Monday, June 28, 2010

MS Ride 2010

I'm back and we survived!  It was a little touch and go there on Saturday.  I don't think I've ever had such an eventful ride. 
But, let's start at the beginning.
Stef and I decided to stay down in Quincy and take a shuttle over to the start so that we wouldn't have to start out so early Saturday morning.  The hotel was very nice.  Here's our view.
We had to bring the bike up to our room for the night.  Here's the tandem enjoying the amenities.  I have to say it was pretty inteteresting getting it up and down in the elevator.  It just fit diagonally and was a bit of a trick to get in and out.

In the morning, we took the bus over to the start. The traffic was unbelievable and it took us over an hour to get just a few miles.  We'd have probably done better to ride over.

We made it, though, and here we are at the start.

We met lots of nice people there!

And we weren't the only tandem.

It took a while to get everyone going.  You can't just let 2000 cylists out on the road all at once so we got going a little after 8am.
Saturday was very hot and as the day went on, Stef and I found ourselves feeling worse and worse.  By the fourth rest stop, we'd ridden about 51 miles and were both feeling very ill.  We sat in the shade at the rest stop for a while eating and drinking and hoping to feel better.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to and decided to call it a day.  I'm surprised that the heat got to me so much.  Usually, if I keep drinking, I'm fine but not that day.  We really wanted to ride Sunday so decided not to destroy ourselves Saturday.  We got a lift to Mass Maritime Academy and spent the afternoon and evening eating, drinking and resting to make sure we could ride the next day.
Apparently, we succeded since we both woke up feeling pretty good Sunday.  It also helped that we got to leave at 5am and get most of our riding done in the early part of the day.
Here we are pedaling along the Cape Cod Canal first thing in the morning.  It was really lovely and peaceful.
Yes, that's my back.  We were experimenting with Back of Bike Cam.  Stef took these two pictures while were riding.
Sunday was definitely the more picturesque of our two days.
Sunday, however, was the day of technical difficulties.  When we got going, we noticed our gears had gotten a little out of wack from the truck ride the day before.  We were able to fix them a bit but they needed a professional touch.  We limped into the first rest stop only to find out that the mechanic who was supposed to be there hadn't showed up.  A helpful stranger did what he could but didn't really fix it.  So we limped it to the next rest stop where the mechanic fixed it in a jiffy.
We were chugging right along, feeling good when about half way between rest stops 2 and 3, we got a flat rear tire.  Now, I'm extremely bad at changing tires.  I'm actually pretty bad at doing any kind of bike maintenance.  I consider myself a fairly mechanical person except when it comes to bikes.  The lessons we got from Liz aside, I've still been known to walk into a bike store and say something like "Bike not working.  Make bike work." in a sad and pitiful voice.
We flagged down SAG vehicle who pumped up our tire for us again but we could hear the air escaping so they decided to take us to the next rest stop.  I'd been looking at our rear tire and not liking what I was seeing.  Fortunately, there was a bike shop at that stop so we just bought a new tire and the awesome mechanics put on and got us on the road again.
From there on, things went pretty smoothly for a while.
We saw lovely scenery.
One of our rest stops was even at the beach!

They even hosed us down at our last rest stop.  It felt great!
The last bit of our ride was straight down Rt. 6.  We were about 2.5 miles away when we took this picture.
Then we got another flat in the front tire.  Arrgghhh!
It was a slow leak so rather than changing it, we decided to pump it up and see if we could limp in.  It was tricky because a flat tire really effects the steering but we managed.  We had to stop and pump up the tire once more but we made it in.  Stef's husband and daughter picked us up at the finish and took us home.
All in all, we managed to ride 123 of the 150 miles of the ride and we both want to do it again.
Thanks again to everyone who supported our ride.  You are the best!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saturday Stats on Friday

Miles ridden this week: 96
Average calories per day: 2083
Pounds lost this week: 0
Current weight: 262 lbs (119) kg
Total weight loss since 3/26/10: 29 lbs.
Weeks until MS Ride: none

Oh, the dreaded week of no weight loss.  I really hate it when that happens because then all the questions start.  Did I eat too much?  Didn't I exercise enough?  Am I retaining water?  Is this the beginning of a plateau?  Why, when I worked so hard, did I lose nothing?  It doesn't help that this is right where my weight loss stalled out last year.
But, you know what?  SCREW IT!  I'm going on the MS Ride tomorrow and I'm going to have fun and not worry about it.  If I don't lose weight again next week, I'll call the doctor and see what he has to say.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ready Or Not

Saturday, we ride.  Today, we took our last ride before Saturday.  We managed to take it easy by taking Stef's daughter with us.  She can ride about 9-10 miles at a stretch and helped us keep the pace reasonable.  She really loves biking and wants to do the Hub on Wheels ride with us this year (YAY!) but the heat got to her a bit today (can't imagine why, it's only billion out there).  She was a trooper, though.
I had to buy new bike shoes unexpectedly this week.  I was really hoping to get another season out of the ones I had.  Unfortunately, Sunday and Monday, I had a lot of trouble with my toes going to sleep.  Come to find out that the combination of my worn out shoes, the type of clipless pedals I'm using and the heat really hurt my feet.  I've now got new shoes with the cleat moved a bit forward to take the pressure off the spot that was bothering me.  I'm not thrilled with these shoes, but they'll do for now.  Ben at the bike shop said that considering how much I ride, I should really change to road shoes and pedals.  I've been using mountain bike shoes because you can still walk in them but the cleat is small and presses on my foot unpleasantly.  Road shoes have a much bigger cleat that spreads the pressure but are smooth on the bottom and not much fun to walk anywhere on.  What I can see happening, knowing myself the way I do, is me buying a fancy dance road bike and getting the new shoes and pedals for it and keeping the bike I have now with it's pedals and shoes for doing errands.  We won't talk about how many other bikes I already have.  No, we won't talk about that at all.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking It Easy

It's the week before the MS Ride and we are supposed to be taking it easy, eating lots of carbs and drinking lots of water.  Sounds great, right?  Not so much.  When I've been in a routine that has been working for me, I get very attached to it and fearful of any break in it.  It is so hard for me to get into a good routine in the first place, I don't want to do anything that is going to make me end back up at square one.  I've been back to square one so many times.  I just don't want to go there again. 
It seems silly.  How much can spending one week riding less and eating more cost me?  But the fear remains.  Everytime I get into a routine where I'm actually losing weight, I feel like all the stars align, like I'm breathing rarified air.  I also feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because it always has.  My weight loss plateaus or I injure myself and can't exercise.  Or I just get tired of dieting and start eating again.  The cold hard fact is that everytime I've dieted in the past, I've failed, gone off the wagon and gained all the weight back.  I keep telling myself that this time is different.  I've got a doctor helping me.  I've got suppliments that work.  I'm far less hungry than I've been in the past.  Still, the fear remains.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Stats

Miles ridden this week: 116
Average calories per day: 1991
Pounds lost this week: 3.5
Current weight: 262 lbs (119) kg
Total weight loss since 3/26/10: 29 lbs.
Weeks until MS Ride: 1 (Holy Crap!)
I stopped taking the Crave Arrest suppliment this week and feel much, much better.  I was able to eat enough so that I wasn't dragging on my rides.  I averaged only about 160 calories a day more than last week, but what a difference it made.  The doctor wants me to try to add back in the Crave Arrest at a lower dose.  I may try that later this week.
I've now lost 29 of the 30 or so pounds I gained over the winter.  Starting this week, I'll be trying to get below a plateau that I haven't seen the south side of since I was in my thirties.  Last year around this time, I spent a solid three months counting my calories and riding my bike 60-90 miles a week.  I was horribly hungry and my weight just jigged up and down the same 3 pounds the whole time.  It really pissed me off and caused the f@ck-all attitude that resulted in my weight gain over the winter.
An interesting development this week is that I've begun to trust my hunger.  For most of my life, I haven't trusted my hunger.  People would always say 'Just eat when you are hungry and you'll lose weight' but that has never worked for me.  Anytime I ate when I was hungry, I would consistently gain weight.  Now, thanks to the diet and suppliments I'm on, if I'm super hungry, I know I need to eat or I'll feel crummy, yet I don't seem to be too hungry.  It is a novel feeling.  I quite enjoy it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Team Car

The rack is now on the Team Car (aka Stef's husband's car).  Stefanie's motto is "75% of success is reading the directions" and this stood her and Jonathan in good stead while installing this fairly complicated rack. 
We got to try it out yesterday taking the tandem to the bike shop (again).  On Monday, Liz discovered that our rear wheel was badly out of true, too much for her to fix.  Must have been the giant bump we went over on our ride Monday.  Ah, the joys of road construction.  It should be fixed soon.
The rack is a great thing because before, if we wanted to get the tandem anywhere, we had to ride it.  This gave me a bit of stress as our rides got longer because if we broke down on the road, our choices were fix it ourselves or walk it to a bike shop, neither good options the farther afield we got.  It is also quite a luxury to be able to just put the bike on the car and take it anywhere we want.  When we did the Hub on Wheels ride last year, we did the 30 mile route but actually ended up riding 40 miles because we had to ride over from my house and back.  One way or another, the wonderfulness of the rack cannot be underestimated. 

Training and More Training

Stef and I rode 84 miles between Sunday and Monday and still felt pretty good afterwards.  Maybe we're going to be ready for the this crazy ride after all.
We had a treat on Monday.  The lovely Liz made a house call and spent some time teaching us how to adjust our gears and breaks and do other maintenance on the tandem.
She and I did a trade of bike repair lessons for knitting lessons.  I love bartering!
It was especially wonderful to learn all this stuff because tandems are notorious fussbudgets when it comes to gear adjustment.  We've been getting 2-3 weeks or 150-200 miles out of a gear adjustment and the bike shop guys are getting a little tired of seeing us.  Now we can do it ourselves!  Yea, Liz!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chelmsford Bike Path

Stef and I had a great ride today.  We did over 52 miles and felt pretty good at the end.  We gave ourselves a treat today and tried out the brand new bike path that runs from Carlisle through Chelmsford ending up just on the outskirts of Lowell.  You can see a great write-up about it here.  We enjoyed it very much.  With the rain, it was fairly quiet, though there were a surprising number of families out.  If there were that many families out in the rain, I would say it will probably be very crowded in good weather.
I'm trying to get more pictures of the fun things we see out riding.  Today we saw wild turkeys with chicks in Concord.  I tried to get a good picture but they moved into the tall grass and this is the best I could do.

You can just see two small shadows in the grass off the momma bird's tail.  They were pretty cute!
The other fun thing we saw was this.
The duck on the right looks real but is actually a decoy of some kind.
Stef spotted this the last time we went this way and I was determined to get a picture of them.
In other news, I figured out why I was having so much trouble eating enough last week.  One or more of my suppliments is giving me stomach cramps when I take it.  It has been sort of creeping up on me for the last week or so to the point where yesterday and today, I've felt very sick right after taking them and then generally sick thoughout the day.  I'm going to stop taking them for now and call my doctor.  I can't afford to have anything interfere with my riding for the next two weeks or I'm going to have a terrible time on the MS Ride.  

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Stats

Miles ridden this week: 90
Average calories per day: 1834
Pounds lost this week: 2
Current weight: 265.5 lbs (120.5) kg
Weeks until MS Ride: 2 (EEK!)
This was a tough week for riding.  The shop has been super busy because of the sale (not complaining, just sayin').  I missed my Sunday ride because of a stomach ache.  I went to the chiropractor twice having undone my first adjustment by lugging too many groceries home (I really should know better).  I fell, fortunately it was on the way to the chiropractor so the damage was mimimized.  Then I had to deal with home plumbing issues I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. 
I had a lot of trouble eating and drinking enough and my performance really suffered.  Yesterday, I went out to ride and only got about 3 miles before turning around.  I headed over to Whole Paycheck to see if I could buy some foods that would tempt me to eat enough (I've often said that if you aren't going to exercise, you should eat).  I got some of their breakfast food from the hot bar and some goat's milk yogurt.  Those seemed to help a lot.  Then, last night, I gave a dharma talk about my weight which I had been very nervous about.  It went pretty well and I'm feeling a lot better now that that stress is over. All in all, I'm glad to see the back of this week and am hoping next week I'll go back to feeling as good as I had been before.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Gosh, yesterday was cold.  After how beautiful May was, I thought I was going to be able to put away all my cold weather cycling clothes.  We still had a good ride and I'm headed out for another one today. 
I'm starting to get nervous about the MS ride.  75 miles a day for two days is pretty challenging to train for when you only have a few months.  That and for some reason, I just haven't been feeling it this week.  Maybe I'll feel better next week.  Let's hope the weather warms up a little.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Blood Work

I went in yesterday to discuss my blood work with Dr. Rothfeld and the results were interesting and a little scary. The main thing he was testing me for was inflammation.  If you'd like to learn more about it, there's an interesting article here.  He was also testing my thyroid and a ton of other stuff.  The results came back that I have massive inflammation.  One of the markers he checked was five times the maximum healthy number.  He explained that this is causing a whole bunch of cascading problems with my health, surpressing my metabolism and is the reason I've had so much trouble losing weight in the past.  If let go, this could cause me to have the same kind of heart problems that killed my father at age 57. 
Fortunately, the suppliments he gave me, which all address the inflammation in one way or another, are helping since I am losing weight.  He added vitamin D to my suppliments and said to continue with the others as long as I keep losing weight.  If my weight loss stops, it will indicate that those suppliments aren't enough anymore and he'll bring out some bigger guns. 
I'm still a little freaked out that I was well on my way to having the same problems that killed my dad at such a young age.  I'm already 45.  I was always afraid of becoming a fat, decrepit old woman but now I find out that I might not have had the chance to become an old woman at all. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have finally found a doctor with some answers that actually seem to work. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Surprise Day Off

I've gotten so used to being well over the last few months that I'm very surprised by being sick.  Don't worry, nothing serious, just a stomach upset.  Still, after being up half the night and not being super interested in eating a whole lot today, I thought trying to ride a bike 50 miles might not be the best idea.  Therefore, I'm taking my recalcitrant stomach and heading back to bed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Stats

Miles ridden this week: 111
Average calories per day: 1892
Pounds lost this week: 1.5
Current weight: 267.5 lbs (121.5) kg
Weeks until MS Ride: 3 (eek!)
Overall, I feel really good this week.  I'm very interested by the number of miles I rode vs my average calories per day.  I'm kind of amazed that I wasn't more hungry.  This time last year, I was riding about the same amount and eating about 2200 calories a day.  I remember being so hungry that I wanted to cry.  I don't kow if it's the diet or the suppliments or both but whatever it is seems to be keeping me from being so horribly hungry and still losing weight.  For that, I'm grateful. 
That said, I'm still working on losing the 30 lbs I gained over the winter.  Any weight that I gain quickly, I can generally lose quickly as long as I don't let it stick too long.  Once I get down to the low 260's I'm going to be addressing what I call 'stuck weight' or weight that I've been carrying for more than a year.  That's when we're going to see if all this stuff is actually working.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Heavy Dharma

I'm a member of the Cambridge Zen Center and something almost all of us do occasionally is give a dharma talk.  CZC has them every Thursday night at 7:30pm except when there's a visiting teacher and then they have them on Friday night.  A student (such as myself) gives a short talk about their experience practicing zen and then a teacher answers questions.  I'm up on June 11 and I was wondering what to talk about.  Then, thinking of this blog and last Saturday's post, I thought, why not talk about my weight.  Weight and body image are a good subject for a dharma talk because of how much attachment there is to this issue both for myself and society as a whole.  My weight is a hard teacher.  I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to say but I'm looking forward to talking about it.  The Korean Zen Master who founded our school always said to turn your bad karma into good karma and I'm looking forward to doing some of that next week.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Little Nephew Rides!

After two years of trying to learn to ride a bike, I think my nephew's finally got it!! It has been very hard. First off, he and I don't have much time we can get together. He goes to school. I work afternoons and evenings. He's often at his mother's all weekend and even when he's here, I'm often too tired from MS Ride training. What we have been doing is bringing the bike when we go to the bus in the morning. He practices his riding to the bus stop and then I bring the bike home. I can only do this once or twice a week because I often leave from the bus stop to go on a ride myself.
However, we seem to be making progress! Last year, he took a lesson at the Somerville Bicycle Riding School and we've been using a lot of the techniques they use. Today, he rode on his own for 20-30 feet. I have to get him going and then jog along side until he tells me to let go. Who knew I'd be learning to jog while the offspring was learning to ride. Phew! Now he just has to learn to get himself going and how to stop in some way that isn't crashing. Rome was not built in a day, my friends.