Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dealing with the Heat

This has been a long, hot summer (even by Houston standards)!  We have had very little rain this year, and temperatures started climbing into the 90's earlier than usual this year.

Scheduling rides at optimal times (i.e. in temperatures below 90) has been a challenge between the Redhead's schedule and the Princess's schedule.  For awhile, I rode at night.  Night riding is tons of fun on one hand, but scares me a little on the other.  When on the street, I have to be alert for drivers (who I can usually see coming) and the occasional pedestrian (who usually isn't easy to see until the last second).  On the trail, there are all kinds of critters that come out at night, and some of them are potentially aggressive if they feel threatened by me (or, perhaps, very hungry).  Plus, I go to bed later and still have to get up with the girls, so it isn't optimal.

Early morning is a viable option, but I enjoy staying up later and getting up "late" with the girls during my seasonal unemployment.  Additionally, I have trouble going to sleep for the night if less than three hours or so have passed after sunset, so Daylight Saving Time is not my friend if I want to be an early riser.

This week, I have had a two and a half hour window in the morning to ride between 9:30 and 11:30.  If I begin between 9:30 and 10:00, I can get the bulk of the ride done before the temperature crosses 90 degrees.  After 10:00, all bets are off!

Twice this week, Thursday and today, I began riding with the temperature at 91 degrees.  Both days, I rode 16 miles.  Both days, I emptied a 3 liter CamelBak: Thursday, it was empty by mile 13; today, I emptied it with about half a mile to go.

Thursday, I was a little dippy for several hours after the ride.  On Friday, I rode earlier, and I rode slower than Thursday (1:17 on Thursday; 1:20 on Friday).  After Friday's ride, I was in even worse shape than the day before (even though the temperature was cooler).

After Thursday's ride, I drank what I thought was an adequate amount of water.  I also craved foods that are not necessarily my friend when it comes to my weight-loss goals.

To add insult to injury, I woke up three pounds heavier on Friday.

Friday, I figured out that my problem was I wasn't replacing water sufficiently.  So, I drank, and consequently peed, like a fiend for the rest of the day.  By dinnertime, I felt almost human again.  I was pretty worthless the rest of the day, though.

I had been meaning to try a new blended salad (i.e. smoothie) recipe I had received earlier in the week.  The recipe?
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 8 oz. lettuce (I use romaine)
  • 1 oz. spinach
Saturday, I mixed and drank the new concoction.  I had altered the lettuce/spinach balance, and I liked it OK, but the spinach cut through the orange and raspberry a little.

The mixture fills most of a Vita Mix container, and it takes awhile to drink.  But, it's a measly 368 calories and a whopping 27 grams of fiber!

I felt tons better, and it stuck with me most of the day.  I continued to drink, and felt fine by the time I went to bed.

Today, I had the smoothie before riding.  I almost felt a little too full.  I also resolved to take it easy on the ride.  And, since I was starting late, I made sure my CamelBak was full and cold (at least to start).

Today's ride took 68 minutes (that includes dealing with stoplights along the route).  I don't think I've ever averaged 14 mph on one of these rides.

Starting temperature was 91.  Ending temperature was 99.  Yikes!

I'm writing this about an hour and a quarter after finishing.  Other than a shower and a glass of water, I've done nothing else special to recover yet.  I feel much better than I did the last three days (including the day off from riding), but I can also tell that I'm going to need to top things off.

I'm thinking that I need to make a practice of preceding rides in hot weather with a nutrient dense meal like the one I had today.  My guess is that the fact that it was high carbohydrate tempered with high fiber and that it was high vitamin and mineral (especially potassium and a number of B vitamins) helped me to beat the heat. 

It brings up a challenge, though: When I begin work in August, I'll ride to work (on the days I manage) in temps below 80.  After work, I'll ride home in 90+ temps.  The smoothie is ideal because liquefying the ingredients in a blender makes them more digestible.  Hauling a blender to work doesn't work for me for a number of reasons.  So, I may have to experiment and see whether or not the morning smoothie will have me stocked up with enough good stuff to keep me from bonking on a hot afternoon ride.  That's no fun, and it's less fun when cycling in the midst of cranky auto drivers during the evening rush (but that's another post altogether)!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Has It Been a Year?

First, allow me the opportunity to apologize to my followers (all two of you) for not updating this blog in almost a year.  I visit it frequently since it bookmarks my favorite bicycle blogs (including yours), but I haven't felt much like writing, nor have I had much to write about.

So, what's been happening in the last year?

Weight Loss Adventures

I'm a big guy.  Too big.  Yeah, I can blame it on genes, being "big boned," or whatever, but I am obese (by any measure) for two reasons:
  • I eat too much.
  • I move too little.
In December, I had sleep study done for the first time in nine years, and I got my CPAP equipment updated.  Within a month, I felt significantly better.  Better, in fact, than I had in years.

In January, the Redheaded One and I went out to dinner and a movie with another couple.  The husband had lost significant weight.  My wife wanted to know how.

The friend had sought treatment from a bariatric physciian.  He looked great and said that he felt great, too.

The Redheaded One insisted that I go see this doctor.  I didn't want to go the pharmacologically assisted route, but I felt ready to do something since I had gotten my sleep better dialed in.

Since January 22, I have lost 45 pounds.  Most of that weight loss can be attributed to two things:
  • Eating my veggies.
  • Eating less in general
Notice that I didn't include, "riding my bicycle."  For the first two months, I hardly rode at all.  But, when the annual ski trip rolled around, I felt in better ski shape than I had in years . . . and with next to no exercise!

Moral: If you're overfat, what you put in your mouth (and how much) is far more important to your physical well-being than how much you work out.  That's not to say exercise isn't important; exercise can't undo the damage of crappy eating (especially as you get older).

The Spring from Hell
On the first run of the aforementioned ski trip, the Redheaded One tore her ACL due to a combination of an inept snowboarder doing a faceplant in the middle of the egress lane and an inattentive lift operator not stopping the lift until said snowboarder moved his sorry ass.  A week-long ski trip turned into two days of skiing for the Princess and me.  Then, we got back to Houston ASAP so the injury could be treated.

At the same time, a parent needed to be moved to a nursing home, softball season and standardized test season commenced for the Princess, and extracurricular activity picked up for my school schedule.  It was not a fun time.

There were two bright spots, though . . .

First, I found out that I am going to be a grandfather come September!  My older daughter and her husband are expecting.  Baby and mama are doing just fine (other than some pesky nausea on Mama's part); son-in-law has been a champ taking care of his bride. 

Second, I made a commitment to participate in the 30 Days of Biking challenge during April.  The goal?  Ride my bike every day during the month of April.  Eight days in, I skipped a day and had to start over, but I met the goal.  Some days, I rode 20 miles.  Other days, I rode around the block.  Every day, that ride was a lifesaver.  I especially realized this when I took some time off of the bike for a couple of weeks and noticed that my disposition went south in a hurry!  Needless to say, I'm back on the bike now.

This Summer
After my experience with the 30 Days of Biking, I've made it a goal to ride every day this summer that I am in town.  I used my bike to get to work once this past school year.  Most days, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to ride to and from work, so I'm going to get myself conditioned to handle daily long distance (i.e. 20 + miles) in the heat.  It will also give me a chance to break in the sweet Brooks B-17 saddle that I received the Christmas before last.

Plus, it can't hurt my weight loss efforts, either!

I've also decided to write more . . . especially here.  I have no idea what riding the same couple of paths day in and day out will inspire, but I guess I'll find out.