve been dominating him. So he changed his tactics.

What follows is exactly what happened the day I stepped on the scale and it read 207…

I stepped on expecting perhaps a pound gained because I knew I hadn’t ridden and knew I’d had my moules-frites whining meal, and had this nagging feeling that this can’t continue, this non-riding descent. Then I saw 207.

And the FIRST thing that went through my mind was not joy, or elation, or relief… the first thing that went through my mind was:

“The scale must be broken. There’s no way I could be down to 207.”

No satisfaction, no pride, nothing but an immediate conviction that there was no way I could be that small.

You think the Whispering Jabberwock stopped there? No, dear readers, he attacked again.

What I found myself doing that day and the next was purposely eating way too much — in order to make sure the scale was working properly. Wait, what?

That’s right. My addiction convinced myself within seconds of my new weight that I did not deserve it, that there was no way it could be right, and that the only way to prove it was to eat a whole bunch of food over the next week, then weigh in again — if the scale still says 207 (or less) then I know it’s broken.

So that day and the over the next day I ate fried chicken and other bad stuff, and too much of it, ate at night, and basically put a gun in my mouth.

Late on the second day of this brilliant move by the Whispering Jabberwock, I had just finished my fourth piece of fried chicken, polished off the mashed potatoes and gravy that came with it, and for some reason, was feeling like complete crap.

Was I sick again? No… then what was it?

And then it hit me. My body was reacting to this poison I was putting in it. Then I realized it wasn’t even tasting good.

WTF am I doing? Seriously??? The scale might be broken so I better eat enough to gain weight to find out???

I sat there in complete shock of what I’d done over the last 48 hours. Of course the scale wasn’t broken. How would that ridiculous idea ever get inside my mind?

Oh.

The Whispering Jabberwock.

Motherf*#@er.

I did all I could the rest of the week to fix it, but the damage had been done.

208.5

Guess what, doofus, your scale WORKS.

My name is Fizzhogg and I am an addict.

I have been clean for three days.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Kick the Whispering Jabberwock right between the legs.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 25, 2012

Biting off the proverbial more

Hello, sports fans.

So today began as a very exciting day for me. The day I get back on the bike. After more than 5 weeks off (the one 40-miler in PDX notwithstanding) I have been dying to get back on The Goat and back onto the roads of Cycling Mecca.

And with my wispy 208 lbs bod, well, the next ride was sure to be a humdinger.

But I’m an experienced cyclist. I know the in’s and out’s of listening to one’s body, proper fuel and hydration, etc. I know about warming up correctly, and all about bonking, gassing, cooking, blowing up, and how to avoid all of the above.

**FORESHADOWING***

I decided that, being the intelligent and experienced cyclist I am, I would not push it the first time back. I would just go for a good 24-mile or so ride with maybe 1600 feet or so of climbing, nothing major, but nothing rough for me and my barely-there 208 lbs bod.

I would take a flat 2.5 mile road from my place to Mulholland, turn left, then roll by the Biggest Loser compound on my way up about 6 or so miles of climbing – but easy climbing. Like barely a 4% average, with a few rollers sprinkled throughout.

If I was feeling particularly jaunty, I’d head up 7-Minute Hill at that point in the ride. If not, no worries – I’d just continue on, make a big loop around, do a bit more roller-type climbing, then head home. Nice and easy. First time back and all.

I pumped the Gatorskins on The Goat for the first time in over five weeks, and my layoff apparently affected my depth perception as I smashed my finger with the Joe Blow pump to the point that I had to sit and ice it for half an hour. It is dark purple as I type. Was this an omen? Never! I’m a carbon-fiber-like 208 lbs, baby! I’m gonna ride no matter what!

I was so amped for this ride, in fact, that even the threat of rain did not deter me. I donned my Rapha magical jersey, stuffed my Hincapie rain jacket into a pocket, loaded up with Gu’s and water, and rolled off.

Then turned around at the end of my parking lot because I’d forgotten my sunglasses.

After a double-check that I finally had all I needed, I rolled off. Hal 9000 started his math, and as I hit that 2.5 mile stretch of road leading to Mulholland I found myself thinking back to the images of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne I’d seen recently. What gets you more pumped for riding than watching the pros in the spring classics?

I bet some of those guys only weigh 208 lbs.

Before I knew what was happening I was averaging 28mph over this 2.5 mile road. I felt GREAT. I was in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, baby, and I was on a breakaway! But then my intelligent, experienced cyclist mind kicked in and reminded me that I was less than 5 minutes into my ride… perhaps cranking at 28mph was not smart.

Ah, but I quickly decided that it wasn’t me – it was the crosswind with a semi-tailwind that I had convinced myself was a gale force tailwind that was propelling my feathery 208 lbs at over 28mph.

I hit Mulholland with full force and rocketed myself up the road, jumping out of the saddle and dancing on the pedals at every stinging roller. I was flying. I was Rolland on Alpe d’Huez. I was Rodriguez on the Mur de Huy.

And let me pause here to point out to those of you who are waiting for the falling shoe… I was feeling AWESOME.

I felt strong and fast and light, and thus, pushed harder, and thus, went faster. 208 lbs is just like weighing 145 lbs, apparently. I was loving every minute of this ride.

Until I had to stop because I could not pedal anymore.

Until I had to stop because I was moments from vomiting.

Until I had to stop and pray that a giant truck with a texting driver would crest the hill and permanently put me out of my misery because CYCLING IS THE WORST FREAKING THING IN THE WORLD.

There’s that shoe.

I was cooked. Exploded. Gassed. Dead.

And the best part?

I was just over six miles into my ride.

Now, I knew I would recover. You always recover. I learned that the first year of this project on the Unfat Machine.

You will always recover.

But I didn’t care. In that moment on the side of Mulholland, I didn’t care if I ever recovered. Bury me right there. Put up a little cross with a sign that reads “He only weighed 208 lbs.”

Even if I did recover, I did not want to pedal anymore.

Unless it was in the other direction. The direction of my apartment which I remembered held… a bed.

Bed. Sleep.

Yes. That’s what would get me to clip back in… ride to the mattress, young Fizz.

And so I did.

As I rolled downhill and began to recover, I noticed that the feeling of nausea was not leaving. The more I rode the sicker I felt.

Bed… sleep…

I got to the end of Mulholland and turned back onto the 2.5 mile road.

Only 2.5 miles from sleep. This encouraged me because I remembered how quickly the 2.5 miles went by way back at the beginning of the ride.

Way back all those… minutes ago.

I pause here, dear readers, to drop some cycling science on you. So grab your notebooks and get ready to be enlightened. Here it is:

2.5 miles goes by much quicker if you’re averaging 28mph with a semi-tailwind, than if you’re averaging 13mph with a semi-headwind.

Yep. Heard it here first.

I felt like I was on that road for hours. I may still be on that road.

No, I’m not. I’m at Ladyface Alehouse and I’m eating MOULES-FRITES.

Yes, I am. Frites. As in fries.

Shut up.

I will return to my senses tomorrow. Until then, I’m sitting here drowning my sorrows in mussels and fries and iced tea.

208 lbs… what a crock of shi–

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

…I got nothing.

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 24, 2012

Of Bucket Lists and Weight Loss

Another week of zero riding… and another week of weight loss.

208.

Yes. 208lbs. Without a single mile on the bike!

It can be done, people. Portion control, and not eating at night.

Now, listen, I am not a good eater. I still loves me some fried food and pasta and all that. But I have stopped eating chips (crisps) this year, and I’ve had maybe… three orders of fries this spring. Make that four if I count my eating contest with Fatty of FatCyclist that was held in Portland. (I won, by the way)

But other than that, I still eat Chinese food, lots of pasta with sauces, cheese, and other yummy goodness.

So I am happy and amazed, and somewhat baffled that, even without leg-burning rides I was still able to lose weight.

208.

I hope to be back on the bike this week. I was sick, then I was swamped with post-Portland work, but hopefully I can get a hundred miles or so in before the end of the month.

The descent to 180 has made me look back over the past year — my negative self thinks “How much COULD you have lost by now, had you not been so weak?”

My negative self is not the most gregarious self.

Looking back made me think about my “bucket list” of 101 Things In 2000 Days.

Since we last checked in, I have accomplished a couple more random acts of kindness (still have 84 to go), I have met Fatty of Fatcyclist (#16 on the list), and I have eaten the $24 spaghetti at Scarpetta (#34), both of which exceeded expectations.

Before I leave Cycling Mecca this year, I plan on going after #27 on the list – compete in the Eddy Merckx category of a time trial. Note I said “compete” not “do well.” I’m no Little Joey Choo Choo after all.

It’s Tuesday and the sun is mostly out. If I finish my work soon enough, I will be out on The Goat today. And hopefully tomorrow, and the next day… it’s spring. WE SHOULD ALL BE RIDING.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

It can be done.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 18, 2012

Going Going Back Back to Cali Cali

Apologies to the late Biggie Smalls. And apologies for using th same post title I did back in January of 2011… but who doesn’t love that song?

As you’ve followed this soap opera, I ventured to Rose City for nearly a month. Riding only one time during that stretch, and getting little other exercise, I was quite nervous to weigh-in upon my return to Cycling Mecca. I had finally cracked the 210 barrier when we left Cycling Mecca and feared that hours upon hours of sitting around and eating meals at odd hours, along with virtually zero cycling would lead to a massive weight gain.

212? 215? Worse?

I am happy to report that when I stepped onto the official Unfat Project scale my weight came in at… drum roll please…

209.

YES! Exactly as when I left. I had spent 24+ days off the bike, and did NOT gain one pound. Disciplined eating and portion control can do wonders, people!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did return from Portland with a nasty cold/flu which kept me down for two days in which I barely ate much at all. And as we all know, illness is the second best diet in the world – next to poverty.

So, yes, I am sure that contributed to my wondrous 209 weigh-in. But 209 it is. And I could not be happier.

The GOAT greeted me upon my arrival like a long lost friend. We are both itching to get back out on the roads and hills of Cycling Mecca and continue our descent – the descent we began back on January 14th.

The descent to 180lbs.

12.8 Stones for you lads across the pond.

I will continue to ride and post my weigh-ins weekly – being held accountable really does do great things.

In other news, Little Joey Choo Choo wasn’t satisfied with simply ripping apart my manhood by doing his fancy little Red Rides on the weekends. No. While I was wasting away in the rains of the Pacific Northwest, Little Joey Choo Choo decided to grab a salt shaker and empty it into the wound of my soul.

Little Joey Choo Choo decided to start racing. Like in an actual race with actual other racers. Licensed bike racers.

He has joined my cycling club’s race team, and in his very first outing managed a top 20 finish. I want to say there were only 20 riders in the race, but alas, I cannot. He is the real deal. He is Cadel Evans to my John Goodman. He also mocked me upon my return to Cycling Mecca by letting it slip that he rode up Rock Store in only THREE MINUTES faster than I ever have.

Yes, I’m sooo happy for you, LJCC.

I still plan to drop him this year.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Don’t stop even if you’re not riding.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 7, 2012

The Unfat Project – Portland Edition

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest, where sunshine is as rare as a conservatively dressed individual.

So I have been up here in beautiful Portland (and it is beautiful) since the 22nd of March. I have not weighed myself since March 21st, when I clocked in at 209.

I have been working a lot, sitting a lot, walking a lot, sleeping little, and eating… not a lot, but at odd hours. I have worked very hard at keeping my appetite for destruction in check.

I have ridden once.

The weekends are the only time for me to ride, and one weekend I had my family here, another weekend I finished work at 3am Saturday morning, then it rained cold and hard Saturday and Sunday, but there was one Saturday that arrived with sun and temps in the high 50′s.

I rented this steed from the wonderful folks at Waterfront Bicycles:

The Fuji Acr 2.0 — an aluminum machine painted sinister black, with Shimano 105 components and a compact ring. For $60, you get that plus a full tire repair kit and extra tube, and all the tools you need – for 24hrs. Good deal.

The Waterfront man pointed me toward a well-known paved bike trail that runs along the Willamette river, then meets up with other paved bike trails, and eventually forms a 40-mile loop, ending up right back downtown where it begins. Perfect.

I set out on my ride and quickly discovered that the toughest part of riding in Portland on a sunny day is navigating through the throngs of people all out trying to suck up as much dry brightness as possible before the next rain.

The first couple of miles were like riding through a cornfield of humans and dogs, as well as all the other cyclists out. One thing I noticed about Portlandia cyclists… they don’t do the fellow rider wave. Or nod. Or blink.

They get on with their business. I guess it’s because it is such a part of life here that doing the fellow rider acknowledgement would be like if motorists all waved to each other as we drove around town. Okay, I get that.

I did take note that the few riders who did acknowledge my waves and nods were other fully kitted roadies. Not all of them, but maybe 30%. And the massive amount of commuter cyclists I encountered? I’d say less than 10% returned my wave or nod.

The bike trail took me over the river and back the other way. I started out by all those buildings and greenish spirals in the photo below:

As I rode, the trail population dwindled and I would was able to get in short bursts of 15-18mph. This is a guess as I had no HAL 9000 of any kind on my rent-a-Fuji.

Then, all of a sudden, I had to stop and snap a photo just for Steve. I have no idea why this thing was sitting there in the water – there was no information, no historical marker, nothing – but I knew I had to grab a shot of:

Yep. Just your average, everyday submarine on a river. I looked but could not find Sean Connery nor Alec Baldwin.

As I traveled farther from downtown the trail lost a lot of its pedestrian population. I cranked the pedals and got into a nice rhythm, which I guessed was probably around 20mph.

That’s when I was passed by a big guy on a Cannondale carrying an extra wheel on his back. This guy blew by me and, of course, I could not let it go. I took my crop to the Fuji’s backside and gave chase… and chased… and chased…

And when I realized I was going to blow up before ever catching this guy’s wheel, er, wheels, I decided I must record the incident:

That’s as close as I ever got to him before we caught some dog-walker traffic. But once beyond the canines and their unaware owners, Wheelman was gone and never to be seen again.

I am guessing I rode between 24 and 28mph chasing this guy. I was in my second to last gear, in the big ring, and I was cranking. For probably a mile or more. Maybe even two. I really have no idea. But thank God for the dog-walkers. As I watched him disappear, I sucked down a Gu, drank, and decided to take it easy for a while and enjoy the scenery.

Soon, the river spun off one way and I turned another, and was riding along beautiful creeks and mini waterfalls, and through moss-covered forests of trees. And the city planners in this particular area (now about 15-20 miles from downtown Portland) did something really nice — all along this perfectly paved, 10-foot wide bike trail they created some really cool wooden walking trails to keep cyclists and pedestrians separated.

Yes, there were some walkers on the pavement, and I saw some cyclists on the wood, but mostly it kept things nice and safe for everyone.

I found no hills on this day and didn’t mind. I was just enjoying the experience of seeing new sights.

Eventually, I made it to the Columbia River, though it was far enough away from the trail that photos were pointless… or maybe by that time I was just too into the ride to pull the iPhone anymore.

At the end, my journey from Waterfront Bicycles and back took 2 hours and fifty-seven minutes. I did stop to take some photos, but other than that, I was pedaling. I don’t know how far I rode. If I had to guess, I’d say… average of maybe 14mph for 3 hours… so yeah, probably right around the 40-mile neighborhood.

I felt great after and was so thankful for the weather.

I have not weighed myself once since arriving here. I will not until I return to Cycling Mecca next week. Will I be back up over 210? Will I have dropped even more weight without cycling, but just managing my eating? All will be revealed in next week’s post. Until then…

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Catch that dude with the third wheel.

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 21, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Rainy

The Good

This week’s weigh-in.

209!

Yes, we have cracked the 210 barrier. And I could not be happier because it happened during a week when I managed but one ride outside. I had three episodes on the trainer, but still, this week was nothing like the previous week from a riding standpoint.

But what I did do was — I mastered my eating. I did not have one bad day/night, and that makes me feel as good as completing a century ride. Okay, almost as good.

I can see 200 pounds, people! It’s way out there on the horizon, but I can see it.

The Bad

Tomorrow morning I have to leave Cycling Mecca due to work. And I’m going to be gone for no less than 23 days.

23 days without Cycling Mecca.

23 days without Hal 9000.

23 days without The Goat, or the Unfat Machine, or the Green Hornet.

23 days in a hotel with 24-hr room service, and no less than 31 restaurants within a 10-minute walk.

23 days of working 12 hours a day M-F, which will consist mostly of… sitting.

The Rainy

The place I will be spending the next 23 days is Portland, OR.

Wait, Portland you say? “Well, I hear that’s one of the single best cycling cities in all the United States!”

Yes, well, Portland is certainly cycling friendly. And I do plan on renting a bike. However, in addition to my 60 hours a week of sitting, Portland this time of year offers something I have rarely experienced on my rides.

Rain.

Lots.

Like London amounts. Or more.

It rains almost every single day in Portland this time of year. I have ridden in the rain exactly three times. And two of those times it was for less than 10 minutes.

But I am bringing my helmet and gloves and cold weather riding gear, and warm weather riding gear, and my pedals. I am committed to trying.

I do not want the great work I’ve managed over the past few weeks to be wasted. So I have to be more disciplined than I ever have in my eating. And I have to try and ride on the weekends.

So I will.

In the rain. On an unfamiliar and unfitted machine, over unfamiliar terrain. Just two days a week.

The Good. The Bad. and The Rainy. Bet you can’t wait for these ride reports!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Be like Clint Eastwood.

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

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