Friday, October 28, 2005

Passion burning

Inspiring tales of personal battles, joys and triumphs. The dedication of these folks is infectious. More than anything else, losing weight through exercise is vastly superior to those silly diets that are nothing more than fads perpetuated by con men to the lazy. Slim and fit are two very different categories. You may have lost 50 pounds through Jenny Craig, Expressions, or even the silly low-carb diet, but the slimmer you is just as unfit as the fatter you.

Don't just get slimmer. Get leaner and fitter.

All right, let these guys tell their own stories now.


Well, the last few days my weight has been within a pound +/- of 165 on the scale. This is an important weight in that 4.5 years ago I weighed 100 pounds more.

I've been riding a lot this year, having moved up from sport (insane, hard, challenging, rewarding...) to expert (scary fast real athletes, longer courses, more bonking, cramping, puking and so on likely...) and gotten onto a road bike to boot. The last few years here in Santa Fe have reawakened an intense passion for cycling. It had been 13 self destructive, high stress, poor diet, no excercise crappy quality of life, years in NYC. No doubt I learned a lot, miss my friends & family, the culture, the people, the resources and so on, but my wife and I had reached our saturation of it all. We headed out in mid-2000 and haven't looked back. Prior to NYC, I had been professionally competing & performing bmx freestyle and really active. Went to college and began the long self destructive slide. Smoked 2 packs of Marlboro "reds" for 10+ years of that time, besdies the above mentioned self destructive habits. Oh, and booze? Yep, not like a drunk, but a heavy drinker no doubt.

My recent weight hadn't really sunk in until my wife started culling through our vast digital photo collection, and found a few real "dooseys"! I can't believe how little definition I had, how puffy & downright cruddy I looked.....

Picture in winter 99/2000 upstate NY, note bubba-hunting hat:
(quite a contrast, my marathon-running sister in law & me!)

There are much worse ones than that, but there's no need for that!

Anyhow, I basically kept the goals short and attainable. I remember thinking, "man, when I get down to 235, I'll feel a lot better". And I did! Then 220, 215, 200 (!) 185, 175, and now nearing a target of around 160. I have changed my diet to some extent, and when I eat I now eat healthy proteins & fats, few complex carbs, good greens & veggies, and minimal booze, caffeine, sweets and other seratonin-level changing foods & drugs. This alone helped a lot, and boosted energy. Combined with a steady amount of hard riding, and some not-so-hard riding, and the racing, I have finally combusted 350,000 calories more than I ate in the last 4 years. Simple, huh? LOL

Not looking for anything here, but hope to encourage the folks out there that are interested. Patience and patience and some care in what you eat will do worlds of good!

At Tour of Canyonlands race in Moab, frst regional Sport level race I ever won, this past April. Note: I'm down 12-14 pounds since then....


July 8th 2002, I had an acute Pancreitus attack. ICU for 11days. Then 32 total in recovery. 1 in 4 chance of dying right up till the end, per my lab work. Was drinking myself to death, plus partying too much. Stopped all that stuff cold turkey. Not a drink since. Wasn't as heavy(180lb), but now I'm 165, and have never been as fit. NEVER ever wanna go back. I'm about to be 46yrs next month.

Heres me in late April 02. Um...I'm on the right. Shining Rock wilderness in Pisgah. Hell, I "thought" I was in shape. Shiiiiiiiit.

Me last week. I attribute me rediscoverying riding 100% to my turn around. My bloodpressure is super low again(after being on heavy meds 2yrs ago). Resting HR in the high 30s. No more Gout in my knees and feet. All from the bike.


I myself have lost 50lbs since my lazy couch potato days. I feel so much better and happier now. I was in my late 20's and weighed around 185lbs and was feeling like crap. My weekends and weeknights were full of TV watching and potato chip eating. I knew it was time to lose some weight when even the 36" waist jeans were uncomfortable. I stopped eating the high fat crap and started walking for 30-45 minutes a day. The weight started to melt away and after a year I had lost almost 20lbs. I then moved onto riding my old ten speed bike and that got me losing a bit more. Then I got my first mountain bike and lost a bit more. As my mountain biking experienced increased so di my level of effort and my addiction was in full bloom. Fast forward two years and I'm riding a GF Sugar and a GF HooKooEKoo and had lost 50lbs. It's been about 3 years since I hit that mark and I'm stable at 135lbs. I tend to hit close to 140lbs in the winter and then I drop down once the riding season starts. I still watch what I eat, but I'm not as deligent as before. I'm not eating all kinds of high fat crap, but I also don't stop myself from enjoying nights out and such. It's all a case of moderation for me and all the riding helps with that...

Here's me before:

And last year with my fiance:


In the last 13 months or so I went from 205lbs (right) to this morning weighing in at 142lbs. In the pic on the left I was about 157lbs, I still weighed less with my son on my back. It was nice taking a 25mile MTB ride yesterday and seeing the top local rider from last year pulling in a good 5 minutes behind me on the climbs.


Here's a picture of me on New Years of 2004 at 223 lbs, and the one right next to it is in May of 2004 at 173 lbs. I'm currently around 180 and hoping to drop five more pounds in the next two weeks. I agree with other posters that I had to find what works for me. I tried the Atkins thing, but I love noodles and rice too much for that to work.

Here was my plan: Each week I set a weight loss goal of 5 pounds, and I made sure to get around 1200-1400 calories each day. On top of that I bike commuted to work 13 miles round trip each day. I also began running on a treadmill. I actually kept on track and lost 50 pounds in ten weeks! I know it was probably way too fast, and I may have caused myself some short term damage, but I'm 100% healthy today, no problems.

One of the greatest motivators to lose weight for me, was my mountain biking. I took off half a year in the beginning of 2003 from riding, and really lost it, healthwise, and when I started back up again, it was hell making it up the hills. I was always last up with all my buds having to wait for me. I figured if I lost weight fast and hard it would be so painful to lose weight that I would never want to let myself get so far out of shape again. It's worked so far! I wouldn't recommend what I did to most people. Again, it's what works for you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ride on!

Decided that it would be neater to have my cycling write ups in one blog of its own. Trip and major write ups will still be posted to the main blog though. As the picture says...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Marin Headlands Solo Night Ride

Jumped on the 3:05 PM Northbound CalTrain to San Francisco on a lazy Saturday afternoon with my bike. Arriving in San Francisco 95 minutes later, the temperature was a crisp 57 F (13.9 C).

Track of the ride (red line), overlaid with 1722 track points (blue "line") from the GPS unit. Direction of the loop portion is clockwise.

TOPO!'s elevation profile of the track.

6 miles later: Crissy Field. Fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge lost in the fog. A view without the fog.

A panorama.

Fog lifting over the Golden Gate Bridge.

After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and having climbed up Conzelman Road to the Coastal trailhead (elevation 580 ft), the sunset over Gerbode Valley in the Marin Headlands greets me. McCullough Road is on the right.

After bombing down Coastal trail--a sunset over Rodeo Lagoon. The thin strip of land is Rodeo Beach, and beyond that, the Pacific Ocean. Fort Cronkhite and the Headlands Institute are on the right side of the beach.

A panorama.

Dinner by Rodeo Beach.

Waiting for darkness.

Miwok trailhead. The same, but taken with flash. The view during the day.

Lights on helmet: two Cateye HL-EL400 LED lights and one Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID light.

Beginning of Bobcat trail illuminated by one Cateye HL-EL300 handlebar light, and two Cateye HL-EL400 helmet-mounted lights.

Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID helmet-mounted light turned on and warming up (takes 15 to 30 seconds to achieve full brightness).

Summit of Bobcat trail: elevation 914 feet. Switching over to Marincello trail for the downhill into Tennessee Valley. View of Marin City and Sausalito.

Another view of Marin City, Sausalito and Richardson Bay. The pillar of light is not from God, but from the HID lamp.

Tennessee Valley trail. The right branches off to become the portion of Coastal trail that leads to Muir Beach. Elevation 100 ft. Current temperature 44 F (6.7 C). View during the day.

Tennessee Beach. Sign says: "WARNING! Dangerous cliffs and surf." Repeat to yourself, "What I can't see, can't hurt me," and you will be just fine.

Cliff edge and the beach below.

I wait. Now the night flows back, the mighty stillness embraces and includes me; I can see the stars again and the world of starlight. I am twenty miles or more from the nearest fellow human, but instead of lonliness I feel loveliness. Loveliness and a quiet exultation (Edward Abbey).

On the way back, a short detour to "The Tunnel" to snap a couple of pics. Barry-Baker Tunnel is a one way, half-mile long conduit leading in and out of the Marin Headlands that serves as a fallback alternative for tired, exhausted or injured cyclists.

Inside the tunnel. Bicycle lanes on either side. The light at the end of the tunnel is that of an approaching train vehicle. The east end of the tunnel is lower than the west end by 100 ft.

Passing by Crissy Field again on the return leg: Golden Gate Bridge at night.

Caught the 12:01 AM train.
Reached home at 1:58 AM Sunday.

Total distance: Cyclo-computer 43.84 miles (70.14 km) / GPS 42.34 miles (67.74 km) / TOPO! 43.03 miles (68.85 km).
Total elevation climbed: Altimeter 3060 ft (933 m) / GPS + TOPO! 3015 ft (919 m).
Temperature range: 57 F to 44 F (13.9 C to 6.7 C).
Fluids consumed: 2 liters.

My neck is a little sore from having to support the helmet-mounted lights over off-road terrain during the night. The next time I do this, I will gladly fork over US$18 for 6 Lithium AAA batteries to reduce the weight of the two Cateye HL-EL400 LED lights on the helmet by 33%. Every little bit helps.

A group night ride may be in the works next time:

Saturday, October 22, 2005

MTB crashes

Lord of the... err... rocks.

Tree hugging in action.

RIDING PARTNER: I will now cast a spell of invincibility to prevent that bike from tumbling into me.

Hardcore hard rock headbanger.

Why your mountain bike is not a jet ski.

DIY vasectomy.

Screw this!

Running on all fours is better.

Houston, we have lift off.

Deep impact.

Imminent citation from the FAA for flying without a flight plan.

My face is more effective than my brakes.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lights II

The stunning light output of the Light & Motion ARC Li-ion HID light piqued my curiosity: are there more powerful HID lights meant for off-road biking in the night?

It turns out that there exist two other lights superior to the ARC. Both of them are made in Germany.

The first is the Lupine Lighting Systems Edison 10. Like the Light & Motion ARC, the Edison 10 has two power settings: "high" and "low." But this is where all similarities end: while the ARC puts out a dazzling 675 lumen on "high" and an impressive 550 lumen on "low," the Edison 10 throws out an unbelievable 900 lumen on "high" (@ 16W) and a still-respectable 500 lumen on "low" (@10W). When it is set on "high," the Edison 10 puts out the equivalent of a 65 watt HP halogen bulb. Despite the blinding light output, battery endurance is nothing short of remarkable: 6 hours for "high" and a whopping 9 hours for "low." The complete system weighs 720 grams.

Retailing at US$900, the Lupine Edison 10 is significantly more expensive than the ARC Li-ion (US$499) or the ARC Li-ion Ultra (US$599).

The other light is the Supernova Lighting Systems P99-D. This monster is a dual HID lamp that puts out a combined 28W of eye-frying light. Bedazzled is an understatement. The entire system, battery and all, weigh at a tolerable 900 grams. Mountainbike Magazine calls it, "the brightest system we've ever seen." Each of the 14W HID lamps is equivalent to a 50W halogen bulb. Turned on together, you have the equivalent of over 100W of halogen light output before you. In addition, there is a special handlebar mounted switch that lets you know at a glance, how much power you have left. In the battery endurance department, a dual HID system sucks juice and it shows: the P99-D has a less-than-adequate 2 hours on "high," and a run-of-the-mill 4 hours on "low."

All this power and functionality comes at a price, of course. The P99-D is yours for US$1080.

Just how powerful is the P99-D, you ask? Check out the following 3 shots of a pitched dark footpath:

This is a Luxeon Star 5W LED running at 4.3W. It is about the brightest (and most power hungry) LED out there. SureFire uses it for their L4 LumaMax tactical light. The light output here is the equivalent of a 14 watt halogen lamp but appears slightly brighter due to the different color temperature of a "white" LED.

This is an actual 16 watt halogen lamp. As you can see, relative to the LED's higher color temperature, the light is more yellowish.

This is what P99-D's 28 watts of HID will give you.

I found out that HID lamps are a favorite of 24 hour endurance racers. The sheer brilliance of the lamp causes the halogen lights of the competitors in front of you to wash out. Consequently, their bodies and bikes cast shadows on the trail before them, and they experience increased difficulty discerning roots, rocks and ruts from their own shadow. Pretty nifty, IMHO. A picture says a thousand words: check out the image below.

Beep! Beep!