I highly recommend checking out the most recent ep. of Fat2Fit Radio.
Actually, and especially if you don’t have time to listen, read this: http://iwanttolooklikethatguy.com/that_guy_004.htm
I do not want to look like that. I’ve always thought that bodybuilders look freakish and scary. Not in a good way. I mean, it’s fascinating because it’s like an anatomy lesson. You can see every muscle. It’s like that exhibit of vivisected people in various poses. I’ve always thought it looks unhealthy in a way. I commented to someone that in the interview Stuart MacDonald said that he felt weak and generally bad by the end of things. That someone pointed out that if you watch all of those strongman contests and world record lifters, they aren’t cut. They’re big chunky guys. With guts, no less.
Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) posts.
Epiphany: Food is Fuel
I tricked you. Kind of. This is kind of about mountain biking. Stick with me, though. I do have a point.
I’ve been biking since about 1991 when my friend, Eric, got a mountain bike. It was the first time I had ever seen one and I was blown away. I had no idea that a bike could look and feel like a machine as opposed to a toy. A rugged machine, I mean. I was attending UMBC at the time and we would ride over from school to Patapsco State Park and have many mtn biking adventures. Good times.
That place is a wonderland to me, but I’ll try to stay focused here. When I moved to the Bay Area, the birthplace of mountain biking, in 1995 there were many, many trails. A lot of them epic. When I worked at Apple a friend and I would ride from HQ in Cupertino over to Stevens Creek County Park and into the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. There were a lot of other great trails nearby and they all have trails that lead up into the mountains that connect via Page Mill Rd., Skyline Blvd., Alpine Rd. It’s an amazing network but it is intense.
I remember one time we went to do the Charcoal Rd. ride and we came across two women. Two good lookin’ women. I mean… yeh. That just doesn’t happen. We chatted for a bit. Then they took off up the ascent. A few minutes later, we followed. And of course I had to keep stopping. Couldn’t keep up.
But no matter how much I rode I never got any stronger. My endurance and stamina never seemed to increase. It was guaranteed that I would get charlie horses somewhere along the way. Especially the Charcoal Rd. ride. Ha! Check this out (map and charts below): http://mtb.live555.com/rides/UpperStevensCreek.html
And riding up Montebello Rd. was hell. A 2,000 ft. climb up the road BEFORE the trail riding began.
Mt. Tamalpais — 7 miles of climbing. That’s 1.5 hours of climbing before the ride really started.
The Sweet Spot
There was one time in my life, one period of about 6 months when my performance was good enough for biking to be like it’s supposed to be. When I moved to Baltimore circa 2003. I was unemployed for a long time and I spent my days (aside from watching Columbo religiously) on the treadmill in the basement, trying my own bastardized version of the Atkins Diet, cooking and mountain biking.
I’d go out in the afternoon and just ride, ride, ride. I was able to explore Patapsco like I used to 13 years before. And even to explore new trails. I never had to worry about bonking. I was even fit enough to be able to eat a little before the ride without having to worry about getting nauseous. I reached a point where I could go out for a 10 – 15 miles ride with one water bottle (I knew where some water fountains were). FYI, a CamelBak full of water and tools is about ten more pounds that you’re carrying with you.
And I would ride. The high school kid cross country teams would train. I’d see them on River Rd. or Grist Mill, go off on the trails and pop out an hour and a half later when all of the young professionals were getting their after-work rides in.
Clouds in the sky? Hmm. Maybe I could get a ride in. And it would start to rain and then pour while I was deep into the trails. The smell of loam rising with the mist. Water started flowing down the trail I was on and it turned into a stream. I just kept riding. It felt so good.
I’d come out of Morning Choice on to the meadow and there would be a herd of deer in a green meadow. Clear blue skies with the full moon nestled above the horizon like a painting. Dragonflies would fly by my side and criss cross riding on the air current in front of me.
Then … I got a job.
Ironically, by the way, at the time when I was most fit and having the most fun and joy with it, I never rode with anyone. Didn’t have anyone to ride with. A shame.
Regret & Hope
Here it is.
I’ve been working out very consistently since December or so. It feels good and it’s a habit. Got a Polar chest strap and heart rate monitor. Did you know that most of the pro fitness machines can wirelessly read those things? And you can do fitness routines based on your heart rate. Amazing and very helpful.
I went for my first mtn bike ride since October or so a few weeks ago. It was rough. Rough! The second ride of the season, the same. Granted I took a hard route. Been doing some smaller parks and rides since because you have to commute to the big ones. A lot of my recent fitness knowledge application and consistency is due to Tony and our fitness pseudo-blog where we record all of our workouts and weigh-ins.
Here’s what I learned. Forget the narrative. You HAVE to eat. If you’re going to workout or go on long hike/bike/run you have to eat. Food is fuel. (Forgive me for directing to you a site with one of those bullcrap annoying ads but…)
I’ve been exercising on an empty stomach since … high school. And I’ve been prone to charlie horses and feeling like crap since … high school? I once threw up in high school after a relay race and have avoided eating before heavy exercise ever since. Mistake.
On the first ride of the season and some recent workouts, my muscles would get that lactic acid burn and just keep burning. I couldn’t figure out why. I added leg presses to my workouts. The next ride? Better but premature fatigue. Charlie horses for years? Didn’t know why.
The other day I intentionally ate a big lunch in preparation for an after work ride. A little too big, since three and a half hours after lunch there was a little sloshing going on. But I rode at Wakefield and felt so good. Not that I was fast, but I could ride without my muscles crapping out on me. I had to stop because it got dark and I couldn’t see the trail anymore. My legs were charged after an hour of riding. There was no soreness, no fatigue, no strain. They just felt ready and raring for more. That is, aside from my eyes itching so badly that I wanted to scratch them out of my face. The pollen count has been outrageous.
The next day, despite the fact that I was pushing it hard, I wasn’t sore. I knew that I had been exercising. But I was even thinking about what routine to do on the treadmill the next morning.
All of these years, my performance has been so poor because I haven’t been fueling properly before and after rides. What idiot goes on a 3 hour bike ride on unpaved trails up the side of a mountain without fuel?
Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I’m pretty sure that now that my body doesn’t think that’s it’s under duress and starving, I’m dropping fat pretty quickly. The weight is heading downward again, which signals the end of the plateau.
Hittin’ the Trails
- I fueled up this morning. I’ll head out in about an hour to Patapsco for a big ride. We’ll see how it goes. And we’ll see how my legs feel about that big hill.
- Got a new GPS app for the iPhone
- Got a bike carrier/rack
- Found a 7-11 that sells coconut water
- Rear derailleur’s been adjusted and is working with me now (instead of jumping all over the dang place mid-pedal)
- Mid 60’s today