So, why would I post a picture of trucks on an interstate highway? Because that is I-10 west of Phoenix. I took this picture with my cell phone this morning. In the far distance you can barely see the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, 50 miles west of Phoenix. I’m on the over-pass. Why? Because this was the half-way point of my ride today, 29.4 miles from where I started. Since I tacked on a little extra at the end, the final total for this morning’s ride: 59.4 miles, with 940 feet of ascent and a really discouraging headwind the last ten miles (all cyclists know what I mean by that). Thankfully, out of literally nowhere, another cyclist appeared, and I got to ride his wheel for about three miles (dropped my heart rate 11bpm!). Anyway, when I got back to my car, I could still smile, though, I admit, that many hours of hard aerobic exercise has left me just a tad bit tired.
   
Since my trip to Italy in mid-May I have dropped about 35 pounds. Folks have been particularly noticing it in the pictures I posted from the cruise, and a few have honestly asked, “OK, you did that in a matter of like ten weeks–what’s the secret?” I’m not a medical doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but there isn’t any major secret here. When I first got in shape in 1993 it was simple: I got up the morning of May 5th, 1993, and rode the Target mountain bike I had purchased the day before four miles—and almost died. But I got up again the next morning and rode five miles. And in less than six months I had dropped thirty pounds and rode my first century ride in under six hours (i.e., 100+ miles). Between 1993 and late 1998 I rode 29,500 miles. So, when Mike O’Fallon challenged me to compete with him and Steve Camp to lose weight prior to the Conference and debate in Seattle, I only knew one thing that worked. So, I got back on the bike. I ate a sensible breakfast (single egg, multi-grain piece of toast, Smart Balance spread, skim milk, mondo pile of vitamins), a pretty “normal” lunch, and a light dinner—but (here is the hard part) no snacks after dinner. Not a radical diet, but surely a lot less than I was taking in before. Then, while decreasing the input, I had to raise the outgo, energy wise. So, between June 14th and August 23rd (the weigh-in date), I rode more than 1,000 miles. Most of that was on the road, though, since I live in Phoenix, the only time you can ride in June/July/August is very, very early in the morning. So, I do have a fluid trainer I use indoors for my bike (currently I use a Gary Fisher Tarpon on the trainer, and ride a Gary Fisher Utopia on the road), and I use various videos/DVD’s to watch while riding if I have to ride later in the day. These would include the coverage of the 2002 and 2004 Le Tour de France races, but more importantly, my Spinervals DVDS. The Spinervals videos are killers. Coach Troy Jacobson’s voice echoes in my noggin all the time, mainly because the first video he did long ago, called “CycleRobix,” was all I had for years and years. I think I’ve done that single workout like 250 times or more. I have it memorized. “200 meters! 100 meters! 50 meters…you’re cresting…pop it up to your 18 and spin, spin, SPIN!” AAAAaaaaahhhh! Great workout, but some of his later ones will leave even the best athlete crying for mercy. Spinervals 19 is one I can only do when I’m feeling really, really froggy, because it will take me three days to recover from it, it is that challenging.
   
So, though the specific weight challenge is over, I have my sights set on El Tour de Tucson, November 19th. I am going to go for the 80-mile portion of the race. I don’t know if I will ever do the 109 mile portion again, we will see. For now, the 80 is more than tough enough.
   
Sorry if “diet and exercise” was not what you wanted to hear. But I do believe that there are certain exercises that “work” for some folks that wouldn’t work for others. We are all genetically different. For me, running doesn’t work; rowing doesn’t work; any other form of aerobic I’ve tried just doesn’t come close to climbing on that bike and heading out on the road. Nothing elevates my heart rate like the bike (and btw, since June 14th, my resting heart rate has dropped from 65 to 53, body fat percentage down to the mid teens again), so I need to recognize that and stick with it.
   
Oh, I forgot the geeky aspect (has to have one for me, of course). Yes, I use a heart rate monitor. Polar S650X (going off the top of my head there), which has an infra-red port so it can beam its data to either my home computer or to my Palm Tungsten T5. Very useful in keeping track of how you are doing and watching your cardio-vascular fitness improve week by week. Most exercise physiologists I’ve talked to recommend the use of an hrm (heart rate monitor).
   
I have no intentions of getting back down to where I was in, say, 1994, when I rode my longest solo ride (125 miles, 19.2 avg. speed) or my fastest ride (24 miles, 25.62 mph), which was between 165 and 170 lbs. Sadly, I did not know about the need for protein back then. When I took seven years off to bodybuild I learned the importance of protein intake, so I intend to protect at least some of those gains even as I regain my full aerobic capacity once again. I’ve discovered that not only has the cycling industry made huge gains since I rode last (so many improvements!), but even today I used gel food packs that, unlike what I used back in the 90s, are in a 4 to 1 carb/protein ratio (they figured out you need the protein even during the exercise itself), and I noted they were easier on my stomach as a result. Very encouraging, for as the picture shows, I was smiling when it was all over, so they definitely worked well for me.
   
And now we return you to your regularly scheduled theological programming….

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