Posted by: fizzhogg | March 13, 2012

Things That Suck

Yes, this will be a negative post, but I hope to end it positively. But first… the weigh-in.

This week we tipped the scales at…

210.

ARRRGGHHH!!!

I so wanted to drop below that 10. After last week’s great weight descent, and the number of miles I rode this week – nearly 120 – I was hoping for a 209 or better.

210.

What happened? Well apparently, I discovered a MAJOR KEY in the weight-loss phenomena… ready?

Eating can influence your weight. 

Seriously.

I have discovered that if you eat less and eat better, you lose more weight than if you eat more and eat worse.

I’m thinking of starting my own infomercial to make gobs of money off of this amazing discovery. But first, back to the matter at hand, namely this clydesdale on a carbon fiber goat.

So I rode a lot this week, and ate… not as good as I could have. I still have yet to have even one potato chip (crisp) this year, and I’ve had no more than 2 orders of french fries (another heroin-like weakness of mine) in 2012, and I have absolutely improved my worst habit – eating late at night.

But this week, I did have a couple of meals after 8pm… and one of them I totally threw portion control out the window. Just one night. And boom…

Only a half pound dropped in a 120-mile week.

I suck.

Which leads me to the title of this post… Things That Suck. Subtitle: Things That Suck in Cycling. Sub-subtitle: Things That Suck in MY Personal Cycling World.

In no particular order:

— When you’re riding an out-and-back route, or even a loop, and you suffer through a headwind on the way out, knowing how awesome it will be to ride that tailwind home… only to have the wind shift on you, and you get one of those “Headwind out and headwind back” rides.

— Cyclists who toss their empty gel packs and energy bar wrappers onto the road. YOU SUCK. Stick them in your jersey pocket, you lame, entitled, pompous asshats.

— When you’re climbing and you see the last section before the summit, so you crank the watts and hammer it up to the top… only to find that it’s a false summit and you have another 200 meters to go.

— Motorcyclists who like to play that game of “Let’s see how close we can ride to the bicycle rider.” YOU SUCK. These morons usually perform this idiotic and dangerous game when the bike rider is climbing. Nothing throws you out of your climbing rhythm more than a motorcycle screaming by within six inches of you.

— When you are descending at over 40mph, fully tucked, your face in a Jens Voigt grimace, your mouth just barely opened wide enough… for a bug to fly directly in and slam against the back of your throat. You want to know what it feels like to hold your heart in your hand? Try remaining calm and under control going down an 11% grade at over 40mph when a bug Kamikazes itself into your mouth.

— People who have ridden in group rides more than three times and yet STILL don’t understand the concepts of holding your line, passing on the left, pointing out debris, and using hand signals as well as your own freaking voice to call out pending stops, cars, etc. You suck.

— Being out on a ride where you’ve succeeded in pushing yourself harder and riding farther than you originally planned, only to discover you’ve run out of food and/or water and you’re still over 20 miles from home.

— Riders who blow their snot on other riders. More specifically, the tall dude on the white Specialized who snotted on me yesterday. Let me paint the picture for you, Dear Reader…

I was out enjoying my ride, about 28 miles in, when I hit a short but steep climb. As I spun my way up, I was dropped by a tall dude on a white Specialized Tarmac. Now, normally, I don’t complain about cyclists who don’t wave at other cyclists or any such rot. But generally, when you are passing and thus, dropping a rider on a climb, you at least acknowledge them. If not a “Good morning” or simple “On your left” then you give a smile or even a nod.

This dude did none of those. Which, as stated before, is generally okay with me. I wave or acknowledge every cyclist I see. Because I love our community. Sometimes I don’t get anything back, and it’s okay. There’s a myriad of reasons why someone may not wave at you or whatever. But I digress.

So tall dude passes me on the climb without so much as a glance in my direction. I get to the summit and begin the descent. And I fly down that hill, closing to within about 30 meters of him once we hit the base on the hill. I cruise along behind him, staying between 10 and 20 meters back. He slows and makes the same turn I’m going to make, and thus, I close a bit more on him.

Next we have a relatively straight and flat section of road that rolls along for about 3 miles or so. I ride behind the dude, making sure to never get within about 7 or 8 meters of him – because I don’t want him thinking I’m sucking his wheel, nor do I want to suck his wheel – I will never do that to a stranger out on the road. Just not proper etiquette, in my humble opinion.

Tall dude is rolling along about 20/21mph, so I have no desire/need to pass him. I assume he knows I’m there because I think he saw me when we made the turn, and at one point I had to coast to keep from closing on him, and The Goat has one of those clickety-clack rear hubs when you’re not pedaling, and I’m sure he heard me because I saw his head turn just slightly.

Anyway, about 2 miles into the 3-mile stretch, as I’m about 7 meters off his wheel, this tall dude on the white Specialized lays finger to nose, turns his head and blows a wad of snot that rides the wind straight back onto me.

I yell out some sort of expletive and he barely turns his head again, then rolls on away. Possibly the single most disgusting incident I’ve ever encountered on a bike, other than vomiting during the 100 Miles Of Nowhere.

To the tall dude on the white Specialized (and any other cyclist who participates in this activity): YOU SUCK.

Okay, enough negativity. I’m sure you could all add dozens of things that suck in the comments section, but let’s end on a positive note. Things that DON’T suck about cycling. Feel free to drop a comment about what you think does not suck about cycling.

I will start us off…

It does not suck when you roll out for a ride and discover comfortable temperatures and zero wind, and that’s what you get for your entire ride.

Who’s next?

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Don’t suck.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 5, 2012

It Never Gets Easier, You Just Go Faster

The awesome Steve’s recent post/link on Velominati’s cycling “rules” reminded me of something Hova told me when I first began the Unfat Project bak in 2010.

It never gets easier, you just go faster. 

I set a goal to drop three pounds this week. I wanted 210. I did not make it.

210.5

I lost two and a half pounds. Didn’t make the goal, but setting the goal served its purpose. I ate well and rode The Goat, and dropped the most weight I’ve dropped in one week.

So I’m good. And I continually reminded myself It never gets easier, you just go faster.

This means, obviously, that cycling – training; riding; climbing; et al – doesn’t ever get easier, because as you get more fit and better on the bike, you go faster, thus, pushing yourself more. I said in an earlier post one of the things I love about cycling is that I am just like Levi Leipheimer and Andy Schleck and Jens Voigt… okay, NO ONE is like Jens Voigt.

But the point is – they suffer just like we suffer. Only they are going faster. When Levi won Leadville – arguably the single most difficult one day bike race in the country – he said, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never suffered so much.”

Guess what? That’s the same thing the person who finished 884th said.

Though, I am back on the bike consistently, and eating much better, I am suffering more on my rides than ever before. I was thinking that this phenomenon might discourage others who are experiencing it. But I am here to tell you it is a sign that things are improving.

I can feel myself pushing harder on my rides. My average speed at the end does not necessarily indicate a huge difference, but when I am out there rolling along – I used to cruise at a pretty consistent 14-16mph. I am now almost always at 18mph or more.

I am still a slug on the hills, but that is because of my weight, and because I am trying to climb faster. Or at least steadier.

This weekend I put 75 miles on The Goat. I climbed nearly 7,000 feet. But the best part was that when I clipped in at the beginning of my rides, I had no idea where I was going, or how far I’d ride, or if I’d even climb at all.

I just started riding. And once out there, it just feels so good – seriously, is there anything better than being out on the bike? – to know that you’re getting healthier and stronger, and that your body craves to be pushed. So I sought out hills. On Saturday I climbed “Stunt Road” – a 4-mile climbed that averages about 7%, but unlike other climbs where there are certain recovery areas, Stunt is pretty consistent in its constant 7% grade. It has five switchbacks and a bunch of turns, and when you get to the top, you get this:

I had never ridden Stunt prior to this weekend. I had been too scared. But I felt so good after conquering it, I raced down it – the best part of climbing is descending! – and then on my way back home, decided to hit another hill, something we in Cycling Mecca call 7 Minute Hill. It got its name because the top level riders in the area try to climb it in seven minutes. I don’t know its length or average grade, but my best time is about 13 minutes.

Then on Sunday I set out again with no destination in mind. I ended up at Rock Store. I climbed it. It hurt. I can so feel the extra seven pounds I’m carrying compared to when I rode it in 20:50 last summer. But still, I did it. And at the top, you get this:

If you open the pic you can just see the Rock Store road snaking up from near the lake.

Then I descended Rock Store.

Have I mentioned how much I love descending?

Then, on my home, I took a detour – on a road I had not ridden before – and found the BIGGEST LOSER compound. That in itself was an inspiration. I rode more. Climbed more. And eventually made it back home. Exhausted, sore, and never feeling better.

Tomorrow I plan to ride again, but no climbing. Just long and flat, high cadence, lots of speed. Who knows where I’ll end up? Maybe at the base of a climb?

No matter what, though, I’ll be suffering. Because it never gets easier… you just go faster.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Glory through suffering.

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 26, 2012

We interrupt this Descent

213.

Yep. A full pound back up.

On one hand, I am really bugged. Annoyed. I am sick of being this size. I am sick of not pushing myself harder.

On the other hand, I am trying to stay positive. I have been dropping much more than not since I recommitted. And I will say that I have been much more focused on my eating habits – which is the cornerstone of this or any weight loss project. And I can pretty much guess now when I will be up or down on my weight.

This week I was buried with work. I did not get any riding in at all. I did managed two sessions of the trainer, and that’s where part of disappointment in myself lies – I should have gotten in four or five sessions.

And my eating was very solid but for one day when I probably consumed 3,000 calories or more in one sitting. I dined at the amazing SCARPETTA – the single best restaurant in Los Angeles. Freddy Vargas, the master chef at Scarpetta Beverly Hills, served me a custom-made 6-course meal.

How could I say no? And at least it was “good” food – meaning all fresh, perfectly cooked ingredients (tons of veggies) – as opposed to bags of chips (crisps) and french fries and ice cream.

So that coupled with the lack of saddle time, and I knew I was in for disappointment on the scale this weekend.

But again, no excuses. I COULD HAVE DROPPED WEIGHT THIS WEEK. I COULD HAVE WORKED HARDER, PUSHED MYSELF MORE.

But I did not.

And I’m paying the price.

I have to spend all of Sunday working, but the first thing I’m doing when I’m done is getting on the trainer. Time for a SUFFERFEST. I must be punished.

The good news is, the weather forecast for the coming week looks 80% sunny, and hopefully, I can find time to ride to make up for last week. If not… Sufferfest.

I’m tired of being in this 210-220 vacuum. I want to be under 210. I want it now.

I’m setting a mini goal this week, starting today… I want to drop three pounds by next weigh-in.

I want to weigh 210 when I hit the scale next weekend.

I began today with an egg white and fresh bell peppers concoction, and 20 minutes of core exercises. Now I go to work for several hours, eating healthy, and drinking tons of water throughout the day, and then tonight… Sufferfest.

Descending is painful. But the view from below is worth it.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Push yourself.

 

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 20, 2012

The descent continues

This weekend, even without riding (I was in StL being domestic), I weighed in at 212.

Another full pound gone. I say gone as opposed to down because… down can come back up, but gone is gone. Never to return.

I’ve done well forcing myself onto the trainer when I haven’t been able to ride outside, but the single best thing I’m doing is eating better. No garbage throughout the day, and nothing at night. My dinners consist of fruits, veggies and perhaps a Lean Cuisine here or there. And where my standard go-to “treat” used to be potato chips (crisps for Gaz and Clive) at least once a night, I’ve now turned to homemade popcorn (with light olive oil) once or twice a week.

I’m back in the land of Cycling Mecca this week and hope to reach 275 miles for February. Stay tuned.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 12, 2012

Glory Through Cycling

213 Friday morning! Yes, it’s only down a half pound from last week, but ANY week that you drop weight is a GREAT week.

I decided to celebrate my 213 with an epic ride with the CVC rouleurs – have I mentioned how much I love this bike club – on Saturday. The Orange group would be riding “Mulholland” – which means rolling out to the coast, cruising along the Pacific Ocean, then a climb up Mulholland – an 8.5 mile climb that averages between 6-8%. Total mileage for this ride is right around 50.

Perfect.

But then as life does occasionally, I was thrown a curveball (actually more of a nasty slider) about 1:30am Saturday morning. I received some very bad news – the type of news you get in the middle of the night, and that which makes it impossible to return to sleep. I finally managed to fall back asleep around 3:30 or so.

So much for meeting the club at 8:30am.

But I still wanted to have an epic ride. Coming off my Continental earlier in the week, and my new weight drop, I was feeling great cycling-wise, and… I knew I needed to ride long and hard to process the bad news I received.

So I awoke around 8:15. Ate, filled my bottles, pumped my tires (or tyres for Gaz), put on my Magic Cycling Kit (Rapha), and decided I would ride the Orange ride route, and maybe catch some stragglers on the last part of the climb. The last thing I added before rolling out was my iPod… I was going to need music on this day, and it was the best decision I could have made.

The first 18-20 miles of the ride was fairly flat, with a decent crosswind, and with my inspiring music and magical kit I managed to maintain an average speed over 18mph – great for me.

I hit the first climb of the day and then the first descent, and could not have felt better. I was alone on the ride, absorbed in the music and thoughts of faraway friends.

I turned for the coast, rolling through lettuce and strawberry fields, and then there it was… the ocean. I’m not sure there’s anything much better in cycling than riding along a coast. I could be wrong, but for me, it is nirvana.

I rolled along with a slight tailwind now, and kept my speed around the 23mph mark. I thought about my bad news, about the people I knew that were suffering in a way that made the very worst of cycling suffering nothing but an eye blink.

It was slightly overcast with the sun making little cameo appearances at just the right intervals. Something happened to me out there along the coast. I don’t know what it was, but I changed a bit as a person. For the good. It’s not something to get into here on a blog like this, other than to say, you can have life-altering experiences when riding on 1-inch of rubber.

I turned for Mulholland and began the climb. It was long, it was tough, and it was glorious. I pushed myself, I suffered, and at the summit I was rewarded with one of the more exciting, more technical descents in the area.

In the end I had spent three and a half hours in the saddle, I’d seen some beautiful scenery, and burned over 3500 calories (according to Hal 9000), and in some unexplainable way, gotten a little closer to God.

Normally, I end these posts with the whole “Eat better…” signature, but not today.

Life is precious. It’s a cliche, but only because it’s true. And you simply cannot understand how precious life is – or how quickly it can end – until it happens; to you or someone close to you. So appreciate each day. Give thanks. You don’t have to believe in God to do it. Even if you believe in nothing but a giant, empty void, you can still just give a silent thanks for each day you’re alive and able to enjoy things like friends, family, sport, the sun, the ocean, children, and the glorious endeavor that is cycling.

 

Fair winds and following seas to all

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 7, 2012

You Must Get Lost To Be Found

You all know how much I love the Rapha films, and specifically the whole philosophy of the Rapha Continental.

This weekend I had my own Rapha Continental. I had a great weigh-in… Oh! The weigh-in!

This week’s weigh-in…

213.5

Yes! Down two pounds from last week. We are descending again!

Okay, back to the Continental. So, I had a great weigh-in, then watched an outstanding cycling dvd (subject of my next post) given to me by Little Joey Choo Choo – so named because of his similarity to that little train in that little book about climbing hills.

The weather was decent if not for a little wind, and I needed to spend most of the day working, but I wanted to ride. So I donned my Rapha jersey and new Rapha bibs (thank you Santa), dropped 5 Gu’s into my pocket and headed out to get in a good 25-30 miles – a two hour ride.

Let me pause here to say… I always put too many Gu’s in my jersey. Always. It’s because Hova once warned me about getting stuck out on the road without any fuel and thus, bonking. I have never bonked since early 2010 and it’s because I always take enough Gu’s.

But it gets annoying when I return from rides and have two or three or four or more Gu’s left over. I’ve been doing this a while now, I know how much I eat on the bike – every 30-40 minutes. No matter what. So… going out for a two-hour ride like I was on this day, meant I needed no more than four Gu’s. But I took five to be safe, just not seven like I normally would.

Who can spot the foreshadowing?

So I rolled out for a nice two-hour ride with the images of this great dvd in my head, and the magic of the Rapha kit on my Philip Seymour Hoffman-like physique. I decided I would do what’s called here in Cycling Mecca “Hidden Valley out and back.”

A nice 26-mile cruise without much climbing, and a nice little headwind, which means the greatest gift in cycling – a tailwind on the way home.

But as I neared the fork in the road – don’t all of life’s greatest moments involve a fork in the road? As I neared the fork in the road which signifies the end of the “Out” part…

Let me pause here to explain… you get to the fork and turn around for the “out and back” ride, or else you continue on and immediately encounter a stinging half-mile climb, followed by a glorious 2 .2-mile descent where even a girlie descender like Little Joey Choo Choo can reach speeds well over 40mph. If you do that, the only way “back” is to either turn around and go up the 2.2 mile (10% avg) climb or else ride on, eventually doing one of several loops, making the ride anything from 35 miles to over 60.

At the fork, I was feeling so good that I kept going. I hadn’t really gotten my climbing legs back this season, but for some reason I wanted to test myself, push myself. So I did. I went up the stinger as fast and as hard as I could, then down the other side, reaching 45mph. Nothing gets the adrenaline going like hitting 45mph on 1-inch of rubber right after cooking yourself on a climb.

WooHoo!!!

Then something really cool happened that has only happened to me once or twice before. I hit what I call the Rapha Zone. Suddenly, I was just riding. I wasn’t paying any attention to speeds or heart rates or cadence or efforts or any of that. I wasn’t thinking about my route or my time or my miles.

I was just riding. Not cruising, but riding. Not taking it easy, but not redlining.

And before I knew it…

I was lost.

I had gone beyond the last turn which makes the 55-60 mile loop. I was in a place I’d never been. And I didn’t care. I was loving it. I took out my iPhone with its amazing map app, and found which roads I needed to hit to get back home. I knew I was low on Gu and water, but hey – I read my app and knew just a left turn here, a right turn there, and I’d be back in familiar land, and could refill bottles and get home on my last 2 Gu’s.

I read the app wrong.

Or rather, I didn’t pay close enough attention when I was reading it. I hit a road I’d seen on the app that ran along the freeway and led back to a familiar area. But guess what?

The road does not run along the freeway… the road was an ONRAMP TO the freeway. US 101 to be exact.

Oops.

I stopped, dismounted The Goat, and started the walk of shame back up the ramp, cars honking, desperately hoping I didn’t die in such a lame way.

Eventually, I found my way back to more familiar territory, managed to refill my water bottles, and as I was headed in the general direction of home, the wind shifted. Shifted as in – went from 2nd gear to 5th gear. Within minutes I was cranking into a headwind that had to have been 25-30mph. It sucked.

But it was also great. I was on a Continental. I was just riding. I loved every suffering minute.

And for the second time during that ride I forgot about my destination and got lost (this time thematically) in the ride.

I saw a newly paved road I had never been on and decided to take it. I had no idea what my mileage was at this point, and honestly had no memory I was down to one Gu. Home was due east. This road went Southeast.

Close enough.

As I rode and explored and rode and explored, Blind Faith’s CAN’T FIND MY WAY HOME filled my head. I was having the time of my life.

I was back.

My new road led to another and suddenly I was climbing again. I downed the last Gu, and cranked. And cranked. It was a climb I’d never done. And to be honest – in hindsight – if I had been aware of the climb before doing it on any other day, I would not have done it. I would have told myself “You don’t have your climbing legs back” or “You are too fat right now” or “Save it for April or May.”

But I didn’t…

I hit the summit, completely drained, and yet, feeling better than I had in weeks and weeks… and here’s what was waiting for me at the top…

Sometimes you must get lost to be found.

For you stat geeks, in the end I had ridden 52 miles, climbed 3000 feet and rolled up to my place with no Gu and not a drop of water left in my bottles.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat… only with more Gu’s.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Enjoy the RIDE.

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 31, 2012

Of Weight Gain, Choo-Choo’s and Pelotonic Wars

This week’s weigh-in…

215.5

Yes. I have put one full pound back on. How?

No riding.

My eating was pretty good. On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 1 being I ate only fast food after 10pm at night, and 10 being I ate only fruits and veggies and lean turkey, and drank 8 bottles of water a day…

I was a 7.

But I was not in Cycling Mecca for most of the past 2 weeks, or when I was, I was buried with work, and thus – as you can see from the sidebar – I did not ride.

My mate, however, rode his Colombian arse off. Joe Hortua, heretofore known as Little Joey Choo-Choo, is a fellow TV scribe, who, after 20 years off the bike, was convinced by yours truly to get back on.

And get back on he did, buying a Specialized Tarmac this past summer, and conquering the hills of Philadelphia. Now in Cycling Mecca with me, he is a proud member of CVC – Conejo Valley Cyclists – my uber cool club, and has already surpassed me on the color scale of rides.

I rode with the Gold group last year for the most part. Gold is one level above purple – which is beginner. The rides are all color-coded based on distance and elevation gain. Anyway, by the end of my first season in Cycling Mecca, I was either riding at the front of the Gold Group, or at the back of the Orange group – one level above Gold.

Above Orange there is Red… the Red Riders are fast. They ride far and they climb high, and they do it fast. An example: a typical Orange ride might be 43 miles with 3500 feet of climbing. A Red ride that same day will be 55-60 miles with 4500 feet of climbing.

And the pace will be several mph higher than Orange.

Bringing Little Joey Choo-Choo out to CVC was a pleasure and I felt like quite the rider on our first outing together when I could sense that I needed to slow down so as not to drop my friend, being as how I am such a superior rider.

But… remember when I mentioned Little Joey Choo-Choo had been off the bike? Well, turns out that when he was on the bike – 20 years ago – he didn’t just ride. He raced.

Yeah.

And now, 20 years later, with only 6 months back in the saddle, he is racing again. Only he doesn’t know it.

See, he is racing me.

After our little outing where I was so generous to my friend so as not to embarrass him by dropping his hickory bronze Colombian arse, Little Joey Choo-Choo went out and rode with the club again… while I was out of town. Or working. Or both. I don’t remember. I’m still in a bit of a haze about it all.

See, Little Joey Choo-Choo went out – in only his third ride with the club – and rode with the Red riders.

And stayed with them. The whole way. Over 60 miles.

Stayed with the FRONT group. On a day that had 40mph winds.

Uh, huh.

So, I’m going to take my much-too-large Gold group riding arse and get it into shape even faster than before. Before Little Joey Choo-Choo made me question what little manhood I have left.

I now have a new resolve to add to my other 2012 resolves.

I resolve to catch Little Joey Choo-Choo before I leave Cycling Mecca again. Catch his svelte, red-riding, hickory bronze, Colombian arse…

and drop him.

I don’t care if it’s the rudest thing I ever do. I don’t care if it’s in the middle of a downpour and he’s lost his gps and has no idea how to get home to his wife and beautiful children.

He is getting dropped…

I resolve to drop my friend.

Now, some of you more astute readers might have noticed that the week I put ON a pound is probably not the best week to make this resolve.

But timing has never been my strong suit.

I must get back to work now. Back to the trainer. The bike. The healthy food. I leave you with an open letter to Little Joey Choo-Choo…

Dear Lying, Cheating, Arrogant, Oh-I-Haven’t-Ridden-In-20-Years-So-I-Suck-And-So-Please-Be-Kind-To-Me-Cuz-I’m-So-Slow Little Joey Choo-Choo,

Somewhere, sometime, when you least expect it, you’ll be out on a ride – maybe one of your fancy schmancy Red rides – but you will be out on a ride, enjoying yourself, pedaling along, admiring your Sammy Sanchezesque technique via your perfect shadow, and you will hear something.

You’ll think it’s the wind at first, but then realize there is no wind. You’ll think perhaps there is an issue with your Specialized Tarmac, but then you’ll realize, no, it’s coming from…

Behind.

And the moment you turn and look back to identify the noise, it will be at that moment that you will see the source of the noise… it will be me and The Goat, flying by you like Contador by a dropped-chain Schleck.

And by the time you get your head back around, and more so – get your brain back around the Chriss Angel mindFREAK that just happened – you will have been officially dropped.

By a tubby guy who you didn’t know you were even racing.

So there.

Oh, and you descend like a little girl.

Sincerely,

Fizz

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

There are no friends in the peloton.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 24, 2012

Post No Bills

No descent post this week.

Had to leave town for family issues.

Will check in next week.

Meanwhile, enjoy this shot of Angliru – one of the most brutal climbs in all of Spain… imagine the descent.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 14, 2012

The Weigh-In

214.5

One half pound down from last week. Not great, barely good, but going in the right direction. At this pace, I could lose 26 pounds this year.

I am just starting a descent. A massive descent. It will be long and technical and scary and at times slow, and sometimes lightning fast. But I have started the descent.

The descent to 180 pounds.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 7, 2012

2012 A New Beginning

Author’s note: we all have different weight/health goals, and what is grossly overweight for one person may not be for another, but it’s all relative and we’re all rowing against the same current

215.

That’s the number.

I could lie to you and fudge the number a little, but we have all shared too much for that. Besides, that would only hurt me.

215.

That is what I weighed on the morning on January 4th, 2012. After dropping to a low of 198 back in November of 2010, I have put on nearly half the weight I lost that year. And the worst part? I did it all in just two months.

In October of 2011, just after completing the Livestrong Challenge Austin, I weighed 205 pounds. Not the 199 I managed the year before, but still thirty pounds lighter than when I started the 2Kin2K10 Unfat Project.

215.

I put on TEN POUNDS in TWO MONTHS. How? It was quite easy. I need do only two things.

1. Not ride my bike

2. Eat lots of crap.

It would be easy to sit back and make excuses – the holidays, work, needed family time, blah, blah, blah.

There are no excuses. I ate when and what I should not. And I did not ride when I should have ridden.

My body was complaining – I have now ridden enough in these last two years that my body wants to ride. Needs to ride. Just like it used to want to eat fried food, and needed to be fed to be comforted emotionally.

Bollocks. (That’s for Gaz and Clive)

My non-riding excuses were the ones we all use; too cold, too windy, not enough time for a worthwhile ride, I have to work, I want to be with my kids…

Bollocks.

Being with my kids is WHY I have ridden nearly 5,000 miles since I began this project. Is it truly worth it to “be with my kids” an extra hour here or there if it means I will die sooner? Wouldn’t my kids want me to NOT be with them several extra hours a week here or there if it means I will be around several extra years?

That’s 1st grade math in my opinion.

And in 2011, I failed 1st grade math. Well, in November and December.

Before I began this project I weighed between 235 and 245 pounds for several years. A lot of years. Yes, some of you weigh far more but see my author’s note at the top.

In 2010 I dropped to below 200 for the first time since… let me check… 1995.

And in one glorious year I erased 15 years of fat and unhealthy living.

Then in two months I began to piss it away.

But I stopped the free fall. I have caught myself. I have looked into the mirror and said, “No freaking way, Tubby. You Ain’t getting away with it.” Or words to that effect.

2012

“The Dozen” is what I have named 2012. So when you see the cool kids trending this on Twitter and hear it in movies about teen angst, you’ll know it was Fizz who started the pop culture craze.

The Dozen. The year I take back my life.

I have been so inspired by you all. Gaz, Clive, Steve, the list goes on and on. And I feel I’ve let you down as well as myself. I told Gaz I would challenge him to see who could come closest to losing 40 pounds in 2011.

Um… Gaz, you win.

But enough whining. Let’s get back to The Dozen.

I am back in Cycling Mecca. Last year I rode over 1500 miles in less than six months in Cycling Mecca. And 95% of that was riding only on weekends. I am back and ready to take full advantage of CM. I want over 2,000 miles before I leave this time.

I do not think I have ever been this focused or dedicated to healthy living/weight loss since midway through 2010. How focused?

Not only did I bring The Goat to Cycling Mecca, but I brought The Unfat Machine to have sitting on the trainer 24/7 so there will NEVER be an excuse not to do some sort of pedaling.

How focused am I?

Last night I loaded up at the grocery store. Bought everything I need for my little apartment. Last year I bought some pasta, a few fruits, almost no veggies, and many, many chips (crisps, Gaz), and other treats. After all, I knew I was riding hard and needed to be rewarded, right?

This year? Well, let’s take a look inside Fizz’s icebox; 8 apples, 4 oranges, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, carrots, boneless skinless chicken breasts, iced tea, avocado, eggs, and skim milk cheese. Gone is the nitrate-filled lunch meats, the two loaves of bread, the mounds of cheese, the bacon (God, I love bacon), the ice cream sandwiches, processed fried chicken nuggets, sausage, and other assorted yum-yums.

In the cabinets are whole-grain gluten-free pasta, brown rice, black beans, and gone are the potato chips, white rice, regular pasta, etc.

The only thing in this apartment that resembles even a hint of last year’s diet is a single box of Triscuits.

See, last year, while I was riding and climbing and riding and climbing, I was also eating crap. Not a lot of crap. Not a daily craptacular intake of enough fried food to fill an SUV, but still… crap.

This is why I did not drop another 5 or 10 or 40 pounds even though I was riding more than I did in 2010.

Eat better.

Here’s the other focused thing that is on like Donkey Kong in The Dozen: eating out.

Eating out less and not eating crap when eating out.

See, I love restaurants. I mean, I freaking love the event of dining. Check my twitter from last night and you will see how much I freaking love eating out.  @Fizzhogg

But in 2011 I would say 90% of my dining out consisted of some level of crap in each meal. Not just a side of bread, but fries and cheese and fries and did I mention fries?

I wrote here about Ladyface Ale House last year. I love Ladyface. Great food, great people, and a futbol match on at all times. Their menu has some wonderful, healthy items – which I ate last year. And their menu has the single best moules-frites (mussels and fries) I have ever had in this country.

And I ate a lot of Ladyface moules-frites last year.

Now, I’m not saying I’m turning into a food nazi. I know I cannot deny myself any moules-frites. But what I can do is be focused enough on the big picture (my gut) to only order them maybe every third or fourth time I go to Ladyface, and more importantly, go to Ladyface Ale House less.

Eat at home more. Cook my own meals more. It saves money and is much, much healthier.

Last night I went to Scarpetta – the single greatest restaurant in all of Los Angeles. I had a 7-course meal that was the single greatest meal I have ever had in my life. Nothing was fried, but master chef Freddy Vargas certainly used some oils and butter and whatnot to achieve those flavors.

That meal was a farewell to my body. The one I currently occupy. I could have found the best burger and fries in Los Angeles and said goodbye with that. But I wanted something good. I wanted something epic. All the ingredients were farm fresh and while there were many, many calories consumed, it was so much better for me than a box of chicken nuggets and two large order of fries.

It was an indulgence. Something I did way too much of in 2011. And something I will do much, much, much less this year.

2012. The Dozen. The year I take my life back.

I could set goals here – 5,000 miles, losing 30 pounds, blah, blah, blah. But goals can be tough and they leave room for excuses – “At least I tried.

No goals this year. Only resolutions.

“New Year’s Resolutions” has become such a cliche in this world that people forget what it means.

Resolve. Having resolve.

Starting today…

I resolve to eat much, much, much healthier.

I resolve to hold myself accountable publicly – I will post my weight on this blog once a week.

I resolve to NEVER have a bag of potato chips (or tortilla chips) in my apartment at any time. Ever.

I resolve to NEVER eat after 7pm at night, unless it’s a fruit or veggie.

I resolve to manage my portion control.

I resolve to ride my bike whenever I can.

I resolve not to be lazy.

If I follow all of the above the weight will come off. It will fall off me faster than a dress off a cheerleader on homecoming night.

I want to thank you all for riding on the handlebars with me the past two years. It has been fun. It can still be fun, but it’s time to get very serious as well. I believe part of why I didn’t do so well in 2011 and really tanked in the final two months is because I wasn’t talking with you all.

Holding myself accountable. To you. I resolve to blog more in 2012. We can laugh, we can have fun, and we can get healthy. What this blog will not be used for is excuses. What is the point of having a blog like this if ever third or fourth post is “So, I ate crap yesterday, but starting tomorrow I will do better!”

Bollocks.

Gaz… Gaz is our poster boy. Our leader. Our knight battling the dragon. When any of us (especially me) thinks we can’t do it, it’s too hard, it’s too cold, too windy, I’m too tired, I want to be with my family, I deserve a treat — when any of us think any of that, we need to immediately hit the web and go to Gaz’s before & after page.

We need to remember the words of Ken Chlouber that I have hammered into you all ad nauseam:

YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE

YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you 2012… The Dozen. The year WE ALL take back our lives.

EAT BETTER.

RIDE YOUR BIKE.

BE ACCOUNTABLE.

 

 

You’re very good, you are you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 5, 2012

2011 – a Rolling Hills ride

2011 was the second year of the 2Kin2K10 UNFAT PROJECT, and whereas 2010 was akin to a long steady climb with a beautiful view at the summit, 2011 was like one of those brutal roads of rolling hills that after a while can really demoralize you.

Ups and downs I think non-cyclists call this.

There were some amazing highs in 2011: Discovering Cycling Mecca; Joining the Conejo Valley Cyclists club; climbing Rock Store; taking ownership of Unfat II The Goat; making new cycling friends; raising money for Livestrong; my son meeting the Garmin-Cervelo team; riding in the Livestrong Challenge Austin and finishing it despite battling food poisoning; completing several things on my OHTTDI2KD list; and the highest of highs – riding the Tour de Donut and El Tour de Tucson with my son.

But there were also some very low lows: losing my mother-in-law to cancer; being away from my family for so long; my father-in-law’s current war with cancer; and on the cycling front – finishing the year with so few miles in November/December after such a strong start; falling back into horrible eating habits; ending the year weighing MORE than I started.

That’s right. I put ON weight this year. And I did it all in the last 6 weeks of 2011. I feel like it was akin to… giving up.

I quit.

I went against everything I preach here. I stopped trying.

I got off the bike.

My next post will cover in greater detail my weight issues and 2012 plans. And believe me, I do have plans. But for now, I want to be positive and drink in what it is about this sport/hobby/past time/obsession that we all love and share.

WHY I LOVE CYCLING

These are not in any order other than the way they’ve popped into my head as I thought about it… and I would love to hear from you – why you love cycling, or hate it, or whatever.

I love being outside. I love the too hot and too cold days as much as the perfect weather days. Okay, not as much. But I still love them. Feeling the sun on warm days, feeling your lungs sucking in that crisp, cool air on cold days. I love it all. There are many wondrous things we can do indoors (let’s not get naughty here), but being outside is simply better.

I love that cycling is just like writing. What? Yes, it’s true. Cycling is this solitary endeavor; just you out there on the bike alone (this is not a tandem blog), with nobody to help you, to stop you, to encourage or discourage you. But it is also the greatest communal activity I have ever experienced. There is NOTHING better on certain days than riding with a group. Being with fellow cyclists is so much fun. Being around anyone – stranger or friend – who shares a passion with you? You can’t beat that.

Riding together, swapping stories, talking about why Shimano is so much better than SRAM, talking about work, family, Lance, the pro tour, the continental tour, local bike shops, climbs, food, drink, cars, motorists, cops, robbers, women, men, or the very best part – being there to push each other.

To pull someone up a hill, or have them pull you when your tank is empty. To encourage you that you can push harder, you can go farther, or to try and discourage you! To challenge you, to talk trash, to try and drop you and vice-versa, I simply love riding with others just as much as I love riding alone. Neither is better. They are both amazing.

But wait, how is all that like writing? Well, because writing is also a completely solitary endeavor. Just you and the keyboard or legal pad. No one to push you but yourself. No one to help you create worlds or characters or stories. No one to tell you what you can and cannot write… except network executives, but that’s for another blog.

But writing can also be this great communal activity. In television writing there is nothing better than sitting around with the other writers coming up with stories, or walking down to someone else’s office when you’re stuck in the middle of a third act that doesn’t work and borrowing a cup of writing.

Talking writing is one of my great loves. And being with other writers is just like riding in a peloton. People doing what you are doing, sharing that same passion, there’s nothing better.

Writing and cycling – total solitary endeavors that are some of the best group activities, too.

I love the challenge. I love pushing myself beyond my own expectations. I love pushing myself beyond what I’ve ever done before. I have talked here ad nauseam about Ken Chlouber of Leadville and his quote that I now try to live my life by:

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

It is true. If you haven’t experienced this yet, it is because you have NOT pushed yourself hard enough. Because it is gospel. It is more true than taxes or death. And it has changed me not only as a cyclist, but as a person. I have taken that quote and used it in other aspects of my life and guess what?

It works there just as well as it does on the bike, when you’re suffering up that last climb of the day and your body is screaming that it has nothing left, and yet you crank a little bit harder and find a little bit extra and you do something you did not believe you could do… on or off the bike.

I love that I am just like Mark Cavendish and Levi Leipheimer. Um… huh? Yes. Here’s is another truly amazing thing about cycling. We are all the same. Let’s take the Leadville Trail 100 as an example.

Leadville is arguably the toughest single day bike race in the country. And people like you and me attempt it each year, just like Levi and Lance and other pros do. And despite the fact that Levi might finish five or six hours ahead of us, we both suffered the same.

What? Yes. The riders finishing six hours behind Levi suffered just as much as Levi and the other leaders did. Here’s why — in order for Levi to his very best out there he had to give 100%. He had to push himself to his absolute limit and beyond. Don’t think so? A quick Google search will show you Levi’s post-race press conference where he says exactly that.

And regardless of who you are or what shape you’re in, when you push yourself to that point… it all feels the same. Levi was hurting just as badly after six hours of riding as was the rider who finished in 13 hours. The only difference is Levi’s recovery is probably a bit quicker. Same with Cavendish. Listen to him after winning the Worlds or after finishing a grueling mountain stage in the TDF. It’s the same with any rider – pro or amateur – who pushes him/herself to that point.

We all suffer the same. We can sit down after a long ride and talk with a rider who finished hours ahead of us and share things in common.

We all suffer, and we all fall in love with the suffering.

2011 was a disappointment for me on several levels. But I am going to be positive and learn from my mistakes. I am going to use the negativity to fuel my going forward.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2012 and beyond.

EAT BETTER.

RIDE YOUR BIKE.

NEVER GIVE UP. 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | November 27, 2011

2011 EL TOUR DE TUCSON

Well, another El Tour de Tucson is history, and 2011 went much better than 2010. Maybe because I rode the 42-mile event (which turned out to be 43.2 miles) as opposed to the 109-mile like last year. But mostly it was because I rode with BUCKY – my 8-year-old son who was introduced to the cycling world on Fat Cyclist’s blog this summer. 

Prior to this weekend, my son’s longest ride was the Tour de Donut in July – where he rode 31 miles, consumed two Krispy Kreme donuts and had an awesome time. If you have 5 minutes to spare, here is a video of that event:

As morning broke on November 19th, I heard Bucky say (at least eight or nine times), “Dad, I’m really nervous” or “Dad, I’m scared.”  The amazing thing about this boy is that unlike a lot of other kids his age, he does not run from fear. No matter how nervous or afraid he is of something he still pushes forward and does his best. Nothing makes a Pop prouder.

I kept telling him it was okay to be nervous. I reminded him that his hero or heroes Leo Messi says that he still gets nervous before each match. And then, the grand boys of Garmin-Cervelo once again showed their class and awesomeness.

Tommy Danielson tweeted GOOD LUCK BUCKY! And the entire Garmin-Cervelo team – @Ride_Argyle – tweeted GO BUCKY!

When I showed him those messages he smiled and said, “Okay, now I’m ready.”

As in the Tour de Donut my son wanted to start at the very back of the pack, wanted to be the last rider crossing the start line. His bike is still a bit too big for him and so starting and stopping are his achilles heels right now. Plus, he likes to see how many riders he can pass. Competitive to the end.

There were just over 1200 riders for the 43-miler and the only folks starting behind us would be the Mavic Support vehicle.

His uncle – Hova – a professional cycling coach was going to ride with us and would meet us somewhere around the starting line. Once the race started it was thirteen minutes before we crossed the starting line. But Hova was there, along with the PT – Bucky’s aunt. The plan was we would all ride for him. We were his domestiques; we were Jens to his Andy; Hincapie to his Lance.

Bucky was feeling “nervous but okay” as we rolled under the Starting Line banner. We were trailing the entire field which was good because his biggest fear is riding in packs. He is not yet comfortable riding around a lot of other riders. So we rolled up the 1/4 mile straight start and then made the big left turn…

And encountered some of the 6000 other cyclists riding in the 111-mile, 85-mile and 60-mile events.

Even behind his sunglasses I saw my son’s eyes widen as we went from having no one around us to having – literally – hundreds of riders around us. I saw him take a deep breath. Once again he was going to conquer his fear or go out trying.

Hova was masterful as he led Bucky through the maze of riders. I was trailing, videoing it with my helmet-mounted Contour. And I must admit I was really nervous. I thought Hova was pushing Bucky beyond his abilities – not only having him weave in and out of riders, but riding at much too high a pace.

When Bucky and I did the Tour de Donut, his average speed on the flats was usually around 11 or 12mph. Hova was having him crank at around 15-16mph while going through dozens of riders!

I turned to the PT at one point and said, “He’s going to blow up. This pace is too high.”

Obviously I was projecting some of my own neurosis from last year’s El Tour. She assured me Hova knew what he was doing.

We pedaled our way through many, many riders of all shapes, sizes and ages. One particular rider Bucky was on the lookout for was a kid about two years older than him whom he saw at the starting line. The kid was on a slightly larger bike than Bucky’s and looked very intimidating except for the silly plastic propeller on the top of his cycling helmet.

My son is a kid and loves life, and loves fun kid stuff. But there are two things that are sacred – soccer and cycling. Just as one would never wear hiking boots onto a soccer pitch, one would never wear a propeller atop one’s cycling helmet.

Bucky took one look at that kid and said, “There is no way I am letting that guy beat me.”

So as we rode, I could see Bucky eyeing every younger rider we came upon, searching for his target. About six miles in we rolled up on “Propeller Boy” and as we passed I saw Bucky turn and give him a stare that was every bit as intense as Lance’s look to Jan Ulrich.

At our first aid station stop we drank and ate GU’s, and Bucky’s family showered him with praise and took numerous photos. He pulled me aside and said, “Dad, I really like doing all these cool things, but the part I hate about it is everybody always wants to take my picture.”

We pushed on, weaving our way through hundreds of riders. Bucky stayed right with his domestique, getting in some drafting at one point, and even going full aero on a long descent.

At mile 30 we hit Rattlesnake Pass. It’s considered the “climb” of the ride, and though it’s not much of a hill as far as gradient, it is over horrible chip seal roads and it hits you when you’re really starting to feel the ride. Especially if you’re 8.

Bucky was excited though because he likes to climb more than anything. He finally got a chance to get out of the saddle and attacked a climb with all his might. He passed adults walking their bikes and passed some riding their bikes. He crested the summit and was happy, but tired.

This was the first time we began to see a crack in Bucky’s armor. Mile after mile he started to get a little more quiet, a little more frowny. For the first time he asked, “How much farther?” But in all this suffering he never dropped his cadence, never slowed down.

At mile 36 we stopped to drink and eat. He did not look good. Was not happy. Not enjoying it anymore. But he did not want to stop. He turned down our offer to rest a while, downed a GU, nodded, and was ready to finish it out.

As rolled off for the last 9 miles I informed him that we had ridden 37+ miles in the same amount of time he rode the 31 miles of the Tour de Donut. That information coupled with the power of the GU – let me pause here to say that GU PRODUCTS ARE AMAZING – Bucky cranked that final 9 miles dead into the wind. As he’d done the entire ride, he rarely drafted on Hova, choosing instead to ride it “himself.”

We made the last turn and headed for the Finish Line. Hova told Bucky to get on his wheel and I witnessed what it must be like to be riding in the peloton when Dean leads out Farrar, or dare I say… no, I can’t… but yes, I will…

Renshaw leading out Cavendish.

As the speed increased… 16mph… 18mph… 20mph… Bucky continued to crank.

42.5 miles into the ride, the last 10 dead into a headwind, this little boy was in his biggest gear cranking with everything he had, staying within 6 inches of the back wheel of a professional cycling coach. Not only did the crowd start going crazy for him, but the riders he was passing all began cheering.

Just before the Finish Line, Hova launched him. “GO JACK GO!” he yelled, and he went.

I will let you all witness the spectacle for yourself (forgive the screaming father riding behind him:

I’m not sure if Bucky was anywhere near as proud of his accomplishment as I was. Not just for finishing, but doing it the way he did. Digging so deep at the end. Suffering on the bike and pushing through it.

1,278 riders started the 43-mile ride. Bucky started at the very back of those 1278 riders. When he and his timing chip crossed the starting line, it was nearly 13 minutes after his timing chip had been activated.

Bucky finished 620th overall. The Junior Division was 12-years-old and under. There were 53 junior riders (NOTE: I am not counting tandems in all this).

All but one of the top 9 finishing juniors were either 11 or 12 years old.

Eight-year-old Bucky finished 10th.

And 5 of the 9 juniors finishing before him were less than 13 minutes ahead of him.

Propeller boy finished 17 minutes behind Bucky.

Congrats to Bucky, and special thanks to Hova and the PT for being the best domestiques any rider could have. Bucky sends a special thank you out to the boys of GARMIN-CERVELO and JV for inspiration.

What does it feel like to dig deep and do more than you think you can? It feels like this:

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Dig deep and find glory through suffering.

 

You’re very good, you are you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | November 7, 2011

Not a Cycling Post At All

But rather a shameless self-promotion post.

I have four new short stories available for the Kindle and Nook. Three are packaged together in THREE STORIES DOWN, and one is by itself (WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD) for only 99 cents. Note: the stories do contain adult themes including violence, sex, murder and some really dumb characters making really dumb decisions. But there’s also humor in them, too!

Kindle readers go HERE

Nook owners go HERE

If you don’t have either, you can download a Kindle Reader App for your Mac or iPad for FREE right HERE

And CLICK HERE for other choices of FREE reading apps.

These make awesome holiday gifts. And all the stories are a great cautionary tale about what happens to the type of people who don’t ride bikes!

I will be back soon with more cycling specific posts. In the meantime, read the stories and drop me a line here to let me know what you thought. I want to hear it all – the good and the bad.

Thanks!

Eat better

Ride your bike

Read great stuff on your Kindle

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | October 4, 2011

Of musical viruses and magic jerseys

Is this heaven?

No. It’s a Rapha jersey.

Greetings all. Yes, I have been away for a while. For a couple of weeks I was guest-blogging over at FAT CYCLIST.

The two most popular posts (generating thousands of hits) were about my son’s cycling adventures. You can read those HERE and HERE.

Other than that I’ve had work stuff, kids soccer, and weather get in the way of this project.

Austin is only two weeks away, and I need to log some miles. So on a cool morning recently, I was excited to get back in the saddle.

I put on a new jersey and new bibs, and set out with no destination in mind. Just miles. Just an experience. I got all that I asked for.

But before we go into the ride, I want to discuss…

Musical viruses.

“Musical Virus” is a game that my friends and I have enjoyed playing on many occasion.  For those that don’t know, a musical virus is when you put the tune of a song into the brain of another person (like a virus) and they are helpless against it. And you get bonus points for bad songs.

Example: You could put Born To Run into the brain of your opponent and score accordingly, and give your opponent a nice song to have bumbling around his/her brain. Or… you could put Tainted Love into the brain of your opponent and score Triple Bonus points, and cause your opponent to want to stick a fork in their eye.

Basically, you hum, whistle or sing a tune within earshot of your friend and then wait… for them to start humming, whistling or singing the song themselves. Against their will. Without any control whatsoever. Hence the virus part of it.

I have always been very good at this game. I can even do it via the Internet. Watch…

Remember the band Cheap Trick? And their 1978 smash hit Surrender? Sure, you do. It went like this. Rick Nielsen’s powerful guitar intro followed by:

Mother told me, yes she told me, I’d meet girls like you… 

And then there was the great chorus that we all remember:

Mommy’s all right, daddy’s all right, they just seem a little weeeeiiirrrdddd, surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself awaaaaay. Aaaayyyyyy. Aaaaayyyyyy. 

Yeah, you remember. Read that last part again.

And thus, a musical virus is born.

What you say? “What are you talking about, Fizz?”

Well, see, what is going to happen now is that – later on, when you least expect it, maybe while you’re still reading this, or maybe a couple of hours from now, you will have that song IN YOUR HEAD.

A musical virus.

And the only way to get rid of it is to let it simply run its course and leave your brain on its own… or else replace it with another tune.

Why am I talking about musical viruses? Because someone – and I can only think it must be The Goat – is playing the game with me… but on a totally subversive, subconscious level.

Lately, when I am out riding BY MYSELF – just me and The Goat – without our trusty iPod, a musical virus will pop into my head. And whomever is behind it, is going for MAX bonus points.

Because on my last two rides, the song that has popped into my head and will not go away is…

Sail On by the Commodores.

I am not such a horrible human to risk a musical virus on you by writing any of the lyrics here. Suffice it to say, it is an atrocious song, completely inappropriate for pushing one’s self on a bike.

And it kept popping into my head. Once I swore I even heard The Goat laughing.

But on my most recent ride, I was fortunate enough to not have the Song-Whose-Name-Shall-Never-Be-Mentioned-Here-Again in my brain. Probably because I had my iPod with me. I headed out as I always do, but then turned left where I usually turn right, and found a completely new place to ride.

What I also found was chilly weather, a healthy wind, and more traffic than I prefer. But something odd was happening. None of this was bothering me.

Th crisp weather and blowing headwind had no effect on me. The traffic was just noise. Why was I feeling so good? Why was I not whining about riding into a headwind? Why was I not silently complaining about my cold fingertips? Why was I simply enjoying the experience of the ride? What was different?

My jersey.

I’ve spoken before about the inspiring films Rapha makes. They sell high-priced cycling clothing and prior to last week I had never owned anything by them. But their films moved me in such a way that I broke down and spent more on a single jersey than I ever have on an entire kit.

I purchased the Rapha Country Jersey.

Honestly, I have no idea why I bought this thing, other than the Rapha films so inspired me.

The jersey is… well, magic. I call it my Thermos jersey. Then immediately apologize to the jersey for giving it such a lame name. But the thing is, it keeps you cool when you need to be cool, and it keeps you warm when you need to be warm. How does one jersey do both?

Magic.

And not only is it the single most comfortable jersey I own (I own 11 jerseys from 6 different manufacturers), it is also the duffle bag of jerseys. The rear pockets are large enough to stow a mtn bike, and there’s this cool little zippered pocket that holds keys, money or an iPod perfectly, and speaking of iPods, the jersey also comes with a little hole for your headphones wire. All of this and it still feels like a skin suit against your body. A comfy, cozy skin suit.

In short, I LOVE THIS JERSEY.

I was so impressed with the Rapha brand that I went back to their site and ordered arm warmers and a really nifty water bottle. I hope to buy more jerseys, bibs and jackets down the road, but I will first need to take a second mortgage out on my house. That said…

I believe the Rapha jerseys are worth every single penny they cost.

Where was I? Oh, yeah – the ride. So there I was, riding along, enjoying sights and sounds and roads I’d never seen. Before long the traffic vanished and I found myself in a whole ‘nuther part of town. And I saw things I’ve never seen before. Like this:

A giant snake eating a mailbox. Why not?

I kept riding and came to another little town I had never ridden in. And found one of these:

That’s right. A Bass Pro Shops right there in the middle of… wherever I was. I figure I was about 25 or so miles from my regular route. And that’s another thing that is so awesome about a “Rapha Ride.” By the way, I have now named these types of rides “Rapha Rides” – the rides where you aren’t worried about speed or distance or time or heart rate or watts or anything else. You’re just riding.

The other thing that is so awesome about a Rapha Ride is that I barely looked at Hal 9000. I love my Garmin Edge 500, but on this ride I didn’t care how far I’d gone or how fast or how many feet I climbed. I was just riding.

And when you just go and ride you find the most amazing things. Like mailbox eating snakes, and little league fields with cemeteries in the outfield.

Wait, what?

You will probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it enough to see – but yes, any home run hit here will land on a dead guy.

I rode and rode and rode. New roads, new towns. I was feeling so good and feeling so Rapha that on my way home I decided to do something I would have never done before this magical jersey…

I rode the Katy Trail.

The Katy Trail is a rail trail that runs along the Missouri river for over 200 miles. Yes, you read that right. A bike/walking/running trail that runs uninterrupted for over 200 miles. The majority of the trail is crushed limestone according to the trail site. But there are definitely parts of it that are simply dirt. Or gravel. But mostly, it’s crushed limestone that winds along the river and through beautiful trees and foliage.

I have never ridden it because I had heard horror stories about road bikes on the Katy Trail. “It will destroy your rims.” “It will tear up any 23 or 25 road tires.” “There’s too much debris to get around.”

Obviously why would I ever want to take my road bike on something like that, right?

Then I saw the Rapha films. I saw the Rapha riders riding gravel and dirt and doing it on road bikes. Because of the experience.

So when I saw the sign for the Katy Trail, I turned The Goat and we hit the trail. I rode the Katy Trail for seven miles, and guess what? No flat. No puncture, nothing. I think as long as your tires are in good shape and you keep them fully inflated, chances of flats are slim.

It was amazing. Sure, there was the occasional branch or rock I had to avoid, but that made it interesting and kept my focus. I rode along looking at beautiful Momma Nature and the roiling Missouri River.

And again, I almost never looked at my Garmin Edge. When the ride was over, I had logged 57 miles with 2,700 feet of climbing. But it could have been 10 miles or 100 miles; could have been 200 feet of elevation gain or 12,000. I didn’t care. Because it was about the experience.

I can’t promise that all of you will have the same magical experience I had with my Rapha jersey, but I bet you would. I can’t wait for my next Rapha Ride. And can’t wait for my next Rapha jersey.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself awaaaaay.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 29, 2011

Time to Dig Deep and Give Hope

Epic August continues with Livestrong.

You already know about it, so I will keep this short and sweet.

In October I will be riding in the Livestrong Challenge Austin Event. 90+ miles, nearly 6,000 feet of climbing. I am riding for those 28 million whose lives have been permanently altered by cancer.

And I ride in memory of Joan McCarthy. We lost my wife’s mother this summer to cancer. She was quite possibly the finest human I have ever known. She fought like a wolverine, she never gave up, but in the end we’re all playing with the House’s money.

Livestrong was an incredible source of strength to my family during this difficult time. We will forever be in their debt. So I ride for Joan. I ride for the 28. And I ride for Livestrong.

I have set an incredibly lofty goal of raising $10,000 by October. Yes, 10K. So thanks to Fatty and the good people at TREK BIKES, I am giving away some prizes!!!

One lucky donator to my Livestrong Challenge page will win a brand new Trek Livestrong bike just like this.

How It Works

To participate in this contest, just go to my LiveStrong Challenge page and donate in multiples of $5.00. For each $5.00 you donate, you will be given a row in a contest spreadsheet. You must donate between now and Saturday, October 8th, 2011, at 11:59pm CT.

Once all donations are in, an independent third party will go to random.org and generate random numbers between 1 and the number of rows in the contest spreadsheet.

I will immediately notify the winner(s) by email. However, because it’s become nearly freaking impossible to notify someone by email that they’ve genuinely won something, the subject line will be something innocuous (like, “Hey”), and the message will tell you that I need to talk with you, and will include my phone number so you can call me back.

So watch for that, OK?

But wait, THERE’S MORE!!! Trek has agreed that – if I reach my goal of $10,000.00 they will donate TWO Livestreong bikes!!! So if we reach 10K then your chances double to win one of those epic, unique, awesomely cool Livestrong Treks.
DONATE HERE for a chance to win one and possibly two Trek Bikes. Or just donate to be a very cool person who wants to support Livestrong and the 28 million. Or both.

Stipulations and Stuff

  • The contest starts NOW and ends at 11:59pm CT, October 8th, 2011.
  • Make sure when you donate, you use an email address that you actually check – and check the junk folder!
  • Donations made prior to today do not count toward this contest. So if you gave, give again!
  • You have to promise to keep and ride this bike, or at least to give it away to someone who will keep it, love it, and ride it. No re-prizing or ebaying. Please.

If you have questions, post them in comments; I’ll do my best to answer them, or to edit this post to contain the answer.

Again, for every $5.00 you donate, you will receive 1 chance in the random drawing.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

DONATE AND WIN

 

 

 

You’re very good. You are you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 26, 2011

Epic August Continues

After my dufus ride the other day, I was determined to get back in the saddle (see what I did there? Huh? Huh? Yep, pro writer I is) and add another epic ride to the month.

Today the Goat and I rode 62 miles and climb 3,284 feet. A metric century.

Now, a metric century is 100 kilometers. And 100 kilometers is 62.1 miles. I did 62.03 today, but in the cycling community anything between 61 and 63 miles is considered a metric century.

So I’m counting it. It’s going on the sidebar.

The ride included some new unexplored roads – some were great, others were a bit dicey – very narrow two-laners that I probably won’t tackle again due to traffic. I also scaled a new climb. The “Magic Mountain climb” as it’s known around here is a road that runs along Six Flags Amusement Park. It is 4 miles long with an average grade of 6%. It is one of the few sustained climbs in the area.

I consider a “sustained climb” anything that goes up for 2 miles or more. There are dozens of “Stingers” as I call them – Hog Hollow, the TdC Hill, etc. – steep climbs but usually less than a mile long. I was looking forward to Magic Mountain and as I began the ascent I had my ego completely in check – I was going to take it easy and spin up the first 2/3 conserving all my energy for a big push over the last third.

Here’s the thing about the Magic Mountain Climb… it ain’t four miles. Technically the road is four miles long. 4.1 to be exact. But the gradient never exceeds 2-3% for the last 8/10 of a mile. I’d call it a 3-mile climb.

And it only crested to 11% once. Most everything else was a steady 5-6%, with a couple of flat (even downhill) recovery sections of a few hundred meters.

All in all… eh.

But the ride was great. Temps were in the low 80’s, humidity was tolerable, and most of the new roads I found were quite beautiful. Lots of foresty type sections, babbling brooks, horse farms, and so on. Nature is cool.

On my return route I again came to that proverbial fork in the road, and again headed toward Babler. Mostly cuz I just wanted to descend. Fast. I hit 50.7mph today, climbed my way back up with a smile on my face, and headed home.

By the way, if you look to your right you will see I have climb over 100,00 feet this year. And it’s August. That’s more than 3 times up Mount Everest. Only, you know, without the cold and snow and looming death.

So it’s another epic ride for August. This ride wasn’t epic for difficulty or rain or dogs or elevation gain, it was epic simply because I think anytime we can cruise away from our homes and our troubles for a few hours, ride a metric century without incident, push ourselves all while thoroughly enjoying ourselves, well, that’s epic to me. And the fact I crossed the 100,00 feet of climbing mark.

I want to know who else out there is going to contribute to EPIC AUGUST. You only have a few days left. Get out and ride. Push yourself beyond your normal limits for distance or elevation or weather or anything else. Then tell me about it here, or give us a link to check out your story.

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Make August Epic.

 

 

 

You’re very good, you are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 25, 2011

Just When You Think You’re All That…

Hey, remember all that blather I posted here about “I’m a sick climber, and I’m so awesome, and I rule and blah, blah, blahtty, blah, blah.” Remember that? Then you’ll love this story.

So this has been Epic August. My two rides over 50 miles, the rain, dog, climbing. Even others have joined in.

Steve contributed to Epic August with his Reston Century Spit In The Face of Mother Nature Death Ride.

Even Clive has had some Epic August rides with all the weather and single-speeding!

So when I decided yesterday that I would do a “light spin,” saving myself for another Epic August ride this weekend, I was feeling very cocky. I’ll cruise over to the old Missouri River levee trail – which I haven’t been to since returning from Cycling Mecca – and ride a quick 15 or 20 miles. Here’s where it gets good, dear readers…

I actually said this to myself — “I’ll ride 15 or 20 miles at a high pace, then shoot up Hog Hollow and River Valley just to get some climbing in.”

Remember Hog Hollow and River Valley from my 2010 posts? Hog Hollow was this scary climb that – pre Hal 9000 – I thought was maybe 6 or 7%, pitching up to 10% at its worst. Heh, heh, engineering and geography was never my strong suit. In the post-Hal 9000 era we now know Hog Hollow is .7 miles long, with an average gradient of 9%, pitching up to 15% at the very top.

Again, IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD, PEOPLE. If I had ever known Hog Hollow was that steep, I would have never attempted it. But I did. Way back in the day of the Unfat Machine and 216lbs of body weight. And I did it.

And River Valley – only 4/10 of a mile long, but an average of 13% with a peak of 16%. Again, I did it way back when I thought it was maybe a max of 12%.

Anyway, back to yesterday and my big fat ego… I literally told myself “I’ll shoot up Hog Hollow and River Valley” – just to, you know, add some climbing to my little spin day. Cuz, you know, I’m a sick climber. I’m a bad ass on the bike.

What I am is a big fat doofus.

Or is it dufus?

So I’m riding away at a brisk pace, averaging around 19 or so mph. There’s some wind out there for sure, but nothing too much for this bad ass, this guru of climbing…

I cruise over to Hog Hollow and I attack it like it was a speed bump. Cuz I’M SICK!

Well, I almost literally got sick. I hit Hog Hollow full of arrogance and attitude, and by the midway point I was dying. Like seriously suffering. Like, not the Rapha suffering of my Epic August rides, but just lousy, crappy, I want off this bike, suffering.

I tried to get out of the saddle and do my arrogant Contador dancing on the pedals thing, but again, my fat arse was dying. I hit that last 30 meters of 15% and thought I was on freaking Mount Washington.

When I crested the summit, I was gasping for breath. I rode in little doofus circles for a while trying to get my heart rate down enough just to be able to drink. Yeah, I’m sick, baby!

Did I go too hard at the beginning? Was it more hot and humid than I thought? Or am I still just a big fatass? Probably bits of all three are true.

I continued on my “light spin ride” recovering from the Hog Hollow debacle and I started to laugh at myself and my arrogance. Just when you think you’ve got it down, God throws something in your face to say, “Remember, Fatty, you’re still playing with the House’s money.”

I eventually made my way over to River Valley and decided I deserved punishment for my arrogance. I went up River Valley. Not as tough as Hog Hollow, but still enough to let me know that I still have more weight to lose, still have more work to do on this journey of mine.

Here’s the silliest part of the story. At the end of my ride, I had ridden 17.4 miles and climbed… wait for it… wait.

398 feet.

That’s right. Just days after my proclamations of searching for thousands of feet of climbing and labeling myself a sick climber, I was nearly done in by less than 400 feet of ascent.

Damn it feels good to be a dufus.

Eat Better.

Ride your bike.

There is no finish line.

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | August 19, 2011

Fizz of St. Louis’ Wild Kingdom

Hello, mates. Before we discuss today’s ride, let’s recap/update things since we left Cycling Mecca.

Looking back at my levee trail rides of last year, I averaged about 700 feet of climbing for every 30 miles. While in Cycling Mecca I averaged just over 2,000 feet of climbing for every 30 miles.

Our first ride back here where it all began was 29 miles with 1,260 feet of climbing. Piece of pie, eh? Yes… except that when I rolled off that day it was 89F degrees out, with 93% humidity. When I finished riding, about 2 hours later, it was 94F degrees and the humidity had dipped all the way down to 89%. Needless to say, that 1,260 feet of climbing felt like 2,400.

But I can attest that my time in Cycling Mecca, along with The Goat, has made me what the kids would call a sick climber – well, sick when compared to the climber I was 7 months ago. I’m still a hill slug. I am still carrying an extra 25 pounds. My power to weight ratio is nonexistent. I have to work to keep from getting dropped by my new riding partner – someone whose power to weight ratio is SICK:

Today’s Ride – The Start

I spent last night searching Google maps as well as sites like Strava and RideWithGPS to find some climbing around here. I wanted to climb. I wanted to suffer << more on that later.

Eventually I mapped a new route that promised 40+ miles and 2,000 feet of climbing. I was excited not just for the challenge, but to explore new territory – one of the many joys of cycling is finding never before seen places to ride – and went to bed dreaming of dancing on the pedals like a big, soft, round version of Alberto Contador. Little did I know I’d end up looking more like this guy:

I rolled out at 7am, and quickly cruised over TRFKATP. Oh, I should pause here to inform you that since returning from Cycling Mecca, I have shaved over 2 minutes off my best time over TRFKATP. Those 7, 8, and 9% rollers which gave me so much trouble a year ago? The Goat eats them up like my 4-year-old gobbles M&M’s. Now I’m not at the level of the Great and Powerful Gaz and his massive MPH averages, but for this Hill Slug, I am getting faster.

I cruised through old familiar places and then turned onto a new road and was greeted with this:

Animal Planet

Riding along nicely paved two-lane roads with almost no cars was great. I saw rabbits and squirrels darting about looking for morning meals.

Then the morning quickly went from a couple of cute bunny sightings to a Discovery Channel special.

More rabbits and squirrels, and then a deer stepped out in front of me, though in all honesty it was twenty-five meters ahead of me. And here’s a shot of a turtle I rescued from the road:

So what, right? Thing is, this is not the first turtle I moved off the road… or the second… this was the third turtle I came across trying to make its way from the west side of the road to the east. Was there some Turtle Nudie bar on the east side? Live Turtles! No Shells!

Rabbits, squirrels, deer, and turtles. Oh, and the giant black winged devil-birds swarming everywhere emitting the sounds of Hades from their darkened throats. Um, you may call them cawing crows, but for the purposes of this story they are giant black winged devil-birds emitting the sounds of Hades.

Get Your Kicks On Route 66

Eventually The Goat carried me safely through the creature portion of the ride and onto some nice country roads where I discovered I was riding along history:

The more I rode the better I felt. I was eating every 40 minutes like clock-work. Drinking plenty of water – let me pause here to say THANK YOU to those wonderful folks at the convenience stores I encountered who happily let me refill my water bottles. While I had yet to truly climb or suffer, I was thoroughly enjoying being on the bike on a great day. Temps were in the 80’s and humidity was at a tolerable 70some %. The toughest climbing was to come around the 35-mile mark. An average grade of 6-7% with a couple of 12% pitches for about a mile and a half.

The Goat and I hit it and went straight up, out of the saddle for most of it.

I rolled back into familiar territory prepared to make my way home when I came to a fork in the road – as metaphoric as it was geographic.

If I continued on as planned I would finish with an almost 45-mile ride with right around 2,000 feet of ascent. Not bad by any means. But if I took the fork in the road it would lead me to…

Babler.

I have not spoken of Babler on this blog, other than a possible mention in passing early on. Babler is a state park consisting of nearly seven miles of wide, beautifully paved roads with almost no cars. People use them for walking, running and cycling. The reason I’ve never spoken of Babler is because I never had the huevos to ever go near Babler. Why, you ask?

Because of the nearly seven miles of beautiful road inside Babler, less than 10% of it is flat. You are either going up or going down. And we’re not talking about the smarmy 10-12% grades that put fear into the old Unfat Machine. We’re talking massive hills.

There are basically three climbs inside Babler, the shortest being just under a mile, the longest just under two miles. The average gradient of the climbs is 17%.

Yes, I said the average. Two of the climbs pitch up to 22%, while the third – the baby – only gets to 20%.

As I sat there at the fork in the road straddling The Goat I remembered why I wanted so badly to ride today. Because I had not been on the bike in a while. Because I was worried about putting back on some of the pounds I have lost this year and mostly because…

I wanted to suffer.

I believe, when you truly become addicted to cycling – and I don’t mean just enjoying riding your bike – I mean addicted, as in your body starts to get all wonky if you don’t do it all the time, like a heroin addict. I believe when one becomes truly addicted to cycling, one falls in love with the suffering. One falls deeply, head-over-heels in love with the pain, the torture, the grind of suffering on the bike. If one goes on a long ride that lacks any sort of real suffering the ride feels unfinished, like it was missing something, to the point that it doesn’t even count as a ride.

Gaz knows of what I speak. He is addicted to cycling. My friend and co-worker Joe Hortua, who is returning to cycling after a 20-year absence, is going to become addicted very soon. I know it. Some of you reading this are, and some are not. Neither is right or wrong, it just is.

At some point during my time in Cycling Mecca I became an addict. And thus, fell in love with the suffering. But I told no one for fear that I would be labeled some sort of masochist.

Then I found Rapha.

Rapha is a high-end, almost snooty brand of cycling clothing. Their stuff is quality for sure, but they have a bit of an attitude – like, if you wear team kits or anything the least bit “loud” then you are not a true cyclist, and certainly not cool enough for them. It’s almost a hipster vibe with the company and we all know that there is nothing worse than hipsters – except hipsters who actually think they’re relevant.

But an odd thing happened and I believe it is yet another testament to the amazingly wonderful community that is cycling. Despite Rapha’s You’re Not Cool If You Aren’t One Of Us outward persona, inside they really are just like you and me and most other cyclists. They love to ride. And it’s not about the bike, or even the clothes, but about the ride.

Rapha makes these video documentaries of their rides. There’s a group of riders for the company – the Continental Riders – and they go all over the country doing these epic rides and chronicling them in words and pictures.

It’s all about the experience of the ride. Not just how fast you went or how well you climbed, but what you saw, what you felt, what you experienced.

But these rides are not just any old beauty rides. Each one is a hard ride. A sufferfest. See, Rapha, I have discovered, is addicted to cycling. And thus – Rapha is in love with the suffering. They even have a phrase somewhere on their web site:

Glory Through Suffering

When I first came across this site, saw that statement, and then watched the AMAZING films of their rides, I knew I was not alone. I am nowhere near the rider that the Rapha Continental riders are, not even close. And they would most likely mock me and my loud kits and carbon fiber giant corporate bike brand. But as far as being addicted to cycling, we are brothers.

Glory through suffering.

I defy you to watch one of their films and not be inspired to go ride:

Rapha Films

So back to the fork in the road. I sat there debating, then thought of the Rapha films, and knew immediately I needed to take the fork, the road less traveled.

I set out for Babler.

One of the things I appreciate about this state park is that it lets you know even before you enter what you are in for. Example – here is the road you must take just to get to the other roads I described:

You probably can’t tell from that shot, but that is a 15% grade straight up. Just to get into the park! And then once you’re inside, Babler teases you.

Before you know it you are descending. Like, really descending. On these wide, smooth, open roads with sweeping curves… remember that 17% average thing? Uh, huh.

If you look at my PRP, you will see that I crushed my old speed record from Mt. Lemmon last year. The Goat and I rocketed down this descent attaining a top speed of 54.3mph.

There are few things on this planet like the rush of going over 54mph on 1-inch of rubber. But as we all know, what goes down… must go up. That is, unless you don’t want to get back home.

I’ve blathered on too long here already, so I will just say that I nailed every climb. And it was hard. It was brutal. And I loved every single suffering second of it. When all was said and done I’d ridden 55.6 miles and climb over 3,200 feet.

If it wasn’t the best solo ride I’ve ever done (Best meaning most enjoyable from a variety of standpoints), it was certainly in the top 2.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Find glory through suffering.

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | July 25, 2011

Cycling Mecca

Soon I will be returning to St. Louis and the land of the RFKATP.

I will miss having a great group of people to ride with every week.

I will miss the myriad of chubby bike lanes and cycling-friendly motorists.

But most of all I will miss the climbs. No, that’s not true. I will miss the climbs second-most.

What I will miss most is the view from the climbs…

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Climb like a goat.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 27, 2011

Gaz, Livestrong, and a lot of Anger

So, those of you who regularly waste time around here know who Gaz is. The Incredible Gaz. The Amazing Gaz. The Incredible, Amazing, Shrinking Gaz.

This guy:  39 STONE CYCLIST

If you don’t read him, you should. The man is a true hero. An inspiration. A human miracle. A testament to the FACT that… wait for it…

It is all in the head, people.

You don’t think you can carve out 20 minutes a day to ride?  F*#& you.

You don’t think you can eat better?  F*#% you.

You don’t think you can change your life?  F*#@ you.

Forgive the blue language here, but I’m sick and tired of hearing people give excuse after excuse why they can’t lose weight, or get healthier, or do anything else that will change their life.

Gaz lost over 300 pounds ON HIS OWN. And… did it while still eating a totally craptastic diet of pure garbage. I can say that – because Gaz will admit that.

So the next time you’re sitting in your nice air-conditioned house blogging about all the excuses and rationalizations for NOT going out and riding your bike, think of Gaz. Think about a guy who was 500 Freaking Pounds and still got up and went outside and rode his bike.

Think about this guy who was mocked and pointed at and pitied – who refused to let anything stop him. Who continued to get up and go outside and ride. Even when he could barely go a mile. Barely go 5 miles. Barely go 10.

Even when his body screamed at him to stop because it was the nutritional equivalent of Ethiopia – he kept riding. Through the pain. Through the misery. Hundreds and hundreds of days when it would have been so much easier to just stay inside. To tell himself “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Guess what, geniuses? Tomorrow never comes. Ever.

And guess what else? Gaz has lost 26 Stone. He’s won awards and inspired thousands, and is at a perfectly healthy weight. Time to sit back and enjoy it, right?

No. Gaz is now attacking something that’s about ten times as hard as losing 350 pounds. He is attacking and destroying the eating issues that helped get him to 39 Stone. And once again – he’s not doing it with professional help or tons of money or all the time in the world or any of those things YOU think YOU need to change your life.

He’s just being a man. He knows IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD and he is attacking it like Jens Voigt attacks the peloton.

And he’s winning.

Again.

So F you to all of you who don’t have the time, who don’t have the right bike or clothing, or have too many other priorities.

Ef. You.

And Double Ef You to those of you sitting there right now thinking up all the reasons that Gaz could do it, but you can’t. “Oh, he doesn’t have the same home life I do, or job responsibilities, or commitments or blah, blah, blah.”

You deserve to be fat and unhealthy. You deserve to be miserable.

If you truly want to lose weight, get healthy and have your life improve exponentially, then shut your mouth – quit whining, quit blogging about excuses, quit telling your friends and family that if you just had a little more time in the day, if your knee just didn’t hurt so much, if beer didn’t taste so good – AND GO OUT AND RIDE.

Or don’t.

But if you choose DON’T – then please go away and leave us alone. Us – the people who want to change our lives.

Where is all this anger coming from? It’s a combo platter of things…

I have been truly inspired by Gaz, especially since he’s taken on his second war.

And I have been truly inspired by Livestrong – The foundation that Lance Armstrong started to help the 28 million with cancer. Until you have had to contact Livestrong because a loved has this horrible disease, you have no idea how truly amazing Livestrong is and the people involved with it.

Gaz has been inspired by Livestrong. Think about that for a second… this man, who is probably stronger of heart and mind than all of us put together, is inspired by the Livestrong folks.

You think it’s hard to leave your house and go ride your bike for 30 minutes? Why don’t you give yourself liver cancer and see if finding the time to ride your bike was really that hard.

You think riding up that one big hill by your place is awful and horrendous and nothing could feel as crappy as trying to make it up that thing? Why don’t you give yourself stage 4 stomach cancer and see if climbing that hill is really so awful.

I’ll try and wrap this ranting post up on a more positive note… at the beginning of this year Gaz and I challenged each other to lose another 40 pounds by year’s end. He is well on his way. I stumbled out of the gate, but after following Gaz’s latest battle, and becoming intimately involved with how Livestrong helps those fighting cancer, I realized that I was a guy making excuses.

So I began to push myself. Harder than I have since I started this quest. Check the sidebar and see how many miles I rode in June. A new Personal Record. As of this morning I’m down a total of eleven pounds since January. The riding has never been tougher. And I have never felt better.

I thank Gaz. I thank Livestrong. I thank Fat Cyclist. And I thank all the others out there who are doing it. Who are going outside and riding their bikes.

Thank you.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Or don’t, and go read food blogs.

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 19, 2011

We Interrupt This Blog

On Saturday, June 18, 2011 Clarence Clemons passed away.

The “Big Man” as he was known, was the spine of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

I’m not going to go into detail here about my sadness, about how important Clarence and the band’s music is to me. The fact that my son loves it when I call him Bad Scooter says enough. I’m not going to link youtube videos of his sax solos – you can all find that on your own.

The reason I’m posting about it here is that my list of 101 Things To Do in 2000 Days is now impossible to complete.

#6 on my list was to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert just one more time. I cannot do that now. Because, even if Bruce tours again, even if he tours with every living member of the band, for me it is no longer the E Street Band. Springsteen lives on, his music will live forever, but for me the E Street Band died on Saturday.

My friend Wallace Stroby grew up near the legendary Asbury Park, NJ. He knows as much about the band and their music as anyone who’s never been inside the infamous “inner circle.”

Wallace wrote a beautiful piece about the Big Man and his death for Salon. You can read it HERE.

The cycling community has lost two too many riders this year. And now the world has lost the Big Man.

2011 sucks.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

RIP Clarence Clemons

 

You’re very good. You are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 12, 2011

Ride 2 Recovery

One week after my disastrous 100 Miles of Nowhere, I rode a metric century – 62 miles. And as bad as last week was, this week was that good.

The RIDE-2-RECOVERY is a series of events to raise support and awareness for our wounded veterans.

As I’ve said here before, there is no human I respect more than the men and women of our armed forces. And the Ride-2-Recovery is something I will support every year and I encourage you all to do the same.

The day was foggy and overcast, which was great, and the route was a large circle – head west, a couple of big descents, then out to the coast, ride along the Pacific Ocean for a bit, then turn north and climb up the infamous Mulholland Highway – 8 miles at a 6% avg – before descending back down into Cycling Mecca and returning to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lost Hills Station.

This was the first event put on by the LASD and R2R in this area, and I thought they did a fantastic job. Here are the officers and soldiers participating:

About one hundred and fifty of us rolled off just past 8am. The field quickly spread out, groups of friends and veterans riding together, other loners like myself just cruising along. After last week, I was determined not to cook myself this time, so I took it quite easy the first 15 miles.

I must tell you all – riding a century (or metric century) by yourself sucks. Nothing on a bike sucks like riding that far completely alone as I did last week. Riding with people is a whole different story. Even though I rode most of the day by myself, just knowing there were others out there, doing the same thing, gave me a sense of peace I did not have last week.

Even when I’d get dropped by some speedsters it was still better than riding alone.

About 15 miles in we hit the first descent and it was awesome! As in awe-inspiring. I snapped this photo just before I descended the “Potrero Wall” as it’s known:

That’s beginning of the descent. About a mile (and eight switchbacks) down it goes to an 11% for a bit. I was quite happy we were not climbing the Wall today. I hit 43mph on the descent and that was enough for me considering the moisture out there. But it was a rush!

At each rest stop there were cops and veterans with water, food and gels. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to be out there with these men and women who lay their lives on the line for us. Regardless of one’s political views, I believe it is our duty to honor these folks whenever and however we can. A special shout out right now to our cycling friend and veteran Steve @ There and Back Again.

As the ride rolled out onto U.S. Highway 1 and the Pacific coast I was feeling fantastic. I was eating and drinking MUCH better than the week before, and the views on the ride coupled with being around so many police and veterans was simply amazing.

As I rolled along the coast I could not help stopping to snap some photos. The Goat seem to be enjoying the day as well.

And here we are a few miles from the last rest stop before the Mulholland climb – the pack I’m chasing was all police officers and they were a blast to ride with. We even got a paceline going into a tough headwind right up to the rest stop.

42 miles into the ride we hit Mulholland and while there were parts where I was certainly suffering, I found a nice groove and cadence and for the most part the climb was great.

I crested Mulholland and wanted to bomb the descent back into Cycling Mecca, but I quickly came upon two riders who were not as interested in bombing as I was, and so I chose to sit behind them instead of unnecessarily risking a pass. I didn’t mind. I was loving the day.

I rolled back into the sheriff’s station just under 4 hours and 21 minutes after I started. 61.56 miles, 3,859 feet of gain. My moving time according to Hal 9000 was 4:17:58, so I loved that I spent barely 3 minutes at rest stops during the day. I finished with a 14.2mph average speed, 14.3 moving.

All in all it was a great day. Thanks again to Ride2Recovery, the LA County Sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills Station, Capt. Joseph Stephen and Jeff Price, and the men and women serving our country all over the globe.

See you next year!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

When you see servicemen in a restaurant, buy their meal.

 

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 7, 2011

100 MILES OF NOWHERE – race report

EPIC FAIL.

That was almost the title of this post. But let’s start at the beginning.

Dateline, Agoura Hills, CA, Saturday, June 4th, 2011.

I awoke ready. Feeling positive, excited to get on the bike and ride my first 100 Mile of Nowhere.

I knew I’d need energy, so my favorite aunt made me breakfast:

Love my Aunt Jemima.

I made a little “before” video — showing how fresh and ready I was… and how unaware of the horrors to come. But as I’m a Luddite and am clueless as to how to upload anything other than youtube to this site, you are left to use your imaginations. Picture this…

A cheery, doughy white guy, ready to ride his new Project One bike for 100 miles in the name of nothing. And Livestrong. (the photo of Sylvia Plath behind me turned out to be ominous foreshadowing)

The route was simple. Head east on a slight 1% downhill, turn right and bomb a .3 mile descent, then come to a complete stop to avoid crashing in the gravel, turn right, roll west on a straight, flat road, then turn right, and climb back up – 3/10th of a mile with a 7% average, peaking at 12% – the climb being a slight left turn, then finishing with a sweeping right-hander before returning to the start/finish line.

Easy peesy, right? RidewithGPS claimed a 104 feet total ascent with this route. Wow… over 10,000 feet of climbing? I’ve never gone more than 4,400 in one ride. Ever. But it’s a little circle… and I can recover on the bombing descent, right? The one where I slam the brakes at the bottom so as not to crash in the gravel… right?

I clipped into the Goat and did one lap. In 5:44. I was pacing myself, people. Oh, Hal 9000 pointed out some very good news. The map was wrong! There was only 74 feet of ascent on my little loop. I’d only have to climb about 7,000 feet today! WooHoo!!! Piece of cake.

Did I mention I hate cake?

MILE 21 – Suicide By Cyclist

Things were going along quite smoothly the first 20 miles. I had my black-n-red Special U2 edition iPod and was listening to my “Cycling” playlist. Three and a half hours of the best songs to pedal to.

My lap times were down below five minutes now, I was feeling good without pushing myself. On lap 20 (mile 21) as I crested the summit of the climb, doing my best Contador — yes, at this moment I was actually trying to imitate Contador’s dancing on the pedals style of climbing. What my imitation failed to include was Contador’s V02 Max, and his >6.2watt/kg abilities. But it was actually working. I was cruising up that last little 10% peak at breakneck speed.

Until the squirrel.

Now, let me pause here to say I have the greatest empathy for those going through rough times. We all have our time on the edge as Billy so eloquently told Jules in St. Elmo’s Fire. So please understand that I mean no disrespect nor do I harbor any ill-will toward the mile-21 squirrel, and in fact, I wish him/her the best.

As I stomped left, then right down on my Dura-Ace pedals, an obviously distraught squirrel decided enough was enough and chose to end it all — by running out in front of me, hoping that I squish him/her and all his/her horrible memories, awful life choices, terrible relationships, and whatever else suicidal squirrels think about, and send him/her to that little acorn tree in the sky.

Only I refused to be Dr. Kevorkian to his/her Thomas Youk. No! I will not play God on this day!

I threw the Goat’s handlebars hard left – the opposite direction of Rocky’s run – and thought everything was fine… until the squirrel reversed direction, refusing to give up his/her quest for death, essentially begging me to end the suffering. But nay, I say, nay!

LIVE LITTLE SQUIRREL LIVE! THINGS WILL GET BETTER! IT ALWAYS GETS BETTER!

It did not get better. For either of us.

I crunched the Ultegra brakes and the Goat halted immediately, missing the squirrel by mere centimeters. I watched him/her dash back to the underbrush… just as I tipped over.

I managed to unclip one shoe in time to keep from falling completely horizontal, but the damage was done, my momentum was crushed, my knee was tweaked, and Mr./Mrs. Squirrel was off to find some pills of a razor blade. Just before he/she disappeared, I swore I heard a little squirrel voice say, “You break my heart. Then again, you break everyone’s heart.”

I righted the Goat, clipped back in, and proceeded to ride the next couple of laps very tentatively until the tweaking in my knee subsided. I made a mental note to leave the suicide hotline number on a tiny piece of nut-colored paper near the underbrush later.

Mile 50 – Ignorance is Bliss

Halfway done. I was feeling good. With the exception of my nads – which were getting a bit raw. I looked at the DZ Nuts sample that came in my SWAG bag.

By the way, people. It is not SCHWAG or SHWAG. It is SWAG.  S. W. A. G.  It is an acronym for Stuff We All Get. Write it down.

Anyway, I went for the tried and true Chamois Butter, and that cool, soft, squishy-in-my-no-no-place feeling just added to my 50-mile bliss.

Looking back I figure the 50-mile mark was my first mistake. Perhaps the Contador impression in the first 20 miles could be seen as an error, but really it was at the 50 when it all started to go wrong. I stopped at the halfway point, refilled my water bottles, filling one with GU Brew. I ate a yummy Fruition bar. I thought about having an actual lunch. Like some pasta or at least a PB&J sandwich. But I was so feeling good. Much better than I thought I’d be feeling.

Let’s keep going!

I threw a couple more Gu’s into my Fat Cyclist jersey pocket and continued on.

MILES 50 -70 – Bruce, Tom, Nina and Heather

I was still bombing the descents, using that 25 seconds to recover from the climbs, which were becoming increasingly tougher. But let me say this about cycling and music — there is NO BETTER song to have in your ears when you are sweating a tough climb than the live version of The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen and Tommy Morello from the Magic Tour night at MSG. Yes, I am prepared to debate any of you on this.

Back to the 100MON.

I continued to click off the miles, my knee was fine, and I was feeling… good. I certainly knew I was riding farther (further) than I had since last November, but I still had not hit any kind of wall. I stopped again at mile 70, refilled the bottles, re-Gu’d my pockets, reset my Cycling Playlist to the beginning (I had yet to get through the entire playlist), thought again about resting for a while and eating something of substance, then decided I had only about 2 hours left, so…

Let’s keep going!

MILE 90 -The Beginning of The End

The climb up lap 87 (mile 90) was rough. For many reasons. The first was I am a big, squishy, fat slug of a man. The second being I do not think I was eating/drinking properly during my 100MON.

The third – and single most critical reason was an egregious error I made. Not on the day, but rather 12 months ago when I compiled my “Cycling” playlist. Over 40 songs. Three and half hours of tunes. Most of them perfect riding songs. I even thought ahead enough to make the last few tunes “recovery” sort of songs – you know, for that long ride home. Songs like Phil Collins’ Take Me Home. And Heather Small’s Proud (which is also a great beginning of the ride tune).

I pedaled through those tunes, and just as I hit the climb for the 87th time that day, the voice of Gordon Lightfoot began playing in my ear.

The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever ridden your bike while listening to what may be the single greatest song about death ever written, and I truly doubt any of you reading this have had a lobotomy recently – which would be the only explanation for riding your bike uphill while listening to The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

Uphill after 90+ miles and over 6,000 feet of climbing.

About halfway up the climb the cook said, “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya.”

And too rough to climb.

I struggled to the top and then coasted, literally, all the way to the descent. Then coasted down, coasted through the gravel, and coasted as far as I could until I finally had to pedal to keep from stopping.

Then hit the climb again. Jesus, already???

That’s when the main hatchway caved in.

Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.

I bonked.

Cracked.

Cooked.

I was done.

Oh, and then, a half-mile later, my iPod died. It may have been a suicide.

I wanted to stop. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to never hear Gordon Lightfoot ever, ever again.

Just call me Bonkopotamus.

But then I thought about what the 100Miles of Nowhere is really about. It’s about Livestrong, and 28 million people battling cancer, and fighting like Susan. And Joan – my mother-in-law who’s in the last stages of stomach cancer, but refuses to give up.

F*#k Gordon Lightfoot.

I continued on. My lap times were seven minutes now. But I kept riding. Mile 92. 93.

My legs burned. My stomach was roiling. My brain was going. I barely had the strength to reach for my water bottles.

I kept riding.  One more lap. One more lap.

I hit the climb at about 4mph. I was weaving. I was nauseos. I was in pain, and constantly reminding myself Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.

I reminded myself that my pain was nothing like the pain cancer patients are going through.

I stood up, determined to crest the hill for the 98th time.

And that’s when my body gave out.

I fell over and began vomiting.

I dragged the Goat and my fat, useless slug of a body to the side of the road and threw up again.

And again.

I wanted to cry. I hated myself. Hated my body. Hated all those years of eating chips and fries and not exercising.

I tried to get up and could not. I looked at Hal 9000.

94.8 miles. 6,378 feet of ascent.

I sat there in the bushes for ten minutes. Fifteen. Twenty. Darkness was falling. The temperature was dropping. I had chills. My legs were shaking.

I willed myself to get up. I got back on the Goat. And somehow, and I have no idea how, I made it up the last 30 meters to the top of the climb.

Once I crested I could not pedal anymore. Every time I tried my body refused. My mind was not ready to quit. But my body was done.

I got back to the start/finish line. 95.1 miles.

I was shaking. I was freezing. I was dry-heaving.

I was done.

Epic. Fail.

I walked the Goat back to my place, stripped down and sat in the shower for half an hour. I hated myself. I was weak. I was stupid. Why didn’t I eat better? Why didn’t I managed my first 50 miles better? Why didn’t I hit that squirrel full force?

I failed. And failing at 95 miles SUCKS. I would have rather failed at 75 miles. Or 25 miles.

I crawled into bed in full sweats, under a huge down comforter and could not get warm. Could not stop shaking.

I feel asleep for a few hours, woke up in the middle of the night and ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese.

I woke up at 7am the next morning and without hesitation got back on the Goat and rode 10 laps.

107.3 miles.  7,409 feet of climbing.

Over two days.

I completed the 100 Miles of Nowhere, but I also failed at the 100 Miles of Nowhere.

In the glass half-filled category, I raised almost $300 over $500 for Livestrong. And I am going to add another $50 of my own money as penance for my failure.

And next year, I will be back. In better shape, and without Gordon Lightfoot.

And I will ride it all in one day.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | June 2, 2011

Nowhere Soon

On Saturday, June 4th, I will be participating in Fatty’s 100 MILES OF NOWHERE  ride.

This is the 4th annual one and the first one I managed to register in time to get in. Only the truly cool people get in… or those who lead such meaningless lives that we can sit by our computers in the middle of the night waiting for Fatty to post the registration link so we can get in!

Fatty of FATCYCLIST.COM is one of the finest and funniest people on the Net. And an incredible cyclist. I would do anything for this guy. His blog was one of the first I found when I began my 2Kin2K10 Unfat Project, and he inspired me not only to ride more, but to get involved with Livestrong fundraising – and as the Gods of irony love to do – my family has since needed the amazing support given by Livestrong.

The ride is sponsored by Fat Cyclist as well as the amazing folks at TWIN SIX – one of the best cycling apparel joints on the web. Other sponsors include DZ NUTS (protect your junk), the TNT series LEVERAGE, and  Bike Monkey magazine – though the issue in my SWAG bag was over two years old. What’s up with that?

Basically, the 100 Miles of Nowhere is where you ride 100 miles… without going anywhere. Most folks do it on trainers or rollers. Some ride ten times around a ten-mile loop.

I will be riding a 1.05 mile loop one hundred times. Yes, I know that will equal more than 100 miles, but riding it 96 times just didn’t seem right.

The loop starts outside my place in Cycling Mecca, rolls east on a flat straight for a bit, then there’s a right turn before a long, straight descent (peaking at 10%), before another right turn, then a long flat straight, another right turn, and then up, up, up, with a sweeping right-hander, before leveling off and returning to the start.

I have not calculated the total ascent of my 1-mile loop, but I fear by the end of the OHMN, I will have climbed quite a bit.

Why am I doing this?

If you have to ask then you are not really a cyclist, but rather someone who rides a bike now and then.

The weather looks good for Saturday. I will start in the morning after a breakfast of pancakes and hash browns. I have no idea how long this will take me, but my goal is to beat my time from the El Tour de Tucson last November.

I will put up a post-OHMN report sometime Sunday, hopefully with photos and perhaps video!

Have a great weekend, dear readers.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Lose the gut.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 29, 2011

FULL DISCLOSURE

So…

Apparently, I am either a big fat liar, or horrible at math, or am experiencing the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

Or some combo platter of the above.

I lied to you all. In this post from April 12th:

Rock Star

In that post I told you I rode Rock Store “SIX FREAKING MINUTES” faster than I ever had before. Bless you all for not pointing out to me this post from March 9th:

Rock Store

Where I told you I rode Rock Store in 23 minutes, 15 seconds. I know this to be true and accurate because Hal 9000 recorded it. Just as I know that I rode it in 21 minutes, 20 seconds on April 12th.

The lie was me saying I knocked six minutes off my previous best. Well, let’s grab the old Texas Instruments calculator we got from the Dollar Store and do the math…

23:15 minus 21:20 equals…

NOT six minutes.

It actually equals 1 minute 55 seconds. I was only off by…

FOUR FREAKING MINUTES.

Forgive me.

I was so excited after my first ride on The Goat, that apparently all I could think about was my very first time riding Rock Store. THAT must have been the 27 minutes I was remembering, right?

Except that my very first ride up Rock Store was done in 24:07.

Thank you, Hal.

So even though YES, there is a huge difference in carbon fiber and giant bottom brackets and Dura-Ace pedals vs. my old gear, it is not a “six freaking minutes” difference.

The only reason I even discovered this massive brain fart is I was looking back at Hal 9000’s record of my cycling history on Garmin Connect.

I’m too old and lazy to go back and change my original “six freaking minutes” post. So I’m throwing my elephantine carcass on the mercy of you, dear readers. I meant no subterfuge. I meant no self-aggrandizing.

I’m just a dope.

Until next time, when I tell you The Goat and I just climbed Mount Lemmon thirty-four minutes faster than Team RadioShack…

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Buy an abacus.

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 29, 2011

Ride of Silence

On Wednesday, May 18th, I joined with thousands of other cyclists across the world in the RIDE OF SILENCE – an annual “Awareness Ride” to honor those cyclists that have been killed by motorists in the past 12 months.

RIDE OF SILENCE

Cities all over the country and across the pond hold the Ride of Silence every May 18th. It is free, it is short (8 to 10 miles) and it is something that I believe, as cyclists, is our duty to participate in.

I rode in the Thousands Oaks, CA Ride. Last year they had 155 riders. This year I was one of 287. I snapped this picture just before we rolled off. This is looking behind me. And note – there were probably close to a hundred riders in front of me…

Though this ride was only 10 miles and was more or less silent – not a lot of chatting during the ride – it was one of my favorite rides I’ve ever done, solo or with a group. You could feel the love and camaraderie in the air. It started off with several speakers, including a woman who had just lost her fiance five weeks prior – when he was hit and killed by someone texting while they were driving. The couple had just moved to Cycling Mecca and were both avid riders.

You know me – my eyes were swimming pools by the end of the speakers.

One of the coolest things that happened that evening was the ride organizer announced that unlike the year before – we would not have the local Sheriff’s Department providing rolling traffic breaks. Last year the 150+riders had four Sheriff’s cars and three motorcycle cops stopping traffic at all lights. But due to budget cuts within the Sheriff’s dept, they could not give us the amount of officers and cars we needed.

So the announcer was saying all 287 of us were going to have to stop at all red lights and just be extra careful, especially since we were riding during “rush hour.” We had one Sheriff’s officer on a motorcycle, and one other on a Sheriff’s Dept Mtn bicycle. When the ride organizer made his announcement the officer on the bicycle said, “Not so fast, Bruce. We’re working on it.”

And with that, here came not one, not two, but four more officers on their bicycles – in full uniform – followed by another motorcycle officer. They were here on their own time, of their own accord, and were going to do their best to help out these 287 riders.

And they did. The officers on their Mtn bikes killed themselves for us. You’ve all seen how large a pro peloton is in the TDF or Giro. Well, that’s maybe 150 riders going 30-40 mph. We had 287 riders going 12mph. Take a second and think about how long that line was. And these bicycle officers would ride to an upcoming traffic light, stop all traffic, wait for the ENTIRE group to roll by, then ride their guts out to get back in front of the group and do it again. For ten miles. It was truly a sight to see.

I tip my hat to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department and all their officers. Thank you.

It felt amazing to be part of this massive group, rolling through city streets, with motorists and pedestrians everywhere stopping and staring. At the front of the group was a guy carrying a large flag that told what we were and why we were there, and anytime anyone asked, we explained we were honoring the memories of the fallen cyclists.

After the ride we all shook hands and hugged and talked about how much fun it will be the day when we ride to celebrate no cyclists being killed in a year – talk about a party!

I encourage all of you to seek out your local Ride of Silence for next May… or organize one yourself.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

RIP 108

 

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 21, 2011

Vengence is Mine

My return to Cycling Mecca and The Goat could not have come sooner. Okay, it could have, but it didn’t. For nearly four weeks I’ve been out of town due to work, and though I was in a very cycling friendly town (Portland, OR) it rained so much that I was never able to mount a bike.

Today I joined my peeps – The Conejo Valley Cyclists – for our weekend club ride. The route was a 34-mile ride with just over 2,000 feet of climbing. 22 miles into the ride is “7 Minute Hill” – so named because that’s how fast the pro riders attempt to climb the thing. It’s 2 miles long with just over 600 feet of ascent. Hill Slugs like me try to do it in under 14 minutes.

I rolled up in my club kit and saw we were going to have approx. 30 riders for our stage. I was greeted with friendly hellos and Where-u-been’s. The Goat was admired and envied. It was like coming home. I do seriously love this club, and despite it having over 350 members, most everyone I’ve met has been fantastic.

Most.

As I stood waiting to roll off with the troops, my right foot clipped in (sporting my new Giro shoes – heaven for your feet), a woman I’ve seen on other rides turned and began a conversation with me…

Woman: Hey, nice to see you.

Me: Thanks, good to be back.

Woman: Where you been?

Me: Out of town. Have only ridden once in the last 3 weeks.

Woman: Well, don’t expect me to give you a bungee cord to help you up the climb.

Me: friendly chuckle

Woman: Seriously, I hate people sucking my wheel, always wanting me to tow them.

Can you, Dear Readers, guess the very next thing that went through my head? No, you cannot.

The very next thing that went through my head was:

Sammy Davis Jr. in the beautiful and under-appreciated movie TAP yelling, “CHALLENGE!”

At that moment a giant red target appeared on this woman’s back.

We rolled out and started the run toward 7 Minute Hill. I stayed in the back half of the group, my eyes rarely leaving Miss Target. She was up in the first 8 or 10 riders, cruising along, unaware that a Goat was stalking her.

Our first climb came about 3 or 4 miles before 7 Minute. It was maybe 5 or 6% max for no more than a mile. Underneath me the Goat was like a bull in a chute – bursting to be unleashed – but I kept reminding myself to save it for the Hill. But the Goat was just too powerful.

We crested this first mini climb and I could not help screaming by her on the descent. My new plan was to drop her so far back that I’d be done with 7 Minute by the time she got there. One thing stood in the way of that plan.

The city of Agoura Hills implementation of traffic lights. After achieving over 38mph on the descent I sat at a red light for a full minute. When the light changed and I pushed off and started clipping in, she rolled by me at a good 15mph pace.

My revenge would have to wait for 7 Minute Hill.

I steadily paced myself back up with her and the group, staying about 3 or 4 riders back of her. I could hear the music from JAWS in my head. We rode on, and eventually the group stopped at a rest stop to let everyone catch up and refuel. We were four miles from 7 Minute. I watched her at the rest stop, laughing with another woman, drinking from her silly little water bottle.They were probably mocking me and the Goat.

Always wanting me to tow them.

Not soon enough we were rolling again. I watched my cadence and my heart rate – keeping them at 85 and 140, respectively. The Goat was getting angry. Like an old man trying to return soup at a deli. I calmly preached patience.

There’s another 4% climb prior to 7 Minute. The Goat wanted to take her on that hill, but I held back. Staying three riders behind, waiting. Running through my mind all the different choices of things to say when I drop her…

Where’s your bungee cord now, sista!

Please don’t try and suck my wheel, I hate when people do that.

Want me to tow your fat ass?

Oh, it was going to be so very good.

As we rolled along the half-mile flat before 7 Minute I purposely rolled by her, wanting her to see me, to remember me. I sat just ahead of her for fifty meters or so, then dropped back alongside her. Up ahead the leaders were making the left turn onto 7 Minute Hill. My heart was pumping at 168 and I realized it was because I was so excited about what was about to happen. I breathed…

I dropped back a rider or two behind her as we made the left turn. My plan was to let her start the climb. Let her get a half mile or so into it, to where she’s really feeling the burn, then I would glide by as if on a beach cruiser down by the surf, and I would say my line. What line was it gonna be?

You’re looking pretty good for a woman of your size and age.

Don’t give up, it gets easier when you drop all that weight.

Suck THIS wheel, baby!

The Goat and I started the climb. I settled into a nice spin – my next to last gear, and an 80 cadence. There she was. Bent over her ominous black Specialized, her ominous black helmet, her ominous blonde mane sticking out the back. Can blonde be ominous?

The Goat and I got closer – but not too close. I did not want to give her ANY chance of saying she towed me even for a second. We made a tight corkscrew turn, she got out of the saddle, and I knew this was it.

I launched the Goat.

It responded like a wraith, blasting through that corkscrew, up the left side of the woman and by her. As I passed I turned to her, ready to deliver my line…

And I nodded.

I climbed the hill in 11 minutes.

She did it in… well, as we all waited at the summit for the rest of the group, I stopped looking at my watch after 14 minutes. No need.

On this day when life as we know it was scheduled to end, I took my revenge, and took it quietly and professionally. Gloating is always better in the mind than in reality. And God strike me down if I ever become the type of person who says “Seriously, I hate people sucking my wheel, always wanting me to tow them.”

You want me tow you? More than happy. Because I know how great it feels to be towed.

Eat better

Ride your bike

RIP 108

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | May 10, 2011

RIP Wouter Weylandt

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 12, 2011

ROCK STAR

Yes, Virginia, there is a HUGE difference between aluminum and carbon fiber.

Good Lord. Yes, Gaz hinted at it, but you didn’t really tell us the complete truth, did you, mate?

Yesterday was my first ride on UNFAT II, which, after yesterday’s first ride, will from this moment forth be known as THE GOAT. Is it Goat as in The Greatest Of All Time? Or is it the GOAT as in, she climbs like a mountain goat?

Yes.

The Ride

It was 48 degrees F when I wheeled Unfat II – The Goat out of my little place in Cycling Mecca. I was nervous – did I just blow a ton of money on something I didn’t need? Something that won’t be that much different than The Unfat Machine? I thought back to a couple of warnings the LBS gave me when I picked up the Goat.

1 – “It might feel a little whippy.”

Huh?

They explained that, compared to The Unfat Machine, the Goat may feel whippy, as it is so much lighter and responds so much faster, that a rider who is not prepared for this may in fact… crash. Due to whippiness.

Okay, be ready for whippiness. Gotcha.

2 – Be careful on steeps hills of popping the front end.

Huh?

They explained that the Goat is so light compared to the UM that when I’m climbing up a particularly steep grade, and am pulling back on the bars as you are supposed to do, take care not to pull the front end completely off the ground.

No wheelies. Gotcha.

Okay, so I roll the Goat out of my place and clip into the Dura-Ace carbon pedals. Now, here is where I should pause to share with you that my little place in Cycling Mecca is located at the base of a narrow driveway that, while only about 30 meters in length, has a gradient of 18-20%.

That’s right. It’s always fun when I leave and have to circle around, putting the UM into my granny and then struggling to crank up that grade before my ride has even started.

Let me pause yet again to remind you that the UM was a triple crank. 52/39/30 in the front, 12-25 in the rear, for you gearheads. And despite advice to the contrary from Hova, I went with the compact 50/34, 11-28 on the Goat. Less weight, less shifting, and when you compare granny to compact, the 30-25 ratio is almost identical to the 34-28. Meaning, the triple really only has a slight advantage over the compact.

Anyway, enough calculus. Or trig. Or algebra. Or whatever the heck it is we’re talking about. Bottom line – I have no more triple.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So, I clip in and start to pedal – thinking (or not thinking) that it will be just like my old bike in that I will slowly begin to move toward the grade.

Uh, no.

I push down with my clipped-in foot and the Goat responds like a machine possessed – exploding toward the grade. In less than two full cranks I am already going up, my left foot is not clipped in, and the Goat is WHIPPING all over the place.

I make one of the best decisions I’ve made in recent years and decide to stop.

I dismount and walk her back down the 5 or 6 meters that I had already climbed in a spastic zig-zaggy motion.

Back at the bottom I reevaluate. Okay, so yes, whippy. Okay, so there might be something to this whole power transfer thing. I move back as far as I can from the driveway (the grade), and clip in again, this time fully concentrating on getting that second shoe clipped in before I begin to ascend.

I manage to pull it off and before I know it I am halfway up the grade and… popping wheelies. Two, three, four times the front of the Goat jumps off the ground like some Mexican dog snapping at a pinata.

But before I even know what’s happening I am at the summit of the grade. I went up this 18-20% (based on Hal 9000’s calculations) so fast I wasn’t even aware of it until it was over.

That, dear readers, is what’s called foreshadowing.

ROCK STORE

As I left my little place and began riding on the chubby bike lanes of Cycling Mecca, I was just trying to get used to the Goat. The power transfer thing is truly unreal. The difference between pushing down on these Ultegra pedals as opposed to the SPD’s of the old Unfat Machine is staggering. I had heard cyclists like Hova talk of power transfer – of how when you have these types of pedals, your power is transferred to the bike so much faster and so much more efficient. But until you truly experience it, you have No. Clue.

Getting used to the types of pedals takes a bit of focus, but it is not daunting. Just spend 5 minutes practicing clipping in and out, getting used to flipping the pedal with your toe to get it in the proper position. Yes, it can be annoying at first, but the trade-off is worth a week of annoyance. Seriously, you suddenly feel like you are 25% lighter AND 25% stronger – just because of clipless pedals.

If you don’t have them… get them. Now.

It’s like the Goat is a living, breathing creature. Some sort of mythic dragon that is desperate to gain flight. I was spinning along at 23mph and honestly, it felt like it does when I spin at 16mph on the UM.

Since I had not ridden any bike in over three weeks – and in that time my eating habits have nose-dived – and I had probably gained four or five pounds, I was nervous about doing any sort of difficult ride. I just wanted to ride and get used to the Goat. But the more I pedaled, the more I felt like there was only one destination…

Rock Store.

Yes, I hadn’t ridden in 24 days. Yes, I was fat and bloated and out of habit. But the Goat seemed to be begging, no, ordering me to go there. So there I went.

My personal best time up Rock Store had been 23 minutes, 15 seconds. I had ridden it four times before yesterday. My second best time was 23:42. I figured that maybe the strength of the Goat would balance out the fact that I was not in riding shape, and maybe I could get close to, or if luck was on our side, even break my record.

I started the climb in my… I don’t know the real cycling terminology so I will just say – I started the climb in my third-to-easiest gear. Meaning there were two more easier gears I could shift into if need be. I began to climb.

And climb.

Maybe 300 meters into the climb I shifted. Now I was in my second-to-last/easiest gear. And I kept cranking and the Goat kept climbing.

I was feeling the same as I always do up Rock Store – it’s freaking hard. I tried to get into a rhythm, both with my breathing and pedaling.

And I kept climbing. Hoping I would be able to make a run at the end to try and break or at least tie my record.

At the halfway mark of the climb, I realized I had not yet shifted into my easiest gear. On the Unfat Machine I was forced into my easiest gear long before the halfway point.

As I neared the final phase of the climb – which is a right turn, then a sweeping left, before a false front and the final 100 meters which rises at 10% – I shifted into my easiest gear.

And hammered it. And the Goat burst forward, and I swear I saw a grin on its face… if bikes have faces.

I hit the summit and looked at my time.

HOLY TOURMALET, BATMAN!

21 minutes, 20 seconds.

Wait, what? No way. Hal had to be wrong. I checked again. And again. It could not be. There is no way I could have shaved nearly two minutes off my previous best.

I asked Hal if he might be wrong.

“I’m sorry, Fizz. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Be wrong that is.

Without anything other than switching to this incredible machine, I had destroyed my personal best up Rock Store. I dismounted the Goat and just stared at it.

Is it of this earth? Perhaps not.

I could see maybe breaking my record by… 10 seconds. Even 30 seconds. But if you’d told me I could shave even a full minute off my best time, I would have schooled you on how little you know about cycling… because I’m a moron.

21 minutes, 20 seconds. ALMOST TWO FREAKING MINUTES better than before.

Seriously? I must have checked Hal four or five times as I sat there at the summit. 21:20.

Wow.

If I hadn’t had work stuff looming I would have continued riding. Besides the freakish speed and climbing ease of the Goat, the other thing it is – is incredibly easy to ride. I want to ride it forever. Without stopping. Ever.

But alas, yesterday, I had to turn around and go home. So I descended Rock Store.

Faster than I ever have before.

Remember the whippy thing? Uh, huh. Whippy is the correct adjective.

It corners so much faster than the UM, it feels out of control, but that’s on me, not the bike. Because I noticed in the straight-line descents, it is rock solid – so much stiffer and unmoving than the UM.

As I rode home with a smile on my face so huge that bugs thought it was a picket fence, a line from the Talking Heads kept running through my mind:

You may say to yourself, my God, what have I done?

Eat better.

Ride your Madone.

Lose the gut.

 

 

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 10, 2011

I Give You… UNFAT II

Please press Play and let the video run (with the sound up) to enhance your reading pleasure…

No more excuses.

No more lack of power when I stomp the pedals. No more sitting up all nice and pretty.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The UNFAT II Machine has arrived.

The TREK MADONE 6 SERIES.  Weighing in at 15.7 pounds – a full 5 pounds 14 ounces lighter than The Unfat Machine.

Full Ultegra components – 50/34, 11-28 — some call it a compact, we in Cycling Mecca call it Climbin’ Cogs.

Carbon Fiber frame, fork, handlebars, and seat post. Bontrager’s newest and lightest aluminum clinchers. Dura-Ace pedals. And squishy squeezy grip tape. Custom paint and graphics design by Fizzhogg.

UNFAT II is ready to attack the hills of Cycling Mecca.

Three months in the making. Built by the hands of Trek’s finest in Waterloo, Wisconsin, the Madone 6 Series is the bike of choice of pro teams Radio Shack and Leopard Trek, as well as this blog’s two biggest role models:  Jens Voigt, and the 2023 Tour De France winner:

Tomorrow is Sunday. April 10th. The day of the Hell of The North – Paris-Roubaix.

How appropriate that tomorrow will also be the day for our maiden voyage on UNFAT II.

No. More. Excuses.

Eat better.

Ride your Madone.

Lose the gut.

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | April 6, 2011

T Minus 3 Days, 17 Hours, and 42 Minutes

Cue music from 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY.

…..

Um.. does anyone know how to add audio to a wordpress post?

We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by.

Or stand hetero.

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 11, 2011

It’s Coming

Do you feel that rumbling beneath your feet?

It’s coming.

Can you hear it?

That sound in the distance? Growing closer. Like a freight train moving through the fog?

It’s coming.


Get ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: fizzhogg | March 9, 2011

Rock Store

26.8 miles yesterday, including our second assault of Rock Store.

23 minutes, 15 seconds. New PR. Nearly a minute off our first time.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Hal 9000 discovered that the Rock Store climb is not “nearly 1400 feet” as originally posted here. That was based on lore. Hal 9000 clocked the Rock Store ascent at 1,102 feet. Still a hefty lift, but not 1,400.

The Unfat Machine and I did manage to count the switchbacks as we climbed.

9.

Nine switchbacks in 2.3 miles with 1,100 feet of climbing. It’s why the motorcyclists call it The Snake.

On our next assault we will be shooting to break the 23-minute mark. Maybe we can borrow some Tiger Blood from our Malibu neighbor?

The forecast looks like a very warm and dry March. Perhaps this is the month we will hit 500 miles?

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Watch celebrities lose their mind live on screen.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 28, 2011

Shut up, Legs

Greetings.

I rode 40.9 miles today with 1,949 feet of climbing. And guess what?

That 1,949 feet of climbing felt like… about 800 feet.

I’m getting stronger.

I’m getting faster.

I am still a hill slug, but I am a stronger, faster hill slug.

I didn’t post about this, but on Valentines Day I rode ROCK STORE. I’m too tired to publish links, you can look it up, but basically, Rock Store is the name of one of the most famous motorcycle bar/restaurants in America. When you say “Rock Store” to a motorcyclist, that’s what he/she thinks of. When you say “Rock Store” to a cyclist, they think climbing.

The Rock Store climb is as famous to cyclists as the bar is to motorcyclists. It starts at the bar and rises for a mere 2.3 miles. It was part of the Amgen Tour of California last year. Those guys rode up it something like five or six times.

I rode it once. In 24 minutes and 7 seconds.

Yes, laugh. 24 minutes to go 2.3 miles??? Uh, huh. See, Rock Store has nearly 1,400 feet of climbing in those 2.3 miles, with at least seven switchbacks – I lost count.

I timed myself because, like Gaz, I want a goal, something to aspire to. I aspire to ride Rock Store in under 20 minutes. And I will. Soon.

GOAAAAAAALLLLLL (S)

You might notice a new bit of math over at the “Shut Up Legs” section of the blog…  Elevation Gain.

Climbing.

Since arriving in Cycling Mecca, I have climbed 23,465 feet. Holy Van Impe! (look it up)

And lets not stop there. Lets talk mileage. Tomorrow being the last day of February, I thought I’d point out that I rode nearly 250 miles in February. A month that is not only short, but one in which I was only riding on the weekends, more or less.

Note to all of you who think you don’t have time to ride… I rode over 200 miles this month riding once on Saturdays (for about 2.5 hrs), and once on Sundays (for about 2 hrs). So, get off your tuckus, quit with the excuses, and ride!

Last February, 2010, I rode a total of 24 miles.

So… since we’re talking goals and I’m obviously feeling very chippy about myself, I’m officially announcing my 2011 Cycling Goals:

Ride over 500 miles in one month, at least twice.

Ride 5,000 miles for the year.

Climb over 100,000 feet for the year.

Dang, but that last one looks both ominous and impressive, doesn’t it? Right now, I’m averaging over 11,000 feet per month. Now, yes, I know when I get back to StL, there won’t be any Rock Stores, etc., so I am going to have load up on these front months.

And……. I may need a little help, equipment-wise.

That, my friends, is known as a tease. Stay tuned.

As for the 101 Things List, there should be a couple of them falling within the next few weeks. << Another tease, only not as good.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Climb like a mountain goat.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 13, 2011

Up, Up, And Away

Okay, stay with me here, folks. It’s math time!

Between the time I got the Hal 9000 and my journey to Cycling Mecca, I made exactly 20 rides. Get it? 20 rides, all but four of which were in St. Louis, the others being in Tucson.

Of those 20 rides, one was the El Tour de Tucson, which featured over 3,100 feet of climbing. Another one was my second assault on Mt. Lemmon, which clocked in at 4,360 feet of climbing. So, 2 of the 20 rides totaled just over 7,500 feet of climbing. You with me?

Now, my total elevation gain for those 20 rides, including the two biggies, was 16,246 feet. That’s how much climbing I did in 20 rides, including El Tour and Mt. Lemmon.

16,246. If we remove Mt. Lemmon and El Tour, it comes down to 18 rides and 8,717 feet of climbing.

Since I have arrived in Cycling Mecca, I have ridden 12 times. Twelve. That’s what, 60% of what I rode before getting here? I suck at math, but I do know that twelve is eight less than twenty.

My total elevation gain for the 12 rides I’ve done in Cycling Mecca is… wait for it… wait…

19,483.

No typo there, I checked.

19,483 feet of climbing in 12 rides. An average climb of 1,623 feet per ride. If you average my St. Louis-only rides since Hal’s arrival, it comes out to just over 600 feet per ride. And the St. Louis rides average almost ten miles more than the Cycling Mecca rides.

When I look back now at my posts about Hog Hollow, the TdC Hill, and all the others, I laugh. Are you freaking kidding me? THOSE are what gave me trouble? And hey, it’s not like I’m suddenly Joe Climber – I’ve only been out here for 12 rides. And I suffer on these rides. Lord, do I suffer.

But going back to the theme of 2010 – IT’S ALL IN THE HEAD.

You are capable of so much more than you think you are. If you just leave your comfort zone now and then. You can do so much more.

You CAN climb more than you think.

You CAN ride longer and farther than you think.

You CAN eat food you think you can’t eat.

You CAN find time to ride your bike.

You CAN control your calorie intake.

It’s all in the head, dear readers.

I cannot wait to get back home this summer and ride the “climbs” around my house. Ha! Ha, I say to you, you smarmy little mole hills.

By the way, I think I now get “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” It’s a cycling thing!

GROUP RIDES

Now, I want to talk about riding in a group. I know most of you who read this are like me, and have, for the most part, ridden alone. I had no one to ride with last year. I rode alone. I know most of you do, too. But I want to go on record now and tell you that finding a group to ride with is AWESOME. It is AMAZING. It is a thousand times better than riding alone.

But wait. I hear one or more of you saying, “I don’t do well in social situations. I’d rather have my iPod and just go where I want when I want.” To that I say, “Nay, nay.”

I was the same way. That’s why I never worked too hard at finding a group to ride with in StL. I checked out some web sites/message boards of some groups and always found an excuse not to go out and ride with them.

Then I moved to Cycling Mecca, and I more or less forced myself into the Conejo Valley Cyclists club. I was using them to find housing and good places to ride, and through sheer guilt, joined. I was incredibly nervous the first time out with them. Now, after almost a month of weekend rides, I have new friends – like, real friends – and I know at least two dozen cyclists by name, and would smile and talk with them if I ever run into them in the non-cycling world. Now, sure there are some dopes in the club – like anything population – but I either just avoid them, or I laugh about them along with most of the others, because the dopes are the incredible minority in the club. And everyone knows who they are.

I can’t tell you how cool it is to roll up on Saturday or Sunday morning at the meeting/start place and see everyone in their kits, on their bikes, all of us sharing the same passion. There are super fast, wispy guys on $8,000 bikes, and there are 280lbs Clydesdales on steel frame Wal-mart bikes. There are 3% body fat women on sleek Trek WSD’s, and there are 60-year-old grandmas on Raleighs. But guess what?

No one gives a crap. Sure we all talk bikes, we all “Ooo” and “Ahh” at the fancy ones, but no one looks down at anyone’s ride, no one treats a Fatty any different than a 140 lbs-er. We are all just there because we love to ride.

And here’s the thing – when you have a commitment to show up somewhere. When people are expecting you, you are much more likely to go than if it’s just you sitting around in your Barcalounger thinking, “I should go ride.”

Another great thing about riding in a group, besides learning all about pacelines, and etiquette, and having folks point out junk in the road before you roll over it and flat, besides all of that, it is much safer. What do you think is easier for a motorist to see – you out on your bike, all alone, cranking along, or a pack of 10 or more riders, all in bright kits, all rolling along together?

And here’s yet another great thing… you ride better. BETTER. As in farther, harder, faster, longer. When you ride with others, you don’t do that thing that ALL OF US have done…

Quit.

There is no quitting in the group ride. And not because people will get on you, or yell at you, but because they understand, and they help you. Everyone is out there for the same reason – to ride. It’s like a Band of Brothers – We will leave no man behind.

Even on the so-called “drop” rides, the faster group waits at certain points for everyone else to regroup. And guess what? The very last person to arrive, the heavyset woman on the hybrid who didn’t bring any food or gels, and only has one water bottle, and doesn’t understand how to use the freaking Granny gear, even she is treated the exact same way as the guy in the Lampre kit on the R5 Cervelo who’s been waiting for five minutes for the next rider to arrive.

And that woman? She’s you and me. And I guarantee you that she (us) would have quit long ago had it not been for the group. So now, she is doing things she never thought possible.

So, please. Find a cycling club in your area and JOIN. You don’t have to ride every single time with them. But I promise you – if you try it, group riding will become as addictive as cycling itself.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Join a club.

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots.

Posted by: fizzhogg | February 7, 2011

Top 3 Weight-Loss Plans

#3 – Cycling.

#2 – Becoming violently ill. Nothing drops the pounds like vomiting your guts out over a 48 hr period.

#1 – Poverty. The single best weight-loss plan on the planet. You wanna get small? Try eating nothing but Top Ramen and drinking nothing but water for six months, while you live in a studio apartment in a part of Hollywood where you risk your life just going downstairs to get the mail, but the only letters you get are direct-mail ads for places you can’t afford because you’re working the graveyard shift at Denny’s, and the only customers are non-tipping homeless folks nursing a cup of coffee for six hours, and hookers coming off the night shift who have already turned over all their cash to their pimps who never tip because they don’t respect you because…. wait, am I personalizing this too much? Let’s move on.

Last week I tried #2. And guess what? Four pounds lost in four days. Was it worth being locked in an airplane restroom while flying over Oklahoma with my head stuck in a plastic dumper that smelled like backstage at the PBR, as I made sounds that must have resembled… backstage at the PBR.

Uh, yep, worth it. Those of you locked in the seemingly eternal weight struggle like myself are all nodding – “Yep, me, too.”

So, today’s weight was a decent 204 – down seven from my Violet Beauregarde-like blowing up post EL Tour. And with almost 275 miles logged barely more than a month into 2011, I am filled with confidence that I will make my sub-40 goal with Gaz.

As to my Cycling in Mecca adventures, today was a 31-mile ride, and I decided to take my first self-portrait:

As to my other goals, let’s check in on the 101 Things To Do in 2000 Days

To refresh your memory, click here: OHAOTTDITTD project

We are oh, so very close to smashing #31.

#20 is dang hard.

I came close to pulling off #40, however I could not quite justify it. My old red and black U2 Special Edition is still cranking.

And I thought #51 was going to fall, but I blew it by deciding to participate in the #2 best weight-loss plan.

So, that’s it for now. Next weekend I hope to get in 100+ miles, and we will have some very exciting news in the coming weeks. Exciting being relative, of course.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

 

 

 

Watch out for the road idiots

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 23, 2011

Going, Going Back, Back To Cali, Cali

Lets pause for a moment of silence to remember Biggie Smalls…….

Okay, enough of that.

If you scroll down and check the 101 Things list, you will see I have knocked off number 92 thanks to the Conejo Valley Cyclists club. This group of humans has been amazing, welcoming me like an old friend, helping my Cali housing situation, as well as a myriad of other things. It is truly nice to have a group of people to ride with.

Since coming here I have ridden over 143 miles, and in two weeks have climbed more than I did in any six weeks in St. Louis. Today we did 42 miles, and 3,000 feet of climbing. The weather has been beautiful, and I must say, riding with people is so much more fun than riding alone.I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow I’m going for another 30 miles, which will give me almost 200 hundred for the month. Nice way to start 2011 considering I can no longer ride during the week.

Another wonderful thing I’ve discovered since being out here is Ladyface Alehouse.

This is a bistro/brewhouse owned by the uber-cool Jean-Luc and his equally uber-cool wife Cyrena. I have been to Ladyface no less than seven times in five days, and I can’t wait to go again. Most folks think it’s just another place that brews its own beer. It is, but oh, it is so much more.

The menu has a distinct “across the pond” vibe that both Gaz and Clive would probably enjoy. They make a sandwich with a name I can’t pronounce, but the unenlightened would most likely call it a grilled ham and cheese. And yet, it is so much more.

First of all, it arrives on possibly the best sourdough bread I’ve ever tasted, grilled just enough for full flavor and crunch, but not so much it’s toasty or burnt. Then there’s this thinly sliced ham, also grilled, some completely melted white cheddar, and last… a perfectly, and I mean PERFECTLY fried egg. It’s so good that you want to kill yourself after eating it because you know you will never eat anything as good. Ever.

Until you try the Moules – Frites, which some potlicker would call Mussels and Fries, but again, so, so much more. The mussels come PERFECTLY steamed in a broth of… well, it changes daily. Today it was a curry, cilantro and pale ale beer combo. Other times it’s a garlic white wine, other times it’s… you get the drift. And the fries?

Now, being a fat guy I am automatically a nationally recognized connoisseur of the fried potato. And being one of those, I know that Belgium didn’t just give the world Eddy Merckx, but also gave us the Eddy Merckx of fries with “Belgian Frites.”

Arriving at your table in the cone of desire, these PERFECTLY cooked frites are joined by an assortment of sauces from classic ketchup to aioli, to herb creme fraiche, etc.

But wait, it’s not just the food at this place. It’s the soccer! Jean-Luc and his team of superheroes will turn on any soccer match you want to watch. I saw Barca destroy Racing tonight. And if you aren’t already booking your plane ticket to Cali just so you can go to Ladyface, here’s the kicker. They have their own cycling jerseys!

Are you kidding me? I do believe I have stumbled onto Cycling Mecca.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he climbs the Santa Monica mountains on a Trek Madone, and eats fried egg grilled ham and cheese’s while watching soccer at Ladyface Alehouse in Agoura Hills, CA.

As for the OHAOTTDITTD — #46 is slowly shrinking, but I need to step it up; I am on course to complete #51 in another two weeks; And #31 should fall in three weeks.

In other news, GAZ – The Amazing 39 Stone Cyclist and I have decided to challenge each other this year. We are both going for a 40 lbs loss by year’s end. He and I both gained weight recently, and while he has ALREADY SHREDDED IT BACK OFF, I am slowly chipping away. But together we’ll drop 80 pounds!

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Watch Leverage on TNT.

You’re very good. You are, you are

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 13, 2011

Pain is Temporary, Quitting Lasts Forever

We interrupt the OHAOTTDITTD quest to bring you full disclosure.

I suck.

The level of my suckage has reached new heights. Let me explain, dear reader.

A week after completing El Tour de Tucson, I weighed 199 pounds. Over thirty pounds lost in less than a year. Then, as documented here, Hova took me mountain biking and I ended up with a broken finger, sprained ankle, and other assorted injuries.

That, coupled with freezing temps in St. Louis caused me to only ride twice between the conquering of Mt. Lemmon on November 26th, and yesterday. Sure, there were four rides on the Cyclops trainer in the basement, but only 45 minutes each – basically equating to spinning for about 12 miles.

In addition to NOT riding, I ate. Badly. I fell into that deep, dark hole so many of us who lose weight do – celebratory eating. I had lost 30 lbs. I had ridden El Tour. I was under 200 lbs. Of course, I could eat a bunch of garbage!

SCALES OF JUSTICE

Yesterday, I stepped on the scale, ready to see in bold LCD numbers the four or five pounds I was sure I had put on since November.

I was wrong.

I weighed 211 pounds. TWO HUNDRED AND ELEVEN!

In just over a month I had gained back over a third of the weight I lost this year. To say I was disgusted with myself is an understatement. I gained 12 pounds in 45 days.

I suck.

I knew I had to do something drastic. I could not wait for the weather to improve. I could not rely solely on the trainer. This called for immediate and decisive action.

I moved across the country.

To the CONEJO VALLEY. A part of southern California that is home to some of the most outstanding cycling in our country. Pro teams like Lampre and HTC-Highroad (formerly Columbia) come here to train. There are not only endless miles of chubby bike lanes and cycling-friendly drivers, but there are hills.

Perhaps I should rephrase.

There are many hills. And “hills” is a funny word. Most non-cyclists refer to these “hills” as mountains. Everything has a grade. Even the roads that are considered flat by Conejo Valley standards are pretty much akin to the Road Formerly Known As The Pyrenees back home. I have seen very little flatland.

So I am here to bury myself. I am here to punish myself. I am here to yell “Shut up legs!”

I am here to destroy these 12 new pounds on my body in such a way that they, or any other fat cells, never dare return. I am no longer interested in nice, comfy, fun rides. I no longer care about seeing horseys or babbling brooks. I want pain. I need pain.

Because pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

These past 45 days I quit.

I will never quit again.

And to hold myself accountable, I am joining the Conejo Valley Cyclists club. The premiere cycling club in the area. Over 300 members strong. This Saturday I ride with them for the first time.

I plan on being here through May. By then this Hill Slug is going to be a mountain goat. A svelte mountain goat. A svelte mountain goat who does not eat garbage.

To give you a little reference on what I mean about this area and the climbing, the CVC has provided this tidbit:

How Steep is That Hill

I plan on ascending them all before I return home.

And you may have noticed that Jens is grimacing at me from the top of this blog. I cannot quit in front of him.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled OHAOTTDITTD:

My wife and I came oh so close to knocking off #80 on the list, but weather forced us to postpone. The CVC will help me put down #92 very soon. I’m whittling away at #46, and #4 should fall this spring.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never ever quit.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 1, 2011

101 Things in 2000 Days

Happy New Year.

We’ve all heard about bucket lists and New Years’ resolutions ad nauseam. One of the more popular “memes” (sic) on the Net this decade was the 101 things to do before you die, 101 things to do in the new year, etc.

I’ve done one, but amended it to 101 Things To Do Within The Next 2,000 Days. One, because 2000 fits with this blog, and two, because I’m very serious about this list and want to accomplish everything on it. But one year isn’t long enough, and “before I die” would not be motivating enough.

Today I begin my quest to complete each thing on this list. Within 2000 days. Which gives me until June 22, 2016. Exactly 2,000 days from today.

Sounds like forever, but trust me, based on the last twenty years of my life, 2016 is going to be here in about five minutes.

The 2Kin2K10 Unfat Project changed my life. A lot of these goals (things) were born out of this past year. A lot of them are things I’ve wanted to do my entire life. And some are things that occurred to me over the past two weeks as I spent serious time and reflection thinking about myself and my life. This is NOT one of those “Marry Brad Pitt” or “Score the winning goal in the World Cup” lists, though I’m sure Brad is a fine fellow.

The goals on the list are very real, and all important to me – some in a frivolous way, others in a deep spiritual way, fitness, adventure, knowledge, etc., etc.

I will leave this list up at this web address for 2,001 days. As I complete a goal/task/thing I will post here – crossing it off the list and perhaps sharing a brief tale about the experience. That will be the only posting I will do. So if you give a wad about whether I’m accomplishing any of it, I suggest you subscribe to this blog so that you won’t forget about it if I haven’t posted in weeks.

I wish everyone great success in 2011 right through 2016. Thanks for sharing my maiden cycling journey with me. And without further blathering, I present to you, The Unfat Project’s:

101 THINGS TO DO IN THE NEXT 2000 DAYS


START DATE:  JANUARY 1st, 2011

END DATE: JUNE 22nd, 2016

1. Finish this listcompleted this morning

2. Ride the El Tour de Tucson 109 again

3. Play Pebble Beach golf course

4. Take my kids to California completed 3/19/2011

5. Weigh less than 185 lbs completed 6/10/2013

6. See Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in concert one last timeNo Longer Possible (June 18, 2011  RIP Big Man)

7. Break 80 on a championship course again

8. Be nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe

9. Attend an Arsenal match at Ashburton Grove

10. Order the breakfast Horseshoe at Charlie Parker’s diner in Springfield, IL  completed 10/06/2011

11. Ride in Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo

12. Visit Italy

13. Do 100 pushups without stopping

14. Do 100 situps without stopping

15. Play poker in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

16. Meet Elden Nelson (aka Fatty of fatcyclist.com) completed 4/8/2012

17. Visit at least 3 2 states I have never been to completed 8/2014

18. Fish with Mark Zona

19. Learn a foreign language

20. Live by the Optimist creed

21. See a Red Sox game at Fenway Park

22. See a Packers game at Lambeau Field

23. See a Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium completed 10/21/2013

24. Ride to the summit of Mt. Lemmon

25. Visit a tropical island other than Hawaii

26. Visit Hawaii

27. Compete in the Eddy Merckx category of a Time Trial

28. Find a church I love

29. Watch my kids swim with dolphins completed 11/01/2011

30. Direct

31. Go one month without fast food completed 4/2/2013

32. Make a hole-in-one

33. Visit New York again

34. Order the $24 spaghetti at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta completed 1/06/2012

35. Purchase a custom-made suit completed 5/11/2011

36. Go on a cycling tour of a place I’ve never been

37. Read the bible more than not

38. Have a real office either in my home or rent one somewhere

39. Watch my son win a bike race

40. Get a new iPod completed 6/25/2011

41. Own one of those giant Mac monitors for my desktop

42. See a live taping of Iron Chef America

43. Go on a ride with Gaz – the Amazing 39 Stone Cyclist

44. Find out why Judging Amy and LA Law are not on dvd

45. Ride the Katy Trail with my kids

46. Complete 101 58 random acts of kindness

47. Host a dinner party

48. Write a children’s book

49. Learn actual culinary arts

50. Attend the Solheim Cup

51. Eat fish at least once a week for a month

52. Learn basic bike maintenance

53. Own a Lange & Sohne Datograph

54. Volunteer

55. Learn how to use iMovie

56. See Barcelona play live

57. Ride in a Livestrong Challenge event  completed 10/16/2011

58. Learn to fly fish

59. Visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH

60. Build a 1/32 slot car layout in my basement

61. Plant a vegetable garden

62. Finally learn to play the guitar for real

63. Go marlin fishing

64. Go tarpon fishing

65. Play the Old Course at St. Andrews

66. Have breakfast, lunch or dinner with Steve Sabol – No Longer Possible (September 18, 2012  RIP Steve)

67. Visit New Orleans

68. Eat at Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles in Atlanta, GA

69. Have a house with an in-ground pool

70. Meet Jens Voigt

71. Visit Canada again

72. Ride 5,000 miles in one year

73. See cancer cured

74. Ride the Team Fatty 100 Miles of Nowhere  completed June 5/06 /2011

75. Have a Newfoundland dog

76. Go whale-watching

77. See John Pinette in concert – No longer possible (April 5, 2014 RIP John Pinette)

78. Buy a carbon fiber bike completed 4/9/2011

79. Eat at the Salty Dog Café in Hilton Head, SC

80. See Brian Regan in concert again

81. Go to a UofA – ASU football game at Arizona Stadium again

82. Ride the Tour de Donut with my son completed 7/09/2011

83. Attend a Maple Leafs home game

84. Run a six-minute mile

85. Take a cruise

86. Get all the bridgework done I’ve been avoiding

87. See the Aurora Borealis

88. Visit Washington D.C.

89. Attend a Formula 1 race

90. Try mountain biking again (outside of Arizona)

91. See my name on air after “Created by”

92. Find a regular group of people to ride with – completed 1/15/11

93. Play golf at Augusta National – home of the Masters

94. Learn origami

95. Attend a World Cup match

96. Attend a Women’s World Cup match

97. Not be in another earthquake over 3.0

98. Have breakfast, lunch or dinner with Bob Costas

99. Participate in an Improv Everywhere mission

100. Finish the novel

101. Find the one

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy

Posted by: fizzhogg | January 1, 2011

My conversation with Levi Leipheimer

Recently, I spoke with Levi Leipheimer at the secret Team Radio Shack training facility. Cameras managed to capture our conversation.

 

 

 

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Lose the gut.

Watch out for the road idiots

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