Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas !!!

            Christmas 2009 is almost here. In Maryland, we will be having a white Christmas for the first time in quite a while. It is a little 'too' white for me. 1 or 2 inches on Christmas eve, staying on the ground for Christmas Day and melting away on my birthday (that's December 26th... there is still time to get those gifts in the mail.). 20 inches of snow is, like I said, a little too white.

             Cycling in this much snow is nearly impossible. The 5:45 group got our last ride in on Friday morning with a trip to The Hard Bean at City Dock. We all knew that if we got the amounts of snow that were being forecast, it would be a while before we would be riding again. On the ride back, plans were made to move the Christmas Party from Saturday to Sunday because of the forecast. This turned out to be a very prudent decision. This past week emails have been flying about how 'itchy' every one is to get out and ride. I rode the trainer this morning... it's just not the same.

              On Saturday morning, I looked outside to see what amounted to about six (6) inches of snow on the ground. I thought "This isn't so bad, we must have missed the blunt of the storm." ... I was WRONG. We had not gotten to the worst of the storm yet, and the computer models had Annapolis directly in the path of the worst of it. I waited a couple of hours until 'some' of the neighbors would be awake before I ventured out to begin making a dent in the snow. I was not worried about getting the snow moved, after all, I do have a John Deere lawn tractor with a snow blade on it. As long as I don't let the snow get too deep, I should be just fine, right?. WRONG again. For those of you who have never seen our driveway, it is about 35 yards long, wide enough for 4 cars and the top and funnels downhill to a single lane at the bottom. Not a HUGE driveway, but lets just say, I was happy to spend the couple hundred dollars for the snow blade so I wouldn't have to shovel it any more.

             I did have the foresight to bring the John Deere down from the shed and parked it in the garage, plow facing out. When I opened the garage door, I noticed that the couple hours that I had waited (or wasted)  had turned the six (6) inches on the ground to nine (9) inches with snow still falling. I fired up the John Deere, lowered the plow and pushed the first load of snow down the hill. I pushed as much as I could before the wheels started spinning. I tried to back up to get to the top of the driveway, but my wheels were spinning in that direction as well. I was not able to get any traction on the hill. I had plowed this driveway before with only minimal problems with traction. What was going on here? Maybe I went too straight down the hill. Now that I have one strip of the driveway partially cleared with my first push, if I could get back up the hill, I would plow side to side across the hill, instead of up and down it. This did not seem to work either. I was not able to get traction at all in the driveway. Then it hit me... the last time I plowed this driveway, I had an extra 100 pounds of traction. I was certainly missing that traction now. I managed to get about one third of the driveway done. Any neighbors looking out their windows must have gotten a good laugh watching me plow. What I did was attach a long rope to the bumper of my 4-Runner in the garage. I would hold on to the rope while I was plowing, and when I got stuck, I would put the rope over my shoulder, lean back as far as I could towards the garage, grab the rope and pull forward like I was doing a sit up . I am the only person who can get a good ab workout while plowing a driveway on a John Deere tractor. Once I had reached the end of my rope, both literally and figuratively, I put the John Deere back in the garage, shut the door and went inside to warm up. I was defeated.

               Sunday came and I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to actually use a shovel to dig out a path down the center of the driveway so that I could get the John Deere through and just 'nibble' off a little snow at a time from either side of the main path. I started shoveling and shoveling... and shoveling and I was surprised at the progress that I was making. I was also surprised at how good I was feeling doing it. I was breathing heavy, and sweating a bit, but my back was not killing me and I didn't feel like I was going to die right there in the snow. SO, the 100 pounds of traction that I was missing on the tractor, I was certainly not missing while I was shoveling. It felt good, and since I couldn't ride my bike I could get a work out by doing this.

               After shoveling for a few hours (which would have been impossible a year ago) Bev brought me a cup of coffee. Just as I sat down in the garage to enjoy it, I saw my neighbor, Tom, at the bottom of the driveway with his snow blower. I honestly think I heard the "William Tell Overture" (for those of you who don't know... Google it). The only other time that I have heard that in my head was when I saw our friend Charlie show up with his bobcat when we were trying to spread topsoil. Words cannot describe how happy I was to see him. He cut a path up the driveway like a hot knife through butter. I got the measuring tape and measured 17 inches of snow in our driveway. The snow blower gobbled up and spit out the snow in record time. Good neighbors are SUCH a blessing.

               Because we were all dug out, we were able to attend the Severna Park Peloton Christmas party at Clint and Sherri's house. That was a GREAT time and Bev got a chance to meet the crazy guys that get up and ride at 5:45 in the morning, and their spouses. We got to see a video of Clint and John's America by Bicycle trip, talk about the epic brevet in the snow that some of the members did a couple of  weeks ago and generally laugh and enjoy a great time with a bunch of great people. I think Bev enjoyed herself, I know that I did. Clint and Sherri were wonderful hosts.

               I mentioned in an earlier post that the Christmas party was really a recruiting party for the Ashland brevet. Well, it's on. I have committed to riding on January 9th. One of the other members of SPP who just began riding seriously this past year sent me an email asking if we could ride together. This is fine with me, because some of the people who ride these are doing them to set course records... I am just trying to finish in the allotted 13 hours and 30 minutes. So, to have someone that will ride with me will be help to keep us both  motivated. There are currently 13 SPP riders signed up for this brevet. It is my understanding that the brevets usually only have about 30 riders anyway, so it will be nice to have nearly 50% of them be people I know.  I have also found out that the people who do NOT ride in the brevet wait anxiously on pins and needles to read the ride reports that the riders do after the brevet. I will make sure that I post a painfully honest report of what it feels like to ride 125 miles in one day.

               Tuesday was weigh in day (right before Christmas... good planning) and I lost 3 pounds. I was pleased with that considering what I ate at the party Sunday night and without riding since Friday morning. The total is 103 pounds, because I had to re-lose the two pounds I gained last weigh in. I am thrilled with those results and I am motivated to keep moving forward. I took a couple days off from eating my 'normal' foods. Tuesday after the weigh in I brought in Cream of Crab soup (made with half and half) to share with everyone in the office. Other people brought in bread and butter, cookies and chocolates. Then Tuesday night Bev brought me to fado' for dinner to celebrate my birthday. (My birthday is not until Dec 26th, but I have 2 daughters and a step daughter and a fiance, they get to have birthday "weeks" so now it is MY turn to extend my birthday celebration) I enjoyed my dinner and dessert but them I realized that my body was not enjoying the stuff that I was feeding it. My stomach did not feel good at all Tuesday night or most of the day yesterday. I am back to eating my 'normal' foods today.

               Tomorrow is Christmas, I hope everyone who reads this, and their families, have a VERY Merry Christmas. I will post again soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just chuggin' along

        It has been a week since my last post, so I wanted to get another post up here so you didn't think that I had lost so much weight that I withered away to nothing and got swept up by the wind. I was going to post on Sunday, but Bev and I spontaneously went to see The Rovers perform at a breast cancer charity event. As always... The Rover ROCKED! Thanks Eddie for my pink santa hat. I will post a picture of me wearing it soon.

        It has been a pretty crazy week. I had jury duty on Wednesday. This involved going to the courthouse and sitting there in the prospective jury area until the judge decides that you are no longer needed. They give you your $15, pat you on the head and say "Thanks for coming." Then you have to call back after 5:00 pm the rest of the week to see if they need you to repeat the process. Fortunately, I only had to report one day. Christmas must be the slow season for the courts.

         As far as riding, please check out my training log (see the link) to get an idea of how much and how hard I have been riding. I have taken a few days off during the week and I have found that my legs have responded to that quite well. Yesterday's ride was GREAT. During the ride a couple of the guys saw a meteor shoot across the sky. I didn't see it, and I am not sure that I have ever seen a meteor before. I have seen shooting stars and maybe they are the same thing... I don't know. In any event, 2 of the guys said WOW at the same time, so I don't doubt that they saw it. We also saw the crescent moon through the fog, which was a pretty awesome sight. Now, I have seen shooting stars before and I have seen a crescent moon before, but there was just something different about seeing them from the saddle of a bike at 5:45 in the morning.

         Each of the past couple mornings, there has been a LOT of chatter (and recruitment) about "randonneuring" and "brevet's". (I will let you wiki or google the two terms). Basically, randonneuring is long distance, unsupported endurance cycling. Focus is not on competition, but on self sufficiency. The distance of the events (called a brevet) vary from 200 K (125 miles) to 1200 K (750 miles). Each distance has a time limit in which the rider must finish. For the 200 K you must finish within 13 hours and 30 minutes, for the 1200 K you get 90 hours. The time limits do not seem to bad... 125 miles in 13 hours 30 minutes, just under 10 minutes per hour. Keep in mind that the clock runs constantly once the event begins. You are given a card that has certain control points on them, and each control point must validate your card to prove that you were there. So the time that it takes to get your card stamped at the control points counts against your riding time, as does time to get a cup of coffee, something to eat, go to the bathroom and so on. It is about friendly camaraderie and not competition.

           The big recruitment push in the mornings is to get as many SPP riders as possible to ride the brevet that is coming up on January 9th. It is a 200K brevet that begins in Ashland, VA and rides out to Tapahannock, VA and back to Ashland. It has rolling hills, but no steep climbs (or so they say), so it is very tempting. It will certainly be a great gauge for where I am fitness-wise for the New England classic in July. As the weather gets better, I want to be riding as much as possible.. Even though the brevets are not supported rides,(meaning no support vehicles if you break down, no predetermined 'rest' stop, no free coffee, bananas and bagels etc.)  they are with a group of people that I know and enjoy riding with. I have found that it is so much easier and more fun to ride in a group as opposed to riding alone. SO, barring any scheduling conflict that can't be resolved, I am hoping to do the Tapahannock brevet. Stay tuned for a full report.

             This past week I have also been busy trying to organize and compile materials for my upcoming fundraising effort for the New England classic. I am sure that you will all be hearing about that more as the time gets closer. I have a personal web page on the America Diabetes Association website that I will link from here once I have it set up. Donations can be made online at that website. If any of you have any creative fund raising ideas please leave them in the comments section below.. I am willing to do just about anything (as long as it is legal and doesn't involve painting) to raise these funds. Thanks for your support.

              Thanks for reading my blog. I have found out that it is not only my Mom, Bev and Emily that read this blog. (Emily only reads it because I pay her to.) I appreciate you all taking the time to check it out. Thanks.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A metaphor for life...

       This past October, Emily and I rode in the Tour du Port, which is a 40 mile bike ride in Downtown Baltimore. As the cyclist gathered at the starting area, Emily and I overheard another rider saying that he has ridden this course before and it is flat... there are no hills in Baltimore. Later on that day, Emily and I were BOTH looking for that rider, hoping to run him into a ditch. If anyone tells you that Baltimore has no hill I will refer you to Emily, who will tell you differently.

       As we were riding together Emily and I started talking about how cycling is pretty much a metaphor for life. At the start area there were people of all shapes and sizes, riding bikes of all different makes and models. Not an entirely inclusive representation of the human race, but you get the point. As we started the ride (which offered 12, 24, 40 and 50 mile routes) some cyclist sprinted away and opened a sizable lead on the group, while others stayed back and waited for the group to get ahead so that they could move along at their own pace without the pressure of either keeping up, or keeping ahead of the group. Very representative of the varied personalities of people we come across everyday. As Emily and I got further into the ride I mentioned to her that I was looking forward to the pizza that they were having at the end of the ride (the pictures from last years ride showed boxes and boxes of pizza). I had been eating healthy over the summer and the thought of having a piece of pizza sounded really good. Emily and I used that as motivation to help us pedal over the hills, knowing that even though it is harder to pedal over this hill, if I can keep pedaling and make it to the top I will be that much closer to my goal... PIZZA! Just like in life when  weset a goal, there are usually at least a couple of hills that have to crested before you reach your goal. Granted, these were not the Alps or the Pyrenees that we were trying to cross, but they were hills that stood between us and our pizza.  The importnat part was that we continued to pedal up and over the hills. (By the way, Emily made it up all the hill and finished the 40 mile ride. We were disappointed that they didn't have pizza at the end, but we did get pizza at the airport before she flew home. We deserved it!)

       The reason that I told you that story is because my ride on this weight loss trip has been relatively flat, with very few hills. However, with Thanksgiving (two of them) and fado' for more calories, my 100 pound crab cake celebration and just the warm fuzzy feeling that "if I am exercising I don't have to watch what I am eating so closely" has brought me to the first incline in my trip. I gained 2 pounds over the past two weeks. Now, I am not going to lie and say that I am happy about that, but I am not devastated either. I know what caused it to happen and I can control those things by paying more attention to what I eat. I will do a better job over the next two weeks. I am determined to keep pedaling over the hill. I am still down 100 pounds, and I took a couple weeks to enjoy that accomplishment. Now, I have more of the journey ahead of me.

       Thanks for everyone's support and for checking out my blog. Check back soon. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Midnight Madness...

        Midnight Madness is a shopping event in Downtown Annapolis where the stores along Main Street (City Dock area) stay open later, have musicians playing outside and some of them have wine and cheese and snacks in the stores. This is all in an attempt to get as many people out shopping as possible. The theory is, that there is a better chance that people will buy things if they are actually in your store. Sound logical.

       So for Midnight Madness Bev and I got in touch with our inner leprechauns and went to fado', an Irish Pub in Annapolis,  for an open air dinner and entertainment from our favorite local band "The Rovers".  If you have looked at my training log recently, you may have noticed in the "Notes" section that I have struggled with the hills this past Monday and Wednesday. These are hills that are formidable, but I have ridden up them before. Last week I struggled to get up them and when I did finally pull myself up the hills I was not able to keep up with the group. All this riding was suppose to be making me better, not worse. So, I did what I usually do when I am faced with a problem that I can't wrap my head around... I search the internet. I found that word for what happened to me is called "bonking". My body did not have enough fuel to power my legs to get me over the hills. So, what they were telling me was, I needed more calories for my body to use on the hills. This was some REALLY good information to have prior to dinner at fado'.

     The first thing that we ordered was hot coffee. Now, typically Bev and I do not drink hot coffee with our meals, but we were eating dinner outside and the temp. was around the mid 40's. There were table warmers (propane heaters that are about 6 feet tall that are placed strategically among the tables) but there was also a breeze that was making it a bit nippy. For an appetizer we ordered Chicken Boxty Quesadillas. Typically, quesadillas are made with flour tortillas but at fado', because it is an irish pub, they are made with boxty, which are thin, grilled potato pancakes. Bev and I both agreed that they were the best quesadillas we had ever had. For an main course I had a flat iron steak and chips (steak fries) and for dessert Bev and I split an Apple tart with brown bread ice cream on it. It was all SO good. I was caloricly loaded for the hills on Friday.

     We warmed up during dinner when The Rovers started playing. I can't say enough about how much we enjoy their shows. They are thoroughly entertaining. The band interacts with the crowd and encourages crowd to participate to the point of occasionally putting people on the spot. I would challenge anyone to go to one of their shows and try to stand still. If you can do that, have someone check your pulse and make sure that you are alive. Check out their website and see them when you can, if you can.

     Because of the impending rain and snow, Friday morning's 5:45 ride was more heavily attended than usual (or maybe it was because we were planning a trip into Annapolis for breakfast at Jack and Irene's). Because of this, the group did not take the right hand turn in Round Bay that brings us to the aforementioned hills. However, going into Annapolis, we would have to go over the Naval Academy bridge twice and "oh shit hill" once. I have to say that I felt very comfortable going over those hills, so I think the more calorie theory is proven to be true. With more calories, I am less likely to bonk on the hills. I will have to get the recipe for those quesadillas!!!

     Emily was here this weekend again, so most of the rest of my weekend was spent with her. On Saturday

night Myself, Bev, Emily, Tiffany and her boyfriend Josh went over to Bev's Mom and Dad's for another Thanksgiving. (You can NEVER have too many Thanksgivings). Bev and I had originally planned this because Emily was not going to be with us on Thanksgiving (she changed that, which was fine) and we knew that Tiffany would be with her Dad and Josh's family. So this was our time to get together and celebrate Thanksgiving with them. We changed the menu a bit and had Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Butternut squash, Cream Style corn, Baked Beans and cornbread muffins. No cheesecake for dessert, but Mom mom made a butter cake with chocolate frosting...and like I have said before...NO ONE makes a cake like Mom mom. It was ALL very good. It was nice to spend time together and enjoy some good food.

     Sunday morning I got up the courage to ride to The Hard Bean in Annapolis despite the cold temperatures and the 1/2 inch of snow and ice on the ground. The roads were OK when I left the house. They had some patches of ice and snow on them here and there, but for the most part they were clear. The trail however, does not get plowed or salted, so the areas that were not sheltered by the trees still had a coating of crunchy snow, and in some spots a thin layer of ice below the snow. A few spots had bamboo that hung across the trail under the weight of the snow and ice. Typically when I ride I have a focus in mind, either to work on my leg speed or my leg strength. Sunday I mostly worked on my balance. I was glad to make it on the trail without having the bike slip out from under me. Although it was absolutely beautiful to ride on the trail surrounded by snow, I decided that on Monday morning I would ride on the trainer in the garage. Much safer in there.

     Thanks for reading... check back soon!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tour de Cure --- New England Classic Announcement

      So here is the BIG announcement that I alluded to in a previous post. In July 2010, I will be riding in the New England Classic, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. It is is a 7 day, 550 mile bike adventure that travels through 4 of the New England states. It includes rides through historical sites, scenic seacoasts and bold mountain ranges.

       I chose to use this ride as my training goal for several reasons. The first is the setting of the ride. The ride takes place in New England... land of my birth... the place that I call home. New England always has and  always will have a special place in my heart. I have commented to Bev many times before that I love City Dock in Annapolis so much because it reminds me of a seaport town on Cape Cod or along the coast of Maine. The color of the leaves in the fall, the rolling hills and winding roads, the two days of summer... all wonderful reminders of New England for me. What better way to experience that then on a bicycle?

      Another reason for choosing the NEC is the novelty of the ride. In just about any state in the US you can find a 150 mile ride that spans a weekend, or a Century ride (100 miles) on a Saturday or Sunday. Rarely do find rides that go further or last longer than that. This is a unique ride, and being part of something different is an attraction for me.

      My most important reason for wanting to do this ride is to give back. As I mentioned before, this ride is sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and during the past year this disease has hit very close to home. A friend and former teacher of mine who had struggled with diabetes for several years died tragically due to complications related to this disease. Even closer to home, Bev has been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

       Riding in this bike ride to raise money and awareness is the least that I can do for her, because Bev saved my life. Here is how. Most of 2008 was a waste for Bev and I. Neither of us had any energy to do anything. We would get up, go to work, and when we got home, we were asleep watching TV before dinner. We both suffered from headaches ALL the time. I remember one day before flying to Chicago I showed Bev how much fluid I had on my ankles. Pushing two fingers into them was like pushing on a piece of memory foam. The indentation stayed there for almost a minute. I was not sleeping very well either. So, I went to the doctor's about the fluid and he ordered an echo-cardiogram.  I had that done and it showed nothing out of the ordinary. The cardiologist said that my ticker was good, but I should have a sleep study done, because my problem may be sleep apnea. So, me being the good patient that I am did NOT follow up with the sleep study. I didn't want to go somewhere and be wired up and have people watch me sleep... besides, it is fluid on my ankles, I am probably eating too much salt and the Doctor said the ticker was fine. Fast forward a couple of months, Bev decided that she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She said that the doctor's always say that she has chronic sinusitis, but they never do anything for it. Antibiotic for 10 days, you feel better, then 2 days later... BAM... headaches again. Bev made an appointment to see an ENT to get the sinus thing figured out. She had an appointment with Dr. Meek (I call him Dr. Meek-dreamy because he reminds me of Patrick Dempsey) who ordered a sleep study... that she can do AT HOME. I had gotten no better, still have fluid on my ankles... I can do a sleep study at home? Ok, I'll give it a try. I made an appointment with Dr. Meek-dreamy and just by looking at me sitting in the chair he told me that I had sleep apnea. He looked down my throat and said I definitely had sleep apnea. Ok, so i'll do my AT HOME sleep study, right? WRONG.  He had other ideas. He could tell that my apnea was severe and he wanted accurate numbers on me, so I was going to the sleep clinic for a FULLY WIRED sleep study. The results were that I stopped breathing an average of 124 times an hour and my oxygen levels dropped to 62% (that explains the headaches). After talking to Dr. Meeks staff and the people who provide the CPAP machines I found out that Dr. Meek was right, my apnea was severe. Fast forward again... I get my CPAP machine (and I use it EVERY NIGHT) my body begins doing what it is suppose to do, fluid on the ankles goes away, pounds of fluid go away, energy comes back, I can exercise again, more pounds go away and so on and so forth. Which brings me to my appointment with Dr. Meek-dreamy yesterday. I asked him what would have happened if I had NOT treated the apnea. He said that within 7 - 10 years I would have been dead. He used some medical terms that I didn't quite understand, but basically, my heart would have stopped in my sleep very similar to what happened to Reggie White (football player for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles). A VERY sobering thought. If Bev had not made the appointment with Dr. Meek, there is no way of knowing if I would have ever gotten treatment for my apnea, and without treatment it would have been the death of me.

        Like I said before, riding in this ride is the least I can do for her and for everyone else who is affected by this disease. Please keep coming back to the blog to see how my training and fund raising for the ride is going.

Thanks for reading... come back soon.



Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to the grind...

         So, Thanksgiving 2009 is in the books. I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Ours was very busy. Emily was here last weekend and decided to stay here with us for the Thanksgiving holiday (we were offering better desserts). I was very happy to have her here. On Tuesday, we made a Pumpkin Cheesecake (I told you we had better desserts). As you can see, it was a work of art, and it tasted better than it looked. Emily and I baked some pumpkin bread and banana bread to snack on as well.

      Our Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by Bev's sister Donna. It was an enjoyable time with great food, great conversation and great fun with family. It was traditional fare of turkey, mashed potatoes, mom-mom's candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn, gravy, sauerkraut and rolls and homemade cranberry sauce. Dessert was pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, cherry pie and hello dollies. Mmmmmm Mmmmm good!

       We missed having Tiffany with us for dinner, but she was splitting time between her Dad's and her boyfriends parents, so Bev, Tiffany, Josh, Mom mom, Pop, Emily and I will celebrate Thanksgiving again this upcoming weekend. It should be another great time with good food.

       Knowing that I would consume more than my normal amount of calories over the Thanksgiving holiday I attempted to work the calories off before I ate them. On Wednesday morning I did the normal a 17 mile ride with 2 other members of SPP at 5:45 a.m. On Thursday morning a group of about 25 SPP members rode 30 miles to City Dock and back. It was a little disorganized as to which routes we would take and at what pace we would ride, but the great thing about this group is that everyone pretty much takes things in stride. We were all out there to create a caloric deficiency so that what we ate at Thanksgiving would not stick around too long. Mission accomplished.

        Friday was the day that I planned to do my metric century (100k/62.1 miles) to celebrate losing 100 pounds. It was also the day that SPP was planning a ride to Baltimore for coffee. The trip to Baltimore was a LOT of fun. We had 10 riders make the trip. One of them was from Florida and as we passed M&T Bank stadium (Home of the Baltimore Ravens) she wanted a group picture in front of the Stadium. After riding through the Inner Harbour and having coffee at The Firehouse in the Canton section of Baltimore, we made the trip to Camden Yards (Home of the Baltimore Orioles) for another group photo. After that photo op we headed back to Severna Park. When the group dispersed I had 10 more miles that I needed to ride for my Metric Century. I headed into Annapolis and rode to City Dock and back to my car. Metric Century Complete. Total miles... 64.5. My legs were sore the next day, but like the saying goes, "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever." I am proud of the fact that I have lost what I have lost and that I was able to ride 100k.

         As a side note, for those of you who knew that I was having blood work done, I got the results back on Wednesday (yes, my doctor actually called me with the results!) My sugar was 86 (much better than the pre-diabetes levels that they were a couple years ago)... my total cholesterol was 162, my LDL was 58 and my HDL was 96. The quote from my Doctor was that "...everything looked very good."

         I have shared my training log for those who are interested. It just records my rides each day, cadence, distance etc. Click the link on the "links" section of the blog.

         Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

     I am thankful for all of you that check out my blog.

     Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Update and EARLY Weigh in results

      It was a GREAT weekend for riding. On Saturday I rode with Severna Park Peloton to the Hard Bean for coffee. I could not partake in the caffeinated beverage or any of the sweet treats that they offer because I had to get my blood drawn at 10:50. So the 'fasting rules' were in effect. While they were getting their coffee, I rode from City Dock, to the Mall, the B&A trail and back to my car at the Severna Park Farmer's Market. I made it home in time to shower, change and get to my appointment with the vampire.

      Speaking of vampires, Emily, Courtney, Bev and I all went to see "New Moon" Saturday night. We got there early so that I could get an end seat and so that we were not in the first row looking up at the screen. The gates opened at 8:00 for the 8:30 show. We got our seats, our popcorn and our drinks (water for me and Bev) and settled in for the movie. We had just watched Twilight an hour before arriving at the theater so the story was fresh in our heads.

      The movie was good. I am not a Twi-hard so, for me, it was not the be all end all movie that it is for some people. It was mildly entertaining, the story line was easy enough to follow (probably because we just had the Twilight refresher course an hour earlier) and the actors are very good. I could have done without the 14 year old girls (not Emily, but the gaggle of them that were sitting in the back of the theater) oohing and ahhing when Jacob is on the screen with no shirt on. Show some restraint, would ya? Over all I would give the movie a thumbs up, but wait until it comes out on DVD before seeing it. (...and if you want to know EXACTLY when it comes out on DVD, ask ANY 14 year old girl that you know.)

       Sunday was a nice bike ride by myself. I have been told that I have anti-social tendencies (but that was by my ex-wife... and what does she know, right?). I enjoy very much riding in a group and chatting with the other riders etc, but sometimes it is nice to just get out on the bike and get lost in your mind, with out having to hold a conversation with someone, worry about where they are going to ride, watch the wheel of the guy in front of you and so on. That is what I did on Sunday. I took my normal route to The Bean, Coast Guard Station, the Mall and home. I got to see a beautiful buck on the way back from the Coast Guard station. As a matter of fact, if my arm had been 3 feet longer I could have smacked the deer in the head. As I was coming around a bend in the road, just past a group of trees, he was standing right there. He ran about 10 - 15 yards into the clearing and then turned back towards the road. Apparently, what he wanted was on the other side of the street.

       This morning I rose early and joined the 5:45 a.m. bike ride group. It was 5 guys and myself and the pace was a little more intense than the ride on Friday. We rode for an hour and the guys showed me some hills in the Round Bay section of Severna Park that I never knew existed. I have to say, it is exponentially easier to go up a hill with other riders around you purely based on the fact that you don't want to be 'that guy' that struggles up the hill. Clint told me as we crested the longest steepest hill of the morning that they call that the "warm up" hill. I told him I was warmed up. It was a beautiful morning for a ride and it was a nice group to ride with. Thanks SPP.

         For those of you who read this blog, you know that I do my weigh ins every other Tuesday morning. However, I am taking tomorrow off to hang out with Emily so I will not be at my scale at work to do my weigh in. Consequently, I did my weigh in today. I lost 4 pounds over the past 2 weeks, which brings my total to 102 pounds lost. I have broken the 100 pound barrier and although I have much more to go, I am planning on celebrating. Tomorrow night I am going to provide Bev's Mom with a pound of crab meat and hopefully she will make us up some GOOD Maryland crab cakes. I am not real big on crab cakes, but the ones she made a couple months ago were the best I have ever had. So I am looking forward to enjoying them. Now, I know that when you reach a weight loss milestone, food is not the best way to reward yourself, so my other form of celebrating is to ride a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles) on Friday morning.

         On Friday morning (black Friday)  the Peleton is planning a ride into Baltimore to have coffee. I asked Clint today how far it was and he said it was 19 miles each way. So that is a good 38 miles of it and if I head into Annapolis after those 38 miles, I should cover the additional 24 miles on my normal route out to the Coast Guard Station. I am looking forward to that ride.

          I did not write down the stats for all my rides since Friday, but I did over 100 miles on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and this morning. Because of the holiday and time taken off with Emily I will be able to ride (weather permitting) everyday next week including next Monday.

        Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you will come back and check it out again soon.


Friday, November 20, 2009


     I apologize for the delay in making a new entry, but there really has not been much going on over the past few days. It has been fairly routine with the exception of a full physical exam on Tuesday. It has been more years than I can remember since I had my last one, so I figured I was well overdue. I was also over due for changing doctors. In the past, my medical appointments were at an office with several doctors and unless you planned ahead for your sinus infection, strep throat or other sicknesses... you got whatever doctor was available. This wouldn't have been SO bad if the doctors stayed at the practice for more than a week. Ok, so that is an exaggeration, but if you happened to find a doctor that you actually liked, it seemed like the next time you needed an appointment and asked for that doctor, they were no longer working there. I had had enough.

     I scheduled my physical with a doctor who used to be at the a fore mentioned practice, but now has his own practice. I had never been seen by him before, but Bev had and she liked him. I was surprised when I was able to make an appointment for early the following week ( I called on Wednesday) and I was happy that the Doctor had a web site that allowed me to print the Medical History form, Insurance Forms and Medical Record Release forms so that I could fill them out at my convenience, and not trying to rush to fill them out before the appointment. I was thrilled when I arrived for my appointment and there was no one in the waiting room. Could my 10:00 am appointment actually happen at 10:00 am? I was called back at 10:04. So far so good.

     The appointment went well and the Doctor said that my heart, lungs, blood pressure and thyroid all looked or sounded good. He sent me on my way with a lab slip to get blood work done. I am hopeful that all those numbers will come back within acceptable ranges. The BEST part of the physical was while talking to the Doctor he asked me what type of exercise I was doing. I mentioned that I enjoyed riding my bike and that I have been riding on the weekends. I mentioned my trainer that I have set up for when the weather gets cold etc. We talked bikes for a little bit and he asked me if I belonged to a bike club.  I shared with him my distaste for the Lance Armstrong wannabes that typically make up the "bike clubs" that I have seen. He gave me a card for the club that he rides with and said that they were down to earth, fun people who love to ride. I took the card and checked out their website when I got home.

      The Severna Park Peloton (see the link to the right) is a bicycle club that rides for the love of riding. There are no member dues or fees. Just sign up for their email group and show up to one of their rides. I noticed that their website mentions that they have a STRICT "no drop" policy, which means that if you leave on a ride with them, unless you choose not too, you will return on the ride with them. They will not leave anybody behind because they are not fast enough or because they have a flat etc. I also noticed on their website that they do some fun rides. About twice a year they bike from Kent Island (just over the Bay Bridge) to Ocean City on a Saturday and bike back on a Sunday. That's around 230 miles in 2 days. They also have a couple of riders who have ridden the Paris - Brest - Paris ride in France, which is 750 miles. I believe one of the guys finished that ride in just under 80 hours. These same riders have ridden from LA to Boston and have competed in the Race Across America. This club contains a group of VERY accomplished riders.(Ok, accomplished in MY book. None of them have one a stage in the Tour de France. You get my drift) How down to earth could they be, and even if they ARE down to earth, how fast are they going to set the pace? Am I going to be able to keep up? I'll try one ride and see how it goes.

       That one ride came this morning. Watching the emails, I saw that several people were planning to show up for the regular Monday through Friday 5:45 a.m. ride along the B & A trail. I arrived at departure point at 5:40 and was greeted by Mike. A few minutes later we were joined by 3 other riders. Clint, Doug and Carl. Clint is the guy who road LA to Boston and Paris - Brest - Paris so I figure he will be the one person in the club that should be the most pretentious. Introductions we completed, we determined that we were the only 5 riders and we set off down the trail. We went about 300 yards and realized that Carl was still not with us. We all stopped and waited. We could see his headlight in the dark, but it was not coming towards us. We figured if  he had a flat tire, he would change it in a couple minutes and be headed towards us. When that wasn't happening, Clint rode back to him and after a few more minutes they made it back to where we were waiting. Turns out that Carl had a flat tire, but because he was involved in a bike accident on Sunday and fractured one of his knuckles, he was having difficulty changing the tire. Clint helped him out and away we rode.  I guess they really do honor that 'no drop' policy.

     Once we took off, each of the other riders took their turn riding next to me, asking me about me, what I did for work, where I worked, where I lived and they all answered those same questions for me. I thoroughly enjoyed riding with this group. We went beyond the end of the trail (where the ride was suppose to stop) and rode into Annapolis for breakfast at Chick and Ruth's (a.k.a. Jack & Irene's). It was obvious that they are regulars, because when they walked in they called the waitress by name and asked why their coffee wasn't on the table waiting for them. It was a lot of fun. Good food and good conversation. What's funny (to me it's funny) is that I have lived in Maryland for over 7 years and had never been to Chick and Ruth's until last week with Bev. Now I have been two times in one week.

     The ride back to the departure point was a little slower paced. Going up and over the Naval Academy bridge and the hill immediately after it (affectionately know as "oh shit hill")  did not seem nearly as difficult as they do when I ride alone. The ride overall was much more pleasant.  The miles went faster and the time flew by. I typically don't ride with anyone on the weekends. Partly because I don't know a whole lot of people who would want to ride 40 miles at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, but also partly because I thought if I found someone who wanted to do that, I would be unable to keep up with them.  I hope that riding with the Severna Park Peloton will continue to be as enjoyable as it was this morning.

     Here are the stats for this mornings ride-
         Miles - 25
         Time - 79 minutes
         Flat tires - 1 - (but it was Carl's, not mine.)
         New riding buddies - 4

Thanks for reading. Emily is here this weekend and we are going to see New Moon. I'll let you know how it is.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Update...

      For the most part, this past weekend was very enjoyable. On Saturday morning we were still under siege by the remains of what was hurricane Ida. It seemed like the rain was NEVER going to stop. I was contemplating trading my bike in for a kayak. I know that other places in the country had it a lot worse than we did, but I was tired of the rain and I wanted to ride.

      When I woke up Saturday morning, I looked out and saw that there were actual dry spots on the driveway. That meant that it had not rained for at least an hour, and if I was to believe the weather prognosticators, the rain was supposed to be out of the Annapolis area on Saturday morning. Well, it was Saturday morning and apparently it had not rained in a couple of hours...excellent, I am going for a ride. I put on my layers and other bike 'stuff' and off I went.

       I was headed out to do my typical Saturday ride to the Coast Guard Station and back by way of City Dock and Annapolis Mall. Typically on my Saturday rides I concentrate on keeping my cadence up for as long as possible before having to take a break and recover. I made it to the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail (see the link on the right) feeling very good about my ride so far... cadence and speed were up, legs were feeling strong and ready to ride more. I made it to City Dock and was headed out to the Coast Guard Station when I noticed the drops of mist begin to form on my glasses. It was not too bad, I can ride through mist, and it meant that I would have to wipe down my bike when I get home, but it needed to be cleaned anyways, so no biggie. I continued out past the Coast Guard Station and headed back towards City Dock. By this time the mist had turned into rain and I have had to slow down considerable to keep the bike upright. (skinny tires on wet leaves and pavement are very slippery) Looking at my bike computer I see that I have about 35 minutes to get to the Farmers Market where I was going to meet Bev for coffee. That was cutting it close, so I decided to fore go my Iced Mocha at the Hard Bean and head straight to the market. As I made my way around Church circle, I began to feel the first signs of a tire going flat. I looked down and it appeared to still have a good amount of air in it, so I continued to ride, trying to put as little pressure on the back wheel as possible. I made it to traffic circle by Taylor Ave before it had gone totally flat.

     NOW, a choice had to be made. I carry a spare tube for situations just like this one. I also carry a cell phone for situations just like this one. It was an EASY choice. I called Bev and asked her come pick me up. I purposely leave her the keys to my car so she can use it to come an get me.

     I won't even go into the circus that was me changing the flat in the garage Saturday night. Here are the Stats for Saturdays ride -
          Miles -  20
          Time -   70 minutes
          Flat Tires - 1 (this is if you don't count the ones in the garage on Saturday evening)

     For as bad as Saturdays ride turned out to be, Sundays ride was that good. First of all, Sundays ride was brought to you by Chris and Will at Capitol Bicycle in Annapolis. They changed my tire and tube 5 minutes before they closed on Saturday. Thanks guys!

     The weather on Sunday was AWESOME. I think we got into the mid 70's which is GREAT for mid November. I enjoyed being on the bike, on the road, without the rain. I was able to get out early, so there was very little traffic on the roads.

      On my way out to the Coast Guard Station there is a house... well more along the lines of a mansion, that is really beautiful. I will post a photo when I get one, but picture 2 football fields separated by a driveway that leads to a brick mansion with the Chesapeake Bay in the backyard. The property is bordered by trees and almost every time I go by on my bike there are deer in the yard. Sunday was no exception. There were 2 does grazing. It would have made a beautiful picture had I had my camera.

      The same road that the mansion is on is the only place that I have seen black squirrels. They look identical to the typical grey squirrels we have in these parts but with black fur. Maybe they dye their fur? Who knows. Anyway, to cap off the wildlife ride on Sunday, I also saw a red fox, a rabbit and another deer while I was on the B&A trail. I guess the critters were enjoying the dry, warm weather as well.

Stats for Sundays ride
          Miles - 44
          Time - 170 minutes (2 hrs 50 minutes of ride time)
          Flat tires - 0
          Wildlife spotted - 3 deer, 1 red fox, 1 rabbit, 3 black squirrels, countless grey squirrels.

Big announcement coming soon... check back often.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pedalling to nowhere...

      The conditions were NOT optimal this morning for a bike ride. This was very disappointing, because I was really looking forward to getting in an extra ride this week.

      PLAN B - A couple weeks ago I purchased a CycleOps Wind trainer to help me continue riding and losing weight when the weather was not cooperative. That is what I used for my ride this morning.

      Although the trainer is no where near as much fun as riding the bike on the road, it does provide a good work out, in the dry confines of the garage. The huge down side to riding the trainer is that no matter how fast or how hard I pedal, I never move an inch. Consequently, the scenery never changes. This can make the time go by VERY slowly.

      The first time I used the trainer I set up a laptop directly in front of the bike and watched "The Bourne Ultimatum" while I rode. This was a great way to pass the time, but setting up and taking down a place to set the laptop each time is a pain in the butt. I am working on a more portable solution. So, without a movie to watch, I rode with my iPod in my ears and thoughts in my head.

       The music was by "The Rovers" and the thoughts in my head were of potential topics for this blog. My goal is to write about things that are relevant in my life, and at the same time entertaining for YOU to read. I came up with a few topics that I think will meet those two requirements, so stay tuned.

       For those of you wondering who The Rovers are, they are a local Celtic rock band that are a little like U2... only better. I have placed a link to their website on this blog. Check them out.

Thanks for reading.




Tuesday, November 10, 2009


     For those of you who didn't know, over the course of the past year I have been working on losing weight and trying to get healthier. I have been using the Spark People (see link on this page) to track my weight, and food intake. The website provide a lot more than what I use it for, but it has helped me become more aware of the amount of food, and exactly how many calories, grams of carbs, proteins, and fats were in the foods I was eating.

    I weigh in every other Tuesday. I like to mark my progress over a two week period for a couple of reasons. #1, it allows for bigger weight loss numbers. OK, so maybe this is a mental game that I play with myself, but I feel better about the difference in weight being 6 pounds over a two week period than 3 pounds each week. #2 - I like to have 14 days to work on the next weigh in as opposed to only 7. Again, another mind game... but if there is a situation where I end up having a little more to eat than I should, I feel better knowing that 1 high calorie meal over the course of 14 days will affect my weight loss less than over the course of 7 days. It just makes it easier for me to stay "on the wagon" so to speak.

    These past two weeks have been pretty on track although there was some Halloween candy consumed. I am not sure WHAT I was thinking. I decided that because we do not get many little ghosts and goblins for halloween that we should be the "good" house on the street and pass out full size candy bars. I purchased the Mars variety box from Sam's club. That would be 30 full size candy bars (the good ones too, Twix, Milky Way, Snickers). Long story short we had one (1) trick or treater and she wasn't even a trick or treater, she was dropping off 2 chocolate bears that I bought for a fund raiser. We gave her a candy bar since she was going to be trick or treating at the mall. So now we have MORE chocolate than when we started the night with. Yes, I had some chocolate.

      Also this past weekend, Bev's Aunt and Uncle came up from Virginia Beach for a visit. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to make a Cranberry Cheesecake for them try. This was the first time I had ever made a cranberry cheesecake so I was not sure how it was going to look and how it was going to turn out. We did not eat the cheesecake until Saturday night, but I knew Friday night, while I was making it, that it was good. That's because I sampled the cranberry filling, the cheesecake filling, the topping and the crust while I was making it. I figured if all the parts were good separately, they would be REALLY good put together. I WAS RIGHT. Not only did I partake of the Cranberry Cheesecake (on Saturday and again on Sunday) but Bev's Mom made an Apple cake... and NO ONE makes an Apple Cake like Mom mom does!

     In conjunction with limiting the amount of food that I eat, I have also gotten reacquainted with my bicycle. I usually ride early Saturday and Sunday mornings. My favorite route takes me out past the Coast Guard Station, by way of Annapolis Mall and City Dock. There is almost ALWAYS a stop at The Hard Bean for a cup of coffee to refuel before riding on. This past week I did 124 miles over a 3 day period. One of the days I rode from home to the B&A trail to the John Overstreet Connector to the BWI trail and back for a total of 48 miles. On Staurday and Sunday I did the Coast Guard Station, City Dock, Annapolis Mall ride for totals of 43 and 33 miles respectively.

     So, now to the numbers... I lost 3 pounds over the past 2 weeks, which puts my total weight lost at 98 pounds since November 2008. I was hoping for a 5 pound loss to reach the 100 pound mark, but I am VERY HAPPY about the 3 pounds. I figure I can break the 100 pound barrier next weigh in, but that halloween candy and cranberry cheesecake demanded my immediate attention.

Thanks for reading... visit again soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Welcome to my blog

Thanks for checking out my blog.

 I am by no stretch of the imagination a writer. My grammar is 'iffy' at best, my punctuation atrocious, and my spelling would be horrible if it were not for spell check. So if you are here seeking literary gems... I am afraid that you will be sadly disappointed. If you are here to see what is going on with me,  you have come to the right place.

I thought this would be a great way to communicate with friends and family about what has been going on in my life over the past year, and what my plans and goals are for the year ahead.

I hope you will stop by often.