Saturday, October 27, 2012

Re-bootin' ...

A little confession ... a little autumn porn ... and lots of time on two wheels ... if I'm going to be lazy about posting, at least I can try to fit in some worthwhile stuff.

The autumn porn will come in photos -- I'll throw a few of those from last week's ride, like this:

or this ...

or this ...

You get the idea.

The time on the bike ... yeah, there's been a lot of that, too. Really quick -- since my last post, I lined up for the 5th Annual Cyclemania at Blue Marsh Lake. The 3rd Annual was my first non-endurance race ever on the SS, and I won my class. I didn't participate in last year's race because I was still in recovery mode from my disastrous 2011 SM 100. This year, they added a 4 hour endurance class, so I entered that. The class was open and I was one of only two SSers to line up. I got fourth place overall. Just off the podium, which was fine -- that course is super fast and trying to hang with the top geared racers in the flats was just out of a question. I was really happy to be able to get away from so many of the other racers on the climbs. I felt good all day and finishing in the top five felt like a solid result. If anything, I was running too low a gearing, so maybe I could have scratched back a podium if I were one or two teeth less on the cog. Probably not, but who knows? It was a really fun day and I had a blast.

Other rides? I've been having a ball on the Hakkalugi. I mean, holy crap, I love that bike. The Monday night after I raced at Blue Marsh, I was pretty blown out, and I planned to go to the Perkiomen Trail in Green Lane to get a nice easy recovery ride. But that damn bike made me want to move for real. The result?  An hour and a half ride for about 30 miles out past Collegeville and back. It was a great ride, but I probably went out a bit too hard. In addition to that, at least three other MTB rides a week right now. Just enjoying the perfect weather.

And on that note, here's more autumn porn from last Saturday's ride in Wissahickon:

So what does that leave? Oh yeah - the confession.

It's not that dramatic, actually. As I mentioned a while ago, I've been "working on a couple of things". Obviously, one of those was the Hakkalugi itself. The other? Well, that would be ... me. I mentioned in my last post that I have been going back to the gym before work and that's why I haven't been posting as frequently. Well, the real story is this: I started going back to the gym because it was time to put more effort into fitness. It's easy or those of us who ride a lot to think that we're sufficiently fit because of what we do, and to a certain extent, that's true. But it is also true that your body adapts over time to the level of effort and the fitness gains become tougher and tougher to see. That certainly was the case with me. I was not as fit as I felt I should be, and I needed to change up a few things. In truth, I just had a birthday, and I guess that with the typical introspection that comes with personal milestones, I decided a little while ago that I needed to make a few changes. I wasn't interested in dieting or any of that. What I wanted was something more permanent. So I did the things I thought I needed to do -- I visited a nutritionist, made some (hopefully) permanent changes to my diet, upped workout intensity and frequency, and added a few new elements (swimming!) The goal of all of this? Well, I suppose there isn't just one, but better control of my own health is certainly part of it. I was feeling pretty crappy after August -- tired, rundown -- just out of shape and not really happy about a lot of things. So I decided that I needed to make a few adjustments. September was super strict -- very tight diet and no alcohol. I relaxed that a bit in October, but not by much - I've had a few beers since then, but that's about it. The result? I'm about 10 lbs. lighter so far and, more importantly, I feel better day to day. And that's the idea. So far, the only real sacrifice has been this blog and maybe a few hours of sleep in the last month. Meh. I can take that. Hopefully, I'll get better with time management and tend the blog better. If not, at least I'll know it's for a worthy cause. Ultimately, I don't know if all of this will benefit my riding, but that's not really the point anyway. My real goal in all of this is to be healthier so I can get more out of life in general, and that's why I'll stick with it regardless of any cycling performance gain. Still, the first real test with respect to riding, I suppose, would be the 6 Hours of CP next month. The clean up in my diet has actually been easier than I anticipated. Getting used to 4:45 wake ups took some doing, but I've adapted to that now, too. Still doing yoga three days a week and still riding two nights a week and weekends, so that hasn't suffered. All in all, it's been a pretty smooth transition and hopefully one I'll carry through the winter without too much trouble. Getting back to the gym wasn't that hard -- I've been a gym rat forever anyway and long before I ever rode a mountain bike I was spending hours a day in a gym (even was briefly in straight bodybuilding for a while way back.) So that's been kind of a refresher more than anything else.

So that's it. I won't publish any "before and after" photos because there really is no "after" -- this is kind of my "new reality". I may lay out some of the dietary rules and restrictions some other time -- the consult with the nutritionist was actually very interesting, if less than typical. But that can wait for future posts. For now, I'm just going to keep my focus on what is working -- consistent workouts, cross-training with swimming, hiking and maybe some running, and continued focus on a diet with lots of greens, vegetables and fruit along with plenty of proteins and fiber. There will be cheat moments now and then ...

Joanna gave me one of my all-time favorite birthday gifts this year ... BOOT GLASS!

 ... because who wouldn't want the occasional giant boot glass full of brown ale? But after spending the summer feeling like I was shoveling shit against the tide fitness wise and not really enjoying the things I'd taken so much enjoyment from for so long, I decided that what I really wanted was a re-boot. And so that's what I did.

I mentioned a while back that I would be moving away from a full slate of races in the future, and I still feel that way. But since I did that post, I've been struggling with the question of what's next for me. Riding bikes is too big a part of my life to ever go away (obviously, having bought two bikes in the past two months, I'm certainly not behaving like someone looking for a new focus), but I do want to become a more well-rounded person because I definitely think that's been lacking the last couple of years. I think the recent focus on improving my all-purpose fitness is part of that. I have a few other things I'm looking to do -- some re-visit old interests and some are brand new, some are physical, others more temporal --  but those are topics for another time. In the end, it's all the same -- like everyone else, I'm just trying to keep life interesting. Bikes and riding will always be among the most enjoyable things I have in my life, but there is room for more. And, the way I look at it, being in the best shape I can be is going to allow me to better face whatever new things come along, physically and mentally.

Thanks for reading, and as usual if you have any feedback -- your own fitness or hobby stories and the like, I'd love to hear about them. Please share your thoughts!

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