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Catching Up

17 May

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Greetings fellow bike fiends!

It has been a while since I last posted, but I still ride and still love cycling – blogging evidently – not so much.

Since it has been a while, I thought an update might be in order.

2015 Goals ~ First off, as far as my previously posted cycling mileage goal for 2015, I exceeded it. In the past that used to happen frequently, but in the last few years I have typically missed the mark. My 2015 cycling goal was 3,000 miles, I finished the year with 3,187. Nothing grand for many cyclists, but for me it was an achievement I was proud of, mainly because of how I did it, which I’ll explain in a bit.

As you might recall from my posts last year, I decided to continue April’s #30daysofbiking through the rest of 2015 with a #RideEveryDay goal. To that end, except for 12 days, I managed to ride every day from April 1 – December 31, 2015.

Going in I knew I likely wouldn’t be able to ride every single day – sometimes it just isn’t possible. There were days while traveling when I didn’t have one of my bikes so I had to get creative with how I could get my hands on one to keep the streak intact – anything short of stealing. So I utilized bike share, test rides and borrowed a bike from someone while traveling once for a quick ride.

Most importantly for me, riding every day changed the way I ride. I used bikes much more for transportation than I ever had previously – a big win. I also took shorter, slower rides which I found renewed my enthusiasm and love for cycling. No gadgets, no lycra on some rides – just me pedaling for the joy – and the goal of riding every day. Cycling had become too much about the miles, average speed and the like. Working a bike ride into my daily activity made me shift my focus from doing training rides to using cycling to get places, for recreation or stress relief or just to enjoy a beautiful day.

2016 Goals ~ When 2016 rolled around I wasn’t sure if I would set another goal to ride every day or wait until April’s #30daysofbiking and try to ride daily the remainder of the year – or neither.

As it turned out several illnesses over the winter made my decision for me.

Although I did bike some in January, February and March, more days than not I didn’t. I managed to ride every day in April, and the first part of May but then I missed a day, than another and so decided 2016 would be different with a change of focus.

With no daily goal of riding I have found more time for long walks, a few over 10 miles, the longest has been just over 15. I’ve also implemented daily weight training and yoga/stretching. Mixing it up basically and cycling is just a part of the mix.

Intermittent Fasting ~ Another part of the mix has been to implement Intermittent Fasting (IF). I utilize the 16/8 IF schedule 7 days a week. Basically I skip breakfast – black coffee only – and eat my first meal around noon or so. Dinner is around 7pm than nothing after 8pm until at least noon the next day – 16 hours of fasting.

Google Intermittent Fasting if you’re interested, there are some great resources on the web, one of which you can find here.

I love it. It’s easy, you don’t get hungry and if you want to turn into a fat-burning-beast, exercising during that fasting window is the way to do it. I’ve lost weight, but more than that I’m gaining muscle, getting leaner, from burning fat – win/win. Intermittent Fasting has become popular in the last few years and there are a number of ways to approach it, you likely can find something that will work for your lifestyle.

Primal Blueprint ~ Another change I’ve made is to follow the Primal Blueprint approach to food and exercise. You may not have heard of Mark Sisson but he’s a goldmine of nutrition and fitness information. You can find him and his Primal Blueprint at Mark’s Daily Apple website.

If you are familiar with Paleo diet, Primal is basically Paleo with a heart. The basic rule is you eat real food, not processed food – like meat, poultry, seafood, fruits and vegetables and some dairy. Unfortunately for a sweet lover like myself, chocolate cake doesn’t fall in the realm of “real food” but you can still enjoy wine, dark chocolate and the occasional indulgence – including chocolate cake.

The Primal method allows for an 80/20 adherence, mine is more like 90/10 or 95/5. I was very strict the first 6 weeks or so. For the most part I eat what I want, and certainly eat enough where I am satisfied. If it didn’t work well for me I wouldn’t do it. It doesn’t feel like a “diet”, you don’t go hungry and you eat good food. You do cook more and eating out requires a little thought and planning, but there are huge payoffs.

The surprising thing too has been 1) how easy it is to do, 2) how easy (fast) it is to lose weight, 3) how much more energy and focus I have.

Normally I don’t push or write about my lifestyle choices – sans cycling obviously – but I’m making an exception for Primal and IF because it works so well and is so simple. It seems like one of those things that’s too good to be true, and too good not to share.

If you are interested, check out the links above and like with everything else, google. Does anyone practice Intermittent Fasting or the Primal/Paleo way of eating? Feel free to comment below, I’d like to know your thoughts/experiences.

 

Spring Training

28 Apr

April is winding down and so is 30 Days of Biking. Yesterday was the biggest test yet for my allegiance to the cause.

It rained all day and evening, heavy cold rain. Cats and dogs kind of rain. I put it off as long as I could then donned my rain jacket and pants for a really quick spin on the bike. Just enough to call it a ride. Barely.

We had two nice days of riding over the weekend. Amazing how easy it feels on Rocket the road bike after the daily slogs on my nameless mountain bike or Condor the commuter. I decided to do all of my Monday – Friday rides on the heavier bikes and save my zippy road bike for my longer weekend rides. My thinking was and is to use the slower, heavier bike rides to build my fitness and the longer rides would be easier as a result.

It’s working. I felt the benefits of this strategy on both rides over the weekend. Both rides were noticeably easier than they were in March. Granted I’m riding more, every day now, and that’s part of it, but I think a bigger part of the improvements are from the daily training on the beefier bikes.

Some of it is mental – some part of everything is mental – and I’ll take it but there’s no question, in my mind at least, that it is easier to go fast and long on a road bike.

Don’t get me wrong, I love riding all three of my bikes, but for different reasons and purposes.

Anyone see it differently or employ a similar strategy for early season rides?

Onward

18 Apr

Due to one thing and another, all physical, I haven’t been on my bike much the last three months. Maybe not all physical, because the truth is riding hasn’t been as much fun as it once was.

On one level it seems understandable that after twenty-four years of frequent riding it might lose some of its appeal. Most things become dull and tedious long before, but never cycling. Over the last many months however, riding has frequently felt like something I had to do or needed to do, less like something I wanted to do.

Do you ever feel that way, and if so, what do you do? Push through or take a break from the bike?

I thought I might rediscover my passion for two-wheels by not setting a mileage goal this year. You know, be less goal oriented and just ride and enjoy it. It seemed to be working, I was off to a good start in January when I had several good, long rides that I absolutely enjoyed. But then things turned south. With a head wind.

My lower back, then neck decided to scream in protest whenever I tried to ride, and then finally every time I tried to do anything. On top of that, my gut issues from last April’s food poisoning fiasco during the California bike tour decided to join in and make me suffer. My doctor recommended I give up wheat (gluten) and a range of other foods – many of which most of us would consider healthy to see if that would help. It did, but not as much as I hoped or needed.

My nature to “read and research” everything led me to learn about my symptoms and troublesome foods and finally to recommended diets. The diet(s) led me to give up not only wheat and gluten, but also all other grains and most starches. It has been quite the learning curve.

Every time I thought I found the right diet – not diet in the traditional sense i.e., weight loss, but diet in terms of recommended (and banned) foods – I found something better and more tailored to my health issues. Plus the more I read, especially about wheat products, the more I saw that in many ways our wheat here in the U.S. is poison for many of us and other than taste good it offers nothing in the way of nutrients that I cannot get from other foods.

If you are interested, basically I am eating real food, not exactly Paleo, but close. I eat nothing packaged or processed or labeled “gluten-free”, no sugar, wheat or corn. I eat meat, poultry, fish, a range of vegetables and a few fruits. Also eggs, cheese, but not other dairy, and good fats. For additional carbs I am going to try adding small amounts of white rice because it is more easily tolerated than brown rice.

Through trial and error I am learning what I can eat and what I need to stay away from, or be ready to pay the price. Thus far I have not missed any food I have had to give up enough to pay that price. It is a way of eating that continues to evolve as I am constantly tweaking the “approved” foods list. I keep a food diary of the foods that bother me and the ones that don’t, and I adjust my “diet” accordingly.

Repeat after me: getting old is not for sissies.

It has been about six weeks and I am finally feeling better. Not great, but better and most importantly for me I feel like I am finally on the right track.

The ride I took today reinforced that for me. It is the first ride of any distance I have done since February or early March and I felt strong, stronger than I expected. I wondered about that since I am not eating that many carbohydrates, but the protein and fat must be working. As I understand it, the idea is that your body will burn fat for energy if you do not provide it with a source of carbs. No gels or sugary drinks today, but I never felt like I might bonk. A good sign for a two hour ride.

Now my neck is another story, but I did it and I will nurse the neck and shoulder along. I needed to ride, I wanted to ride and it was worth the pain-in-the-neck to do it!

The issue of cycling being about play and not fitness (except as a byproduct of fun) is still something I want to focus on and explore.

Onward and upward.

Happy New Year!

2 Jan

new-year-image2013 is the fourth year we’ve rung in together!

Like many of you this is the time I set resolutions/goals for the new year and check to see what I accomplished (and didn’t) with the goals/resolutions I set in the year just ending.

I fell short of my mileage goal for 2012 (3200 miles was my goal, finished with 2961) which has made me more focused not to let it happen again. I typically do everything in my power to make sure I hit my mileage goals – usually picking up the pace in the latter part of the year and meeting or surpassing them. That didn’t happen this year (with cycling, running I exceeded my goal but who cares) which motivates me even more to do better this year.

Additionally, I’m thinking about what I want to do here on All for the Love of Bikes which I’ll discuss later on.

Stupidly perhaps, I increased my mileage goal to 3500 miles for 2013. That’s an average of just over 67 miles a week, I know it’s doable, I’ve done much more than that in the past – I just have to create more opportunities to ride.

One way to do that is to ride when I’m running errands close in, commuting to my volunteer “job” and by doing many other short rides. Biking for me in the past centered on long fitness rides. Last year I changed that somewhat by doing more short, half an hour or so rides and more commutes, but I need to do it more regularly.

Why not? I enjoy riding, it’s good for me and the more of us out there riding, particularly dressed like “Jane Q Public” and not like “Cyclist Jane” the more inclined other’s will be to ride. It is a proven fact that more people riding results in – well… more people riding. A wonderful cycle of cycling!

What about you, have you set any riding goals for this year? Want to share your goals here – we’d all love to hear them.

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.loveofbikes.com.