Day by day in Jefferson

Cycling

The Morning After and the Ride

DLR-3833Six days of rain beginning before the First of December. Not unheard of in Jefferson, but unusual. According to ParadiseWeatherWatch.com, over 42″ of rain in seven days. Wait, whaatt? 42″ ? That’s…. 3 1/2 feet! Indeed. It was also 50mph winds, power outages and creek overflows. That’s all before Winter. Yikes.

After the six days, PGE cleaned up, PID cleaned up, I cleaned up.

Then I hopped on my Trek for a quick ride. It’d been six days since I was able to ride – not a huge length of time. Except when you consider I’d been riding (inclusive of today) for exactly 30 days. One fifth of the time I’d had to wait.

I pumped up the tires to 60psi, threw on multiple layers, winter gloves and got the iPhone charged. After getting my new cycle app to connect up to the new website that tracks these things, I was off. My intent was 10 miles. I also planned to be rich by age 30. Neither plan, as it turned out, came to fruition.

Up my court, right on the connector and down the main drag. Hit 30mph – scary stuff when protected by a long sleeve shirt under a sweatshirt. I did have a helmet and some decent shoes. Covering my ass was a pair of lycra long pants and some sweats. Plus Harley gloves. Not exactly world-class protection, but then, not much will make it so the impact of 3000lbs of steel is going to feel like a kiss.

Hit the Taco Bell and turned right. No, I didn’t eat at Taco Bell, I just meant that was my landmark. Green Day is playing on my headphones. Just past the senior center and the app tells me I’ve gone a mile. It’s pretty cool – I have it set up to tell me at intervals (currently at each mile and every ten minutes) how far, how fast, average speed, number of calories burned and total elevation change. I like tech stuff like that. My girlfriend laughs at me that I’m pleased by that.

Down the road to the church school and left. Down a bit more to the cross-town main road and a bit of uphill climbing. Shift down, down, down, pump the pedals. Think about whether I’m spinning or mashing and wondering which was which. No matter. Past the people waiting for the bus (you can tell how expensive gas is by how many people are at bus stops) and hard right into the park.

Level out, try to figure where the dang bike trail is. Oh, it was the turn I missed. Right. Do I go down the wet grass slope to the trail? This is a question for two reasons: one, I probably should respect the grass in a park and not ride on it and give bikers a bad name and two, there’s a bunch of people at the bus stop who will see me fall should I blow it. Who cares, down the grassy slope. Hit the trail perfectly. No one paid attention. (Of course, all those who did not pay attention would have seen – and most likely video’d and had it up to YouTube before I picked myself up had I failed.) Shift down, down, oh crap no more down gears. Mash or spin the pedals. Up hill I go.

Every single inch of the trail is covered in pine needles, leaves and cones. My dual-purpose tires, the ones I’ve been considering switching for roadie tires, slip and slide on the wonderful bit of nature strewn all over. In some places where the water pushed hard enough, there’s mounds of the stuff blocking the pavement. I’m talking six inch high mounds. Like every ten feet. I kid you not. As I ride, it’s easy enough to tell where the torrents crossed the path and back again. Mud and garbage mix with millions of needles from the firs nnd pines and leaves from the oak and hardwoods. It’s nice to look at, but deadly to ride on.

I’ve never ridden down here. I’ve started this thing of going downhill before going uphill for two reasons: going uphill straight out of my driveway is a dis-incentive to going riding. I like a little warmup. The other is that living midway through the bike trail means if I don’t go down first, there’s very limited up. So I’ve been going down one cross-street, then over to the trail and up. This time, I went down three cross-streets, then over and now up. And the up is much steeper than where I normally start.

Pump for awhile, realizing that six days was long, very long. Rest for a bit at the benches right where I normally (if three times can be called normally) join the trail. Check to see if I really am in the lowest gear. I am.

Up we go. Past the mobile home park, past the high school. Two high school girls on the trail, sitting on mountain bikes and smoking cigarettes. Neither what you would call interesting, the medium-set of details I pick up (on this and all things): backpacks, goth-style makeup, the bikes, ripped jeans and bedazzled jean jackets – list them as conformist-nonconformists. Pass them at all of 6mph (app just told me that at one of those intervals, interrupting some Metallica). Keep pumping. Occasionally (but not while anyone on the path can see me) check to see if more gears have appeared. They haven’t. Music changes to Kiss. The girls roll past me on their mountain bikes. While my seat is carefully measured to ensure I’m in the optimum position to get maximum power from each leg extension, theirs are both lowered to the very bottom of the post, at a point where at full extension, their knees are still just under their chin. I tell myself they are one third my age and should be able to pass me riding like that. I try to discount the fact that each weighs more than I do. So what? They are still younger than me.

They go up a small side hill along the trail – a move I couldn’t make if my bike were a Yamaha – and smile back as they head to wherever they are going instead of school. I keep spinning or mashing or whatever. The trail has leveled out some so I switch up one gear and pat myself on the back, imaging telling crowds about how I was able to use not just first gear up the trail, but second as well. I must be really getting into good shape.

Just then the girls pass me again. I wish this were some joke I was making. My app says I’m going 6.1mph and they pass me at around 12. I don’t need an app to tell me they are easily doubling my speed. One nearly knocks her head off as her knee punches her jaw with her seat set so low. Whatever. I make it to the road just below the one I planned on making it to and turn right to begin my descent. Watching those girls actually pull away from me as I struggled to keep going (in first gear again) had nothing to do with why I decided to turn down one road early.

Now at 20mph, according to the app. Which has also told me I’m at 5 total miles for the ride. Left on the cross-street and head for the second biggest road in town. Right on that and down – fast. Screen on the phone (no interval to tell me) says I’m at 31mph. Now 35. Those punk girls are way behind me now. 38. Car pulling out. Hope they see me. They go by in a wink. Green light at the next cross street! Never get that in the car. 30mph. A second green. Now to my street and right. Interval says I made seven miles. Left onto my court.

So 520 calories, total elevation difference 440′ and 7.2 miles. I’m happy.

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Riding the Ridge

Since my gastric bypass surgery, I’ve been losing weight pretty steadily. Now that a year has gone by, I’ve got some of the stomach (or pouch) size back, so I can eat a bit more than I used to following the surgery. That, of course, means more calories and with my limited lifestyle, intake is beginning to approach outgo. Which means weight loss has stabilized. In other words, I’m not losing any more. That means I’ve got to do one of two things: decrease the intake or increase the calorie burn.

Let’s face it, had I been able to control the calorie part, I wouldn’t have needed gastric bypass. I do control it to some degree – I don’t eat much garbage food and the stuff I do eat is more healthy than the stuff I used to eat. I still have the occasional candy bar and piece of cake, but I don’t drink any milk (down from a gallon – GALLON – a day) and I don’t snack on potato chips and dip. Like, ever. So I have brought down both the quantity and raised the quality of the stuff I do eat. That said, I still eat too much and too much of the wrong thing. Enough so that weight loss is not happening.

The other part is increasing calorie burn. Again, we have a pre-existing condition. With calorie intake, that condition is the almost complete absence of willpower. With burn, the limiting factor is the massive sciatica and back pain that I have. Both have remained constant, despite the weight loss and even the addition of additional drugs aimed at lessening nerve swelling. So most aerobic and all strength building exercises are right out.

Last year, while I was 365, I bought a recumbent trike. The fact that you sit right on the part of the back that is the worst for me, plus the HUGE GUT that rested on my thighs while in the seat made it impossible to ride. I was able to piece together perhaps four total rides of maybe 3 miles each. Each left me in horrible pain for days. I sold the trike.

So this year and against what logic would seem to dictate, I bought a regular bike. A hybrid model which sits you a bit more upright, without placing all the weight on your butt.

My intention was to take it down to Chico and ride the multiple bike trails the town has – and they have many. Like most things with me, if something is challenging or even a bit inconvenient to do, I won’t do it. If my vitamins aren’t out in front on me all day, I won’t take them. And since going to Chico means taking the front wheel off and on, hooking up the bike to the fork rack and then driving up and down the Ridge, well, I ain’t doing it for every ride. Instead, and again, defying all logic, I decided to ride the Ridge.

Since our town is about six miles South to North and two miles East to West, the boundaries and riding areas are limited. The other part is the main reason I planned to ride Chico – the elevation changes. From my house to the bike trail involves a 110′ gain in elevation then a 112′ drop. In 2/3 of a mile. 100′ of elevation change per mile is considered steep for new riders. Once on the trail, and heading up, the elevation change averages 400′ per mile. It’s steep.

Nonetheless, all but two of my rides so far have been on the Ridge. I started at 2.8 miles, then 4.8 miles, then 6 miles and my last ride was 8 miles. That is round trip, of course. The 8 mile trip involved a total elevation change of nearly 900′.

You would think I’d be hating it. After all, I’ve hated even the word exercise my entire life. I’m loving it. I can’t wait for each ride. My ass hurts like someone branded it after 3-4 miles, but it’s toughening up. And now I have a really good seat (saddle) so I should improve. Each ride, I want to increase my distance. With the last ride, I went to the top of the trail. That means I’m going to have to ride down to be able to ride up. I’m hoping to be able to do the 10.8 mile roundtrip from bottom to top by the end of December. I will make it. That should burn around 800 calories.

While my back and sciatica really don’t appreciate the riding, the rest of me does. For once, I plan not to listen to the pain and instead, listen to my iPod.