Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Training - Diet Plateau

I'm still here.

It's been busy at home with all sorts of stuff going on. One thing that I've done is sacrificed a lot of stuff in order to ride. It means less blogging (as if I was blogging a lot before), less working on the bike (aka I've done zero mechanical stuff), less everything that I do in my free time except for the riding bit.

I'm focusing on the riding not because I want to get in shape but because I'm still working the diet angle of things. I think I'm inadvertently getting in shape, if only because I'm pedaling.

A friend said that his problem with riding has to do with rpms.


"Yeah, the problem is that I have a lot of zero rpm days."

Ah. I have the same problem.

I looked at my Strava the other day and apparently I did NINE hours last week. That's as much as a summer month in 2014, and I did it in a week in the dead of winter.

Okay, so I had a zero hour week also.

A couple weeks ago I hit a rough spot, consistently up a couple pounds, after staying at 166-168 lbs for a week plus. Something happened in my body, I think it was adjusting or something (maybe it was the non-riding?), because without me taking any drastic action the weight started to shed again.

Now I've been plateaued at about 161 lbs, so it's 5-7 lbs below my previous plateau. More significantly I'm about 17 lbs my start point 60-odd days ago. I've basically lost the weight of my bike at this point.

I remember these plateaus from before. I don't know how they work, why it happens, but it seems that my body sort of resets at different weights. I hope to drop one more plateau, in the 156-158 range, and it would be awesome if I could hit a second plateau, perhaps in the 151-153 range. In a month I should be able to lose 6-7 lbs. In two months, maybe 10-12 lbs total. Weight loss tapers so it's easier to lose the first 10 lbs versus the last 10 lbs.

Dropping below 150 would be dream, but really, at this point, any additional weight loss is a bonus.

My food/diet has been pretty consistent through the whole process. I've been eating virtually the same meals 80% of the time; sometimes I adjust the portion, to reduce calories (and then to return it to my "regular" portion). It's easy on a number of levels. In MyFitnessPal, my recent foods show up at the top of the list. With only a few standard meals (oatmeal, chicken and rice, recently steak) I only have to scroll down a bit, check a bunch of boxes, and I have my meal in place.

(Note: on the mobile version this isn't the case, so I try to add foods on the laptop versus the phone.)

Food adding page - I've checked my 454 calorie breakfast for this morning.
With my less aggressive approach I have a 1690 calorie daily budget, based on a 161 lbs weight.
Earlier I was trying to attain as low as 1300 cal.

You can see that I had recently eaten some of Koichi's leftovers (mayo!). Toward the bottom of my recent list you can see that I had a smoothie, I think it was a few days ago; otherwise I normally have the oatmeal. Junior even tells me it's time for me to get my "cereal and raisins".

I often "pre-add" my foods, especially if I don't know them. I put them in before I eat them to get an idea of my overall caloric landscape. This has been significant a few times where I realized that I simply couldn't afford to eat certain foods. The numbers put a stark reality to the food, versus looking at the food on the table and thinking, "Well, how bad could it be?"


I recently changed my overall strategy to include a bit more fat. This is why my breakfast list was a bit wacky, in the past I didn't eat stuff that Koichi didn't want, I either tossed them (if they were older) or saved them for later (if fresh). t realized that I wasn't getting the nutrients I needed, as evidenced by some annoying sore things in my mouth. With a better diet, a couple multi-vitamins, they disappeared in a few days.

After that I decided to include more fats. Previously I'd been limiting myself to about 30-50g of fat per day. Now it's higher, typically 40-70g of fat. I'm still eating carbs and such, I'm not limiting myself on really anything.

Except sugar.

I've realized now that sugar really makes me feel hungry, it gives me really inconsistent energy levels, and it's something that seems to affect me pretty significantly. Also, in my physical, I had yet another "pre-diabetic" level of some hormone thing. For years the doctor has asked me if I actually fasted before the blood test, and for years I had. Apparently my blood sugar thing isn't quite right.

So, with the energy level stuff, the hunger stuff, and the blood test stuff, I've been pretty motivated to avoid sugar. I've had my coffee black all but three times in the last 60-odd days, and only once did I prepare it anywhere near my normal "I like a little coffee with my sugar and cream" ratios. That night was the night I lost track of time as I hammered away on the trainer for 3 hours, couldn't get to sleep for another hour or two, and basically wrecked my schedule for the next week.

I can't remember if it was the same night I actually had some desert.

Whatever, it's not a good thing.

I have to think about my food approach for races. Normally I load up on sugar, getting that cheap/fast energy and sacrificing any longterm stuff. I'm thinking now that a less sugar oriented thing might be better.

One thing that I've done is had a couple of the organic pouches we get for Junior. They are fruit and veggie based, they're easy to digest, and they seem relatively healthy. It may be that I'll be eating them instead of a traditional gel or whatever.

So that's the food stuff...

For now the rest of my life is the same.

I'm still looking for work. I'm starting to get the Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series thing going (replacing Bethel Spring Series), with two scheduled races and two more potential race dates, stuff I've worked on since last fall. The site is new and obviously not yet finished, but the ANSS site should be better shortly.

I'm also starting to settle into some of my Carpe Diem Racing obligations. A big thing is a fund raising ride in June, up in northern MA. Although it's primarily to benefit the Northfield Mount Hermon School, it'll be open to anyone. It sounds like it'll be a hoot, to be honest.

Other events include the White Plains Crit in June, the Tokeneke Classic Road Race, and a still-to-be-confirmed July 4th race in Bethel. I hope to be helping with the Aetna Silk City Cross race again, and there may be another event or two as well.

With all that it means that CDR will be continuing as before. I had some doubts about this recently so for me to decide this is pretty significant. However, this means paying some recurring bills, like the unemployment things, the liability insurance, regular stuff that any employer has to pay. CDR is a high volume, low net type business. If it wasn't for the extra events CDR did throughout the year it would have been a massively losing proposition holding just Bethel. Hopefully this year I meet my goal of netting (pre-tax) $500 per week/event; last year at Bethel it was more like losing $500-1000/week, and that's been consistent for a few years.

In the background through all of this there's Junior, who is growing in leaps and bounds mentally and physically. He's much more interactive, even compared to a few months ago. I've realized that I place him first and foremost, before anything else. I've walked away from people mid-sentence to attend to him (typically if he's getting into something he shouldn't, not when he's doing normal stuff). He can get into things pretty well now, like getting a small step stool to access the sink (and running water), opening doors, etc.

This is the set up he's playing with now (Pops built it with his suggestions).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Promoting Races - Trailer Stuff Again

Although it's been cold and icy out we used the trailer to move some stuff into the Missus's office. I got to the office just ahead of everyone else so I had time to walk around inside the trailer and take a few pictures. I felt pretty good about all the stuff I'd done to make the trailer a better "race event" trailer.

Trailer backed up to the front doors of the office.

One big thing is that I'm much more at ease driving the trailer around. I'd like some lights down low so I can see how much clearance I have when, say, taking a slow turn with a snow bank on the inside, but otherwise I'm much more relaxed when pulling the trailer. I used to be a nervous wreck but now it's actually very soothing and comforting.

I do want to buy a stabilizer / weight distribution thing for the hitch. What it does is basically put a lever on the tow vehicle so the trailer doesn't pull down on just the ball, it pushes down on a long "bar" if you will so the tow vehicle gets loaded more equally front and rear. This would keep the rear of the tow vehicle from getting pulled down (and the front from being pulled up).

It also helps prevent the trailer from swaying in windy situations, typically when a semi passes me on the highway.

On this day, with a lot of running water freezing on the much colder ground, I also thought that getting snow tires for the trailer might be good. It'll be less prone to sliding on snow and in the summer it wouldn't make much of a difference. I run snows on the tow vehicle year round since I only put 1000-2000 miles on it a year and I wanted tires for the worst conditions, aka snow/ice.

One Day Licenses and Annual Renewals go in those bins.

I always lose track of the One Day and Annuals so I got an inexpensive bin set up to hold them. I keep blank forms in two pockets and put the filled in forms in the third. Makes it super easy to keep track of them, and since they're wall mounted it's hard to drop the folder or whatever.

The drawers are for the different categories, for numbers and releases. Put in a filled in release, pull out a number. It's easier to find a release if you need to get it. It's also neater than tossing all the releases into one box or bin.

Tables fold up but I leave them down. Legs unscrew when the tables are up.

Power outlet - the trailer is wired for 110v.

The circle is a little vent. There's one down low in the back, one up high in front. It's for air circulation.

The fuzzy thing hanging is a duster.

Carpe Diem Racing has a new site, revamped if you will. This will become the new central site for the events that CDR promotes or works.


I have white duct tape for finish lines. The black duct tape is to border the while, but often it's not necessary. It's nice for a deluxe finish line though.

The blue painter's tape is for posting results. It makes it much easier to pull down all the tape at the end of the day. We also post any notes/signs/etc using the blue tape.

Yellow caution ribbon is for marking areas off-limits and such. I have a bundle of 50 cyclocross type stakes for staking out such areas.

Notes for registration folks from the last event we did, the 2014 Silk City Cross.

People inevitably ask about start times and such. We post that stuff between the two side windows so we have a copy and we don't waste 200 pages of paper printing out flyers that get tossed after a few views.

Tie down straps.

There's a bunch of stuff tied down in the trailer. I have more straps ready to go.

Note the lights? There are 12v dome lights, which I had on. There's also four 4' long 110v fluorescent lights which are not on - they're hooked to the 110v circuit.

Poster from the old days.

I wanted to put up a poster or two. This one is real, it was really signed by local star Mark McCormack and his teammate Bart Bowen. Ironically Mark's brother Frank didn't sign it but I've actually raced against him on a day I had the trailer at the race in 2014. I'll have to get him to sign the post if I can get him and the trailer in the same location.

Tables, sewer grate covers, cones, toilet paper.

Promoters can never have enough toilet paper. The day that you think you don't need more is the day that the portapotties weren't restocked and it's 77 degrees and sunny and 200 extra racers show up unexpectedly.

And there's no toilet paper.

I have 3 or 4 or 5 such packages strewn around the trailer and the tow vehicle.

You can see the top of one of the stacks of large cones. There are 10 or 12 in one stack, 13 or 15 in another.

Other things include a camera tripod, ladder, tall step stool, chairs, some other stuff.

Two tents.

Both have a couple broken pieces so I need to fix them up.

We moved a super heavy desk (visible) and two file cabinets on this trip. We stayed well below the trailer's 3500 lbs load limit, and I put the desk stuff over the rear axles. The trailer handled well.

Small cones, gas can, and a fire extinguisher.

After a minor engine fire back in the day I've been a fire extinguisher nut. The trailer has a dedicated fire extinguisher mounted to the wall. Go in the side door, look down and right, and it's there.

Small cones for minor things. I have about 6 or 8 left of the 20 or so original. I have about 6 or 8 left of the 20 or so old large cones. I have 25 new large cones.

I have to get a couple more things for the whole set up. Every year there's a refinement or two that I can do and this year is just like the others.

I'm starting to ramp up stuff for the new Aetna Nutmeg Spring Series. Stay tuned and hope to see you out there!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Training - Year End 2014

So Strava has this cool thing where you can put your year into a video of sorts.

Here is mine.

Presentation is everything - it's a generic presentation in terms of images and music but it makes it look so much better. It's like some pictures we had taken by a local photographer Matthew Wagner (he's the one that did our engagement and wedding pictures way back when) - instead of just reviewing the pictures the photographer did a presentation set to music. It made the images much more than just a picture, it made them emotional, vibrant.

Or, well, you can see for yourself.

My dad was so proud of me, I'm sure
Photo by Matthew J Wagner

So, like that, is the Strava thing.

My stats for the year are definitely on the lower side of things. In 2010 I did something like 450 hours, it's the only major stat I remember. I did something like 150 hours before the first Bethel, although I think I counted from December 2009 - November 2010. I was light, I was training, and the results showed.

This year was a bit less cycling focused, which was fine. The big thing was looking after Junior, who is 2 3/4 years old now. He's talking, he is learning like crazy, and he remembers obscure things from literally 6 months prior. At the doctor's office he pointed at a jar of tongue depressors.

"Sticks for the mouth."

The last time we'd been in a doctor's office was 6 months prior. I was shocked at his memory that moment.

That kind of stuff really overshadows anything I might accomplish cycling. Racing is fun, of course, but this is the end of my 32nd season of racing. I've been about as good as I can get in the past, I dedicated maybe 8 or 10 years to cycling 100%, and I'm totally okay with racing a bit less than at max.

I spent more time with Junior than getting ready to race this day.
I wouldn't have changed it if I could.
Photo by Matt Stuart, obviously

I did 158 hours this year. I did about 8,000 meters of elevation gain, so 24,000 feet. In terms of numbers it's not much. One rider that follows me on Strava would have done the same hours in 7 weeks; it took me 52.

I got about ten kudos for every hour I rode so that was nice. There are a lot of people that not only follow me but pay enough attention that they give me a thumbs up when I get a chance to ride the bike. To me this means the most. I recognize all the names, they're all people that I've become friends with in one cycling related way or another. Many are distant - I've never actually met them. Some I've corresponded with at length, giving them advice about racing and such.

The kudos they give me is sort of a manifestation of what drives me to continue with my involvement in the cycling community. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, the "why do I promote races" and "why do I offer help to other promoters".

I realized that it's not a business thing for me, although technically I'm trying to make money doing it. My accountant wife would argue from a fiscal point of view that since I'm minimally profitable it might be more efficient to not do any of it at all. She doesn't, of course, because she understands at some level, maybe better than I can define, what cycling means to me.

When I commit to someone to help them I'm committing to that person. I'm floored by the efforts and the results that two promoters make and get, those of White Plains and Tokeneke. Both events are things I wouldn't want to undertake on my own but the two pairs of promoters have gone out and created events out of nothing.

The kicker is that both promoters were first year promoters the first year I helped them. When you think about how much you didn't know when you first started racing, it's incredible to think about how much they accomplished going into these huge, full blown events without any experience promoting a race. The Silk City Cross race was also a first year event when I first helped, and the strength of the Expo team really helped pull together the event.


From a technical/bike point of view 2015 really had very little in terms of changes - no redoing my wheel set load out, no new frames, not even a new derailleur or anything like that. I did get my BB30 shells reamed so my bearings fit properly. This wa the first year my bike was semi-quiet.

Another thing was I got my custom stem, placing my drops properly relative to the bottom bracket (cranks). In 2013 I literally couldn't control my bike in sprints because my weight distribution was off just a bit. In 2014 I had no such problems.

Bike with my favorite wheel set, the Stinger 7/9 wheels.

I didn't realize how significant that was until a few months into the 2014 season. I won a lot of field sprints this year. Apparently the drops being 3 cm lower makes a different. Unfortunately none of those sprints were for a win. Still, though, it's better than last year, where I struggled in the sprints.

My only actual tangible prize this season was getting the bronze medal in the M45+ crit (Nutmeg and USAC).

Podium picture with Junior

With my minimal training I struggled at the limit to just finish races. By August my lack of training caught up with me - I got shelled in three races in rapid succession. At that point I decided to stop racing for the year.

I started to diet. I am lighter now than I was at any point earlier this year. I hope to continue the weight loss, to start the 2015 season at a lighter, more race able weight. I'm not as concerned with fitness, but whatever fitness I gain I want it to move a lighter, more efficient body.

2014 was good but 2015 will be better.

A huge thing for us is that the Missus is striking out on her own starting, well, tomorrow. Her first day will be January 5th, but technically today is her last day at her current firm. Tomorrow she'll be an independent small business owner.

The sign outside their office - the partner Harolyn surprised the Missus with the sign today.

In a parallel thought I need to start working. Being a stay at home dad has been great but it doesn't increase our income; I need to bring in some money from outside of the household. I'd like to stay in the cycling world for a number of reasons. The cycling world is realistically not as lucrative as, say, IT, but it's something that I've been passionate about for literally decades. In that time, as a couple friends pointed out, I've built some solid equity in the community.

However, the reality is that I need to earn money, and that could take form in any of a variety of career paths. Ultimately I don't know what I'll be doing for work.

Because of that I have no idea what my schedule will be like in 2015. This is why I can't think about training or race schedules or whatever. I have no idea what I'll be able to do so I can't plan on anything.  In a way it was sort of like when we wanted to start a family. With the unknown in front of us the only thing I could plan on was not making plans. I went into 2011 and 2012 without making any seasonal goals or plans. Back then I didn't want to share the family plan thing so I didn't say anything on the blog. This time it's not quite so sensitive so I'm okay with blurting it out.

Dieting is unique because it allows me to prepare for an unknown season. I can diet while looking after Junior. I can't do sprints while Junior sits at home or at the playground. I hope to be able to train, of course, but I simply don't know how that part of cycling will go.

I've been saying to people that we're going through a lot of changes here at this house. Change is almost always good, at least in my experience. Change is stressful though, which is why it's normal not to look for change. Therefore it's a bit stressful, yes, but I'm confident it'll be good.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Training - The Trifecta

With Junior up and down again all night, with a pretty consistent 102-103 degree fever, we postponed plans for any travel today. I was on duty for most of the night, starting at 11 or so. The Missus took over at about 5:30 AM, and I slept fitfully for the next 5 or so hours. By then she'd called the doctor (this is Day Three of this fever) and we needed to get going by 11 or 11:15.

The visit went well. Last time we went, for his 2 1/2 year old visit, he pointed at the jar of tongue depressors.

"Sticks for the mouth."

I looked at him a bit slack jawed. I don't think they used one on him since March, about 6 months prior.

At any rate this time the doctor used the "Stick for the mouth" as well as a swab thing to take a culture. He didn't like that as much. After a couple minute wait the doctor came back in with the good news - no strep.

We headed home and it was so warm that Junior didn't need a blanket and in fact we didn't need our coats in the car. The Missus looked in the mirror at me (I was sitting next to Junior in the back).

"You want to ride today?"

I thought about it.

"I don't have any gear left, I wore all the stuff in the last two days."
"I washed it all."

We got home and the Missus tried to get things such that I could get out at 2 PM. It took just a touch longer so it was 10-15 minutes later that I finally headed out.

Based on yesterday's kit load out I decided to play it safe and do the same. LS base layer, the Roubaix material long sleeve skinsuit with Roubaix type shorts, the wind vest (no pockets on the skinsuit so no place for my phone), my Canari gloves, regular shoes, and Sidekick booties.

It felt better today. My legs didn't feel quite as cool and my upper body felt just about right.

Me, on the other hand, I felt a bit tired.

I'd been up until about 5:30, catching a break here and there, looking after Junior. He was running a pretty consistent 103 degree fever, and although we gave him Tylenol early in the evening, I kept putting off the next dose until suddenly the Missus came downstairs.

On the bike I felt a bit tired, a bit unmotivated. I told the Missus I'd do a lap but that it would take at least an hour. Yesterday's ride took 1:01 and I figured this one would be a 1:15 or something like that.

I did my usual JRA pace, just trying to keep going. I definitely felt a bit tired and not very motivated. On the other hand I felt a bit more at home out on the road, standing on the pedals.

On the little "tell" hill I went pretty hard as I had the right of way and there were a bunch of cars waiting at the intersection. When I looked down I saw 24.8 mph.


I took it easy on a lot of other sections.

I missed the green light at the 10/202 and 315 intersection. I wanted to do a jump so I actually turned around, backtracked a bit, and turned around when things were clear.

My jump wasn't great and I eased off earlier than yesterday.

I also blew a bit early on the last half mile hill. According to Strava I did the hill in 2:50. Yesterday it was 2:48, the day before it was 2:53. All in the same range, but I felt the best doing the 2:53 - I was actually going well all the way to the top.

I got to the house and took some pictures with the phone before going in.

The bike after the ride.
I haven't touched the bottle since I put it in the cage before the ride on Christmas Day.

Legs after the ride. Any "orange" is the Atomic Balm heat rub.

The business end of the bike. Blinkies, saddle bag, mini pump.

Ends up that my peak was 50 watts higher than yesterday's jump. I did sit up pretty quickly, doing about 750w for 10 seconds instead of the 800 yesterday.

I also did the whole loop 0.1 mph faster than yesterday. Each day I went 0.1 mph faster. 16.5 on Christmas, 16.6 yesterday, and 16.7 today. Even though I felt a pretty decent amount of fatigue I rode faster. I think it has to do with me getting used to throwing the bike around again, something I can't do on the trainer.

Junior rallied for 15 or 20 minutes in the early evening but it was a false alarm. He went back to a 104 fever so he's gotten his Tylenol and is laying on the bed behind me. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to sleep a regular amount.

Training - This Time With Feeling!

Our Christmas this year got a bit tough on Junior. He was running a fever, up to a high 103 degrees or so. I saw a 104.5 but couldn't replicate it so that was probably user error. A slew of 103.8s and such though. With some Tylenol it'd get down to the 100-101 range.

He was like this for about 6 hours today, except when we picked him up or cradled him.

We figure it's either teething or a virus. His last fever, hitting and holding 105 degrees, went away pretty much on its own although by then we'd visited the ER and spent a long night worrying about him.

Now 103 seems pedestrian.

We'd planned to do some family and friends stuff but called off the plans. The Missus spent a bunch of time doing stuff around the house. I ended up going for a ride.

Before the ride bit I just want to say that my pretty aggressive diet, going on for a solid 30+ days, has been possible only because of her. I've outlined my basic diet-oriented needs to her and she's managed to find things to make that fit those guidelines. I was pleasantly surprised at the spread on the table Christmas Day. I've realized that it's not just the diet - there are a lot of other things in my life that simply would not be possible without her support.

Anyway, after we realized that it'd be best to stay at home with Junior, the Missus waved me on to go ride.

I'd gotten a cheeky comment from a friend, asking me if I had boiled over on yesterday's ride. He'd ridden in similar conditions wearing shorts, and he questioned my sanity for wearing three layers up top and knickers to boot.

Today, with the car thermometer reading an even 50 degrees, versus the 54 or 55 I saw yesterday, I decided that I needed to redo my ride. I had two things to do. First, I wanted to see how it went if I wore a bit less clothing. Second, due to time limitations, I wanted to ride a bit harder. I figured I had an hour to ride so that'd be my goal, to do the hour sort of hard.

Contrary to yesterday I went out today with a thermal long sleeve + shorts skinsuit, so really a Roubaix pair of shorts and a Roubaix LS jersey. I wore a wicking LS base layer and a wind vest, so I got ride of one LS layer up top.

With the Roubaix shorts I didn't wear anything else so just shorts, versus the knickers yesterday. I did slather on some Atomic Balm (Medium) for heat.

Same gloves, same shoes/booties, same head cover, same helmet.

I'd totally NOT expected to ride today (family/friend stuff planned) so I had no helmet cam charged. I tried one that I normally leave plugged in but it stopped about 30 or 40 meters into the ride.

So much for any cam stills.

I headed out, my legs feeling completely fresh. No soreness or anything from yesterday, but then again, to be fair, I really didn't push hard. I did enjoy the bare leg feeling outside. It's more fun climbing out of the saddle, it's much easier to move around.

My bare knees and shins were definitely chilly compared to yesterday, especially with the opening 30-ish mph descent. However once I got going they were fine.

On the other hand my torso was still warm, even my arms. I think that I could have gotten rid of the LS base layer and done a SS base layer instead. The vest might have been much but I prefer my torso warm, retain some core heat.

Hands and feet were pleasantly warm, head also.

I pushed a bit - my favorite get up is a long sleeve + vest up top and shorts and booties down below. It screams "flahute" and although I haven't been a very hard core rider in forever, it's still fun to head out feeling like a Belgian Classics rider.

A "Belgian Classic" kind of shot from 2010, a chilly day at the Rent.
Note LS jersey, vest, shorts, and oversocks.
Photo by RTC

I checked the SRM on the slight hill that I like to use as a reference point. I noted that I hit it 11 minutes into the ride, so it's pretty close to the start of a ride (and now I can check my rides to see the numbers/power/speed/etc).

I also noted that I went up the thing at about 17 mph today, a far cry from the 24-25 mph I could sustain during that magical 2010 year.

With my body a bit confused ("Cold legs, hot arms, what the heck?") I never felt really good. I wasn't bonky or anything but definitely lacked some edge. The diet has to be part of it.

On the other hand I've ridden 20-odd hours in December, the biggest month this year after January. So I'm actually training a bit.

I made no real efforts on the ride, and in fact I plodded a bit even when I thought I should be rolling better.

Incredibly, comparing Christmas Day to The Day After Christmas Day, I went slower today on a shorter ride on a day with much less wind.

The only highlight of the day was my right turn from 10/202 to 315 - it's very much like a race turn, there's a slight downhill after, then a slight uphill, so it's great for a "dive into a turn and sprint" kind of scenario. The downhill acts like a leadout and the uphill lets me sprint hard.

Yesterday I did a half-hearted jump, maxing out at 1000w and hitting about 33.5 mph. Today I played the lights, almost stopping 100 meters away from the lights, then accelerating to the corner once the light turned green. I wasn't up to speed but I did an okay sprint, peaking at 1100w but, more importantly, holding 800+w for a good 15 seconds.

I think the mile of sun protected road just before really affected my jump - my legs went from feeling great to feeling like blocks of wood in that chilly, shaded bit of road. The 15 or 20 seconds of coasting and soft pedaling probably didn't help either. My heart rate, normally pretty high after a big sprint, only peaked at 147 bpm. I even waited for a minute or so, to see if it would go up (it usually peaks in the 30-40 seconds after a sprint) but no, it started heading down from 147 bpm.

Whatever. My sprint was a bit lower than a best-race type finish, where I might peak at 1250w and hold 1100w for 18 or 19 seconds, but it's good for a diet-penalized, second-ride-outside-in-months kind of jump.

The bike felt great during the sprint. I had good control, no front end bouncing around like it did with the higher stem. Instead the front end felt solid, planted, and totally predictable.

I don't plan on riding outside anytime soon so the bike may be back on the trainer for a bit.

And tonight I've been up a bit with Junior again.

Oh and he's up.

2 AM.

101.6 now, much better but still feeling hot.

And he's chatting.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Training - Merry Christmas

Yesterday and today were family days. The Missus was home from work so the three of us (her, Junior, me) spent the day together. Yesterday Junior was a bit fussy, I was absolutely exhausted, and it ends up he was probably coming down with something; today he's been running a 100-102 degree fever pretty consistently. His normal "eat everything and then ask for seconds" became more of the "pour clementines from one bowl to another".

Nonetheless, with the weather a crazy 55+ degrees F, with sun supposed to come out, the Missus encouraged me to get out for a ride. It's really unusual for me to train outside in the winter but with March/April weather… well I had to get out.

I had a last little delay as Junior wanted to lay down and snuggle with his blankets. After holding him a bit he passed out. The Missus took over when I transferred him to his bed, shooing me away to go ride.

Because the weather was unusual I'm noting what I wore:
 - Bib knickers, "roubaix" material.
 - LS base layer
 - LS insulating base layer (not wicking)
 - LS jersey
 - wind vest
 - head thing
 - my Canari winter gloves
 - regular shoes, socks
 - Sidekick booties

Maybe a better way to do it:

Head: head sock thing
Neck: Turtleneck bit from a base layer
Torso: 3 x LS jerseys, wind vest
Legs: 1 x knickers
Feet: regular socks, regular shoes, booties
Hands: regular winter gloves

I was a bit warm since I felt warm when I started down the driveway. Realistically I could have gotten rid of one of the LS layers, maybe the insulating one, and replaced it with a SS jersey. I also could have used some "roubaix"/thermal shorts - I have a full "roubaix" long sleeve + shorts skinsuit and that would have been ideal with the LS base layer and the wind vest.

But I wore what I wore and with daylight rapidly fading I headed out.

I had been fiddling with my bike in the trainer room. My tape was a wreck, I wanted to mount a second bottle, I wanted to find a way to mount a frame pump, etc. I'm also reorganizing said bike room so I've been sorting through a lot of things.

Therefore I started full a pretty good load out, a pretty good set of supplies. A tube each for the 60 mm valve front and 80 mm valve rear, and an extender to let the 60 mm work in the rear. Spare dropout. Multi tool, two of them, including an 8 mm allen wrench and a chain tool. Spare KMC Missing Links. Some other stuff.

I also Strava'd the ride with the phone. I had my SRM going (and checked the slope thing a few times to make sure the weather didn't radically affect my numbers. Our unheated basement, at 64 degree or so, is pretty close to the 55 degrees or so outside, so the numbers weren't far off, just a few ticks.

Today I weighed in at an "off cycle" 167 lbs. I say "off cycle" when I'm at the heavier point of my weight. I was "on cycle" by the time I went for the ride, and after I weighed… I have to go weigh myself.

Ha. Exactly the same weight, down to the tenth. Haha.

Oh and when I set out I'd eaten about 1200 cal. With about 900 cal burned I'm at a net of under 300 cal for the day. Therefore I should be able to eat a bit tonight for dinner.

Compare that to the 175-179 lbs I weighed most of the summer and it's a dramatic difference, a good 10 lbs loss. I felt it immediately heading out of the complex. I have to climb a hill that's a good minute effort at 300-450 watts.

Today I peaked at 529w on that hill and did about 12 mph on the hill. It took me less than a minute and I slowed dramatically at the top just because.

Sept 27th I peaked at under 370 and struggled to go 9 mph. It took me about 1:20 to do the hill.

Aug 3rd I hit just under 390w and struggled to hit 10 mph. It took about 1:15 to do the hill.

There's another little hill I want to check but it's so short and in the middle of the loop so it's harder than checking the first few minutes of a given ride. On a great year, like 2010, I was flowing up the hill in a 53x14 at 25 mph. On tougher years it's hard for me to go 16-18 mph. I'm curious what today was like - I did it twice and both times it felt easier than any recent memory.

I hadn't been out in a while so I had some of the normal twinges from being able to ride in the saddle. They were gone by an hour into the ride but I was pretty aware of them, just in case they didn't go away.

I also learned, again, just how unaerodynamic it is to stand up. Given the choice I'll stay seated at speed, or stand while on the drops. However today, going along in a stream of traffic (I know, traffic on Christmas?), I stood while on the hoods for a short hill. It was like I hit a wall I slowed so much.

In a field, standing on the hoods is not a big deal.


Big deal.

(Specialized did a simple wind tunnel test and it showed that for one rider - sample size was one - there was a significant savings aerodynamically in the draft by being on the drops versus being on the hoods. I thought about that today while I was on the hoods. The rider in question was a relatively tall woman based on the head tube size of the frame. I, of course, am a relatively short-legged guy so when I stand up I catch more wind proportionally speaking, so there's that.)

I did a loop and a half of my normal Quarry Road loop, trying to get my favorite right turn in (10/202 to 315) so I could do a big jump. The first lap I did an half hearted jump, deciding to make the effort only after I was clear of the turn. The effort ended up a 1000w peak, 600w for 10 second kind of effort. Definitely subpar, but fun and invigorating for a late December ride.

I figured I'd do it for real on the next loop.

Unfortunately the light turned red just before I got to the light the second time so I didn't do the second jump. I thought about it but instead decided to save it and see how the final half mile hill went. Ultimately it went about normal, based on Strava's "recent effort" comparison. I went significantly faster once this year, significantly slower twice, and within a 10 second window the other 5 times.

Yes I've only done the Quarry Road loop 9 times this year.


It's my normal outside training ride and I used to do it 1-2-3x a week. I guess I haven't felt the need to ride outside much the past few years.

So with that I headed in. I wanted to get one last picture of the bike, in its current iteration, before the deep freeze sets in.

After the ride, Christmas Day.
Photo taken with my LG G2 phone camera in "dynamic mode"

Thoughts on the current iteration of the bike.

The bottle placement accentuates the length of the bike. I kind of like it. With the pump, the taillights, the bag, the bike has a very rear mass bias look and I like it. All the stuff is grouped around the seat tube, leaving the front end of the bike a bit bare and way out in front.

I've been working on the downtube bottle cage - I think I'm going to put in new rivnuts instead of trying to file the current cage, as I want them a good 1 cm further up the tube. Instead of trying to get it done for the ride today I just used the seat tube cage.

For the record I never touched the bottle during the ride.

I combined the two Blackburn mini pumps (one carbon bodied, one regular plastic) into one "best condition" carbon one. That's the pump peeking out from behind the seat tube.

Both blinkie lights have full strength rechargeable batteries.

The saddle bag has all my training ride stuff in it. It's short the third tube so it's a bit baggy looking. With a third tube it looks like something out of a catalog, perfectly formed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Training - Tale of Two (Trainer) Rides

I did two rides in three days. One went well and one was, well, less than that.

The first night I was so wrapped up in my thoughts while listening to music that my first realization of how much time I'd been on the bike was when I saw 2 hours and 37 minutes on the SRM.

That translated to something just short of midnight so I pedaled a few more minutes then stopped.

Considering how I felt, considering my water situation, I could have realistically gone for at least another hour without feeling bad, maybe another 90 minutes. My goal had been to do an hour of pedaling so the extra was sort of a bonus.

But with two important (aren't they all?) appointments this morning, at 7-ish and 8 AM, I had to stop. The later one is a blood-drawing appointment which means that I'll have some blood values to share. I'm curious myself what my hematocrit will be as I've been aggressively dieting and actually riding somewhat regularly. I figure both will drive my normal 46-49% hematocrit down a bit.

We'll see.

So how do I lose track of time on a trainer?

Well, I can't really answer that since I lost track of time.

I spent the first bit of the session watching the F1 highlight clips produced by the F1 people, the "official race edits". They're a bit light on actual race info but short and fun to watch.

I then started playing playlists of songs off of YouTube. It seems that YouTube automatically does playlists if you pick a song, meaning if I start playing song YouTube will queue up another song, going on endlessly. This made it easy to lose myself in music, the cursor hovering over the "play next song" area so that if the song didn't fit my immediate mood I just clicked the touchpad.

I'd just put my head down and keep going. Many of the songs had no real video, or I didn't care about watching video, so I typically just closed my eyes.

I thought of a stream of consciousness post that I'll do later, so that's one thing that went through my mind.

Another part of it was thinking of the stuff happening in my life. It's all about the family, to paraphrase a popular song, and I'm coming to the end of the first phase of Junior's life, the "stay at home Dad" phase. I've always found change to be good, although I suppose I view change in a positive way. Therefore my primary mission, to find employment, isn't a bad thing.

Although I'll see a bit less of Junior, I'll be able to continue to contribute to the household. If I don't start working then the reality is that I won't be able to contribute, and that's not good.

Stress, even good stress, is stress. Apparently I deal with this by riding while I think. I used to do really long rides in high school, meandering around various towns, not really training as much as meditating on the bike. Now, with some immediate and more important responsibilities (aka Junior and the Missus) I don't feel comfortable kitting up and taking off on a 3 hour night ride. I used to do that, starting as late as 11 PM or midnight, and doing a 2 or 3 hour ride. It was fine then but not now.

I'll have more on exactly what I'll be doing for work later, when things get finalized.

However at this point it's a bit nutty. One opportunity literally fell into my hands yesterday. Another is realistic. And another is a bit of a stretch.

So that's the work part of things.

For the training my emphasis recently is getting down my weight. Even in 2010, when I was pretty fit, I wasn't much lower than about 13% body fat. My target is to return to that weight - right now I'm about 10 lbs over, and it seems like I'm in the low-20s in terms of body fat.

One of the reasons I wanted to ride that night was to work off a 180 caloric overage for the day. I wondered if this is what being a pro is about, or maybe even a better amateur. Or maybe any amateur? I don't know. It's like a game, chasing the calorie count.

Based on MyFitnessPal I would stay pretty even at 2100 calories a day (I logged that many calories one day and it said that I'd weigh the same in 5 weeks). My budget is 1510 calories, so a net loss of about 600 calories daily. Although not exactly accurate I use the "3500 calories is a pound of fat" number for rough estimates. This means that a 600 calorie deficit daily works out to 4200 calories a week, or, very roughly, just over a pound of fat loss.

However I've been pretty aggressive with the burn rate, meaning exercise-related expenditures. On a given day where I ride I will end the day at a net loss to my goal, typically hitting a 400-900 calorie surplus, meaning I was that far under my 1510 target.

It means I netted, for the whole day, something like 1100 calories to a number as ridiculously low as 600 calories.

Yesterday was a bit excessive, at well over 1000 calories under. If the kJ work number is accurate (kJ is typically 95-120% of the number of calories burned) then I took in just over 400 calories for the day.

I took a day off the bike, mainly because I was so fatigued I passed out on the couch trying to play with Junior.

Tonight, the next day, I got on the trainer even though I was only about 30 calories over target. I wasn't hungry, I felt like I could ride a bit even after a very long day with Junior (he was my responsibility from 7:30 AM to 3:55 PM when he finally fell asleep).

After he fell asleep I headed down to the trainer.

And my ride just totally bombed.

I started out spinning a low gear, 100-110 rpm or so, for a good 15 minutes. Then my legs went out from under me. I struggled to hit an hour, then struggled to hit 1:30, then struggled to hit 1:45.

At 1:50 I decided it was enough. At this point I was so fatigued that I was barely turning the pedals, my heart rate was all of about 85 bpm, and riding the bike was just a waste of time.

It's just past midnight now and I'm looking at just under a 700 calorie surplus, meaning I took in 800 calories for the day. That's a solid 1300 calories short of my "maintenance" number of about 2100 calories. It's still very short of my 1510 budget which is a 600 calorie a day deficit.

And I'm not hungry.

Tonight I'd ridden, for the first time, in a size M jersey that even in 2011 (the year after I was light) was a bit snug on me. It's still a bit snug but it wasn't embarrassingly so. I also wore the matching size S shorts (normally I'm a size M). I need to go to the next notch on my belt.

So, for now, I'm making progress. I have another solid day in terms of diet under my belt.

I won't worry about training very hard for another month or maybe even two months, so I have some time to trim down my weight.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Training - Relative Power On My Trainer

Today I had a decent food day. I guess that's the "dieting bike racer" in me. It's strangely empowering to do this, although I have to admit that I haven't had motivation since 2009 to diet. And that time was the first time I ever really, truly dieted.


I got to 8 PM with something like 250 cal left of my 1510 cal budget, so that was good. Yesterday I ended the day at something like 100 cal over (so about 1610) then proceeded to eat 580 cal at night. That put me at a whopping 2300 cal for the day, literally the most I've eaten in a single day in, what, 26 or something days? November 17th, for what it's worth.

Today I knew I wanted to eat just a bit more and I had the chance to hop on the bike. Therefore I got to ride and eat a bit more.

On the ride I remembered a bike forums question where someone asked how much power it would take to go 88 rpm in a 53x17. He added that he rode that fast for 30 minutes and it made him work up "a good sweat". I'd guessed in the mid-300 watt range, definitely a really high wattage for anyone that doesn't race. Talk about sweating, right?

He later corrected it to a 53x19, which is still impressive. I took some pictures of the SRM in the 53x17 (just for kicks) and then a slew while in the 53x19. The trainer is pleasantly consistent, although I could feel if I was in the lower end of the rpm range (meaning I could be going 88 rpm and nudge the power a bit without making the computer say 89 rpm). Still, though, the pictures are worth something.

53x17@88rpm, 378w. Yikes.

53x19@88rpm, 288w. Still yikes for me.

53x19,@89rpm, 295w.

53x19@88rpm, 294w.

53x19@88rpm, 297w.

What's funny (or not depending on your point of view) is that these efforts to take the pictures really killed me. I spent a few minutes trying to take these pictures. Many of the deleted pictures were illegible for one reason or another, like the flash obscured the whole screen, no flash meant it was a blurry mess, or I was at the wrong rpm, whatever. My efforts in producing even the 280w power stuff was probably the reason why I climbed off short of my planned 2 hour ride. My legs just went empty after about 1:30 and I really couldn't justify twiddling along past 1:45.

The heart rates in the pictures are pretty low but it's because the efforts were anaerobic and my heart rate wasn't climbing relative to my effort - the heart rate lagged pretty hard. I looked down once, after uploading one or two of the pictures, and my heart rate was 112 bpm. During the pictures I felt asphyxiated, like I was suffocating.

Now I've rewarded myself with some food, 420 cal worth.

A side thought. I can handle less or no sugar in food. But to skip salt? No way. I've gotten my oatmeal down to no brown sugar, 1/4 cup raisins, and it's otherwise plain oatmeal. Coffee? Black now. But my snack right now was 150g of chicken (skinless, roasted), weighed on a scale, with 140 cal of green beans. If you check around you'll notice that's two cans of green beans. I sprinkle a nice bit of salt, some spices, and that's good enough for me.

And my blood pressure is fine at the moment. I just had a physical and they tagged me at 112/60 or something like that (and I was looking after a very active Junior during the physical so I wasn't just relaxing in peace and quiet). I still need to get my bloodwork done. It'll be interesting to see the numbers (hematocrit, hemoglobin, and cholesterol) as I haven't had a physical in something like three? years. On the positive side I think I was 14 pounds heavier when I went there last.

Of course I was 10 pounds heavier less than four weeks ago, so it's the last four weeks that have made a difference in my weight.

But whatever, it's all good.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Training - Unexpected Bonus

As I've mentioned in the past few posts, I've been dieting steadily for three weeks now. I've noticed that I usually have a couple-few "easy" days, where it's easy to stay at or under my goal, and then a day or two where it's really hard. This cycle repeats itself pretty consistently.

Today's been one of those hard days. I struggled all day after consuming a massive-to-me 1030 calories before noon. I'm ending the day a little above my recently-revised 1510 cal goal. I've been cold and getting massive head rushes when I stand up, so I'm definitely in an aggressive energy-depleted state.

This isn't the unexpected bonus that I allude to in the title though, and I want to mention a couple more things before I get to the unexpected bonus.

Two days ago I breezed through the day falling asleep perfectly satisfied with my 1365 calorie day. Yesterday, although I ate 1700 calories worth, I rode for almost two hours, burning off a good chunk of that. My powermeter told me I burned about 900 calories, so that's a huge net loss day since I definitely burned more than the 190 calories I went over my 1510 calorie goal.

My weight's been steadily declining. I started my diet in mid November weighing in at a hair under 179 lbs. This morning, for the second time in the last three weeks, I saw a low 169 lbs reading. I want to be at least another 10 pounds lower at 159 lbs. Based on my current progress it would take at least three weeks, although I expect my weight loss to taper so it may take four or five weeks.

If I could get another 5 or 10 pounds lower, hitting 155 lbs or lower, I'd be super psyched. That would be another three weeks minimum, and realistically it may not happen. I need four to six weeks of training to get to some kind of fitness and I know I'm going to lose much of my training time before the first races of the year.

In 2010, my (recent) banner year, I saw a couple readings at 149 lbs (meaning that was at the low range of my weight cycle if you will), I steadied at a weak but light 152 lbs before I started training, and I hit the season at 155 lbs or so and feeling as strong (or weak?) as normal. I stopped weighing myself regularly after I saw 155-158 lbs every time I stopped on the scale.

If I can get close to that I'll be totally psyched.

So what's the unexpected bonus?

My cycling legs are starting to come back.

See, to make my admittedly aggressive calorie goals, I've resorted to eating a bit more if I'm hungry, then getting on the bike to burn at least as many calories. If I go 200 calories over then I want to burn, as indicated on the powermeter, at least 400 calories.

(How do I get calories from my powermeter? By using kilojoules, which happen to be about the number of calories burned on a bike. Although a kJ is not a calorie, the human body's inefficiencies end up making it so. On a bike ride a kJ of work is equal to anywhere from .95 to about 1.2 calories. Reference stuff here. I figure that trying to use the actual conversion wouldn't be easy, and I'm probably in the "more efficient" side of things, meaning I'm probably using .95 calories per kJ of work. Therefore to make things totally clear I'd like to do twice as many kJ of work as my caloric overages. If I eat 200 cal more food, I want to burn 400kJ on the bike.)

At first, with a 1790 calorie daily goal, staying under my number wasn't very hard. I recalculated after I lost about 6 pounds, using a more aggressive set of variables. I ended up with a much too aggressive 1260 calorie daily goal. After two days of that ridiculousness I redid the numbers using a slightly less aggressive set of variables. This gave me 1510 calories per day. It's aggressive but manageable on the good days.

(The most important variable is goal loss per week. Right now I'm letting MyFitnessPal decide my caloric needs and I'm using a 1.5 lbs/week weight loss goal. The reality is that I'm losing almost twice that number. I'd be happy with 2 lbs/week, but when I used that goal MyFitnessPal told me 1260 cal/day. I revised my goal to 1.5 lbs/week and got 1510 cal. On the intake side I'm very strict about recording everything I eat. It seems to be working.)

On the less than good days I still want to hit about 1700 calories. This 200 calorie overage means I need to do about 400 kJ of work on the bike, and that's about an hour of riding.

What's happened is that with my aggressive caloric goals, I tend to go over regularly. I plan my food, entering the food (and related calories) before I eat them. Therefore when I'm still hungry at 6 PM I know what I am about to eat and I typically choose to eat food after checking with the Missus if it's okay for me to do a trainer ride.

Then I eat my calories and get on the bike.

At first my rides were as pathetic as pathetic can be. I struggled to turn over the pedals, and on one particularly bad ride I actually struggled to stay in the 90-100 watt range. It takes me almost an hour to do 400 kJ of work right now. In contrast I might do 600-700 kJ of work in an hour long criterium or 500 kJ in an hour of training.

Significantly, because of my aggressive calorie goals, I've resorted to riding the bike more than I expected.

Yesterday I had yet another caloric overage day. By early evening I was sitting at about 1400 calories, good if I stayed there, but I had some really strong hunger pangs. I decided to go for it, eat a bit (300 calories), and then get on the bike.

Incredibly I didn't feel horrible on the bike. I found myself holding 160-170 watts for long stretches of time (for me that's 5-10 minutes). I did ease to super low watts, like 90-100 watts, but the harder bits surprised me. With no recent training, with the low daily caloric intake, this really shocked me.

So that's the unexpected bonus - feeling okay on the bike.

I'm not strong for sure, definitely not strong, but better than "weak". Last night I kept going until I realized it was after my self-decided "get off the bike" time. I got in 1:55 on the bike and climbed off feeling fresh and (relatively) energetic.

Bonus? I at 200 calories over but did almost 900 kJ of work. Even using my 2x ratio I did well, and the reality is that I ended somewhere like 600 calories under my goal number for the day. That's a good sixth of a pound of fat worth of calories, give or take.

Back to today. I'm 100 cal over but I think that's all I can expect. I don't want to ride so I'll leave it as it is. Net net, for the last week I've made strong progress so it's all good.

Goal visualization. Me at 155-158 lbs at the end of 2010. In the picture I'm wearing 29" waist jeans. Right now I'm in 31" waist jeans, and I was wearing 33" last winter.

Interviewing Phil Keoghan at Interbike 2010.
Picture by Julie Kelly

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Training - Weight Loss Stuff

Back in 2009-2010 I embarked on a weight loss program that resulted in a March 2009 -> March 2010 weight loss of about 40 pounds. I dropped from about 190-200 lbs (between 2004 and 2009 if I hit 200 lbs I'd start thinking I "really need to ride a bit") to 155-158 lbs.

Forty pounds.

That's more than a completely full 20 pound LP tank for a grill.

It's the weight of two reasonably light road bikes.

It's 40 one pound packages of ground beef.

It's 20 packages of the two pound family pack of chicken parts.

It's a whole lotta weight.

The weight loss absolutely changed my racing.

At Bethel, at my new weight, on the non-aggressive laps, I often dragged the brakes to keep my speed in check. Instead of doing 400-800w to get up the hill, I was doing 300-500w, even with the brake dragging.

On the fast laps I could ride through the field and off the front.

My sustained power was still suspect, as that seems to be an overall genetic limitation of mine, but I had so much reserves, due to the low weight, that I seemed to have much more power.

(The reality is that with my weight loss my FTP dropped a solid 10%, my max sprint power dropped 200-300w, but the lighter weight more than made up for it. The only place I lost out was on descents - missing 40 pounds of mass really slowed me down on fast descents. I found myself frantically sprinting down hills trying to stay with riders I normally rocketed past on the same hill.)

After a solid season of racing I upgraded to Cat 2. I'd never been a 2 and it'd been a goal of mine for 25 years, so I took the opportunity and upgraded. One thing I didn't reveal at the time was that we'd decided to start a family. My thought was that I may never get the chance to upgrade again.

Then, in order to eliminate any temptation (I didn't want to distract myself from the family thing), I purposely gave myself zero goals for 2011. Without goals I had no motivation, and without motivation I didn't even do a lot of my JRA ("just riding along") rides.

2011 was less than successful in two ways. First, as a result of having zero goals I really had no fitness and therefore I had no real results. Second, the family never started per se, and my zero goal season ended up a "season pas", a season without. I downgraded back to Cat 3 sometime in 2011.

Of course Junior arrived in 2012 and then my priorities changed. I was glad that I took that Cat 2 upgrade because for a while, even now, training and racing enough to earn the upgrade again seemed highly unlikely, at least if I wanted to be a good dad and husband.

Fast forward to 2014 and I had gained back a good half of that 40 pound loss. I didn't train much for a couple years, doing in a month what most races do in a week. I prefer to spend time with Junior than on the bike so a nice Saturday afternoon means, to me, an hour or two at the playground, not an hour or two on the bike.

My results suffered accordingly. I could win field sprints, which is sort of normal, but in straight out Cat 3 races I really struggled just to finish races. When the field collectively dropped the hammer I was usually one of the first ones spit out the back.

Racing is fun, but getting shelled 4 or 5 minutes into a race isn't fun.

I don't foresee suddenly having a ton of time to train, but I can see myself losing weight. As a teammate so astutely pointed out, I don't need time to diet. I need time to train.

So, three weeks ago, I started on a diet sort of like the one I went on in Oct of 2009. It's calorie centric, focused on sacrificing everything to lose weight. My thought is that I can adjust my diet after, but I know I won't spend a ton of time researching and preparing foods. I am also trying to avoid diet foods, except one or two here and there (non-fat Greek yogurt for example). No artificial sweeteners, just judiciously picked foods.

And the weight started to come off.

My diet isn't complicated, and it's probably not ideal, but it works for me. I need the following from a diet:
1. Not much food prep. I prefer not to spend a lot of time preparing food. To me 5 minutes is a lot of time.
2. Easy to log foods, meaning I'm not eating 10 or 15 little things at a time. I prefer a meal to have three or four "things" that I log. I use MyFitnessPal to track food. I have a smartphone so I can log food even when we're out.
3. I need stuff that makes me feel relatively full.
4. Beyond a basic set of tastes I don't care what I eat.
5. I learned that I don't really need (or want) sugar.

When I first started the diet I remembered a few things.
1. The first few days really, really suck. I was literally shaking with hunger sometimes (bonking? maybe coming off of a sugar thing?)
2. Once I got past the first few days I could go a while while hungry and not mind.
3. I tend to be aggressive with calories for a few days (1000-1400 cal) then have a bad day (1800-1900 cal). This is okay since overall my caloric intake is much lower.
4. Not having sugar sugar, like in my coffee etc, really levels out my energy levels.

The first week of the diet sort of taught me what I forgot about dieting, it sort of set a new baseline for my body, and it readjusted my internal energy level.

I definitely noticed a solid drop in energy, which is only natural when my calorie intake got cut by a good 30-50%. My hands and feet were pretty consistently cold, but I didn't mind. I still warm up as soon as I get moving, so doing the slow trot-jog next to Junior for an hour is doable.

I'm best when I make a set of meals. I have two current "routines" - oatmeal or a chicken/rice thing. The oatmeal is really filling - a cup of oatmeal (uncooked), a quarter cup raisins, a tablespoon of almond slices, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Add a bunch of water, microwave, done. It takes me 10 minutes from start to finish, meaning until the bowl is clean in the sink. I usually have this once a day, sometimes twice. Sometimes I do 3/4 cup instead of a full cup, but I learned the hard way that I get hungry much earlier with the slightly smaller meal.

(And as an aside that exact one cup oatmeal thing fueled me today from 6:30 AM, which is when I finished the oatmeal, to 3:30 PM, when I got home from working an event. I had two little paper cups of black coffee during that time.)

The chicken is sort of similar. I cook the chicken in batches (last batch was 1.75 lbs of boneless and skinless chicken breast), I know about the serving size, and I add rice that I've cooked and divided into separate containers. It takes about 4 minutes to get something to eat and 2:30 of those 4 minutes is the microwave heating up the food. It's easy to log since I eat the same chicken/rice meal typically twice a day.

I'm like my dad in that I can eat the same food over and over again. At home I've had either the oatmeal or the chicken for most of my meals over the 2+ weeks we've been home. I totally don't mind. When we're out then I try to figure out good things, typically things that I understand/know, like 100g of chicken, etc. For Thanksgiving we went to my dad's and I carefully doled out, on a scale, 100g of turkey here and there.

I also have turned to black coffee. Those that know me know that I like my sugar with a little coffee and cream so it's a huge change. However, with my weight loss goal in mind, black coffee is perfectly acceptable. I drink less of it, fine, but it's no longer the calorie bomb I usually have. I also don't have the rapid up/down thing that comes with a couple teaspoons of sugar (used to be a couple tablespoons per mug).

How is the diet so far?

I started at 179 lbs, in mid-November (Nov 17 to be precise). I've been at 170 for two days so that's pretty consistent for my current weight. I typically drop, plateau, drop, plateau. My goal is to get under 160, and into the low/mid-150s if possible.

In terms of health at 179 I'm probably, realistically, at about 28-30% fat, meaning I'm in the obese range. My lean body weight is probably in the 127-130 pound range.

This means that at 170 I'm more like 25%. At 160 I should be about 20%. At 150 15%. 140 lbs would be 10%, which is about when I'd be pretty skinny. In 2010 I saw a few 149 lbs reading but I was too weak and ended up gaining a bit of weight.

There's an image here that has some good pictures illustrating the different levels of body fat in men. The images seem pretty close to what my weight/fat% I outlined above. I am between the 30% and 25% right now.

I think 150 lbs would be very hard to hit, 140 lbs pretty impossible in my current life, but 155 lbs should be okay. It's still a bit away but I'd like to get there.

Today? 1365 calories, realistically pretty accurate. 170.7 lbs this morning, up just a touch, but I had an off day yesterday calorie-wise, and I was "off cycle" if you will.

With the pressure of the event off I hope to have some more time to ride a bit to reduce the net calories for each day.

Some more inspirational pictures:

Not a winning sprint but still a good one, Bethel in 2010.
My sprint came around in the last few weeks of that Series.
Photo by Corey Lynn Tucker.

155 lbs and pulling the A race at the Rent, 2010.
Photo by RTC I think.

155 lbs and off the front at the Keith Berger Crit in East Hartford, 2010.
I don't remember who took this.